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Round 1 NFL Draft Reactions: WR/TE Edition

Let's break down the wide receivers and tight end drafted in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Round 1 is in the books, and holy hell, was it exciting! Six quarterbacks, three wide receivers, and three offensive tackles were drafted in the first 12 picks! In the entire first round, seven wide receivers and a tight end were drafted. Now that we have clarity on their positions, let’s break down these eight rookies.

Marvin Harrison Jr. – Arizona Cardinals (1.04)

Nerd Score: 82.53

Not much to say for this one.  Most mock drafts had the Arizona Cardinals taking Harrison with the 1.04.  Kyler Murray has his alpha receiver that has been missing from the team since he was taken in the 2019 draft.  Harrison is the 1.01 without question in 1QB formats, and currently, my 1.03 in Superflex leagues, although I won’t fault you if you took him at 1.02. I expect Harrison to hit the ground running and have a fantastic rookie season.

Malik Nabers – New York Giants (1.06)

Nerd Score: 79.64

Nabers went to the New York Giants, and many mocks had this. As the draft happened, I wondered if the Giants would audible and take a quarterback. They stuck to their guns, giving Daniel Jones a speedster at the wide receiver position. While I don’t think it will be a Nabers problem, I am slightly concerned with the landing spot. Daniel Jones has never been a prolific passer, although he has never had a receiver of this caliber.  

https://www.statmuse.com/nfl/ask/giants-wide-receivers-stats-with-daniel-jones

Looking at wide receivers who have played with Jones, you can see that no receiver has been super productive with him.  Golden Tate averaged the most yards per game, with Jones at just over 50.  While Nabers remains the WR2 in this class, I think expectations might need to be slightly tempered in year one with the limitations in real-life football with Jones.

Rome Odunze – Chicago Bears (1.09)

Nerd Score: 78.21

Of all Day 1 wide receivers, this is my third favorite landing spot for a wide receiver.  Odunze steps into an ascending offense as the WR3 in his rookie campaign.  He will be able to build a long-term rapport with Caleb Williams, and offseason reports have mentioned that the two have already begun workouts together.  

I am prioritizing Odunze in my Superflex drafts.  His route running and yards after the catch are tremendous strengths. With six quarterbacks going in the first 12 picks, Odunze could be pushed further down the draft to spots as low as 1.09/1.10.  I think anything below 1.06 screams value for this caliber of a player.

Brock Bowers – Las Vegas Raiders (1.13)

Photo Courtesy of David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

TE1

Is it bad that this is the one landing spot that I prayed would not happen?  Bowers not only falls to an offense without a long-term solution at quarterback, but he ends up in an offense that drafted Michael Mayer last year.  It is a new regime, and they could look at Mayer as expendable, but my gut tells me that the Raiders didn’t anticipate the top six quarterbacks being off the board.  Stuck in this position, I believe they scrambled and ended up taking Best Player Available.  This selection destroys Mayer’s value as the new offensive coordinator does not have a great history of using two tight end sets.  

Tight ends historically haven’t been very productive with Gardner Minshew, with none being a top-three weapon.  However, I have hope in this offense as there is nothing of note behind Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers.  I expect Brock Bowers to be a top 8-12 tight end this year, but damn what could have been.

Additionally, early reactions in my dynasty leagues from owners is that Bowers is dropping quite a bit down draft boards due to quarterback and landing spot.  While I am not thrilled with the landing spot, I believe in the immense talent and look to capitalize on any overlookers in my fantasy leagues.

Brian Thomas – Jacksonville Jaguars (1.23)

Nerd Score: 73.66

Thomas is my WR5 post-draft. I love the landing spot as he looks to replace Calvin Ridley. Thomas has a big body and is extremely productive with the ball in his hands. His biggest pre-draft knocks were physicality at the line and route tree, which are easily correctable in the NFL.  

While Christian Kirk has been exemplary in his role with the Jaguars, I see Thomas as the WR1 of this team’s present and future. I also see Trevor Lawrence’s career rebounding after three mostly disappointing seasons post-2021 1.01 draft pick. If you don’t have a top-three pick in 1QB leagues, don’t see Brian Thomas as settling. There is a very clear path for him to be the rookie WR2 in fantasy production at the conclusion of the 2024 season.

Xavier Worthy Kansas City Chiefs (1.28)

Nerd Score: 74.39

As a Kansas City Chiefs fan myself, I absolutely love this pick.  Many mocks had Worthy going to the Chiefs at 32.  However, the Chiefs decided to move up.  Not only did they decide to move up, but they traded with the Buffalo Bills.  The last time these two teams made a first-round trade, the Chiefs ended up with Patrick Mahomes.  All this to say, the Bills had to, on some level, make the Chiefs overpay a bit to move up. That means the Chiefs really coveted Worthy. The fastest player in combine history will catch passes from one of the best players at the quarterback position.  I anticipate, to no surprise, that Worthy will fill the Tyreek Hill role on this offense. 

He is currently my WR4 in this class with this draft spot.  I look to draft him at 1.04 in 1QB leagues and at the back end of the first in Superflex leagues.  If he can improve his catching and release, Worthy looks to be a major factor in the NFL and dynasty leagues for years to come.  

Ricky Pearsall – San Francisco 49ers (1.31)

Nerd Score: 73.39

If I’m being honest, I don’t know how to feel about this selection. Of all the positions the San Francisco 49ers need, I did not have the wide receiver position in the top five. Pearsall is a very good prospect, but he lands on a team with at least two wide receivers ahead of him currently on the depth chart. I believe Ricky Pearsall is the better talent, but Jauan Jennings has made a case for his talents to be utilized.  

Photo Courtesy of David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

I really hope this is mere succession planning, given Deebo Samuel’s current age and cap hit and Brandon Aiyuk’s contract negotiation struggles. Pearsall currently projects as the starting slot receiver for the Niners, but for anyone drafting in the coming week, this situation is very murky. We shall see if Aiyuk or Samuel are on the move through the remaining rounds of the NFL Draft. If either Samuel or Aiyuk are moved, I see Pearsall in a much better light than I do now.

Xavier Legette – Carolina Panthers (1.32)

Nerd Score: 73.75

I like this landing spot a lot for Legette.  I didn’t expect him in the first round, and the Panthers traded up a spot to snag him in the first instead of the second (hello, fifth-year option).  The Panthers’ current plan has been to surround Bryce Young with as many capable weapons as possible.  After trading for Diontae Johnson and drafting Legette, Young now has four viable wide receivers.  I think Legette and Diontae Johnson are a great 1-2 receiving threat from Young with Thielen in the slot.  

Legette has tremendous ball skills and will not have a difficult time bringing in some of Young’s errant throws.  This is a great landing spot for him, and with the investment (the Panthers don’t have a ton of draft capital with a lot of needs), I am happy to draft Legette with the late first/early second pick in Superflex leagues.

Others Not Drafted

One of the biggest pieces of news for Round 1 is a wide receiver that wasn’t drafted.  Adonai Mitchell fell out of the first with players like Pearsall and Legette going before him.  This raises my concern level for Mitchell.  With such tremendous ball skills, why are NFL teams not prioritizing him in the back of the first round?  Do NFL teams not see him as a translatable wide receiver?  Is his speed and inability to get many yards after the catch limiting his ceiling too much? Is there an issue that isn’t public knowledge?

He is the most interesting prospect for me heading into Round 2.  If Mitchell is on the board past pick 37-38, I have very real concerns about his future viability and will be moving him down my draft boards.

There you have it! I am excited for Rounds 2 through 3 tonight and 4 through 7 tomorrow. There are a lot more exciting prospects to be called. I hope you all have a great weekend, and stay tuned for subsequent reactions!  

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