Rolling Out

The 2024 NFL Draft and the Patrick Mahomes effect

Black quarterbacks, and quarterbacks in general, have become every team’s go to

DETROIT — The landscape of the NFL has changed and there was no greater indicator than night one of the 2024 NFL Draft.

For the second time since 2021, the first three picks were quarterbacks. For the second consecutive year, the top two overall picks were Black quarterbacks, and in this year’s first round, half of the first dozen picks were quarterbacks.

“It’s a special draft class,” Caleb Williams, who went No. 1 overall to the Chicago Bears, said. “I’m excited [for] all the QBs who went after me — like Jayden [Daniels] went right after me [to the Washington Commanders]; Drake [Maye third overall to the New England Patriots], [Michael] Penix went eighth [overall to the Atlanta Falcons], [and] Bo Nix went 12th to [the] Denver Broncos.

“It’s an awesome draft class. It has some great guys in it. I’m excited about everyone’s future.”

The energy around football’s most-important position has shifted during the dominant era that is Patrick Mahomes II with the Kansas City Chiefs. At 28, Mahomes has three Super Bowl rings and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon. He’s on pace to outperform Tom Brady’s seven championships. Currently, the majority of sports fans would consider Brady the greatest quarterback ever.

In a wider view of the current state of the position, the Black quarterback is the standard. Even the Atlanta Falcons, who signed Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million deal earlier this offseason, drafted Michael Penix with the No. 8 pick, which by far garnered the biggest reaction of the night. Lamar Jackson is the league’s MVP in Baltimore; CJ Stroud is the Rookie of the Year and the league’s next big phenom in Houston. Further, Cleveland’s DeShaun Watson, Arizona’s Kyler Murray, Dallas’ Dak Prescott, and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts are known as some of the NFL’s elite at the position.

“Man, it’s dope,” Daniels said about the growing number of Black quarterbacks. “I’ve been watching those guys perform at a high level — guys like CJ Stroud, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, those type of guys. Now, being able to be a part of the family, being able to compete against them, it’s amazing for me.”

Daniels is a great example of the NFL as a whole becoming a more inclusive entity. Thanks to the efforts of the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation, the same league whose teams turned a blind eye to a physically capable Colin Kaepernick in his athletic prime simply because he spoke out against Black injustice and kneeled during the singing of the national anthem, now has multiple Black team presidents, head coaches and now a Black team co-owner in Washington, the team Daniels is heading to, in Magic Johnson.

It’s a new day and age for the NFL, and they are just getting started.

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