Well, that was fun.

The first round is in the books. There were 6 quarterbacks taken in the top 12 — a modern NFL Draft record. That run included Bo Nix. The first 14 picks were offensive players, smashing the previous record from 2021, when the first 7 picks were offensive.

Nick Saban, who was on the broadcast on ABC, joked that “everyone wants to know why I retired. This is the reason. All the players are on offense. I’m a defensive guy. I knew it was time to go.”

It was an entertaining first round, to say the least. Falcons fans probably wouldn’t go with that word for drafting Michael Penix at No. 8 overall right after giving Kirk Cousins $100 million guaranteed. But hey, it entertained the rest of us.

Here are my 5 SEC takeaways from Thursday night’s first round:

1. The most surprising SEC pick of Round 1 was ____________.

Nix coming off the board at No. 12.

OK, that’s technically not an SEC pick, nor was Penix at No. 8, though Jeremy Pruitt did pull his scholarship just before he was set to sign with Tennessee.

Let’s go with the Vikings getting Dallas Turner at No. 17. That was surprising on a few fronts.

One was that the aforementioned historic run of offensive players to start the NFL Draft (14) meant that Turner, who was expected to be the first defensive player off the board possibly at No. 8 to the Falcons, slipped. The Vikings then traded up 6 spots with the Jaguars to get the Alabama edge rusher at No. 17 overall.

If we were treating this like a “perfect bracket” challenge, the Penix pick at 8 and the Turner pick at No. 17 to the Vikings would’ve been eliminators.

Florida receiver Ricky Pearsall sneaking into the first round was also a bit of a surprise, though he was mocked early in the 2nd round, so I’d still give that title to Turner.

2. The least surprising SEC pick of Round 1 was _____________.

“With the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Washington Commanders select, Jayden Daniels, quarterback, LSU.”

It felt obvious during the pre-draft process. The 2023 Heisman Trophy winner would’ve probably been the No. 1 overall pick in plenty of past NFL Drafts. Instead, Daniels settled for No. 2 with the quarterback-desperate Commanders. Daniels will be the face of a new-look organization. Can he be the savior that Robert Griffin III appeared to be? He might need some more weapons like what he had at LSU, but it’s hard not to love the player that Daniels became after 5 years in college.

Also of note? That was Brian Kelly’s first time having a quarterback drafted in the first round in his 34 years as a head coach.

3. Make that 4 LSU WRs in Round 1 during the 2020s

Speaking of LSU, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. have all come off the board in the first round during the 2020s. That’s tied with Ohio State, and the only team with more than that in that stretch is Alabama (5), though the Tide haven’t produced one of those in the past 2 drafts.

Nabers and Thomas complemented each other perfectly in 2023. They became the second coming of Jefferson and Chase. They nearly got picked in the exact same spots with Nabers at 6 (Chase was 5 in 2021) and Thomas at 23 (Jefferson was 22). The “WRU” conversation has never been more interesting.

4. Brock Bowers didn’t fall quite as much as some (myself) worried

Throughout the pre-draft process, I found myself getting angry reading mocks wherein Bowers came off the board in the latter half of the first round. So when the Georgia legend was selected No. 13 overall to the Las Vegas Raiders, I breathed a sigh of relief that the NFL didn’t overthink this.

The good news is that Bowers will be surrounded by established pass-catchers in Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers. The bad news is that the Raiders have a quarterback situation that lacks answers. While I hate any Bowers comp to Kyle Pitts, he’s a reminder that even an extraordinarily talented tight end can be limited by his surroundings.

Here’s hoping that Bowers is a franchise cornerstone instead of a guy who landed in an impossible situation.

5. The SEC dominated the first round yet again

Make that 9 consecutive years in which the SEC had the most first-round selections. The run of 3 SEC players in the final 6 picks pushed that total (11) past the Pac-12 (8). Shoot, the SEC had as many receivers (4) in Round 1 as 3 Power 5 conferences had total selections. That’s telling.

  • SEC: 11
  • Pac-12: 8
  • Big Ten: 4
  • ACC: 4
  • Big 12: 3
  • MAC: 1
  • Ind.: 1

Will the SEC’s streak of 17 consecutive years of producing the most players in the NFL Draft continue? Thursday was certainly a banner start.