Since my last mock draft around “Zero Week”, much has happened in the CFB and NFL. Underdogs have turned the tables, injuries have occurred, and the unexpected has happened. Still six months away, what prospects have risen and which have fallen? All of this will be explored in this 2024 NFL Mock Draft.
Disclaimer: Like my last mock, the draft order in this episode will also be determined by each team’s odds to win the Super Bowl. My following mock after this is when I’ll begin determining the draft order by record.
Image: USC Athletics
1. Chicago Bears (via Carolina) – Caleb Williams, QB, USC
Team Needs: QB, WR, Edge, LT
Only five games into the third year of his NFL career, there’s still plenty of time for Justin Fields to pan out. However, with how his tenure in Chicago has gone so far, we could see him on a short leash. Still, with how young Fields is, we could see the Bears select Williams with the intention to trade the former Buckeye elsewhere. If this happens, expect the Falcons and Raiders to be potential suitors. Another option for the Bears is to trade this pick, but I don’t think they’d be willing to part with the opportunity to select a generational talent such as Williams.
Image: Sports Illustrated
2. Chicago Bears – Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
Team Needs: QB, WR, Edge, LT
It isn’t often you get the chance to select the best two players in a draft class. Yet, the Bears could very well have the opportunity to do so come April. Many regard Williams as one of the best QB prospects in recent memory, but even more regard Harrison as possibly the best WR prospect since Calvin Johnson if not ever. Harrison is everything you want in a receiver. He has the size at 6’4” 205lbs, is fast enough to run past you, and is agile enough to create separation with his route running. Furthermore, he has strong hands and is physical at the catch point. DJ Moore has been a WR1 for the Panthers and now the Bears. But if Harrison goes to Chicago, we could see Moore as their WR2.
Image: Penn State Athletics
3. Arizona Cardinals – Olumiuyiwa Fashanu, LT, Penn State
Team Needs: CB, DT, OL, WR
Until the Cardinals officially move on from Kyler Murray, I refuse to believe they’ll do so unless they have the opportunity to select Caleb Williams. Because of this, they’ll need to do more to set up Murray for success. It’s unfortunate that Harrison’s off the board, but Olu Fashanu is easily the best offensive linemen in this year’s class. He’s large, powerful, and athletic and can transform an offensive line. The team may still have other holes that’ll need to be addressed, but having Fashanu and Johnson on the edges sets a good foundation for an offense.
Image: Draft Network
4. New York Giants – Rome Odunze, WR, Washington
Team Needs: OL, CB, Edge, WR
Although it’d be nice to give the Giants an IOL right here, there isn’t one that’s worthy of the fourth overall pick. The Giants could use better QB play also, but there’s no way they move on from Daniel Jones after giving him a massive contract in the offseason. Instead, I think it’d be wise for them to select the WR2 of this class and beef up the OL and secondary in later rounds. For many, Rome Odunze might not be official WR2 of this year’s class, but he sure is putting up a good case for it. So far in 2023, Odunze has 608 yards on 32 receptions with 4 TDs. He’s arguably one of the best pure route runners in this year’s class and could potentially be WR1 for the Giants immediately.
5. Denver Broncos – Jared Verse, Edge, Florida State
Team Needs: Edge, CB, QB, IDL
The Broncos are yet another team that could benefit greatly from better play at the QB position. But with Wilson’s contract, there’s still four years until the team can move on from the veteran. Consequetially, now would be a good time to better connect their DL and their secondary. Justin Simmons and Patrick Surtain have been amazing, but the team hasn’t had a threatening defensive front since Von Miller and Bradley Chubb years back. Baron Browning showed flashes of disruption last year but hasn’t been able to this year given his injury. With Verse being the best of his class, the combination of him and Browning could be a duo to be feared in the AFC West.
6. New England Patriots – Joe Alt, LT, Notre Dame
Team Needs: WR, OT, QB, Edge, CB
There’s many who are quick to criticize Mac Jones. Although some of it may be warranted, he simply doesn’t have the talent around him needed to succeed. Jones needs WRs to throw to, but he also needs time in the pocket to allow his receivers to get open. Because of this, I think it’d be best for them to take Notre Dame’s Joe Alt. Many have him as the best tackle in this year’s class but I give that distinction to Olu Fashanu. Nevertheless, Alt is a phenomenal prospect who could keep Mac Jones’s jersey clean for years.
Image: Basic Blues Nation
7. Arizona Cardinals (via Houston) – Kalen King, CB, Penn State
Team Needs: CB, DT, OL, WR
This may be a reach for King here, but with their OL beefed up, there isn’t a WR or DL prospect that’s worth this selection. King is easily the best CB prospect in this year’s class and has proven he has what it takes to lock down a team’s WR1. The Cardinals could benefit more from a DL prospect, but with Jonathan Gannon at the helm, I think he’d be happy to “settle” for the CB1 of a draft class.
Image: AP News
8. Las Vegas Raiders – Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
Team Needs: QB, CB, LB, OL
It’s crazy to think that Drake Maye could fall this far down. But in a world of no trades it’s possible. Drake Maye is what you want in a QB prospect. He has the size, arm strength, and athleticism to excel under an offensive minded coach such as Josh McDaniels. Additionally, he’s a good balance of raw but experienced to where McDaniels can spend time molding him but shouldn’t be worried about stunting his development. Especially with Davante Adams out wide and Michael Mayer working from the middle, he’d go into Vegas already having weapons to work with.
Image: Sports Illustrated
9. Washington Commanders – Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State
Team Needs: LB, CB, TE, WR
With Egbuka and Harrison on the field together, it’s easy to forget about the former. Still, you have to remember that if Harrison wasn’t a Buckeye, Egbuka would be the WR1 on that squad. Some people might give Washington Patrick Paul in this scenario, but this is one of the very few instances I’d rather have a WR instead of a great lineman. For this year’s draft class, there are some who even have Egbuka as WR2 after his teammate. Although I may not believe this to be the case, his abilities as a receiver are clear. With Brain Robinson in the backfield and Samuel, McLaurin, Egbuka, and Dotson out wide, the Commanders’s offense immediately becomes that much more dangerous.
Image: University of Georgia Athletics
10. Indianapolis Colts – Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia
Team Needs: TE, CB, S, Edge
With the top three receivers off the board, the Colts could go after Alabama’s McKinstry or elect to go after UCLA’s Laitu Latu. Instead, I think they’ll go the safer route taking Georgia’s Brock Bowers. Since arriving in Athens only a few years ago, Bowers was immediately on the radar of NFL scouts. Not only is he the best prospect at his position, but he’s arguably a top prospect in his class. He can run past you, is great after the catch, can route you up, and is an excellent blocker. A pure three-down TE, Shane Steichen can get as creative as he wants with an offense that could feature Anthony Richardson, Jonathan Taylor, Josh Downs, and potentially Michael Pittman Jr and Brock Bowers.
Image: JC Latham
11. New York Jets – JC Latham, RT, Alabama
Team Needs: OT, S, QB, IOL
After Aaron Rodgers’s devastating injury Week 1, it’s clear the Jets are going to be all in next year. It’s a disappointing scenario thinking about what could’ve been this year, but it could be a blessing in disguise to give the 39 year old QB a year for recovery. Furthermore, this gives the team’s other new additions from the offseason the time to get used to the offensive and defensive schemes. No team wants to tank. Every team wants to go out on Sundays and win. But the high draft picks are nice. The Jets’s offensive line has been abysmal this year to say the least. No, it doesn’t help that Becton isn’t fully healthy and that Vera-Tucker went down with injury again but still, you’d think these other NFL caliber players would suffice. Through five weeks, it’s clear they haven’t. The Jets have the weapons on both sides of the ball, but they’ll need to give Rodgers time next year. That’s why I give them arguably the best RT in this class. Latham is a monster in the trenches and is also extremely smart. Besides his athletic ability, him playing for one of the best CFB coaches ever should serve him well as he looks to take his game to the next level.
Image: Sporting News
12. Minnesota Vikings – JJ McCarthy, QB, Michigan
Team Needs: IDL, IOL, CB, QB
The Vikings are a mess right now. One could even say they’re the most disappointing team in football at 1-4. Kirk Cousins is set to be a free agent after this year and it doesn’t look like the team’s intent on re-signing him. Because of this, I have them taking a QB who played college ball just a few states away. Going into this year McCarthy was already on the radars of NFL scouts although maybe not this high. However, after a phenomenal start to the year he could find himself being a top-15 pick. From this year to last year, he’s made dramatic improvements to his game that have garnered high praise from his HC.
Image: Alabama Athletics
13. Los Angeles Rams – Dallas Turner, OLB, Alabama
Team Needs: CB, Edge, IOL, LT, LB
Going into the year everyone knew about Dallas Turner thanks to his ridiculous athleticism. After the beginning weeks of the season, it’s clear he’s a legit football player and not just an athlete. On a defense that also features one of the best CBs in college football, Turner still finds ways to turn heads each snap. He’s a disruptor all over the field as he can be lined up on the edges of the line of scrimmage and off ball.
Image: Clemson Tigers
14. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jeremiah Trotter Jr, LB, Clemson
Team Needs: CB, S, LB, IDL, WR
Before the start of the season it was Trotter’s teammate, Barret Carter, whom many regarded as this year’s LB1. However after a more than impressive start to the year, Trotter has overtaken that spot. He may not have the ideal height at only 6’0”, but his style of play is reminiscent of former Steelers first rounder Devin Bush. Slightly under the average NFL LB height, don’t let this fool you. He plays at his best when operating in open space but can also come downhill to lay the hitstick. In the end, Trotter operates very well in open space scanning the QB and seeing how WR patterns and blocking concepts develop.
15. Tennessee Titans – Laiatu Latu, OLB, UCLA
Team Needs: OT, Edge, WR, CB, LB
One of those “do it all” guys, Laiatu Latu is exactly the type of player Mike Vrabel covets. Latu was already on NFL radars after solid play last year but has worked himself into first round conversations recently. A player who can line up anywhere along the line of scrimmage, Latu knows how to win with both power, agility, and length. Furthermore, he also has experience dropping in coverage from both on and off ball stances. Throughout the draft process his bill of health will be a big question mark as he retired from football for a few years before enrolling at UCLA.
Image: University of Washington Athletics
16. Atlanta Falcons – Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington
Team Needs: QB, Edge, LB, IOL, WR
Michael Penix Jr has lit up the college football world the first weeks of the season and is the current Heisman favorite. He’s experienced, has a strong arm, and can make throws from both inside and outside the pocket. Moreso, he can also evade pressure and extend plays using his legs. Penix is an extremely athletic prospect who could take the Falcons offense to the next level. Of course, the Falcons will also need to invest in their offensive line to further ensure success, but drafting Penix is a step in the right direction.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Drake Nugent, C, Michigan
Team Needs: IOL, TE, QB, CB
It isn’t a sexy pick, but it’s time for the team to move on from Ryan Jensen. Jensen’s been great for the Buccs but, with his recent injury history, they should select the best center in this year’s class. The Buccaneers are another team that could draft a QB, especially with Quinn Ewers still on the board, but Baker Mayfield has played well so far. Perhaps he’s even played well enough for the Buccaneers to bring him back next year. There are other areas the Tampa Bay franchise could improve, but it’s difficult to pass on the best player at a single position.
Image: Hawkeyes Wire
18. Green Bay Packers – Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa
Team Needs: OL, Slot CB, S, WR
After their recent MNF loss, it’s clear the Packers need better OL, secondary, and WR play. The team could use a better slot CB and safety, so why not draft someone who can play both? There’s many who believe that DeJean would be better at safety in the NFL. However, it’d only be fair for the Packers to give him the opportunity to stay at corner. In reality DeJean can play anywhere. He can line up in the slot, outside, as a single high, and even in the box. He isn’t the best pure corner in the draft, but he’s only marginally behind Kalen King. Overall, he’s the best bang for your buck player with how versatile he is.
Image: Illinois Athletics
19. Houston Texans (via Cleveland) – Jer’Zhan Newton, IDL, Illinois
Team Needs: Edge, IDL, WR, CB, S
There’s no doubt in my mind that DeMeco Ryans would’ve loved to see DeJean fall here. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Instead, Ryans and the Houston franchise will have to “settle” for the best IDL available. Last draft, Ryans made a splash by trading up to grab Will Anderson Jr. While I don’t expect him to do anything similar this year, I can still see him bolstering his defensive front. Afterall, his defensive front back in San Francisco is partially what made them so disruptive. He’s done a good job his first year in Houston, but taking a player like Newton is a good step in trying to replicate his success as a 49er.
20. New Orleans Saints – Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State
Team Needs: LT, IOL, S, QB, TE
It’s clear the Saints are invested in Derek Carr for the short term. So why not put the weapons around him to succeed? The team could use a TE but there isn’t one behind Bowers that wouldn’t be a drastic reach. Insert Keon Coleman. Arguably the biggest riser since Week 1, Coleman has exploded on to the draft scene while in Tallahassee. He’s agile and is a big body who boxes out defensive backs with ease thanks to his basketball background. Micahel Thomas doesn’t have much time left so it’d be wise for the Saints to begin grooming someone else to pair with Olave.
Image: K-State Athletics
21. Seattle Seahawks – Cooper Beebe, OL, Kansas State
Team Needs: S, OL, Slot CB, DT
Cooper Beebe might not be the best offensive line prospect available at this point in the draft but this doesn’t mean he’s bad. In fact, Cooper Beebe is probably one of the better offensive linemen in college football of recent. The Seahawks have their QB with weapons around him but they haven’t been able to protect him. At this stage in the draft, Cooper Beebe is the most versatile lineman available. Having played several snaps at RT, LT, and LG, Beebe is an extremely flexible player. But not only does he offer excellent versatility, he also plays at a very high level at all these positions. Throughout his collegiate career, he has earned some sort of distinction at each position played. Cooper Beebe gives Pete Carroll’s offensive line the options they desperately need.
Image: Houston Chronicle
22. Cincinnati Bengals – Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas
Team Needs: IDL, RT, WR, TE, IOL
Bengals fans might not want to admit it, but there’s the possibility Tee Higgins leaves in free agency. It’d be nice if Keon Coleman fell to them given his profile most resembles Higgins, but they can’t sulk on that. Still, the Bengals should be just as pleased with Texas’s Xavier Worthy. He may not be having the season many expected him to have, but he’s still playing very well. Worthy is capable of threatening teams vertically with his speed and also on short and intermediate routes. He’s extremely crisp at the top of routes and understands stems very well. There was a time when teams shied away from slim receivers, but DeVonta Smith, Jordan Addison, and now Xavier Worthy are changing that trend.
23. Los Angeles Chargers – Michael Hall Jr., IDL, Ohio State
Team Needs: IDL, LB, Edge, S, CB
The Chargers can’t keep going on like this. For years their run defense has been atrocious and what do they do to confront the issue? They sign veteran interior pass rushers and veteran LBs. The buck stops this draft. At 6’2” 280lbs, Hall doesn’t have the ideal frame of a run defender, but he uses his size to his advantage. He may not clog up gaps the way Vita Vea can, but he’s extremely explosive with active hands. This style also translates to his pass rush as he gets off the ball quick to beat the lineman in front of him.
Image: Alabama Athletics
24. Baltimore Ravens – Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
Team Needs: CB, RB, OG, WR, IDL
This is a nightmare pairing for opposing AFC North offensive coordinators. When playing the Ravens, not only will OCs have to account for Kyle Hamilton and Marlon Humphrey, but also McKinstry. McKinstry can play man, zone, and is by no means afraid to tackle. This season alone, the cover man already has 17 total tackles, 14 of which are solo. A true-junior, McKinstry has started for the Crimson Tide ever since freshman year. He also acts as the team’s punt returner with how threatening he is with the ball in his hands.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jack Sawyer, Edge, Ohio State
Team Needs: IOL, S, IDL, Edge, LB
Currently, Josh Allen’s future with the squad is in the air after the Jaguars failed to extend him last offseason. Because of this, Allen will be a hot commodity come free agency. His loss would be a devastating loss to a team that’s already short on edge rushers. Even if the Jaguars did retain Allen, edge defender is still a position that needs to be improved. Insert Ohio State’s Jack Sawyer. Although JT Tuimoloau might be a more common name for Buckeye DEs this year, Sawyer’s impact has been immense. One could even say that Sawyer’s impact this season has been more meaningful than Tuimoloau’s. Still, with Jack Sawyer, you get someone who can rush the passer, is aggressive setting edges, and is smooth dropping in coverage.
Image: Clemson Tigers
26. Detroit Lions – Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson
Team Needs: DT, CB, S, WR
On pace to win their division (wow that feels a bit weird saying), there’s still areas the Lions can improve. They’ve played really well over the first five weeks of the season, but their secondary could be tighter knit. Clemson has been a disappointment so far but don’t let this deter you from Nate Wiggins. Clemson as a whole might not be playing up to par but Wiggins is. He’s extremely lengthy for a CB at 6’2” but he doesn’t move like it. He’s fluid in his movements and has fine footwork that serves him well. He attacks the ball well but can still improve in this area.
Image: TCU Athletics
27. Dallas Cowboys – Josh Newton, CB, TCU
Team Needs: OL, CB, LB, IDL
Stephon Gilmore is in the final year of his contract and I don’t know how inclined the team is to bring the veteran back. Moreso, the club traded for former first rounder Noah Igbinoghene but the same can also be said about him. Josh Newton plays at TCU meaning he play’s in the Cowboy’s backyard. He has inside-outside versatility and attacks the ball well with how he stays in phase. Trevon Diggs is a lock for one CB spot, but the others are wide open.
Image: Sports Illustrated
28. Miami Dolphins – JT Tuimoloau, Edge, Ohio State
Team Needs: RT, CB, Edge, TE, LG
For a team that already has Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips, this might seem like a waste of a first rounder. However, you can never have too many players that can rush the passer. In fact, you can also never have enough edge defenders that can drop in coverage. This is the type of player Tuimoloau is. He can rush from pretty much anywhere along the defensive front and does a good job dropping into the flats of defensive zones. He reads QB’s eyes decently and is a fine tackler in the open space. The Dolphins’s offense is full of firepower, why not make their defense the same in this year’s draft?
29. Buffalo Bills – Kamren Kinchens, S, Miami
Team Needs: WR, RT, Edge, S, LB
Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer have been phenomenal in Buffalo but they’re getting up there in age. There’s a number of safety prospects this year that fit the bill, but Kamren Kinchens stands out above the rest. For Miami, he lines up all over the field and is a physical presence in the middle. He’s smooth in his backpedal and reads the quarterback well to anticipate throws. As if this wasn’t enough, he’s also a very good blitzer. There aren’t many safety’s whom you have to account for on every snap nowadays. But Kinchens could be one of those guys.
Image: Sports Illustrated
30. Philadelphia Eagles – Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina
Team Needs: CB, WR, LB, RG, RB
The Philadelphia Eagles already have one of the better receiving corps in the NFL, but lets make them even better. The team could use a RB but with how good their offensive line is, they can take a chance on a late round guy. Instead, let’s draft them South Carolina’s Xavier Legette. Legette hasn’t entirely convinced people he’s a first round talent but he has the potential for it. He isn’t super refined, but at 6’3” 227lbs he’s massive. He isn’t an insane route runner but he’s strong and is extremely fast. Seeing what Kyle Shanahan has done with Deebo Samuel, OCs around the league are looking for someone to replicate that with. Legette could be that guy but even better given how much bigger he is than Samuel. If there’s another coach that’s creative enough to do it, it’s Nick Siriani.
Image: Houston Athletics
31. Kansas City Chiefs – Patrick Paul, LT, Houston
Team Needs: IDL, OT, WR, Edge, S
Whether people want to admit it or not, the Chiefs’s offense will always be good as long as Mahomes and Reid are paired together. Over the past few years, the Chiefs have been able to get the job done despite not having a true WR1. Travis Kelce’s fit the bill for them quite nicely over the years, but what’s really impressive is their ability to perform even with Kelce out of the lineup. The team went and signed Jawaan Taylor last offseason to anchor down the right edge of their O-Line but their left side still remains in question. Draft Patrick Paul from Houston and you now anchor that side for years to come. At Houston, he might not face the top-tier competition an evaluator would like, but he’s long and is insanely athletic for someone who’s 6’7” 315lbs.
32. San Francisco 49ers – Taliese Fuaga, RT, Oregon State
Team Needs: RT, C, OG, CB
The 49ers time to win is now. They’ve suffered some heartbreaking losses the past few postseasons but they’re looking as formidable as ever this year. The team has a lot of money committed to key players across their lineup which could result in them parting from a fan favorite. Most 49er fans are quick to point out Deebo Samuel to be a casualty which could result in them wanting to groom a replacement. But for a team who is poised to win at some point soon, they dwell on the future. The team’s right tackle is a weak point currently. Draft Taliese Fuaga and it won’t be for a while. Fuaga has done nothing but dominate for the Beavers this year. He’s shown the ability to hold up pass rushers while also the strength to maul defenders in the run game. With Fuaga on one side and Williams on the other, the 49ers could have the best tackle duo in the game.
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