NFL Draft: USC’s Caleb Williams Is No. 1 Overall, As Quarterbacks Selected 1-2-3

The annual NFL Draft usually spawns weeks of rumors, speculation, and mock drafts that move players up and down. But all of that is just guesswork, and at this year’s first-round parsing of the college ranks in Detroit, the chalk held up for the first four picks.

USC’s quarterback Caleb Williams went No. 1 to the Chicago Bears on Thursday night, a move that has been expected for months. There was a bit of intrigue surrounding who might go 2-3 in the draft, but the Washington Commanders went with the safe pick in LSU Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels at No. 2, and the New England Patriots followed with North Carolina’s Drake Maye at No. 3.

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This was the fourth draft with quarterbacks going with the top three picks. It previously happened in 1971, 1999 and 2021.

Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. went to the Arizona Cardinals at No. 4, another expected pick. Harrison is the son of NFL Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison.

The Los Angeles Chargers had the No. 5 draft, and under new coach Jim Harbaugh, there were rumors he might reach for his college QB from Michigan, J.J. McCarthy. But the Chargers already have a good QB in Justin Herbert, and they opted to give him some more protection in Notre Dame tackle Joe Alt, a mountain of a man at 6-foot-8 and 325 pounds.

The New York Giants went with Malik Nabers at No. 6, a fleet and tough wide receiver from LSU that will inject speed into a generally lackluster Giants offense. The Jints have lost running back Saquon Barkley and have questions about the comeback from injury of quarterback Daniel Jones.

At No. 7, the Tennessee Titans took Alabama’s Jerome “JC” Latham, a 6-foot-6, 359-pound offensive tackle.

The Atlanta Falcons had the first stunner of the draft, selecting Washington’s quarterback Michael Penix Jr. Although he was the Heisman runner-up and led the Washington Huskies to an appearance in the national championship, he was considered a surprise so high in the draft. But Atlanta has under-performed at quarterback, and guaranteed Kirk Cousins $100 million to presumably fill its needs. Now Penix might fill that hole sooner than later.

The Chicago Bears were back for more in the ninth slot, and grabbed Washington’s receiver Rome Odunze to pair with brand-new QB Williams.

The draft’s first trade came at No. 10. The New York Jets cut a deal with the Minnesota Vikings, who traded up to nab — what else? — a quarterback. They now have Sam Darnold of USC on the roster to serve as a bridge to Michigan’s McCarthy, who led undefeated Michigan to the national championship and was 27-1 in his career.

To move up, the Vikings traded their No. 11 pick to the Jets, who also get a fourth-rounder and fifth-rounder in the deal, while Minnesota also gets back a sixth-rounder.

The Los Angeles Rams drafted in the No. 19 position, its first top draft choice since 2016 thanks to various deals. The Rams own 11 total picks in the seven-round draft and selected Florida State defensive end Jared Verse with their top pick.

In Hollywood, it was also a big night for CAA Sports. The agency represents five of the first 12 picks, including Maye, Alt, Penix Jr., No. 11 Olu Fashanu and No. 12 Bo Nix.

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