2024 NFL Draft: Top Picks To Go Early in the First Round

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The 2024 NFL draft is tonight and we could very well see a repeat of the 2021 draft where the top 3 picks were all quarterbacks, the most important position.

But this 2024 draft class is also very top-heavy and deep at the wide receiver position, which might be the class’s best position. There are 3 wide receivers (Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, and Rome Odunze) expected to go very high in the draft.

When you look at the teams at the top of this draft, it would not be unrealistic for picks 1-3 to be all quarterbacks and picks 4-6 all wide receivers. But we know the NFL Draft always has some unpredictable moves and a plethora of trades as well on draft night.

With that in mind, we are looking at the odds from a top-rated sportsbook like Bovada on the favorites to be the top picks early in this 2024 draft.

Caleb Williams, QB, USC

  • Odds to be No. 1 Overall Pick (Bears): -5000 at Bovada

In most years, we have a good feeling weeks before the draft of who is going No. 1. Caleb Williams is just a rare prospect that went into a college football season with the expectations of going No. 1 in the 2024 NFL draft, and here we are a couple weeks away with him having near-lock odds to do just that. He did not falter from that status.

It is also pretty inevitable that the Chicago Bears are going to use their No. 1 pick this time on a quarterback after they traded Justin Fields to the Steelers for peanuts. Last year, the Bears had their shot to move on from Fields and draft Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud, and they traded the pick to Carolina for a draft haul and D.J. Moore.

Did it work out for the Bears in the end? Maybe so. It depends on whether you think they would have picked Stroud, who looks like the next elite passer in the AFC. But either way, the Bears are set up pretty well to give Williams a solid base around him in 2024 with Moore still there, they traded for Keenan Allen from the Chargers, Cole Kmet had a breakout year at tight end, and they are reshaping the offensive line and hoping to improve on defense.

But quarterback play was not good enough for the Bears again, so they will hope the dynamic Williams can be the player they have literally spent decades searching for in Chicago.

Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

  • Odds to be No. 2 Overall Pick (Commanders): -175 at Bovada
  • Odds to be No. 3 Overall Pick (Patriots): +130 at Bovada

There is less clarity on which quarterback is going No. 2 to the Commanders, but they are another team who almost has to go quarterback after trading 2023 starter Sam Howell to the Seahawks. Otherwise, there is no plan there for the long term.

Washington is also a franchise that has been starved for a quarterback. They had a steady hand in Kirk Cousins before he left in 2018, but he was never going to take them to a Super Bowl. Before that, there was hype around Robert Griffin III, the No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft, but his knee injury suffered as a rookie derailed his path to greatness.

The Commanders need a home run with Dan Quinn coming in as the new head coach and Kliff Kingsbury as his offensive coordinator. Remember, Kingsbury has been coaching top-tier playmakers in his career, including Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes, and Kyler Murray. He needs someone with mobility to run his offense.

Jayden Daniels from LSU is the right fit in that regard. He is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner after one of the most dynamic seasons ever where he completed 72.2% of his passes, averaged 11.7 yards per pass, 8.4 yards per rush, and accounted for 50 total touchdowns while only throwing 4 interceptions.

It’s a ridiculous season that is well out of line with the rest of his lengthy college career at Arizona State (2019-21) and LSU (2022-23). But was it just a fluke? We’ll find out as that’s always the gamble in the NFL draft at the most important position.

But the Commanders need an athlete and a game changer at that position, and Daniels is going to be available for them.

Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

  • Odds to be No. 2 Overall Pick (Commanders): +125 at Bovada
  • Odds to be No. 3 Overall Pick (Patriots): -135 at Bovada

The other quarterback at the top of this draft is North Carolina’s Drake Maye. He succeeded Sam Howell at school, but would the Commanders want him to succeed Howell in Washington as well? You could say that probably would have worked out for Chicago if they replaced Fields with another Ohio State quarterback in C.J. Stroud, but that doesn’t mean these North Carolina quarterbacks are on the same level.

In fact, Maye saw most of his numbers take a step back in 2023 from 2022, though a lot of that could have been explained by losing some NFL talent at wide receiver such as Josh Downs and Antoine Green, his top 2 leading receivers in 2022 who were drafted into the NFL in 2023.

Maye was arguably playing more hero ball in 2023, though to his credit, the Tar Heels still averaged 34.5 points per game after averaging 34.4 points per game in his breakout year in 2022 when he threw 38 touchdowns. His yards per attempt also remained steady at 8.4 in 2022 compared to 8.5 in 2023, so it’s really the volume that went down in his passing and not so much the efficiency. That is good news for teams debating to draft him.

The Patriots have obviously needed a quarterback since Tom Brady moved on in 2020. Mac Jones only declined the last 2 years, so he was traded to Jacksonville, and new coach Jerod Mayo is going to need someone at that pivotal position if his tenure is going to last long.

Maye is arguably the least interesting of the top 3 prospects this year, but his hero ball might work out for a team that expects to play great defense and just get by on offense with someone who is not a turnover machine like Jones and Bailey Zappe were.

Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

  • Odds to be No. 4 Overall Pick (Cardinals): -190 at Bovada

While you can’t discount someone trading up to take Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy with the No. 4 pick, that would be an unprecedented start to a draft with 4 quarterbacks.

The Cardinals currently hold the pick, and they at least seem content with keeping Kyler Murray for 2024, if not longer. They however lost Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore at wide receiver, so Murray (and the next quarterback) is going to need someone good to throw to at wide receiver.

Enter Marvin Harrison Jr., the most polished and pro-ready wideout in this draft from Ohio State, which has recently been a powerhouse at producing receivers. Harrison Jr. is obviously the son of Marvin Harrison, the Hall of Fame wide receiver who played with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and once caught a record 143 passes in a season.

Harrison Jr. is even bigger than his dad, and he has reliable hands and can be just as consistent after dominating the last few years at Ohio State. He can step in and be a No. 1 wide receiver as a rookie, and the opportunities will be there in Arizona with the losses at the position.

Maybe the Cardinals end up liking one of the other receivers better, but Harrison Jr. is the odds-on favorite to be the 1st wideout drafted, and most draft analysts agree he is the best in class. We know he has the genes for it.

Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

  • Odds to be No. 5 Overall Pick (Chargers): +175 at Bovada
  • Odds to be a Top 5 Pick: +190 at Bovada

Malik Nabers is another favorite wide receiver in this draft class. He was the No. 1 receiver at LSU where he got better each year, topping out at 1,569 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2023.

We know LSU has been a wide receiver factory in recent years with Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase both playing there. The Tigers also expect Brian Thomas Jr. to go in the 1st round this year along with Nabers, but Nabers is considered by many to be the better player of the duo.

Nabers finished 2023 on a tear, producing at least 120 yards in 5 straight games before he left the season finale against Washington early after securing a school milestone with 3,003 career receiving yards.

It is far from a lock that the Chargers, now coached by Jim Harbaugh, are going to take a wide receiver with the No. 5 pick. Nabers would be a logical pick after the team lost Keenan Allen and Mike Williams this offseason, leaving Justin Herbert without a real No. 1 receiver. Nabers would fill that role, but do not be surprised if the team goes with an offensive lineman or even a different kind of pass catcher. But Nabers would be a smart move for the Chargers.

Other Likely Top 10 Picks

We just reviewed the 5 players that have been given some of the best odds to go in the top 5 in this draft. Here are some of the other players with good odds to go in the top 10 picks according to Bovada:

Rome Odunze

  • WR, Washington (-1800)

Some experts like Rome Odunze as much as the other top wideouts in this class. He has great ball skills, size, speed, and he kept getting better at Washington with 1,640 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior. He could be the No. 1 wide receiver the Giants (No. 6 pick) have been searching for ever since Odell Beckham Jr.’s health went south.

J.J. McCarthy

  • QB, Michigan (-1600)

Do not be surprised if a quarterback-needy team like the Vikings or Broncos trades up to get J.J. McCarthy, who was 27-1 as a starter at Michigan. He did not have to throw the ball often, but he is coachable, he can deliver on 3rd down, he is mobile enough for today’s NFL, and he would be a good fit in an offense schemed by Kevin O’Connell or Sean Payton. Those teams may not be able to wait until later to get their quarterback in this draft class.

Joe Alt

  • OT, Notre Dame (-1200)

The offensive line is also well represented in this draft class, though the player with the best shot of going in the top 10 picks to a team like the Titans (No. 7) or Falcons (No. 8) is Notre Dame tackle Joe Alt. Do not be surprised if the Chargers (No. 5) take him to bolster what is likely going to be a more run-focused scheme under Greg Roman. Alt is a team captain and franchise tackle in the making for a team.

Dallas Turner

  • Edge, Alabama (-225)

Can we get some defense in this top 10? The defender with the best odds to go off the board 1st is Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner. He had 8.5 sacks as a freshman in 2021 and stepped up again in 2023 with 10 more sacks in his most productive season yet. He could be an edge rusher that goes to the Falcons (No. 8), Bears (No. 9), or Jets (No. 10 to bolster that pass rush.

Brock Bowers

  • TE, Georgia (+100)

The best tight end in the draft is a fascinating prospect as Brock Bowers led Georgia to a pair of national championships and was their leading receiver all 3 years. If you’re going to land a Travis Kelce, Tony Gonzalez, or Rob Gronkowski type in this draft, Bowers is that guy. He could land anywhere from No. 5 (Chargers) to No. 18 (Bengals), but he should not be overlooked as the tight end position often is in the draft. He’s a special player that could really elevate a team if they build around him.

*The line and/or odds in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.