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The Hilltopper

The student news site of Highlands High School

The Hilltopper

The student news site of Highlands High School

The Hilltopper

The NFL draft, America’s favorite days

Michael Penix Jr. Holding his jersey in his first conference in Atlanta, Forbes.

The NFL Draft first started on February 8, 1936. Since then, there have been many legendary classes that have emerged through the NFL draft, but this class may have been one of the most anticipated. 

There are multiple stars with high celebrity status at every position, with five QBs, six WRs, and five OL, all going in the first round. The first round was one to spectate, but the focus is on picks 1-10. 

Pick one: Chicago Bears  selected Caleb Williams, QB, USC. After trading their starting QB, Justin Fields, to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bears looked towards this draft class for their next starting quarterback. The 2022 Heisman Trophy Winner will bring a multitude of skills to the Bear’s offense.

Pick two: The Washington Commanders selected Jayden Daniels, QB, from LSU. Daniels makes a great fit in a Kliff Kingsbury spread-to-run offense. This will allow Daniels to add to the run game and still get the ball out to players in space. The 2023 Heisman Trophy winner will find a great living in Washington. Daniels is an elite passer just as much as he is a scrambler. The Commanders are building something with the Heisman winner. 

Pick three: The New England Patriots selected Drake Maye, QB, from North Carolina.

The North Carolina product earned an elite PFF (Pro Football Focus) grade as a true sophomore in 2022 before following that up with another 90.0-plus grade in 2023. 

He has high-end arm talent and showed that he is comfortable making NFL throws over the middle of the field. With the Patriots getting a new coach and new system, a new quarterback with the talent of Mayes, they are in good hands.

Pick four: The Arizona Cardinals selected Marvin Harrison Jr., a WR from Ohio State. The Arizona Cardinals used their number four overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft on arguably the best wideout in the class and arguably one of the most talented WR prospects in a long time. The Cardinals lost Marquise Brown in free agency, but replaced him with a dynamic receiving threat who will soon become Kyler Murray’s best friend. 

Pick five: The Los Angeles Chargers selected Joe Alt, OT, from Notre Dame. After some questionable off season decisions by the Chargers front office, they drafted arguably the most polished offensive lineman of this class. Alt is a pillar to build around, perfect foundation for what Harbaugh is building in L.A. Alt adds tremendous size to Harbaugh’s famous run power style offense.

Pick six: The New York Giants chose Malik Nabers, WR, out of LSU. Nabers is one of the most electric receivers in this class, possessing an exceptional combination of explosiveness, elusiveness, and breakaway speed. It’s been impossible to fairly evaluate Daniel Jones with so few playmakers at receiver. Nabers is the star the Giants have been missing and resets the clock on Jones.

Pick seven: The Tennessee Titans drafted JC Latham, OT, from the University of Alabama. Physically speaking, Latham is the most dominant offensive lineman in a draft boasting as much talent as any  seen in nearly a quarter-century. His massive size and power make him a Day one standout with All-Pro potential. If Will Levis is going to be a star, he needs protection. Latham is the new security in Tennessee. 

Pick eight: The Atlanta Falcons unexpectedly selected Michael Penix Jr., QB, from Washington. Of all the amazing scenarios imagined for Penix prior to the draft, this might be the most shocking, given Atlanta’s massive deal with Kirk Cousins prior to the draft. That, however, is no issue to Penix, the most gifted pocket passer in this class, boasting an automatic bullseye for a left arm. 

He is a quality athlete but is at his best when allowed to survey the field, showing the awareness and precision that translate to the NFL. Penix will learn and grow and soon become the face of the franchise.

Pick nine: The Chicago Bears selected Rome Odunze, WR, from Washington. A classic split end with great size, speed and timing to win on contested throws, Odunze is the old-school star of this receiver class. Boasting the talent and dependability on and off the field to be a longtime star. 

Adding Odunze to a receiving corps that already has a legitimate speedster in D.J. Moore and one of the best slot receivers in the league in Keenan Allen gives Caleb Williams one of the most stellar WR corps.

Pick ten: The Minnesota Vikings selected JJ McCarthy, QB, out of the University of Michigan. The skilful quarterback was coming off a national championship victory with the Michigan Wolverines and had limited opportunities to pad his stats in a  dominant defense and run-heavy offense provided by them. But when he was called upon to make important throws, he showed zip, accuracy, mobility and mettle. 

He does not possess the howitzer of some of the other quarterbacks of this class. However, leadership and charisma matter at quarterback, and McCarthy has perhaps the best combination of that in this year’s class. McCarthy will do great in Minnesota.

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