It seems as though everyone is posting mock drafts this week, so I figured that I should follow suit. These are just fun exercises at this point because we know nothing about trades or how teams feel about individual prospects. We’re merely giving our best current guesses based on team needs and perceived fit. Last year’s first mock draft wasn’t accurate, and this one won’t be either as we’re simply too far from the main event. As with most other mock drafts, trades are not included here, but I might mention that option if I think it’s warranted. Welcome to version 1.0 of my 2024 NFL mock draft!
1. Chicago Bears – QB Caleb Williams, USC
I don’t yet have any information about whether Chicago plans to trade Justin Fields or move this pick. I just feel as though whoever ultimately makes this selection will be doing so with the intent to grab Williams. Media sources are quibbling over which QB is best. That’s nonsense. Though I don’t count the Heisman trophy for a whole lot in terms of pro projections, Williams has one, and he has immense talent. His arm is incredibly strong, he throws accurately to all levels of the field, and he is a magician escaping the pocket. He is undoubtedly better than Fields, as well as every other QB in this class.
2. Washington Commanders – QB Drake Maye, North Carolina
A late-season swoon in awful situations caused this team to sour on current QB Sam Howell. New regimes also often come with new QBs. The consensus QB2 in this draft is ironically Howell’s successor at UNC. The weird part is that Maye has such a high grade when I see him as basically the same guy as Howell: someone with good arm talent, mobility, and a propensity for streaky play. It would be really weird for Washington to take another really similar UNC QB, but they feel like they have to go with whichever QB is second on their board. This pick could become Jayden Daniels at some point, but for now…
3. New England Patriots – QB Jayden Daniels, LSU
I think we’re going 3 for 3 with QB picks, just as we did in 2021. New England arguably needs one more than any other team, as Mac Jones looks ruined. Daniels has seen his stock soar in recent months. He won the Heisman and has drawn comparisons to guys like Lamar Jackson and a bigger version of Kyler Murray. Based on that, you see why I might not be as high on him as others are. This would be a major boom-or-bust pick, but after playing it overly safe with their selection of Jones in 2021, I think the Patriots want to swing for the fences. Daniels certainly has immense upside.
4. Arizona Cardinals – WR Marvin Harrison Jr, Ohio State
Despite picking 4th, Arizona is actually getting the #1 player in this draft class because they aren’t shopping for a QB. As is often the case in football, bloodlines matter. Sometimes, a legend’s son isn’t as good as his legacy might portend. In this case though, you can see every bit of Hall of Fame WR Marvin Harrison Sr in his son. If anything, Harrison Jr is even more athletically gifted. At 6’4″, he’s a big receiver who should also run a fast 40 time. His route-running is superb, clearly benefitting from his father’s tutelage. The clearest #1 receiver in the past two drafts, Harrison will be Arizona’s best weapon since Larry Fitzgerald.
5. Los Angeles Chargers – TE Brock Bowers, Georgia
Last year, I thought the Chargers needed to go defense. They oddly took a WR. This year, I still think they should go defense, but by all accounts they’re planning to defy logic again. At least in doing so, they’d be taking an all-world talent in Bowers. This mountain of a man is a strong receiver, an excellent blocker, and a complete mismatch. He battled injury in 2023, but I doubt a prospect of his caliber will take too much of a hit. TEs rarely go this high in the draft, but TEs are rarely as good as Bowers is coming out of college. Gerald Everett is getting older, so this selection would at least make some sense.
6. New York Giants – WR Rome Odunze, Washington
The Giants need help in plenty of spots, particularly at WR and on the OL. Given that they’ve recently invested high first-round picks in their line and really need Evan Neal to improve, I suspect they’re leaning toward WR. The second-best receiver available is Odunze, who lit up defenses for the Huskies. Like Harrison, he is both big (6’3″) and fast, capable of making huge plays down the field. However, he is no slouch underneath, as he is proficient in the bubble screen game and crossing patterns. More than just a burner, Odunze is one of the few high-end #1 wideout prospects available. We all know NYG needs one.
7. Tennessee Titans – OT Joe Alt, Notre Dame
Somehow, Tennessee’s offensive line fell apart in little more than a year. Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, and Will Levis all suffered as a result. Protecting Levis is new coach Brian Callahan’s prime objective, so Tennessee merely has to decide who the best OT is. Alt is a three-year starter at LT with good arm length to play on the edge in the pros. This is not a flashy pick; it’s merely a selection that makes your team better. The Titans are a team in transition, so building blocks are necessary, and you can’t do much better than a franchise left tackle. Ideally, this is a pick you make and then don’t worry about the position for a decade.
8. Atlanta Falcons – OLB Dallas Turner, Alabama
Are the Falcons ALWAYS picking 8th?? Assuming they don’t trade the pick, this is their 3rd straight year doing so. For once, they can land themselves a top prospect at a premium position. Opinions vary regarding whether Turner is a better or worse version of former teammate Will Anderson. Since Anderson went pro, Turner actually boosted his production purely based off of his athleticism. He’s more of a raw project, but I’d argue that gives him even more upside. Turner is already obliterating SEC offenses, and he has plenty of room to grow. New coach Raheem Morris would love him.
9. Chicago Bears – WR Malik Nabers, LSU
This is a player whose stock is on a meteoric rise. From a fringe 1st-round prospect a month ago, Nabers has become a mainstay in the top 10 in many mock drafts, with most listing him as WR2. I personally prefer Odunze, but there’s a ton to like with Nabers. Big enough at 6’0″, he caught 89 passes for 1569 yards and 14 TDs last year, pushing his QB Jayden Daniels toward the Heisman. Producing at that level against #1 CBs in the SEC is meaningful, especially for a team like Chicago who needs literally anyone to complement DJ Moore. Lately, teams are spending high picks on WRs even when they have a good one. This could continue.
10. New York Jets – OT Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Penn State
The position choice is easy here, as the Jets come in with the same directive as they had last year: improve the protection around Aaron Rodgers. The top 4 tackles were off the board in the 2023 draft by the time NYJ picked, but here, only one is gone. Some sources like Fashanu better than any other lineman in this class. As with Peter Skoronski last year though, some question whether Fashanu has long enough arms to stay at tackle. The Jets drafted a player like this recently in Alijah Vera-Tucker and use him at guard. I suspect Fashano can stick on the outside, making him more valuable of a pick.
11. Minnesota Vikings – DE Laiatu Latu, UCLA
As usual, the Vikings need help on defense. Whether they try their hand at yet ANOTHER 1st-round CB or beef up their edge rush is the question. I’ll bet on the latter for now given that Danielle Hunter is a free agent. Which edge rusher goes next after Dallas Turner? Let’s try the 2023 sack leader in the Power 5. Latu racked up 13 QB takedowns this past season after earning 10.5 the year prior. Long and powerful, Latu made opposing tackles look foolish with regularity. A pairing of Latu and Hunter would be phenomenal, but having the young guy would help DC Brian Flores in any event.
12. Denver Broncos – DE Jared Verse, Florida State
Assuming Denver moves on from Russell Wilson, they really need a young QB. However, they might not value any of the remaining signal callers this high. Thus, I’ll go with one of the other extremely valuable positions: QB hunter! The Broncos were in the bottom half of the league last year in sacks, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone given their recent losses of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Verse is a high-floor prospect with plenty of speed. He bends around the edge but does not possess top-end power. I consider him a safe pick for a team that can’t afford any more swings and misses.
13. Las Vegas Raiders – CB Terrion Arnold, Alabama
The Raiders need anything in the secondary, and they have their pick of the litter among the CB prospects in this mock. I’m told that teams prefer Arnold to teammate Kool-Aid McKinstry due to a superior work ethic and better technique. He’ll need to run a solid 40 because there are concerns about his speed, but if he’s a touch slow, it didn’t seem to hold him back at all. A willing tackler, Arnold is an asset against the run. He also has good instincts as a former safety, where he’d also be a good fit in the NFL. The Raiders have had too many busts in recent years, so a quality selection would be ideal for them.
14. New Orleans Saints – OT Amarius Mims, Georgia
As a team perennially in win-now mode, the Saints could go in a lot of different directions, particularly on either side of the line of scrimmage. To me, the prospect with the highest upside at this juncture is the monstrous Mims. Interestingly, he doesn’t have a ton of experience because he was behind other talented players and then suffered an injury in 2023. However, when he was on the field, he looked dominant, even against teams like Ohio State. His upside is immense, and he might be the best RT here if he develops. The Saints, whose line has been plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness, could hit big with this pick.
15. Indianapolis Colts – CB Nate Wiggins, Clemson
Having selected QB Anthony Richardson last year, the Colts have proven that they won’t shy away from raw talents with tools. That perfectly describes Wiggins, who is the home run shot to Terrion Arnold’s double or triple. At 6’2″, he’s one of the taller corners in the class, but he also comes with blistering speed. Tackling is a bit of a concern, but in terms of pure coverage ability, nobody else has Wiggins’ upside. Crucially, I don’t see any hip stiffness when I watch him. That can be an issue for outside corners, particularly against double moves, but Wiggins appears to have a lockdown CB skillset.
16. Seattle Seahawks – DT Jer’Zhan Newton, Illinois
I wanted to slot a DT here to help Seattle’s awful run defense. The Seahawks traded for Leonard Williams last year, but he’s more of a rusher and is a free agent anyway. My challenge was deciding WHICH DT to pick, and I’m still very uncertain. Teams have wildly different rankings among the top prospects at this position, and for right now only, I’m going with my personal top pick. Slightly undersized, Newton has drawn comparisons to Aaron Donald, though that’s a bit hyperbolic. Newton isn’t nearly as strong against the pass (who is?) but is more balanced versus the run. That’s Seattle’s priority anyway.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State
This is probably the last lineman available with legitimate LT potential. However, he did line up on the right side for the Beavers and was great at it. Whether it was Cam Robinson’s suspension or injuries up front, Trevor Lawrence had poor protection last year, and that cannot continue. Anton Harrison was taken in round 1 last year, but he still seems raw. Fuaga is enough of a mauler to line up at guard early on before taking over at either tackle spot in 2025. I can easily see Jacksonville taking a corner here as well, but this early in the process, I’m going with a lineman to help a suddenly struggling offense.
18. Cincinnati Bengals – OT JC Latham, Alabama
One RT from Alabama (Jonah Williams) is likely out the door, so here’s another to replace him. This team can never stop improving Joe Burrow’s protection. Ironically, Latham is quite a bit like Williams in that his arm length is subpar but he simply blocks very well. At #18 though, the team won’t have to give him a shot at LT and can immediately line him up at a more ideal spot, such as RT or guard. The Bengals need a return to health more than anything, but given Burrow’s durability questions, keeping him clean is the first order of business. Latham happens to almost never allow sacks.
19. Los Angeles Rams – CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo
Finally possessing a first-round pick, the Rams would be well-served to spend it anywhere on defense except DT. I also think they’re happy with their young edge rushers, so the secondary seems like the best bet. A rare MAC CB to attract attention, Mitchell is creating a ton of buzz at Senior Bowl practices. He dominated against smaller schools, but holding his own against elite talent is boosting his stock. Mitchell is long and fast, and he plays with great technique. His draft prospects may continue to rise because he is one of a few players with shutdown corner potential, which the Rams desperately need.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers – DT Byron Murphy II, Texas
This is another team I wasn’t quite sure what to do with. I get the sense we’re looking at a best player available situation. With DT Cam Heyward getting older but still effective, giving him a partner inside would complement this team well. The main knock on Murphy is his shorter stature at 6’1″, but we aren’t talking about a DE here. He plays the run very well while also pushing the pocket, and it’s his strength that teams will covet, not his height. With his slightly inferior length comes superior quickness, and in a division with the Baltimore Ravens, that speed will be essential for stopping opponents’ rushing attacks.
21. Miami Dolphins – OT/G Troy Fautanu, Washington
Aside from Terron Armstead, Miami is very thin along the offensive line, and we all know that Tua Tagovailoa needs good blocking. As a left-handed QB, he also requires a great RT because that’s his blind side. Fautanu played at LT for Washington, but his arm length suggests a possible move inside or over to the right side. The good thing about this for Miami is that both RT and G are strong needs, so they’re filling one regardless of how they view Fautanu. Someone with a left tackle’s athleticism but the strength to man the right side is the perfect fit for this particular team due to their lefty QB.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – CB Cooper DeJean, Iowa
If we learned anything about the disappointing Eagles this past year, it’s that their secondary was abysmal and needs an infusion of talent. With 7 INTs and 13 PBUs over the past 2 seasons, DeJean is clearly instinctive and possesses good ball skills. As many Iowa defenders are, he’s a rugged run defender who plays sticky coverage. Length doesn’t pose a problem (he’s 6’1″), but his speed is a bit of an unknown. Some suggest he’s a more natural fit as a safety, but I need to see his workouts before I make that declaration. For Philly, it doesn’t matter; whatever spot DeJean fills, he’s an upgrade.
23. Houston Texans – OT Tyler Guyton, Oklahoma
This is the last of the first-round picks acquired from the Deshaun Watson trade. As well as Houston played last year, they’re still not as talented as their division title suggests. The Texans are very much ahead of schedule, so they should attack positions of need to accelerate their rebuild and compete right away. This is a bit of a project, as Guyton is pretty raw. However, he’s super athletic despite his 6’7″, 328-lb size. Teams believe he has immense upside, and you can’t do much better in terms of tackle prospects in the back half of the 1st round. Pair him with LT Laremy Tunsil and guard CJ Stroud.
24. Dallas Cowboys – OT Jordan Morgan, Arizona
LT Tyron Smith is hitting free agency, and even though he’s still really good, his durability problems make trusting him difficult. Morgan is the opposite of the pick above: a 3-year starter with tons of experience. The offensive line is currently one of Dallas’ strongest units, so they can’t wait around for a rookie to develop. Morgan can play immediately or start out as a swing tackle should Smith return. This is not the type of flashy pick that owner/GM Jerry Jones wants to make, but it’s the practical one that VP Stephen Jones and HC Mike McCarthy could demand.
25. Green Bay Packers – G Graham Barton, Duke
No; I never once thought about giving Green Bay a receiver in the first round. In all honesty, they seem like the type of team that would take a pure guard this high. If you’re going to do that, Barton should be the choice. He has versatility along the interior of the line, and he’s a very cerebral player, which the Packers demand out of their linemen. Barton probably fits best as a guard, though he could probably play center or even RT in a pinch. In fact, he played LT at Duke, but his arm length (a shade under 33 inches) almost guarantees that he’ll move inside. Late in round 1 is where you start to consider interior linemen.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – EDGE Chop Robinson, Penn State
Tampa’s defense overperformed late in the season, but it is still a work in progress. A premium edge rusher is sorely lacking, and Robinson could be that guy is he measures well. This is the only player I’ve got in the first round with the “EDGE” label as opposed to a dedicated position. He played DE for the Nittany Lions, but those measurables I referenced could be key. Robinson comes with size concerns, and he might need to be a stand-up OLB at the next level. Regardless of his exact position, he’s fast and explosive when attacking the QB. Just don’t expect this smaller rusher to provide too much in run support.
27. Arizona Cardinals – CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama
This pick from last year’s Will Anderson trade ended up being terrible huh? Nobody really expected it to come this late, but no matter where it fell, Arizona could use it to find a position of need. In this case, we’re going with a corner, as the Cardinals did not have a single viable CB in 2023. Unlike teammate Terrion Arnold, McKinstry isn’t quite as fluid. However, he has more natural talent and has learned a lot from Nick Saban since starting as a freshman. I question his zone coverage abilities a bit, but HC Jonathan Gannon, a student of Mike Zimmer, plays a lot of man coverage, making this an excellent match.
28. Buffalo Bills – WR Keon Coleman, Florida State
It just feels like Stefon Diggs and the Bills are due for a split either this year or in 2025. Even if he stays, another weapon can help a passing game that grew dormant at times. The next WR to come off the board is a mystery. Some prefer LSU’s Brian Thomas, and I like South Carolina’s Xavier Legette. However, the most complete WR available according to most teams is Keon Coleman. He’s big, he’s fast, and he undoubtedly produces. Profiling as a true WR1 at best and a high-end WR2 at worst, Coleman can attract a ton of defensive attention, letting guys like Gabriel Davis and Dalton Kincaid go to work for Josh Allen.
29. Detroit Lions – CB Ennis Rakestraw Jr, Mississippi State
I’d feel foolish going anywhere but the secondary for Detroit. That unit possibly cost the Lions a chance at a Super Bowl, and that must be rectified immediately. We can’t have a raw prospect here, so I’ll take an intelligent corner who plays the run as well as anyone in this class. He tackles well and covers effectively, but he lacks ball skills. Specifically, he doesn’t convert plays into INTs very often. However, he profiles as an immediate starter at outside corner who can shut down opposing wideouts. The Lions need instant defensive contributors; with a little more strength, Rakestraw can be a quality player on day 1.
30. Baltimore Ravens – DE Bralen Trice, Washington
Jadeveon Clowney had a resurgent year and could be re-signed, but Odafe Oweh has mostly underwhelmed. Baltimore led the league in sacks, but that was mostly due to great DT and LB play. A true edge rusher that would prevent new DC Zach Orr from having to blitz could do wonders for an already great defense. Trice really got going the past two seasons, totaling 16 sacks through a nice blend of speed and power. He got into a lot of shootouts with Washington, so he played a lot and demonstrated a relentless motor. HC John Harbaugh loves guys like this, and Trice can benefit from Baltimore’s other talent right away.
31. Kansas City Chiefs – WR Brian Thomas Jr, LSU
This order is strictly based on the team records of our Super Bowl participants, not who I expect to win the game. Which WR does Kansas City want? That’s the only question you can really ask after the position sabotaged KC multiple times this year outside of Rashee Rice. Kadarius Toney and Mecole Hardman are gone, Skyy Moore looks like a bust, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a one-trick pony. Thomas has the upside to be a true WR1. His route-running needs work, which might frustrate HC Andy Reid, but we know this team is attracted to physical talent, and Thomas has that in spades.
32. San Francisco 49ers – CB Kamari Lassiter, Georgia
We’re back to 32 picks this year unless someone suddenly gets penalized for tampering. Someone in San Francisco needs to cover aside from Charvarius Ward. Deommodore Lenoir is best in the slot, and Ambry Thomas can’t handle the outside CB2 job. For a Super Bowl contender, I like the idea of a championship-winning CB with a strong pedigree. A 2-year starter for the Bulldogs, Lassiter rarely picks off passes, but he doesn’t allow many completions either. His run defense is excellent, and has 8.5 TFLs since 2022. Honestly, he reminds me a lot of Ward, and having two of him in the secondary would be a very good thing.