2024 NFL Draft Review: 4 rookies who will make a Year 1 impact in the NFC North

Look out for these 4 rookies in the NFC North.
USC's MarShawn Lloyd
USC's MarShawn Lloyd / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

The NFC North has the potential to be a very competitive division in 2024.  Both the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers made some noise in the playoffs last years.  Those teams should be better this upcoming season, but so will the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, who feasted in the draft with two first-round picks each.

In this division, how each team improved through the 2024 NFL Draft could be the difference in which team comes out on top.

2024 NFL Draft selections poised to make an impact in the NFC North

So, let’s look at which rookies will make an impact in Year 1 and help their team transcend in the division.

Chicago Bears – WR Rome Odunze (Round 1– Selection No. 9)

The Bears other first-round draft pick won’t be under the same spotlight as Caleb Williams, but you can bet on Rome Odunze making an impact in 2024.

Chicago Bears 2024 NFL Draft selection Rome Odunze
Chicago Bears Rookie Minicamp / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Selected as the No. 9 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Odunze enters the NFL with top 10 talent, but won’t have too much pressure to produce Day 1 for his new squad.  That doesn’t mean he won’t. 

The Bears have done a great job surrounding Williams with playmakers, including Odunze who was a high-volume receiver with the Huskies.  Although he doesn’t have elite speed, this Bears rookie uses his strong body to both fend off receivers and create separation. 

With veteran playmakers like DJ Moore, Keenan Allen and tight end Cole Kmet garnering attention, Oduzne will make his presence known in the Bears’ offense and become a quick favorite target for Williams and a nightmare for opposing NFC North defenses.

Detroit Lions – CB Terrion Arnold (Round 1– Selection No. 24)

The Lions traded up to select a physical cornerback in Terrion Arnold who will fit right into a defense looking to roar loud in the NFC North.  Selected with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the former Alabama star defensive back joins fellow Alabama alum Brian Branch in a secondary looking to get stingy when it comes to long-yardage completions, an area the team struggled with a season ago.

2024 NFL Draft first-round pick Terrion Arnold will make an impact in the NFC North
Detroit Lions Mandatory Minicamp / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

In Arnold, they get a terrific man-coverage defender with athleticism and the kind of physicality that can make him a CB1 almost immediately.  While Lions fans will need to be patient with that projection, Arnold’s versatility to body up against receivers on the outside or play in the slot is what will make him an impact player in his rookie season.

Green Bay Packers – RB MarShawn Lloyd (Round 3– Selection No. 88)

The Packers’ offense showed they are for real a season ago behind the emergence of quarterback Jordan Love.  What could make them even better in 2024?  Perhaps getting stronger in the run game.

Green Bay Packers rookie running back MarShawn Lloyd looking to make an impact in the NFC North
Green Bay Packers Rookie Minicamp / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

Green Bay did that by signing Josh Jacobs in free agency, re-signing AJ Dillion and drafting MarShawn Lloyd with the No. 88 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.  In playing just one season at USC after transferring from South Carolina, Lloyd rushed for 820 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2023 with an impressive 7.1 yards per carry.  He also showcased his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield with 13 receptions for 232 yards.  You can bet on the Packers utilizing that dual-threat ability.

Although Jacobs will take the bulk of the snaps, Lloyd’s big play ability and burst through holes will earn him more snaps as the season moves forward and eventually give the Packers a nice 1-2 punch in Jacobs and Lloyd with Dillion serving as the power back in short-yardage situations. 

Minnesota Vikings – QB J.J. McCarthy (Round 1– Selection No. 10)

The Vikings got their quarterback without having to trade into the top 10.   In selecting Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Vikings have a young quarterback they will allow to develop behind Sam Darnold, but that won’t last the entire season.

With offensive playmakers like Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and tight end T.J. Hockenson, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell will put Darnold in the best position to run the offense, but he’ll make too many mistakes which will lead to McCarthy getting the nod by the middle of the 2024 NFL season.  This will spark the Vikings’ offense as McCarthy will play the role of a game manager at first but will eventually show off his skills to get the ball down field and make the right throws when given an opportunity.      

What will stand out most about McCarthy in his rookie season is the leadership he’ll bring to the field and the poise he’ll have in the pocket.  He won’t take the NFL by storm, but it will be obvious the Vikings got their quarterback of the future by the end of the season.