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NFL teams most likely to pick QB in Round 1 of 2024 NFL Draft

Every year, there are a handful of teams that clearly intend to select a quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft. And then there are the other teams, perhaps without a need as pressing or a selection that is high enough, that unexpectedly shake up the draft by paying a premium to climb the board for their preferred signal-caller.

Plenty of intrigue surrounds what the Bears will do with the first overall pick: Will they use it on a new franchise QB, like USC's Caleb Williams? If so, will one of the QB-needy teams below trade for Justin Fields instead of picking a new passer in Round 1? Might the Bears keep Fields and move out of the No. 1 slot entirely?

Complicating the top of the board even further is the fact that there are three outstanding receiver prospects worthy of a top-10 pick. Will teams desperate for a new arm under center still draft for need versus taking the best player available?

After digging into QB situations around the league, here's my best guess at the teams that are most likely to take a passer in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Chicago Bears

First-round pick: Nos. 1 & 9 overall

This decision should be a fairly easy one, in my estimation. The deadline to pick up the fifth-year option on Justin Fields' rookie contract is May 2, but by then, I believe the Bears will have traded Fields and drafted Caleb Williams. While Fields has shown incremental growth over the last two seasons, I don’t think it is enough for the Bears to consider giving him a lucrative second contract. General manager Ryan Poles will have his choice of the draft's passers and a chance to reset with a rookie quarterback contract, which would allow him to continue building out the roster over the next four years through more aggressive free-agency spending and early-round picks. The idea of dealing the top pick and stocking up on future first-rounders is enticing, but unless the Bears like another one of this year's quarterbacks as much as Caleb Williams, I just don’t see them making that decision or hanging onto Fields.

Likely Fit: Caleb Williams, USC

First-round pick: No. 2 overall

Sam Howell had his moments last season, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards, but his 21:21 TD-to-INT ratio doesn't exactly inspire confidence. With a new coaching staff and front office in place, I fully expect the Commanders to start over at quarterback, too, most likely with the No. 2 pick. The real question, though, is whether the evaluators in the building, in conjunction with new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, will have the quarterback prospects ranked on their board in such a manner that they'd feel comfortable moving down and acquiring draft capital while targeting the likes of J.J. McCarthy, Bo Nix or Michael Penix with a pick further down in the round. While trading back would boost the team's ability to rebuild its roster more quickly, it seems far more likely that the choice will be between Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye in the second spot.

Likely Fit: Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels

First-round pick: No. 3 overall

There is an argument to be made that Mac Jones has been put into an impossible situation to begin his Patriots career, with no real weapons at pass catcher and a defensive coordinator calling the offense in 2022. While it's a fair case to make, Jones’ regression and apparent lack of confidence on the field also contributed to his poor performance over the past two seasons. And so it's highly likely that the Patriots target a quarterback in April. There is a new head coach and general manager in the building, and along with owner Robert Kraft, the team's leadership is searching for more collaboration when it comes to decision-making. Will that collaboration lead to New England selecting the third quarterback off the board, taking a player the Pats have rated higher (say, at receiver), or trading down to gather additional assets to aid in the rebuilding process? With the Patriots also set to pick at 34th overall, I think no matter what they choose to do at No. 3, they will add a new quarterback early in the draft to compete for a starting spot.

Likely Fit: Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye

First-round pick: No. 6 overall

The Giants are in striking distance of potentially being able to grab the third or fourth quarterback in this draft, but depending on how their evaluations come along, they might be inclined to put together an aggressive package to move into the top three. Will there be any takers? I doubt we see any of the top three teams dropping to the sixth overall pick. Even if the Giants don't select a QB within the first six slots, I could still see them taking one at some point in the first round. That passer would then spend his rookie season working behind Daniel Jones before taking over in 2025, when the Giants can cut or trade Jones and save more than $19 million in the process. 

Likely Fit: Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy

First-round pick: No. 12 overall

It may seem inconceivable that Denver would be willing to cut Russell Wilson and incur a cap hit of around $85 million this year, but there is a legitimate chance they will do just that. Why? Because if Wilson is still on the Broncos' roster on the fifth day of the new league year (which begins March 13), his $37 million base salary for 2025 becomes fully guaranteed. Sean Payton was hired, in large part, to get the quarterback position fixed and the organization back on track to compete for a division title. After the Broncos traded first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 in the package to acquire Wilson, it will be interesting to see if Payton and GM George Paton have the patience to allow the draft (and QB position) to come to them, or if they will feel the need to do whatever it takes to secure their guy.

Likely Fit: J.J. McCarthy or Jayden Daniels

First-round pick: No. 8 overall

The Falcons are in desperate need of a quarterback, but will they wait until the eighth pick to take one, deal up into the top five, or look at a player like Justin Fields on the trade market? Atlanta is starting fresh with a new head coach and has already started making roster moves to free up money in free agency. After the Falcons invested high-end draft capital on skill position talent like Kyle Pitts, Drake London and Bijan Robinson in recent years, I’m certain they would love to get their hands on a quarterback who can help bind those offensive ingredients into a cohesive and productive unit.

Likely Fit: Jayden Daniels or J.J. McCarthy

First-round pick: No. 11 overall

While I see a deal getting done with Kirk Cousins to keep him in Minnesota (at least for the short term), I don’t know that it would preclude Minnesota from drafting a quarterback-in-waiting if the opportunity arose, despite the team's needs at other positions. If the Vikings do allow Cousins to walk, it would strengthen their odds of coming away with a quarterback in the first. As an offensive-minded head coach and former quarterback, Kevin O’Connell should have a good feel for what will work in his offense. The Vikings might need to move up to grab one of the first four quarterbacks, but without a third-round pick, they could focus on trading back and grabbing a prospect like Bo Nix or Michael Penix, who have the type of experience that might allow them to hit the ground running, while adding draft capital.

Likely fit: J.J. McCarthy or Bo Nix

First-round pick: No. 13 overall

The quarterback market is likely to be picked over by the time the 13th selection comes around, so Vegas will need to make a significant trade up (potentially to No. 7 with the Titans) in order to land one of their top choices. The Raiders are also in desperate need of a defensive tackle, which could be their pick if they stay put, but a trade-out to a team hungry for a pass rusher or offensive tackle could possibly net Vegas a second-round pick, which might allow the Raiders to take the fifth quarterback off the board and a defensive tackle on Day 2. As always, good teams need to have their grade match with the spot they are taking a player, but that could be the case here, as teams frequently have wildly different grades on prospects.

Likely Fit: Bo Nix


First-round pick: No. 16 overall

Geno Smith is likely to command the offense again this season, but he’ll be 34 in October, and so it might be time for the Seahawks to invest in a quarterback of the future -- even if they do so after moving down in Round 1. And GM John Schneider is no stranger to the first-round trade-back. But the Seahawks could definitely use offensive line and pass rush help, and at Pick No. 16, they should have the opportunity to land a talented starter at a position of need.

First-round pick: No. 19 overall

Matthew Stafford is still a quality quarterback, but he just turned 36 in February, so plotting a course of action for his eventual replacement would make sense. Even if Stafford remains the starter for another season or two, having a first-rounder at a team-friendly rate for five years while learning the ropes from the Super Bowl champ could be extremely valuable.

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