With the NFL Playoffs surging, the horizon of the draft season is starting to appear. With the college football season officially over, players will now have to improve their stock off the field as well, through workouts and team interviews. While we aren’t yet there, there’s still been plenty of movement on the draft board. To keep it simple, there won’t be any trades in this mock. All stats are taken from PFF.
2024 Mock Draft 1.1
1. Chicago Bears (via Carolina)
Caleb Williams, QB, USC
While Justin Fields has shown promise, there’s an argument to be made that Chicago should still start over. With Fields’ quarterback clock ticking, he’ll be ready for a new contract after next year. With Williams, that clock will get reset. He’s also a better prospect than Fields was at this time.
2. Washington Commanders
Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
With new ownership and a future new head coach, the time is now to draft a quarterback. Thankfully, the consensus No. 2 quarterback is still on the board. Maye is perhaps the best prototypical pocket quarterback in the draft and has sneaky good running ability. He should be able to take full advantage of the Commanders’ underrated receiving corps.
3. New England Patriots
Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
It’s been a long time since the Patriots have had a new head coach, but here we are. First-time Head Coach Jerod Mayo is used to the Patriots having dominant wide receivers, the opposite of what they have now. In his time as a Patriots player, he saw Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Julian Edelman don the navy and red. With the elite quarterback prospects taken, he settles for the best receiver and possibly player in the draft.
4. Arizona Cardinals
Malik Nabers, WR, LSU
Arizona is in dire need of wide receiver help. The top receivers confirmed to be returning next year are Rondale Moore and Michael Wilson. Unfortunately, they missed out on the top receiver in the draft. Still, they have a chance to draft an elite wide receiver and that’s exactly what they do. He could easily lead the Cardinals in receiving yards next year.
5. Los Angeles Chargers
Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
The Chargers are in an opportune place to upgrade offensively. While they could easily go with another playmaker for Justin Herbert, protecting him is more important. He’s been injured far too much and the way to fix that is to upgrade the offensive line. Joe Alt, possibly the most technically sound tackle in the class can step in immediately at right tackle for the injury-prone Trey Pipkens III.
6. New York Giants
Rome Odunze, WR, Washington
As much as I want to mock a quarterback in New York, I can’t. Daniel Jones is signed for three more years and has $120 million left on his contract. While he’s here, you might as well give him as much help as you can get. With Odunze, the Giants finally get Jones a WR1 with excellent deep route ability.
7. Tennessee Titans
Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia
It might say that Brock Bowers is listed as a tight end, but he can be so much more. At his size and speed, Bowers is a great vertical threat that can be lined up on the outside. The Titans severely lack offensive playmakers outside of DeAndre Hopkins. Adding Bowers would help continue the development of Will Levis.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU
Atlanta seems to be the perfect landing spot for the 2023 Heisman Winner. The offense is stocked and ready to compete immediately. The only thing they’re missing? A quarterback. Desmond Ridder can’t be a franchise guy, but Daniels certainly could. His production against SEC competition speaks for itself.
9. Chicago Bears
Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State
In a stroke of luck, one of the top tackles in the class has fallen to a spot where he can become the plug-and-play left tackle. Braxton Jones, The starting left tackle this past year for Chicago has shown flashes, but is still inconsistent. Fashanu, one of the best pass blockers in the class, would be an instant upgrade.
10. New York Jets
Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois
The long-awaited first defensive player finally comes off the board here. While on the surface this isn’t a huge need, Newton’s presence could take the Jets’ defense to the next level. Newton’s 84.5 pass-rush grade could make the Jets’ defensive front the best in the league. Pairing him with Quinnen Williams would keep opposing quarterbacks up at night.
11. Minnesota Vikings
Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson
The Minnesota Vikings have had an interesting couple of seasons. Whether their team has played above or below their skill level, the cornerback group has always been a problem. Neither Akayleb Evans nor Byron Murphy Jr. played well this year. Wiggins is a good athlete who only allowed a 43.9% completion rate when targeted.
12. Denver Broncos
Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama
It took a while, but one of the best edges in the class is off the board. Turner is one of the most dynamic pass rushers in the draft class with a true pass rush grade of 90.7. Adding him with Nik Bonito and Baron Browning is a great way to create problems for divisional quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.
13. Las Vegas Raiders
Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington
The slide is over for one of the most interesting quarterbacks we’ve seen in recent years. Penix Jr. didn’t pop until his 4th season, but boy did he. He consistently made opposing defenses look like they were JV high school teams. However, with an extended injury history, teams may pass on him. With no quarterback of the future in Vegas, they take a shot at him.
14. New Orleans Saints
Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State
Fuaga enjoyed a great season at Oregon State. He posted run block and zone grades of 90.9 and 91.3, respectively. With Ryan Ramczyk dealing with chronic knee issues, now may be the perfect time to draft his replacement.
15. Indianapolis Colts
Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama
In Shane Steichen’s first season, the Colts greatly overachieved. They did this despite having one of the youngest and most inconsistent cornerback groups in the entire league. With 14 forced incompletions, Arnold’s physicality may allow him to become the Colts’ first or second outside corner alongside Juju Brents.
16. Seattle Seahawks
JC Latham, OT, Alabama
Seattle is well-stocked at offensive tackle, so this pick may seem a bit odd. In this scenario, however, Latham would be moved inside to guard so he could start immediately. Their interior offensive line leaves much to be desired. Latham projects well at guard and would fit seamlessly in their zone running scheme.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars
Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa
After a fast start to Jacksonville’s season, things quickly fell apart. A big reason had to do with the defense, specifically the cornerback group. The entire group as a whole gave up as many yards as opposing quarterbacks wanted. DeJean’s versatility gives him the ability to be an immediate upgrade at safety, outside corner, or nickelback.
18. Cincinnati Bengals
Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU
With the threat of Tee Higgins leaving in free agency, this would be a great time to snag another weapon for Joe Burrow. With Tyler Boyd at the end of his prime, another first-round receiver would keep the momentum of the Bengals’ offense going. Thomas Jr. would complement Ja’Marr Chase extremely well with his speed and deep route ability.
19. Los Angeles Rams
Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA
Due to injury concerns, Latu falls all the way to pick 19. The Rams’ roster is so bad, they’re likely to go with the best player available. Latu has the potential to be the steal of the first round, showcasing amazing pass-rush ability both at Washington and UCLA. Adding him with rookies Kobie Turner and Byron Young would create an extremely promising future at the position.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington
Regardless of who the Steelers’ quarterback is, they’re getting way too much opposing pressure thrown at them. This largely comes from the below-average play of left tackle Dan Moore Jr., who finished 2023 with a 39.7 pass-blocking grade. That’s exactly what Fautanu specializes in. The former UW tackle only gave up three sacks in his time in Seattle.
21. Miami Dolphins
Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia
With the lack of health from veteran tackle Terron Armstead, it’s clear that Miami must do something to assess the situation. Whether he’s on the roster next year, there needs to be a backup plan in place. That’s where Mims comes in. In his two years starting, Mims did not let up a single sack. It’ll be a worthy investment to protect Tua Tagovailoa.
22. Philadelphia Eagles
Kool-Aid McKinistry, CB, Alabama
We’ve never seen anything like the 2023 Eagles’ downfall. Much of the blame can be reserved for the secondary unit that let any able-bodied quarterback tear up their defense. With Darius Slay and or James Bradberry IV likely out, McKinstry could step in to start week one. His 87.8 coverage grade ranks among the best in the class.
23. Houston Texans (via CLE)
Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State
With the sack leader for the Texans about to hit free agency, they could be left with only Will Anderson Jr. at the position. Inserting Robinson could drive fear into the young group of AFC South quarterbacks for years. Robinson boasts a 93.1 true pass-rush grade and had a pass-rush win rate of 20.1%. Both of which are elite.
24. Dallas Cowboys
Graham Barton, IOL, Duke
Graham Barton is a somewhat unknown name at this part of the process. Get ready to learn about him though. The Duke Blue Devil has the most consistent blocking stats out of any interior lineman in the draft. He also has the ability to play tackle if needed. With the futures of the Cowboys’ left tackle, right guard, and right tackles in question, Barton could help answer them.
25. Green Bay Packers
Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State
Although Preston Smith had a good year with eight sacks, the 31-year-old won’t be getting any younger. The Packers have one of the youngest rosters in the league and it doesn’t make sense to hold on to Smith much longer. With a good pass rusher still on the board, it’s a fantastic time to select him.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Braelen Trice, EDGE, Washington
With Shaquille Barrett having a disappointing season and not getting any younger, it may be time to move on. The 31-year-old has one of the largest salaries on the team. Inserting Braelen Trice, who has a pass rush grade of 90.5, in Barrett’s spot would instantly upgrade the pass rush to help them take advantage of one of the league’s worst divisions.
27. Arizona Cardinals (via HOU)
Byron Murphy II, DT, Texas
No, it’s not Byron Muphy’s relative. Murphy II has been a force on the Longhorns’ defensive line for years now. He’s posted the best interior pass rush grade in the entire class at 91.5. Interior pass rush was sorely lacking for Arizona last year after losing JJ Watt and Zach Allen.
28. Kansas City Chiefs
Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State
The Kansas City Chiefs strike gold with this pick. The best-contested catch receiver falls all the way to 28. Coleman will wow scouts with his size and physicality. With Travis Kelce in decline, the Chiefs badly need an elite possession receiver. Coleman may be able to get to that level eventually.
29. Buffalo Bills
Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina
Similar to the Chiefs, Buffalo gets an excellent value pick in Legette. Although he had a fantastic season going over 1,250 yards, he’s been underrated in the draft process so far. The former Gamecock excels against man coverage and would give Josh Allen a legit No. 2 wide receiver.
30. Detroit Lions
Chris Braswell, EDGE, Alabama
Braswell has been largely overshadowed both by Will Anderson Jr. and Dallas Turner, but he still has great ability. Last season he was able to win 18.2% of his pass rush snaps, a rate that isn’t elite but is very good. The Lions lack a legit pass rusher opposite of Aidan Hutchinson. Braswell could be a great option to pair with him.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Jackson Powers-Johnson, IOL, Oregon
While Powers-Johnson may not be the best player on the board, he fills an urgent need for San Francisco. For years now, the 49ers have had one of the worst interior offensive lines in the league. Powers-Johnson, who played center at Oregon posted an 85.2 run blocking grade with a 90.6 pass block grade. He’s already better than starting center Jake Brendel and would open holes for Christian McCaffrey.
32. Baltimore Ravens
Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon
It may seem that the Ravens are stacked at receiver and they are. For now. Odell Beckham Jr.’s contract will be up at the end of the year and Rashod Bateman will be entering the final year of his deal. Drafting Troy Franklin, one of the best deep threats in the draft, ensures a consistent pipeline of wide receiver talent for Lamar Jackson.
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