The run on wide receivers continued during Day 2 of the NFL draft, which began Friday with the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers using picks to fill glaring needs at the position.

Buffalo, which made two trades to move out of Thursday's first round, started the second by selecting Florida State wide receiver Keon Coleman with the 33rd overall pick. The Chargers then moved up three spots to nab Georgia wideout Ladd McConkey at No. 34.

Both teams sustained significant losses at wide receiver this offseason. The Bills traded four-time Pro Bowler Stefon Diggs to the Houston Texans earlier this month, while the Chargers moved on from two accomplished veterans in March by trading Keenan Allen to the Chicago Bears and releasing Mike Williams to clear salary cap space.

After the first round saw a record-tying seven wide receivers go off the board, the second saw three taken with the first five picks. After working a trade with the Chargers to move down from pick No. 34, the New England Patriots chose Washington's Ja'Lynn Polk with the 37th overall selection.

On the flip side, this draft didn't have a running back taken until the Carolina Panthers ended the drought by trading up for Jonathan Brooks with the 46th overall pick. The former Texas standout was the lone running back picked in the second round, though the Arizona Cardinals selected Florida State's Trey Benson with the second pick of the third round (No. 66 overall). 

Two more running backs did go later in Round 3. Blake Corum, the leading rusher on Michigan's 2023 national champion team, was taken by the Los Angeles Rams at No. 83 overall, while the Green Bay Packers chose USC's MarShawn Lloyd at No. 88.

Another former Michigan player will be playing for his college coach after the Chargers nabbed Junior Colson with the fifth pick of the third round (No. 69). The linebacker reunites with Jim Harbaugh after Los Angeles hired away the former Wolverines' boss in January. 

Defensive tackles were also popular on Day 2, as seven went off the board in the second round after the Seattle Seahawks made Texas' Byron Murphy the lone player at the position chosen in the first.

Interior defensive linemen accounted for four of the first seven picks of the second round. The Atlanta Falcons started the run by trading up for Clemson's Ruke Orhorhoro at No. 35, one pick before the Washington Commanders chose Illinois' Jer'Zhawn Newton. The Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams then used back-to-back selections on Texas' T'Vondre Sweat and Florida State's Braden Fiske, respectively, at picks No. 38 and 39.

Fiske's selection was followed by four straight cornerbacks - Iowa's Cooper DeJean (Philadelphia), Alabama's Kool-Aid McKinstry (New Orleans), Georgia's Kamari Lassiter (Houston) and Rutgers' Max Melton (Arizona) - at picks No. 40-43.

Lassiter was this year's first draft choice of the Texans, one of three teams without a first-round selection along with the Bills and Cleveland. The Browns did not have a pick until taking Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Hall Jr. at No. 54. 

No quarterbacks were taken in Rounds 2 and 3 after six went in the first 12 picks of the first round. 

 

 

The New England Patriots hope they now have their franchise quarterback after selecting North Carolina’s Drake Maye with the third overall pick in Thursday's NFL draft. 

Maye was the third straight quarterback selected after the Chicago Bears took Caleb Williams at No. 1 and the Washington Commanders chose Jayden Daniels second.

Since Tom Brady departed New England following the 2019 season, the Patriots used Cam Newton as their primary quarterback the following season before drafting Mac Jones 15th overall in 2021.

Jones had a strong rookie season with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions but tailed off to 24 TDs and 23 picks combined the past two seasons and was traded to Jacksonville in March. 

Maye likely won’t be the Patriots’ starting quarterback at the start of the 2024 season after veteran signal caller Jacoby Brissett was signed to a one-year contract in March. Brissett has appeared in 79 NFL games with 48 starts and figures to serve as a mentor to Maye.

There is also the belief that Maye simply won’t be NFL ready in a few months and would be best served to sit a season, like what Patrick Mahomes did for the Chiefs in 2017.

Maye was the ACC Player of the Year in 2022 in his first season as a full-time starter at North Carolina, also being named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. He broke Mitchell Trubisky’s school record and set an FBS freshman record with 4,321 passing yards and tied Sam Howell’s mark for passing touchdowns with 38 and threw just seven interceptions. He also displayed his mobility with nearly 700 yards rushing and seven scores. 

This past season wasn’t as productive for Maye, who before the season lost offensive coordinator Phil Longo and receivers Josh Downs and Antoine Green to the NFL. Maye was still named to the Second Team All-ACC team as he passed for 3,608 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 games.

Maye has all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL, namely excellent arm talent and good mobility for someone of his size (6-foot-4, 223 pounds). He made a host of impressive touch throws in college and understands where to deliver a ball for a receiver to make a play on it. 

There are some issues with Maye’s footwork and his tendency to trust his arm strength almost too much and force some throws. His weaknesses, though, seem like the kind that can be improved upon rather quickly and sitting for a full season - or at least most of one - would help greatly in this area. 

Maye has drawn comparisons to Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers. 

He isn’t quite the natural athlete that Allen is and probably doesn’t have Hebert’s arm strength, but it’s not far-fetched to think Maye could put up similar numbers to those two at the next level given the right coaching and situation. 

The Washington Commanders are confident that they have found their franchise quarterback.

With the second overall pick, the Commanders selected LSU’s Jayden Daniels, one of the most electric dual-threat quarterback prospects in recent memory.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner led LSU to a 10-3 season last year and threw for 3,812 yards and 40 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He added 1,134 yards on the ground and 10 rushing touchdowns.

On Wednesday, Daniels downplayed reports that he was unhappy with the Commanders conducting a group interview with other top quarterback prospects.

“I'm blessed to go wherever I'm called,” Daniels told reporters. “Whoever calls my phone, whoever gives the card to the commissioner that says my name, I'm blessed to go and they're going to get my all.”

Daniels later clarified that he was “one hundred per cent” heading to Washington.

Despite gaudy production in his senior year, scouts were split on Daniels’ professional prospects, with some wondering if he possesses the pocket passing skills required for the NFL.

At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Daniels is larger than most dual-threat prospects, and his ability to avoid turnovers his senior year was very promising.

But Daniels’ Heisman season is an outlier among his five seasons in college – three at Arizona State and the final two at LSU.

In his first 43 NCAA games, Daniels had a 143.8 passer rating. That number skyrocketed to 208.0 last season.

Due to his extended college career, Daniels will celebrate his 24th birthday during his rookie season in the NFL, making him significantly older than fellow top quarterback prospects Caleb Williams and Drake Maye.

Daniels joins a Commanders squad that went 4-13 last season with Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.

Dan Quinn replaces Ron Rivera as Washington’s head coach, and former Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury will take over as the Commanders’ offensive coordinator.

Offence and then offence, some more offence followed by offence.

That was the story of a record-setting first round of the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit on Thursday night.

For the first time in history, the first 14 picks were offensive players, including six quarterbacks and three wide receivers. The first defensive player didn’t come off the board until the Indianapolis Colts selected edge rusher Laiatu Latu from UCLA with the 15th pick.

The latest a first round had previously gone before a defensive player was taken was No. 8 overall. That’s where the Carolina Panthers took cornerback Jaycee Horn in 2021.

Not only were the 14 straight offensive players to start the draft a record, but it was also the first time 14 consecutive offensive players were taken at any point in the draft.

As expected, the first three picks were quarterbacks.

USC’s Caleb Williams – the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner - went first overall to the Chicago Bears, 2023 Heisman winner Jayden Daniels from LSU was picked next by the Washington Commanders and the New England Patriots took Drake Maye out of North Carolina.

This was the fourth time in the common draft era starting in 1967 that quarterbacks went with the top three picks.

The QBs continued to fly off the board soon after, with the Atlanta Falcons pulling the first surprise of the draft by selecting Michael Penix Jr. of Washington with the 8th overall pick.

The Falcons took Penix less than two months after signing veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract with $100 million guaranteed.

J.J. McCarthy was the next QB taken, as the Minnesota Vikings moved up one spot to 10th in a trade with the New York Jets. McCarthy went 27-1 as a starter at Michigan and won last season’s national championship.

The Denver Broncos grabbed Oregon signal-caller Bo Nix with the 12th pick as they look to settle a position that has been in flux since Peyton Manning. The Broncos have had 13 starting quarterbacks since Manning retired as a Super Bowl champion after the 2015 season.

Six quarterbacks selected in the first 12 picks tied the 1983 draft for the most taken in any first round. Three of those became Hall of Fame quarterbacks – John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly. Todd Blackledge, Tony Eason and Ken O’Brien also went in the first round in 1983.

The Arizona Cardinals stopped the run of quarterbacks by going for Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. at No. 4. The Los Angeles Chargers opened the Jim Harbaugh era by taking Notre Dame offensive tackle Joe Alt and the New York Giants picked up explosive LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers with the sixth pick.

After the Tennessee Titans took Alabama offensive tackle J.C. Latham with the seventh pick, the Bears took Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze at No. 9 with their second selection in the top 10.

The Vikings made the biggest move up in terms of spots, going from No. 23 to 17 in a swap with the Jacksonville Jaguars to select Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner.

The Jaguars selected LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. with the 23rd pick as they try to fill the void left by Calvin Ridley signing with division rival Tennessee in free agency.

It was only fitting that the final two picks of the first round were wide receivers. Ricky Pearsall of Florida went 31st to the San Francisco 49ers and South Carolina’s Xavier Legette was the last selection to the Carolina Panthers.

The 23 offensive players picked was easily the most in history, surpassing the previous record of 19 (1968, 2004 and 2009).

 

The Philadelphia Eagles made the biggest move of the night outside the draft, agreeing to a three-year contract extension with star wide receiver A.J. Brown.

The contract includes $84 million in guaranteed money and will make Brown the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL at $32 million a season. He could earn as much as $96 million over the length of the extension.

Brown had 106 catches for 1,456 yards receiving last season after he had 88 catches for 1,496 yards in 2022, in his first season with the Eagles.

Brown spent his first three seasons with the Tennessee Titans after he was drafted 51st overall in the 2019 draft. He surpassed 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first two seasons in the NFL and had 869 in 13 games in his third season.

The first defensive player is finally off the board.

The Indianapolis Colts ended the longest run of consecutive offensive players selected to start a draft by taking UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu with the eighth overall pick in Thursday's draft.

Latu arrives in the NFL after winning last year's Lombardi Award, which is given to the best collegiate lineman in the United States.

As a senior last year, he also won the Ted Hendricks Award, which is given to the nation's top defensive end.

 

A first-team All-American and the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2023, Latu will continue his football career in the NFL after it appeared his playing days were over just a few years ago.

While playing at Washington in 2020, Latu suffered a neck injury that required surgery and doctors did not clear him for the 2021 season forcing him to medically retire. He ended up transferring to UCLA, where he excelled on the field after being medically cleared.

In his first season with the Bruins in 2022, he was a first-team All-Pac 12 selection after registering the eighth-most sacks in the FBS with 10 ½.

He took a step forward in 2023, as he led the FBS with 21 ½ tackles for loss and his 13 sacks were tied for fourth in the nation.

Latu showed he can beat opposing offensive linemen in multiple ways, either using a quick first step to blow by them or overpowering them with his upper-body strength.

He plays with a high motor and has been playing with a chip on his shoulder for the last two years after being out of football for two years.

The Colts, who finished 9-8 in 2023, are now banking on his mindset and skillset succeeding in the NFL.

Prior to Indianapolis picking Latu, the latest the first defensive player was selected in the common draft era (1967) was in 2021, when the Carolina Panthers drafted South Carolina defensive back with the eighth pick.

Sean Payton got his man.

Payton has a new quarterback to run his offence after the Denver Broncos selected Oregon's Bo Nix with the 12th pick in NFL draft on Thursday.

In the weeks leading up to the draft, Nix had been linked to Denver, as he had been drawing comparisons to Drew Brees – the quarterback who flourished under Payton with the New Orleans Saints and the two won a Super Bowl together in 2009.

He now will likely get a chance to compete for the starting QB job in Denver after the Broncos released Russell Wilson in early March following an 8-9 finish in 2023.

 

Nix comes to Denver with plenty of experience of reading defences after starting an NCAA-record 61 games during his five years in college.

As a senior in 2023, Nix put up eye-popping numbers, leading the FBS with 45 touchdowns while throwing just three interceptions to finish third in Heisman Trophy voting.

He set an NCAA-single-season record for completion percentage at 77.4, and his 4,508 passing yards trailed only Michael Penix Jr. for the most in the United States.

Not only does Nix do an excellent job of protecting the football, as his interception rate of 0.6 ranked third out of 119 qualifying FBS quarterbacks, but he also excels in getting rid of the ball quickly and avoiding the sack.

Despite attempting 470 passes, he was sacked just five times – the fewest among the 44 quarterbacks with at least 350 pass attempts.

Showing poise in the pocket, Nix has superb touch on his passes, firing the ball out quickly from a variety of arm platforms.

Nix is the second quarterback acquired by the Broncos this week after the team traded for Zach Wilson from the New York Jets on Monday, and Nix is actually just a few months younger than Wilson, who was the second overall pick of the 2021 draft.

The 24-year-old Nix began his collegiate career at Auburn in 2019 and spent his first three years there before transferring to Oregon prior to the 2022 season.

In his collegiate career, Nix completed 66.4 per cent of his passes for 15,352 yards with 113 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.

With Denver drafting Nix, this marks the first time in the history of the common draft (1967) that half of the first 12 picks were quarterbacks.

The last time six QBs were picked in the first round was the famous 1983 draft, when Hall of Famer and former Bronco John Elway, along with Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Dan Mariano, as well as Todd Blackledge, Tony Eason and Ken O'Brien were selected in the opening round.

J.J. McCarthy proved to be a winner at the collegiate level.

The Minnesota Vikings believe he has the intangibles to win in the NFL.

The Vikings moved up one spot to select McCarthy with the 10th pick in 2024 NFL draft on Thursday just over three months after he led Michigan to the FBS national title.

McCarthy shot up the draft boards after his savvy play in the national title game and drew comparisons to another former Michigan quarterback with a knack for winning in Tom Brady.

While he doesn't possess the same measurables as the four QBs selected ahead of him on Thursday, McCarthy makes the jump to the NFL as a national champion.

 

And although McCarthy wasn't asked to make as many big plays with his arm, he made clutch plays and the Vikings view him as someone who can help get the franchise back on track after a disappointing 2023.

The Vikings finished 7-10 last year, cycling through Joshua Dobbs, Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall at quarterback following Kirk Cousin's season-ending injury to a torn Achilles.

This is the earliest ever Minnesota has drafted a quarterback, and McCarthy will be competing with the recently acquired Sam Darnold for the starting QB job.

He steps into a terrific situation in Minnesota, as the Vikings have Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison at wide receiver and T.J. Hockenson at tight end.

A first-team All-Big Ten selection and a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award for the top collegiate quarterback in the United States, McCarthy threw for 2,991 yards with 22 touchdowns and four interceptions as a junior last season.

And while his passing numbers don’t jump off the page – he averaged just under 200 passing yards per game, while by comparison Michael Penix Jr. led the FBS with an average of 326.9 passing yards per game – he delivered accurate passes and didn’t make many mistakes was his throws.

In 2023, McCarthy ranked sixth in the FBS in completion percentage at 72.3 and 13th in yards per attempt at 9.01. His interception rate of 1.2 picks per every 100 pass attempts also ranked 10th out of 119 qualifying FBS quarterbacks.

Though he was largely a game manager in college, McCarthy has the skills to develop into a steady passer.

He also has the mentality of a winner, and the Vikings are counting on him to lead the franchise to its first ever Super Bowl title.

The Atlanta Falcons saw an opportunity and seized.

The Falcons pulled off a shocker, selecting Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth pick in Thursday's NFL draft.

Although Atlanta signed Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180million contract this offseason, the team obviously views Penix as the quarterback of the future.

With the Falcons picking Penix, four quarterbacks have been selected in the top eight picks for the first time in the common draft era (1967).

 

And while four QBs went ahead of him, many scouts all agreed that Penix has the best arm on deep throws among all the quarterbacks in this year's draft class.

As a senior last year, he won the Maxwell Award as the top collegiate player in the United States and finished second in Heisman Trophy voting, throwing for an FBS-best 4,903 yards with 36 TDs and 11 picks.

The left-handed throwing Penix led the Huskies to last season's the national title game, but after passing for 430 yards and two touchdowns in the CFP semi-final win over Texas, he threw for 255 yards and two interceptions in a 34-13 loss to Michigan.

In addition to his deep-ball accuracy, Penix also excels at getting rid of the ball quickly and avoid taking a sack, as he was sacked just 11 times despite attempting an FBS-high 555 passes in 2023. Among the 44 quarterbacks with at least 350 pass attempts, only four were sacked a fewer number of times.

Despite his big arm and pocket presence, some teams were a bit concerned about his age and injury history.

Penix will be 24 years old when the 2024 NFL season gets under way after beginning his collegiate career in 2018 at Indiana. After an up-and-down four years with the Hoosiers, which included a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2020 but also two season-ending injuries, Penix transferred to Washington prior to the 2022 season.

In his first season with the Huskies, Penix earned second-team All-Pac 12 honours after ranking second in the FBS in passing yards with 4,641 to go with 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

He was able to stay healthy during his two years at Washington, and will now join an Atlanta offence that also has last year's No. 8 pick in Bijan Robinson.

With players like Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Garrett Wilson entering the league in recent years, Ohio State has become a factory for NFL wide receivers.

Marvin Harrison Jr. might be the best of the bunch.

The Arizona Cardinals selected Harrison with the fourth overall pick on Thursday, making him the first non-quarterback to come off the board.

With several teams still looking for their future quarterbacks, some experts thought the Cardinals could trade the No. 4 pick, but they ultimately stayed put to take Harrison.

The son of the eight-time Pro Bowl receiver and Indianapolis Colts great, Harrison Jr. spent three seasons at Ohio State. In his last two seasons in Columbus, he totalled 144 receptions for 2,474 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Harrison is a two-time All-American and won the Fred Biletnikoff Award last year as college football’s best receiver.

With good athleticism and a 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame, Harrison checks all the boxes to project as a No. 1 NFL receiver.

In a pre-draft interview with ESPN on Thursday, Harrison said his goal is to be “the best receiver to ever play.”

Harrison joins a Cardinals team that is looking to recover from a 4-13 season and wants to build around quarterback Kyler Murray.

The Washington Commanders are confident that they have found their franchise quarterback.

With the second overall pick, the Commanders selected LSU’s Jayden Daniels, one of the most electric dual-threat quarterback prospects in recent memory.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner led LSU to a 10-3 season last year and threw for 3,812 yards and 40 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He added 1,134 yards on the ground and 10 rushing touchdowns.

On Wednesday, Daniels downplayed reports that he was unhappy with the Commanders conducting a group interview with other top quarterback prospects.

“I'm blessed to go wherever I'm called,” Daniels told reporters. “Whoever calls my phone, whoever gives the card to the Commissioner that says my name, I'm blessed to go and they're going to get my all.”

Daniels later clarified that he was “one hundred percent” heading to Washington.

Despite gaudy production in his senior year, scouts were split on Daniels’ professional prospects, with some wondering if he possesses the pocket passing skills required for the NFL.

At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Daniels is larger than most dual-threat prospects, and his ability to avoid turnovers his senior year was very promising.

But Daniels’ Heisman season is an outlier among his five seasons in college – three at Arizona State and the final two at LSU.

In his first 43 NCAA games, Daniels had a 143.8 passer rating. That number skyrocketed to 208.0 last season.

Due to his extended college career, Daniels will celebrate his 24th birthday during his rookie season in the NFL, making him significantly older than fellow top quarterback prospects Caleb Williams and Drake Maye.

Daniels joins a Commanders squad that went 4-13 last season with Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.

Dan Quinn replaces Ron Rivera as Washington’s head coach, and former Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury will take over as the Commanders’ offensive coordinator.

The New England Patriots hope they now have their franchise quarterback after selecting North Carolina’s Drake Maye with the third overall pick in Thursday's NFL draft. 

Maye was the third straight quarterback selected after the Chicago Bears took Caleb Williams at No. 1 and the Washington Commanders chose Jayden Daniels second.

Since Tom Brady departed New England following the 2019 season, the Patriots used Cam Newton as their primary quarterback the following season before drafting Mac Jones 15th overall in 2021.

Jones had a strong rookie season with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions but tailed off to 24 TDs and 23 picks combined the past two seasons and was traded to Jacksonville in March. 

Maye likely won’t be the Patriots’ starting quarterback at the start of the 2024 season after veteran signal caller Jacoby Brissett was signed to a one-year contract in March. Brissett has appeared in 79 NFL games with 48 starts and figures to serve as a mentor to Maye.

There is also the belief that Maye simply won’t be NFL ready in a few months and would be best served to sit a season, like what Patrick Mahomes did for the Chiefs in 2017.

Maye was the ACC Player of the Year in 2022 in his first season as a full-time starter at North Carolina, also being named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. He broke Mitchell Trubisky’s school record and set an FBS freshman record with 4,321 passing yards and tied Sam Howell’s mark for passing touchdowns with 38 and threw just seven interceptions. He also displayed his mobility with nearly 700 yards rushing and seven scores. 

This past season wasn’t as productive for Maye, who before the season lost offensive coordinator Phil Longo and receivers Josh Downs and Antoine Green to the NFL. Maye was still named to the Second Team All-ACC team as he passed for 3,608 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 games.

Maye has all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL, namely excellent arm talent and good mobility for someone of his size (6-foot-4, 223 pounds). He made a host of impressive touch throws in college and understands where to deliver a ball for a receiver to make a play on it. 

There are some issues with Maye’s footwork and his tendency to trust his arm strength almost too much and force some throws. His weaknesses, though, seem like the kind that can be improved upon rather quickly and sitting for a full season - or at least most of one - would help greatly in this area. 

Maye has drawn comparisons to Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers. 

He isn’t quite the natural athlete that Allen is and probably doesn’t have Hebert’s arm strength, but it’s not far-fetched to think Maye could put up similar numbers to those two at the next level given the right coaching and situation. 

The Chicago Bears believe they've found their franchise quarterback.

In what had been expected for months, the Bears selected Southern California's Caleb Williams with the first overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft on Thursday.

Williams had widely been viewed as a generational quarterback and the most complete QB prospect in decades.

He now arrives in Chicago to take over a franchise that has been starving for an elite signal-caller.

 

He joins the Bears after staring at USC, where he won the 2022 Heisman Trophy as the top collegiate player in the United States.

After throwing for 4,537 yards with 42 touchdowns and five interceptions in 14 games in 2022, he threw for 3,633 yards with 30 TDs and five picks in 12 games last year.

In his two seasons with the Trojans, he completed 67.5 per cent of his passes and averaged 9.20 yards per attempt.

Williams is the total package – possessing exceptional arm strength and overall athleticism, able to make plays with his arm and his legs. Groomed from a young age to be pro quarterback, Williams processes opposing defences at a high level, making good decisions with his reads and throwing an accurate, deep ball.

The Bears had zeroed in on Williams after meeting with him in Los Angeles in March, followed by his visit to Chicago's practice facility earlier this month. The Bears were the only NFL team Williams visited, and the only quarterback Chicago hosted, making it blatantly obvious the team was going to draft him first.

The Bears also made it clear they were in the market for a quarterback after trading Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers in mid-March.

Fields was the 11th overall pick of the 2021 draft, and though he was well liked by his team-mates and the fanbase and had the ability for dazzling, highlight-reel plays, he was an uneven passer and was unable to elevate Chicago's offence.

The Bears ranked 27th in passing offence with an average of 182.1 yards per game in 2023, while going 7-10.

Williams steps into a solid situation with Chicago, as he'll team with new running back D'Andre Swift, a pair of proven wide receivers in DJ Moore and off-season pickup Keenan Allen, and has the luxury of joining a team with a formidable defence.

The Bears' trade for Moore last off-season helped the franchise draft first overall for the first time since 1947.

Chicago traded away last year's top pick to the Carolina Panthers for Moore and four draft picks – one of which turned out to be the No. 1 pick they used to draft Williams.

A day before the NFL draft, one of the league's best edge rushers has requested a trade.

Three-time Pro Bowler Trey Hendrickson has asked to be traded from the Cincinnati Bengals on Wednesday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Hendrickson, who is set to make $14.8million this season and $15.8million in 2025, is reportedly seeking a long-term deal - something that hasn't been worked out with the Bengals.

His request to be traded comes at an intriguing time with the draft set for Thursday, as another team could be looking to make a deal with Cincinnati for the established pass rusher.

The 29-year-old is coming off a career year, registering a personal-high 17 1/2 sacks to tie with Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen for the second most in the league.

Hendrickson's 16 tackles for loss were tied for 10th in 2023, and his 53 sacks since the start of the 2020 season rank third behind T.J. Watt (62) and Myles Garrett (58).

A third-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in 2017, Hendrickson signed with the Bengals in 2021, and has been named a Pro Bowler in each of his three seasons in Cincinnati.

 

Hendrickson's request for a trade comes a little more than a month after wide receiver Tee Higgins asked to be traded.

Higgins, who had the franchise tag placed on him by the Bengals on February 26, did say earlier this month, however, that he intends to play for Cincinnati in 2024.

Fellow Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase had the fifth-year option on his rookie contract picked up on Wednesday.

Chase, the 2021 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, has 268 receptions for 3,717 yards and 29 touchdowns in his first three seasons - the team leader in each category since 2021.

The Detroit Lions have locked up one of their most important players for the foreseeable future by agreeing to a reported four-year, $120 million extension with wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.

St. Brown, who was entering the final season of his rookie contract, confirmed the news Wednesday with a video message on his Instagram account.

"I can't wait. I'm here, four more years!," St. Brown announced. 

One of the NFL's most productive receivers since entering the league as a fourth-round draft pick of the Lions in 2021, St. Brown will now be among the highest-paid players at his position. NFL.com reports the contract, which runs through 2028, includes $77 million in guaranteed money for the largest sum ever for a wide receiver.

The deal's $30 million average annual value is tied for the highest among wide receivers, matching the four-year, $120 million extension Tyreek Hill received from the Miami Dolphins in 2022. 

St. Brown earned first team All-Pro honours with a brilliant 2023 campaign in which he finished in the NFL's top three in receptions (119) and receiving yards (1,515) and recorded a career-high 10 touchdown catches in 16 games.

The 24-year-old added 22 catches for 274 yards and a touchdown in three post-season games to help the NFC North champion Lions advance to the conference title game for the first time since 1991.

St. Brown's 315 career receptions are the third-most by any player in NFL history through his first three seasons, eclipsed only by Minnesota Vikings star Justin Jefferson's 324 from 2020-22 and Michael Thomas' 321 with the New Orleans Saints from 2016-18. 

The two-time Pro Bowler is also one of just three receivers in league history with 90 or more catches through his first three seasons, joining Thomas and Odell Beckham Jr. (2014-16).

 

Zach Wilson has a chance to restart his career in a new setting after the Denver Broncos reportedly traded for the former starting quarterback from the New York Jets on Monday, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

The Broncos are also acquiring a seventh-round pick in this year's NFL draft, and the Jets will receive a sixth-rounder.

New York will also pay part of Wilson's $5.5million salary next season.

Wilson arrives in Denver after never living up to expectations with the Jets after the franchise selected him second overall in the 2021 draft.

 

He went 3-10 as a rookie in 2021, and things didn't improve in 2022, leading to his benching.

The Jets had seen enough and decided to move on from Wilson, trading for Aaron Rodgers prior to the 2023 season. Wilson, though, got another chance to start after Rodgers tore his Achilles on his first drive with New York in the season opener.

He was unable to take advantage of that opportunity, however, throwing for eight touchdowns and seven interceptions in 12 games in 2023. His 77.2 passer rating ranked 30th out of 32 qualifying QBs last season.

In 34 career games, he has completed 57.0 per cent of his passes for 6,293 yards with 23 TDs and 25 picks.

Among the 30 quarterbacks with a minimum of 700 pass attempts since 2021, Wilson ranks last in completion percentage and QB rating (73.2), and 29th in both touchdown passes and yards per attempt (6.34).

In Denver, he'll likely get a chance to compete for the starting QB job after the Broncos released Russell Wilson in early March.

The only other quarterbacks on Denver's roster are Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci, but the team could also decide to select one in Thursday's draft.

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