3 Biggest Veteran Winners and Losers of the 2024 NFL Draft

Chad Simpson takes a look at how the 2024 NFL Draft impacts existing veterans and identifies three key winners and losers.

Three Veteran Winners and Losers from the 2024 NFL Draft

With the 2024 NFL Draft in the rear view, let’s quickly recap: the Atlanta Falcons shocked the world by taking Michael Penix, Jr. as the ink on Kirk Cousins‘ $180 million contract was still wet. Defense took a back seat, especially in the first two rounds, and many teams executed their draft plans perfectly.

Now that Falcons-bashing has run its course, and endless conversations about which rookies and teams won and lost the draft have wrapped up, we turn our focus toward the veterans and determine which of them are the biggest winners and losers of the 2024 NFL Draft.



Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants 

Whether or not we believe in Daniel Jones is immaterial. At the end of the day, Jones went into the 2024 NFL Draft with his job on the line and came out of it with his job intact. For that, he can’t be anything but the biggest winner of the draft. If we go deeper down the proverbial rabbit hole, it gets even better for Jones. The New York Giants not only left the free agency period and NFL Draft with Jones still at quarterback, but they surrounded him with the following new additions:

  • Jon Runyan Jr., G – The son of the legendary Jon Runyan, Sr., Junior has never missed a game and provides upper-echelon pass blocking after allowing just seven sacks in his entire collegiate career. Runyan has stated his hopes to play left guard in 2024.

  • Jermaine Eluemunor, OL –  A former New England Patriot and Las Vegas Raider, Eluemor helped anchor the Raiders line in 2022 when the unit ranked in the Top 10 in sacks allowed while setting up Josh Jacobs for a historic year on the ground. Eluemunor plays multiple positons, so he gives the Giants a plug-and-play solution to optimize their offensive line and keep Jones clean and upright.

  • Devin Singletary, RB – Singletary is more than competent in the passing game; he led his team in receptions out of the backfield in each of his five seasons in the NFL. The former Buffalo Bills back is clearly a downgrade over the departed Saquon Barkley, but then again, who wouldn’t be? At first glance, Singletary isn’t a slam dunk to lead the Giants’ backfield in touches, but it’s worth noting that he also went into 2023 looking like a rotational back at best. He left it with over 1,000 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns as the lead back for a Houston Texans offense that was overlooked by most before emerging as one of the league’s most exciting units by season’s end.

  • Isaiah McKenzie, WR – More than just a slot receiver, McKenzie is a utility knife who can offer yet another short-yardage area target for Jones.
  • Malik Nabers, WR – Last but surely not least, the Giants nabbed Nabers in the draft at a time when they could’ve easily replaced Jones with one of the top quarterbacks still on the board. Instead, they opted to give Jones a potential alpha receiver, the likes of which he has never had. I’ve gone on record saying that Nabers is the biggest bust of the Rop 3 receivers in the draft, but even if he underwhelms, his athleticism will still open up opportunities all over the field for Jones.

At the end of the day, whether you believe in Jones or not, he kept his job and the only competition he gained during the offseason is Drew Lock. Meanwhile, the Giants also reinforced the offensive line and added a few new weapons. That’s the best-case scenario for any quarterback, especially one with his future in question.


D’Andre Swift, RB, Chicago Bears

Swift parlayed his time in Philadelphia into a contract with a Chicago Bears team that features a suddenly-stacked offense; a once barren den is now full of firepower. Swift won’t feel the pressure of being the main focus of the offense, but he’ll undoubtedly benefit from the talent surrounding him, just as he did during his time in Philadelphia, an experience that helped him earn a decent contract for a running back in today’s NFL. Swift and fellow newcomers Keenan Allen, Rome Odunze, and Caleb Williams are positioned to help the Bears take a leap reminiscent of the 2023 Houston Texans.


Aidan O’Connell, QB, Las Vegas Raiders

Like Jones previously, Aidan O’Connell went into the draft with his job on the line. Unlike Jones, O’Connell wasn’t a Day 1 selection and was unexpectedly thrust into the starting role as a rookie under less-than-ideal terms. He managed to mostly navigate those circumstances with mediocrity and earned at least a shot at earning another opportunity in 2023.

While Jones enjoyed the best possible circumstances this offseason, O’Connell must contend with freshly-inked Gardner Minshew, a wily veteran with 37 NFL starts under his belt. On the surface, the signing appears to delegate O’Connell to a permanent, long-term backup role, but the sophomore’s ability to retain the starting role is far from impossible.  As an added bonus, the Raiders gave the quarterback room a new toy in the form of generational tight end prospect Brock Bowers.



Michael Mayer, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

The previously mentioned Brock Bowers lands Michael Mayer atop our list of losers. Plain and simple, his role as the future featured tight end of the Raiders offense is in serious danger. Unless Bowers is a colossal bust of epic proportions, Mayer looks to be in line to serve as a secondary (perhaps even backup) tight end on a Raiders offense that has more mouths to feed in 2024, yet lacks an elite quarterback to maximize target volumes for all. This is suboptimal news for those with dynasty fantasy football shares of Mayer.


Sam Darnold, QB, Minnesota Vikings

Unlike most, I am still a big fan of Sam Darnold; he has shown time and time again that when he isn’t seeing demons from endless pressure caused by shoddy offensive lines, he is more than adequate at quarterback and a solid fantasy option with a decent supporting cast.

Before the 2024 NFL Draft, he temporarily held the pole position in the race to become the starter for the Minnesota Vikings, a team that offers the best combination of weapons and offensive line that Darnold has ever had. Darnold had an inside track to flourish and earn a big contract, just as fellow former New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith did with the Seattle Seahawks.

Now, Darnold has to battle rookie J.J. McCarthy, who the Vikings traded up to land with the tenth overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. As to be expected in this situation, the early narrative from Vikings camp is that Darnold is the veteran, so it’s his job to lose. In reality, Darnold has to absolutely blow past expectations to keep the job. That’s a ton of pressure for a quarterback with a spotty history of performing under pressure.


Chuba Hubbard, RB, Carolina Panthers

Chuba Hubbard was the starting running back for the Carolina Panthers in 2023, but he’s a potential cut candidate for a team that focused their offseason efforts on improving their offense. Hubbard was a selection by the old regime in Carolina, unlike rookie Jonathan Brooks, who by all accounts is progressing nicely from a 2023 ACL tear. The selection of Brooks as the first running back off the board in the 2024 NFL Draft in Round 2 is a pretty demonstrative statement that the franchise lacks faith in Hubbard to serve as a part of their future offensive plans.


Feature Image: Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.