2024 NFL Draft order: Bears and Captains picks 1-2; Qualifiers will determine slots 19-32

The Chicago Bears had the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft last week, thanks to the Carolina Panthers' loss in Week 17 – the Bears own the Panthers' first-round pick this year. However, the No. 2 pick was not determined until the final day of the regular season.

That slot belongs to the Washington Commanders, who capped an eight-game losing streak at the end of the season with a 38-10 setback to the Dallas Cowboys. Since the 4-13 leaders faced an easier schedule this season, they will receive a higher first-round pick than the other 4-13 qualifiers: New England and Arizona.

Picks 1 through 18 are now set. The remaining slots, Nos. 19-32, will be determined by the conclusion of the playoff.

(*To be determined by the end of the playoff)

1. Chicago Bears (from Carolina)
2. Washington leaders
3. New England Patriots
4. Arizona Cardinals
5. Los Angeles Chargers
6. New York Giants
7. Tennessee Titans
8. Atlanta Falcons
9. Chicago Bears
10. New York Jets
11. Minnesota Vikings
12. Denver Broncos
13. Las Vegas Raiders
14. New Orleans Saints
15. Indianapolis Colts
16. Seattle Seahawks
17. Jacksonville Jaguars
18. Cincinnati Bengals
19. Green Bay Packers*
20. Pittsburgh Steelers*
21. Los Angeles Rams*
22. Miami Dolphins*
23. Philadelphia Eagles*
24. Houston Texans (from Cleveland)*
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
26. Arizona Cardinals (from Houston)*
27. Kansas City Chiefs*
28. Detroit Lions*
29. Buffalo Bills*
30. Dallas Cowboys*
31. San Francisco 49ers*
32. Baltimore Ravens*

What Chicago can do at the top

A month or two ago, this decision was clearer. Justin Fields had a shaky start to the season, then he got hurt, and the Bears were headed toward a top-five pick. Then Fields came back and showed progress and the defense stepped up with the addition of Montez Sweat and the Bears won five of seven games.

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Now, Ryan Bowles is in an envious position. He can come back from first place – again – and continue to build around Fields, a fan favorite who has received support from the locker room. Instead, the Poles could take a chance on him: pair Caleb Williams (or whatever QB is at the top of his board) with receiver DJ Moore, a top-five defenseman and an above-average O-line. In the latter case, Fields would likely become the highest-profile trade chip in the league this season.

For the second year in a row, all eyes will be on the Poles until this decision is made.

What does getting the No. 2 pick mean for leaders?

Of all the QB-needy teams over the past five years, Washington has been – by far – the most patient (if “patient” is the right word).

Depending on how you want to look at things, that patience is about to pay off in the form of getting a shot against Williams or North Carolina quarterback Drake May. If Chicago commits to Fields, Washington's new ownership group (and likely a new coaching staff) will have the opportunity to choose between two of the best college prospects of the past decade. Both Williams and Maye have enough talent to improve the offense quickly.

They are more than talented enough to build around. For Washington, this is huge.

What does getting the No. 3 pick mean for the Patriots?

Things are a little trickier for the Patriots than the Leaders, although similar fortunes can be had here. New England may also be about to start over with a coaching staff — and if that happens, obviously without Bill Belichick.

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There may not be a better time for owner Robert Kraft to reevaluate everything within his organization, make the right hires and then draft the next franchise quarterback. Even at third, he might be able to do it all this year.

Chicago has a bit of a wild card here, though. The Bears can do three things with the top pick: draft Marvin Harrison Jr. to work with Fields, draft a quarterback to replace Fields, or trade down to build an already young, talented roster. If the Bears trade the pick or take a quarterback, New England's consolation could be Harrison or the top tackle in the draft (either Penn State's Olu Fashanu or Notre Dame's Joe Alt).

Required reading

(Photo by Justin Fields: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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