The 2024 NFL Draft becomes an exercise in groupthink by the time draft day finally arrives. The month between free agency and the draft leads many to lock in on likely scenarios while blocking out other possibilities. This year did not produce the sheer number of surprising outcomes but there were a handful in the Top-50 that could have been foreshadowed. 

Here are a handful of those surprising selections and why we should have seen them coming:

QB Michael Penix Jr., Washington: Falcons (Round 1, No. 8 overall)

It is a stretch to say anyone should have seen Atlanta drafting a quarterback at No. 8 overall months after signing Kirk Cousins to a lucrative free agent contract. On the surface, the organization's reasoning for the move makes sense: they believe in this year's team guided by Cousins and do not believe they will be in a position to draft another quarterback high in the draft for many years. Strike while the iron is hot. 

The problem is that it sends the wrong message to the current roster. If the team is all in on maximizing this current window, then why not use that first-round selection on a player capable of helping reach the ultimate goal this season? It creates an uncomfortable situation in that locker room. 

TE Brock Bowers, Georgia: Raiders (Round 1, No. 13 overall)

Las Vegas is not expected to factor into the AFC Playoff picture this coming season. In that sense, it makes sense for the organization to think about the future and select the best player available, which was Bowers in that instance. Bowers is not a traditional tight end. He can be split out wide and be used in formations with last year's second round selection Michael Mayer

Where the choice gets a bit confusing is squaring the club's interest in preparing for the future while keeping aged veterans like wide receiver Davante Adams and signing defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Unless they have been unable to find common ground with opposing teams in Adams trade conversations, it makes little sense to carry the 31-year-old into the season if he would fetch draft capital that can help the organization down the road. 

WR Ricky Pearsall, Florida: 49ers (Round 1, No. 31 overall)

Pearsall may as well have had his picture on a milk carton because he was missing from all first round mock drafts. San Francisco had been entertaining the idea of moving either Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel, so Pearsall was insurance in the event of a deal. Here is why Pearsall may have been favored over South Carolina's Xavier Legette, Florida State's Keon Coleman, Georgia's Ladd McConkey and more: size and experience.

At 6-foot-3, 192 pounds and having played more than 2,000 offensive snaps, Pearsall is physically and mentally ready to compete this year and that is important for a franchise that has aspirations of getting up the mountain and contending for the Super Bowl yet again. Pearsall arrived at Arizona State as a freshman in 2019. Aiyuk was a senior for those Sun Devils that season. 

WR Xavier Worthy, Texas: Chiefs (Round 1, No. 28 overall)

Kansas City not only took Worthy in the first round but they traded up four spots with their conference rival to insure that it happened. After trading Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins, the Chiefs leaned on quarterback Patrick Mahomes to hide all of the position's blemishes. He did, but that did not mean the franchise had to endure another season in which Kansas City had the third most drops (34), according to TruMedia. They set course to replace Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Mecole Hardman with even more speed. Hollywood Brown was signed in free agency and then they drafted the NFL Combine's fastest man ever, Worthy. Although the Chiefs are not going to win any basketball games with their lack of height, they will use that speed to clear underneath defenders so that Travis Kelce can operate more effectively. 

DT Johnny Newton, Illinois: Commanders (Round 2, No. 36 overall)

Why would Washington, who employs defensive tackles Jon Allen and DaRon Payne, select a defensive tackle in the second round? First and foremost, Newton may have very well been the best prospect available at that point in time, but a case could have been made for adding a cornerback as well. 

To understand why the team may have made this decision, one would need to go back to the trade deadline the prior year when edge rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Young were traded away. It was a moment of self-awareness when they essentially acknowledged that they were not a contender in the short-term and thus were preparing for the future. The selection of Newton allows them to be flexible at this year's trade deadline. If a contender identifies Allen or Payne as the missing piece to their bid and want to overpay, then they have a ready-made replacement.