Wednesday, May 22, 2024

With the First Pick: Biggest questions for all 32 NFL teams, plus ranking the AFC after 2024 draft

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We’ve reached the first Friday after the NFL Draft, which is always a bit bittersweet, but there’s still plenty of post-draft analysis to get to here on my last day as the author of this daily newsletter.

As I felt last year, I had an absolute blast writing this every day. And, frankly, I think it got me more amped for the draft, which I previously did not think was possible. Hopefully you enjoyed my month-long stint as the NFL Draft stand-in for John Breech as NFL newsletter czar here at CBS Sports. Until next year … thank you! 

There’s still time to sign up for the Pick Six newsletter. Tell your buddies, too. All you have to do is click here and then share this link with them.

1. Biggest questions for all 32 teams 

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Tyler Sullivan wrote a critical piece after the draft — what is now the biggest, most striking question for the entire NFL. Like what happens with the Michael Penix Jr./Kirk Cousins saga? Can the Ravens offensive line hold up? Can Bryce Young take a step forward in Year 2? And here’s what Tyler’s wondering about the Packers after Jordan Love’s amazing ascension late in the 2023 campaign: “Can Jordan Love keep up his second-half play from last season?”

“The Packers have somehow threaded the QB needle once again as Jordan Love proved to be a legit starting quarterback for them in their first season post-Aaron Rodgers. Love had Green Bay on the brink of an NFC Championship appearance and was fantastic down the stretch of the regular season. In his final eight regular-season games, Love completed 70% of his passes and had a 112.7 passer rating to go along with 18 passing touchdowns and just one interception. If that’s who he is, Love is an MVP candidate.”

Man, with Williams in Chicago, J.J. McCarthy in Minnesota, the Lions coming off a trip to the NFC title game, along with the young, dynamic Packers, the NFC North is going to be one of the most fascinating divisions in all of football in 2024. 

2. ‘With the First Pick’ podcast 🎧: 2025 MOCK DRAFT

YES! An entire episode dedicated to the draft! The 2025 draft, that is. Ryan Wilson and Rick Spielman are joined by longtime college football staffers Tom Fornelli and Chip Patterson to simply talk Shedeur Sanders for an hour. KIDDING. Sure, the Colorado quarterback is discussed, but the foursome actually runs through an entire 32-pick, way-too-early mock draft for next year’s class. 

3. Forecasting QB competitions

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In case you forgot, there were six quarterbacks selected in the top-12 selections in the first round. So, yeah, some quarterback competitions are imminent. OK, so Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels can be written in Sharpie as the starters in Chicago and Washington D.C.. However, Drake Maye apparently isn’t going to be handed the starting job in New England, and, yeah, we don’t know what to do with the Penix situation. 

Cody Benjamin provided a full primer on all the candidates — and predicted a winner — in every quarterback competition across the league that’ll take place in just a few months when training camps begin in late July. 

Here’s what he wrote about that obscure Raiders quarterback battle, which will feature Aidan O’Connell vs. Gardner Minshew: 

“The one quarterback-needy team that didn’t address the position in the draft, the Raiders have vowed to give O’Connell a chance to hold the job after the 2023 fourth-rounder fared reasonably well amid in-season regime change as a rookie. But other factors point to Minshew eventually securing an edge: He’s got more experience and mobility, noted journeyman moxie and he secured spot-starter money to leave the Indianapolis Colts in free agency. With veterans like Davante Adams in tow, winning sooner rather than later may be the priority.”

4. Ranking AFC teams post-draft 👀

Time for Tyler Sullivan to spin it forward regarding the draft, as we start to envision rookies infused into their respective rosters and the impact (or lack thereof) they will have. 

In this piece, Tyler ranked the absolutely loaded AFC after the draft, and he’s feeling good about the Jets entering the 2024 campaign, writing: 

“I’m bullish on the Jets in 2024. Aaron Rodgers is returning from his Achilles tear and, so long as he’s even 80% of the player he was pre-injury, he’s the best quarterback they’ve had in decades. New York spent this offseason addressing its weaknesses by adding three new offensive tackles and adding wideout Mike Williams to pair alongside Garrett Wilson. With Rodgers pulling the strings on offense and a defense that has top-five upside, the ceiling for the Jets is extremely high. Head coach Robert Saleh remains the biggest question mark.”

5. News & Notes 📝

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  • Chargers signing former Pro Bowl WR. That pass catcher is D.J. Chark, who, yes, did make a Pro Bowl in 2020. Another veteran downfield threat for Justin Herbert. 
  • Ravens GM explains thought process behind Devontez Walker selection. Eric DeCosta referenced the field-stretching skills of Torrey Smith and how impactful they were during his prime being what Baltimore was looking for with the tall, explosive Walker. 
  • Patrick Mahomes guarantees another Super Bowl victory. After back-to-back Super Bowl victories, the Chiefs quarterback recently was quoted saying “next year in New Orleans, we’re gonna do it again.” 

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