Believe it or not, 10 weeks have passed in the 2023 NFL season. Over half of the season is over and the contenders have been separated from the pretenders.
For many teams — the pretenders — their hopes have shifted on the 2024 NFL Draft. Eight weeks remain in the season and the race for the first overall pick is beginning to heat up. The draft order will surely change.
But, as of Week 10, three teams have separated themselves from the pack at the top of the draft order:
No. 1 Pick: Chicago Bears (via CAR)
- Record: 1-8
- Games Behind: —
- Remaining Strength of Schedule: .512
The 2023 season has been an unequivocal disaster for the Carolina Panthers. Their 1-8 record has them as the worst team in the league record-wise. To make matters worse, they won’t have a first-round pick. Due to their trade for the 2023 first overall pick — which turned into Bryce Young — their 2024 pick is now the property of the Chicago Bears. For the Bears, this is a dream scenario. However, it’ll require a massive decision involving the quarterback position.
Justin Fields has had an up-and-down career already with exuberant highs and excruciating lows. While he’s shown flashes of being the Bears’ franchise quarterback, it hasn’t translated into consistent success and winning football. Chicago’s trade this past offseason with Carolina has a high probability of netting them the first overall pick in 2024. In a draft class loaded with talent, cream-of-the-crop quarterback prospects Caleb Williams and Drake Maye will be enticing options for general manager Ryan Poles.
If Fields turns it around and proves he can be a franchise quarterback, the first overall pick could be more profitable for the Bears. This could allow Chicago to select a blue-chip prospect such as Marvin Harrison Jr. or trade the selection to a QB-needy team for a king’s ransom, fetching even more than what they got from the Panthers for the 2023 first overall pick.
Watching what happens in the Windy City and Queen City these final eight weeks will be very intriguing. The Panthers will do the unwanted tanking, and the Bears will profit from it.
No. 2 Pick: New York Giants
- Record: 2-8
- Games Behind: 0.5
- Remaining Strength of Schedule: .522
To say the New York Giants’ 2023 season has been difficult to watch is an understatement. It’s flat-out unwatchable. Just a season removed from a playoff appearance, the Giants may be the worst team in the league. Now, coming off a humiliating 49-17 defeat in Week 10 at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, the Giants have become top contenders for the first-overall pick. For some, they are the favorites to get the selection.
The quarterback position has been a topic of enormous discussion in New York. A torn ACL to Daniel Jones and additional injury to backup Tyrod Taylor has forced the Giants to turn rookie Tommy DeVito for the last few weeks. Under DeVito, the Giants have been terrible, and it’s difficult seeing New York win another game this season. If so, the Giants will end with a top pick, which will further add to the ongoing quarterback discourse.
Daniel Jones is a solid player who helped the team achieve a playoff birth last season and certainly isn’t the problem with the New York Giants. However, a stacked quarterback class in this upcoming draft will make it hard for general manager Joe Schoen to stick with Jones for the future.
Considering the amount of money they’ve invested into Jones, moving on from the 26-year-old would be a tough decision. If New York continues building around Daniel Jones, they will have their choice of top-tier prospects such as Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Joe Alt, Marvin Harrison Jr., and others.
It’s been a year of losing in the Big Apple, but the Giants could win the sweepstakes for the first overall pick.
No. 3 Pick: New England Patriots
- Record: 2-8
- Games Behind: 0.5
- Remaining Strength of Schedule: .541
What a fall from grace it’s been for the New England Patriots. Once a dynasty, they’re now in the race for the first overall pick. Sitting at 2-8, they’ve been as awful as their record suggests. They’ve looked exceedingly terrible on offense. With no true playmakers, the unit is flat. Yet, their most significant controversy lies at quarterback.
Mac Jones was supposed to be Tom Brady‘s successor. At one point, he looked as such. Yet, since his rookie season, Jones has regressed significantly. Constant offensive coordinator changes, lack of weapons, and poor play led to a massive quarterback controversy brewing in New England.
Currently holding a top-three pick, it’s easy to think New England is eyeing a quarterback. Caleb Williams or Drake Maye in New England could be huge. This is a woeful team with little life. The Patriots are currently a mess with a bleak future. However, a true blue-chip prospect could change their fortunes and send them back on the right path.
A quarterback would more than likely be the selection for the Patriots if they’re selecting in the top three next April.
The Race for the Bottom
The regular season is beginning to reach its conclusion. While the playoff race gets the most attention, the race for the first pick is an underrated and arguably more intense competition. The race is heating up and will only keep getting hotter.
The order will constantly change, but one thing’s sure: these next eight weeks will determine the future of many struggling franchises.
Main Image Credit: