2024 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

It hasn’t been that long since my first mock draft, but the order has already changed. Minnesota made a deal to obtain a second 1st-round pick, and that may be a mere prelude for a bigger move to come. We’re still not considering trades yet, but keep an eye on the Vikings potentially moving up for a QB to replace Kirk Cousins. However, we did expect free agency to drastically change team needs. I’m trying again to project round 1 of the draft, knowing that it will all change in a few weeks when I do it again. To see what changed, you can find version 1.0 here. On to version 2.0 of my 2024 NFL mock draft!

1. Chicago Bears – QB Caleb Williams, USC

No pick change here, and I doubt there will be at any point. Williams has not visited any other team, and the Bears traded Justin Fields to make room for him. Of all the QBs in this class, Williams is the only one I’d spend a first-round pick on. When you make such a pick, you’re staking your job as GM on it. Williams comes with arm talent, athleticism, monster production, and leadership. He can clean up some of his hero-ball tendencies that sometimes lead to sacks and turnovers, but no rookie QB is a finished product. Williams is already a better passer than Fields was, and the Bears could become competitive very quickly.

2. Washington Commanders – QB Jayden Daniels, LSU

This pick is changing…at least at this time. I’m hearing conflicting reports about whether the Commanders like Daniels or Drake Maye more, and both of them are visiting the team this week. GM Adam Peters is said to have a slight preference for Daniels, so he gets the nod here. The new coach, Dan Quinn, is a defensive guy, so he might want a QB with lethal mobility that can frustrate a defense. OC Kliff Kingsbury also aligns better with Daniels due to his scheme and his experience with Kyler Murray in Arizona. I’m keeping this pick in pencil, as it’s still up in the air, but my current lean is toward Daniels.

3. New England Patriots – QB Drake Maye, North Carolina

I have no idea yet whether the Patriots prefer Maye or Jayden Daniels. What I’m discovering though is that New England feels the need to take one of them regardless of who falls to pick number 3. In this scenario, that’s Maye. I still don’t have a first-round grade on Maye. His decision-making issues scare me, and his short-to-intermediate accuracy is underwhelming. He has plenty of talent though, which makes him the opposite of Mac Jones. That fact alone will excite Patriot fans, but I’d encourage the team to consider trading the pick given how many holes remain on this roster.

4. Arizona Cardinals – WR Marvin Harrison Jr, Ohio State

The newest conversation in media circles concerns the notion that Malik Nabers is viewed by some as a better WR prospect than Harrison. I like Nabers a lot and think he’s a top-10 talent, but that’s crazy talk. Trained by the legendary Marvin Harrison Sr (i.e., his father), the younger Harrison is a superb route-runner whose football IQ is highly advanced for an incoming rookie. People are knocking him for his straight-line speed because he didn’t run a 40, but with fantastic size at 6’4″, he looks plenty fast to me on film. Maybe teams are throwing smokescreens to get Harrison to drop to them. I can’t think of another reason to malign him.

5. Los Angeles Chargers – WR Malik Nabers, LSU

I had the Chargers taking the best pass weapon available in Brock Bowers, but since parting with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, things have changed. The Bolts now need a true WR1, and Nabers can give them that. Arguably the bigger engine of LSU’s offense than Jayden Daniels was, Nabers forced his way into being the #1 option even with veteran players around. He ran an unofficial 4.35-s 40 and combines that speed with good route running to get open, especially in the red zone (14 TDs in 2023). I hate trading Allen for a 4th-rounder and then using the 5th overall selection to replace him, but that’s what the Bolts have to do.

6. New York Giants – WR Rome Odunze, Washington

I seem to be higher on Odunze than other people lately, but most agree that he’s a top-12 player at worst. He had a very good season in 2022 but reached another level in 2023. Odunze is a bigger WR at 6’3″ and 200 lbs, but his official 4.45-s 40 time shows that he also brings sufficient speed. The best receiver in this class in space, Odunze can take a check-down and break off a huge gain on any play. He’s also an excellent deep threat. The Giants have failed to build a competent WR room for years. Odunze would instantly bring the team some credibility at the position as a high-end WR1.

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, and the Titans signed no tackles or guards in free agency. 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.

8. Atlanta Falcons – OLB Dallas Turner, Alabama

I found no reason to give the Falcons someone other than Turner. They need a pass rusher, and he’s the best defensive prospect in this class. Scouts continue to rate him below his predecessor, Will Anderson, but Turner is just a little more raw with his technique. Whereas Anderson was a very polished player coming out of college, Turner put up great numbers without mastering some of the finer details of pass rushing. DC Jimmy Lake is going to love molding him into a complete defensive weapon. In this case, the best player available also fills a critical need.

9. Chicago Bears – DE Jared Verse, Florida State

Ever since HC Matt Eberflus talked about a “1-2 punch” with Montez Sweat and another edge rusher, most mock drafts have given the Bears a DE in this slot. At least for now, I agree with that thinking, especially with Malik Nabers off the board (and Keenan Allen now in tow). I am personally more of a fan of Laiatu Latu than Verse. However, Latu comes with medical concerns, so it wouldn’t shock me if teams removed him from their boards. That makes Verse the likeliest player to be the second edge rusher off the board. He has a great motor and an array of moves that should let him hit the ground running.

10. New York Jets – TE Brock Bowers, Georgia

I mandated an offensive lineman for the Jets, but they actually did a spectacular job filling that need in free agency. NY acquired 3 linemen, including a guard and two tackles. With that accomplished, the team can switch gears to getting QB Aaron Rodgers another weapon to go along with WR Garrett Wilson. The first tier of WRs is completely off the board in this mock, so the best skill position player available is definitely Bowers. In fact, he’s a top-5 talent who is only still around here because of other teams’ needs. Rodgers loves an elite tight end, and Bowers is a mismatch like few others.

11. Minnesota Vikings – QB JJ McCarthy, Michigan

If Minnesota truly selects McCarthy, it probably won’t be in this slot. With their brand-new 23rd overall pick, the Vikings have the ammunition to trade up into the top 6 if necessary. Due to our current rule against trades, McCarthy goes right here. His stock has been on the rise because…well, I’m not 100% sure. I still don’t have a high draft grade on him, but teams think there’s loads of untapped potential here. Regardless of our opinions of his skill, he’s definitely one thing: a winner. McCarthy lost just 1 college game as a starter and just led the Wolverines to an undefeated season. Also, Jim Harbaugh swears by him.

12. Denver Broncos – DE Laiatu Latu, UCLA

Many analysts have the Broncos grabbing Bo Nix here as their QB of the future, but I’m not yet convinced. It would be unprecedented for 5 QBs to be selected in the top 12 picks, and at least one usually slides. Denver is far from competing and still has to clear their cap for a year due to the disastrous Russell Wilson deal. Taking an older rookie QB this early would not align with their plans. With plenty of needs, the Broncos could go in any direction, but they badly need an edge rusher. Thus, I’ll stop Latu’s short slide here and send him to a team that can be cautious with him if need be.

13. Las Vegas Raiders – CB Terrion Arnold, Alabama

Another QB-needy team, the Raiders might bypass a signal caller at this junction as well. They seem determined to let Aidan O’Connell compete with Gardner Minshew for the starting role, and they can always grab a QB in round 2. Therefore, I’m keeping this pick the same and adding a standout to an already scary defense. Las Vegas’ front seven is lethal, but the back end needs plenty of work. Arnold is still slightly ahead of Quinyon Mitchell in the CB hierarchy, as he’s a well-rounded and developed player. Many CBs are needed when Patrick Mahomes is in your division, and Arnold is a really good one.

14. New Orleans Saints – OT JC Latham, Alabama

I had Amarius Mims in this slot, but durability concerns have him slipping a bit while Latham rockets up boards. In fact, I might be slotting him too low if anything. Teams view him as a strong RT prospect, which might be necessary if Ryan Ramczyk can’t return to form due to his damaged knee. Latham played LT at Alabama, and his 2022 season was exceptional. The entire line had some struggles in 2023, but I can’t really pin those on Latham. He tested very well and has both the frame and athleticism to lock down the right side of an offensive line…maybe even the left if Trevor Penning doesn’t pan out.

15. Indianapolis Colts – CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo

The Colts spent free agency mostly re-signing their own players, but that did not include an outside CB. Other positions, such as edge rusher, remain needs as well, but the optimal pick here is Mitchell. The only real knock on him is his level of competition, as he’s coming from the MAC. Everything else checks out really well: he’s tall (6’0″), super fast (4.33-s 40), and highly productive. Mitchell earned 6 INTs over the past 2 seasons, with most of those coming in 2022 before teams learned to stop throwing at him. A capable and willing run defender as well, Mitchell is the complete package for a team willing to develop him.

16. Seattle Seahawks – OT/G Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Penn State

It’s still unknown which teams consider Fashanu a guard and which view him as a tackle. This match with Seattle makes things easy, as they need both! Playing him at RT lets Abraham Lucas move inside to guard, whereas slotting him in at guard directly replaces Damien Lewis, who signed with Carolina. Fashanu enters the league as a plus pass protector, but his run blocking needs work. That’s the easier part to learn though, and QB defenders are the players who make the big bucks. Fashanu’s versatility and upside would both be assets to the Seahawks, and I think they’d take him here without hesitation.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars – CB Nate Wiggins, Clemson

The Jaguars didn’t address their offensive line or CB holes during free agency. At this moment, I think they need a CB more due to CJ Stroud’s emergence in the AFC South. You barely hear any talk about Wiggins these days, but I doubt teams are forgetting that he’s the most athletic CB in the draft. His 4.28-s speed is elite, and he has great length at 6’1″. Wiggins has excellent coverage capabilities, but his slight frame makes him a weaker run defender. CBs are hired to defend the pass though, and it’s clear that Wiggins is one of the best options for that role. Jacksonville has been starved of such a player for too long.

18. Cincinnati Bengals – OT Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State

Jonah Williams departed in free agency, so here’s another RT to replace him. This team can never stop improving Joe Burrow’s protection, and new signee Trent Brown isn’t durable. I’d rather find a long-term solution at the position and keep Brown as one of the best swing tackles in the league. A few people are projecting Fuaga to become a guard, but I think his 33-inch arms aren’t in the danger zone. A powerful mauler in the run game, Fuaga would be a major upgrade over Williams in that regard. With him and Orlando Brown Jr at the tackle positions, QB Joe Burrow would have strong protection for the first time in his pro career.

19. Los Angeles Rams – DT Byron Murphy II, Texas

The Rams’ entire draft outlook (and season outlook quite frankly) changed the second future Hall of Fame DT Aaron Donald retired. I’m giving them a replacement with the understanding that no one player can fill his shoes. Among all the DTs in this class though, Murphy is the best bet. Always a good run defender, he really improved as an interior rusher in 2023, earning 5 sacks. Murphy’s explosiveness is what teams covet in a Donald prototype. Regardless of his ceiling, LA desperately needs someone in the middle of the defensive line, and nobody tops Murphy on most draft boards.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – OT Amarius Mims, Georgia

For the second consecutive year, Pittsburgh could be drafting a Georgia OT. Like Broderick Jones, Mims has the potential to play on either side of the line. The latter actually has higher upside. Mims is a monstrous OT, but he’s somehow nimble and quick. That athleticism makes him a great pass protector, while his sheer size bulldozes people in the run game. His two concerns are durability (he got hurt at the Combine) and experience (he started just 1 year). I’m not particularly worried about either of those things. The payoff with this pick could be as massive as the player we’re talking about.

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/S 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. His length (6’1″) is great, and his speed (4.42-s unofficial 40) turned out better than expected. Some suggest he’s a more natural fit as a safety, but his athletic testing shows that he’s plenty capable of being an outside or inside CB. For Philly, it doesn’t matter; whatever spot DeJean fills, he’s an upgrade.

23. Minnesota Vikings – DT Jer’Zhan Newton, Illinois

I’ll be surprised if Minnesota makes this pick instead of trading it. In fact, based on the way this particular mock draft looks, no player stands out as being a good fit, so they’ll probably trade down if they don’t trade up. While they’re here though, since we already took care of the QB conundrum, let’s upgrade the defensive line. You might have noticed me say “on most boards” when discussing Byron Murphy. That’s because my personal board has Newton ranked first. I think he’s incredibly explosive as a rusher and has improved in the run game. Minnesota badly needs an interior anchor.

24. Dallas Cowboys – C Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon

LT Tyron Smith did end up departing the Cowboys in free agency, but so did C Tyler Biadasz. The value at pick 24 is better for replacing the latter, and Dallas can take the best center in the class. I know this isn’t the most premium position, but a first-round pick is a win if it nets a long-term starter who can benefit the team right away. That describes Powers-Johnson, who enters the NFL as a great pass protector and a stout run blocker. The Cowboys have taken some real hits to their once league-best line, so now is the time to start replenishing it before it derails the team.

25. Green Bay Packers – OT Tyler Guyton, Oklahoma

At long last, the Packers have parted ways with perennially injured tackle David Bakhtiari. That means they can finally invest in a true replacement without tip-toeing around the issue. Extremely tall at 6’7″, Guyton oozes athleticism; a man of his size should not have such agile feet. The reason he’s this low on the tackle hierarchy is how raw he is. He started 2 seasons for Oklahoma but didn’t develop too much technique. Guyton’s size let him succeed without much strategy, but that won’t fly in the NFL. The Packers are known to coach linemen well, so I think they’d love the mold the clay that is Guyton.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – EDGE Chop Robinson, Penn State

Edge rushers who have second-round grades often get pushed up due to the demand for the position. That’s especially true in the back half of the first round. I don’t know where Tampa would play Robinson, as he’s a bit of a tweener. A little bit undersized to have his hand in the dirt, Robinson comes with loads of speed and bendiness to get around OTs. He’s a dangerous pass rusher with a relentless motor, but those same size issues make him a weaker run defender. The Buccaneers have Vita Vea to demolish RBs. What they need is a QB hunter, and Robinson is fully capable of taking signal callers down.

27. Arizona Cardinals – CB Kamari Lassiter, Georgia

I don’t actually know how Arizona is ranking the CBs in this class. I just know that their secondary is among the NFL’s worst, and something has to be done about it. Top-end speed is a bit of an issue for Lassiter, but there’s no denying his coverage skills. Cardinals DC Nick Rallis prefers a zone scheme, which would be great for Lassiter because he can play off WRs and not have to use recovery speed. He also excels in run support, where Arizona also struggles. With 0 INTs in 2023, Lassiter reminds me of peak Byron Jones: someone without great ball skills but who will lock down opposing receivers with the best of them.

28. Buffalo Bills – WR Brian Thomas Jr, LSU

Once again, a talented pass catcher falls into Buffalo’s lap. On paper, Thomas has everything you want in an elite WR: speed (4.33-s 40), size (6’2″), and production (1177 yards and 17 TDs in 2023). If that was all you knew about him, he’d be a top-10 selection without question. The tape isn’t quite as kind to him though. When you watch him, you notice some subpar route running, and he drops more passes than one would like. Perhaps this is a focus issue; if so, that’s very coachable. Thomas has a sky-high ceiling, and an organization like Buffalo would be likely to help him reach it.

29. Detroit Lions – CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

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. Selecting Brian Branch worked out splendidly for Detroit last year, so it’s back to the Alabama well for another defensive back. A rare freshman to play for Nick Saban, McKinstry has a great football IQ, 6’1″ size, and speed (4.47-s 40 with a Jones fracture in his foot). However, he has little ball production and can be inconsistent in his effort. Dan Campbell can fix the latter, and as long as he covers well, the former would likely be excused.

30. Baltimore Ravens – G Graham Barton, Duke

Baltimore lost multiple linemen in free agency, including a guard and their right tackle. The best player remaining at either of those positions is clearly Barton. A plug-and-play starter the moment he gets into a camp, Barton played tackle for the Blue Devils but is definitely a guard at the next level. He’s a bruiser in the run game who is hard to bull rush, and power pass rushers don’t faze him either. If not for arm length issues and a slight lack of speed, he’d still be a tackle. Lining him up at guard masks those weaknesses and accentuates his strengths, and he’s likely to excel at his new position.

31. San Francisco 49ers – OT Jordan Morgan, Arizona

The 49ers recently extended RT Colton McKivitz for another season, but that can’t be their complete plan right? With the way McKivitz got bullied in the Super Bowl, arguably costing SF the game, an upgrade must be found. Morgan found his groove with the Wildcats once Jedd Fisch became the coach, turning himself into an excellent pass protector (I can already hear Brock Purdy cheering). Though a large man, Morgan isn’t the most physical player, so power rushers can give him trouble. Based on his talent, I think he can change his mindset a little and become a mauler if desired.

32. Kansas City Chiefs – WR Adonai Mitchell, Texas

I confess that this may not be the Texas WR you were expecting to see here. After Xavier Worthy lit up the Combine with the fastest 40 time ever, his draft stock skyrocketed. However, it’s his teammate that scouts see as the more complete WR. Whereas Worthy is considered a pure deep threat, Mitchell has great speed as well (he ran a 4.34-s 40) but is a better route runner and has more size at 6’4″. Rashee Rice, KC’s only viable WR could be in some off-field trouble, and someone has to help him either way. Winning the Super Bowl has you pick last, but I think the Chiefs would be happy with this outcome.

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