As the dust settles on another thrilling NFL regular season, the focus for over half the league’s teams has shifted to the offseason staple: the NFL mock draft. With the combine, free agency, and trades looming on the horizon, the draft season is officially underway. The College Football Playoff title game has concluded, and the deadline for players to declare is rapidly approaching on January 15. Let’s dive into some early predictions for the top picks in the 2024 NFL Draft.
1. Chicago Bears (from Carolina Panthers) – Caleb Williams, QB, USC
Despite Justin Fields making an impressive final push and gaining support in the Bears’ locker room, the decision on the quarterback position lies with General Manager Ryan Poles. The trade with the Carolina Panthers last year set the stage for this moment, and selecting Caleb Williams could provide the Bears with a dynamic and creative passer. This move aims to set up a more favorable timeline for competition and build a supporting roster around Fields.
2. Washington Commanders – Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
Sam Howell’s struggles in the 2023 season have put Washington in a precarious quarterback situation. Drake Maye, a strong-armed and athletic prospect, could bring hope to a franchise desperately seeking stability in the quarterback position.
3. New England Patriots – Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU
Regardless of Bill Belichick’s future, New England appears poised for an offensive overhaul. Jayden Daniels, not often mentioned alongside other top picks, brings a desirable package of traits, including athleticism, deep passing ability, and composure in the pocket.
4. Arizona Cardinals – Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
The Cardinals, eyeing the premier non-passer in the draft, would benefit if quarterbacks go off the board early. Marvin Harrison Jr., touted as the best wide receiver prospect in years, alongside emerging standout tight end Trey McBride, could provide Kyler Murray with an impressive receiving corps.
5. Los Angeles Chargers – Malik Nabers, WR, LSU
With uncertainties around Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, the Chargers need to infuse more dynamism into their receiving corps. Malik Nabers, a threat both as a deep receiver and after the catch, fits the bill for the Chargers’ need for offensive firepower.
6. New York Giants – Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
Protecting Daniel Jones becomes a priority for the Giants, and Joe Alt, a steady offensive line prospect, could be the answer. Alt’s reliability could make him an excellent pairing with Andrew Thomas, potentially shoring up the Giants’ offensive front.
7. Tennessee Titans – Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State
As the Titans embrace a roster overhaul, building a strong offensive line becomes crucial. Olu Fashanu, a fleet-footed tackle, could contribute to the Titans’ offensive resurgence as they prepare for a new era with Will Levis at quarterback.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Dallas Turner, OLB, Alabama
Despite the quarterback question looming, the Falcons opt for Dallas Turner, an explosive edge threat. Turner’s dynamic play could rejuvenate the Falcons’ pass rush, providing a much-needed boost.
9. Chicago Bears – Rome Odunze, WR, Washington
While defense improvement is tempting for the Bears, the potential offensive firepower with Rome Odunze is too significant to pass up. Odunze’s ability to outmuscle defensive backs and make contested catches makes him a valuable addition to the Bears’ receiving corps.
10. New York Jets – Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia
Prioritizing Aaron Rodgers’ needs, the Jets go for a dynamic tight end in Brock Bowers. Bowers’ exceptional ball skills and ability to contribute in the passing game make him an immediate asset for the Jets.
11. Minnesota Vikings – Laiatu Latu, DE, UCLA
Rebuilding the pass rush becomes a necessity for the Vikings, especially with the uncertainty around Danielle Hunter’s free agency. Laiatu Latu, though with medical concerns, is considered one of the most skilled edge rushers in this draft class.
12. Denver Broncos – Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson
The Broncos address their secondary issues by selecting Nate Wiggins, a cornerback with the size and fluidity to cover receivers at every level. Wiggins could significantly bolster a defense that struggled, particularly in the regular-season finale.
13. Las Vegas Raiders – J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan
The Raiders make a substantial investment in J.J. McCarthy, a quarterback with athleticism and arm strength. McCarthy’s potential as a young quarterback aligns with the Raiders’ need for a long-term solution.
14. New Orleans Saints – JC Latham, OT, Alabama
The late-season revelation of Ryan Ramczyk’s uncertain future due to a knee issue prompts the Saints to consider JC Latham as a potential replacement at right tackle. Latham’s capability of becoming a high-level starter adds depth to the Saints’ offensive line.
15. Indianapolis Colts – Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
The Colts, facing growing pains in their young secondary, opt for Kool-Aid McKinstry, a versatile and savvy cornerback. McKinstry’s coverage skills make him an ideal pairing with 2023 second-rounder JuJu Brents.
16. Seattle Seahawks – Chop Robinson, DE, Penn State
Focusing on defense in an offense-heavy draft, the Seahawks select Chop Robinson. Robinson’s burst and elasticity make him an attractive choice, addressing the team’s defensive needs after a season plagued by injuries.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars – Troy Fautanu, G, Washington
To rectify issues with self-inflicted mistakes, the Jaguars bolster their interior offensive line with Troy Fautanu. Fautanu’s fluid protection skills make him a valuable addition to ensure long-term stability.
18. Cincinnati Bengals – Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia
Amidst receiver questions, the Bengals prioritize finding a replacement for Jonah Williams at right tackle. Amarius Mims, with massive potential, becomes a strategic long-term bet for the Bengals’ offensive line.
19. Green Bay Packers – Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa
Addressing concerns in the secondary, the Packers select Cooper DeJean, a playmaking cornerback with the ability to lift a unit lacking interceptions. DeJean’s skills offer a solution to Green Bay’s defensive challenges.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State
With Mike Evans potentially heading to free agency, the Buccaneers look to the future with Keon Coleman. The 6-4, 215-pound Coleman provides a fitting successor, combining physicality and catching ability.
21. Arizona Cardinals (from Houston Texans) – Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois
Jonathan Gannon aims to enhance interior pressure for the Cardinals’ defense by selecting Jer’Zhan Newton. Despite being undersized, Newton’s knack for disrupting plays in the backfield makes him a valuable addition.
22. Los Angeles Rams – Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo
Acknowledging the need for talent in the secondary, the Rams choose Quinyon Mitchell. Mitchell’s ball-hawking skills in the Mid-American Conference demonstrate his potential impact on the Rams’ evolving defense.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers – Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama
While Kool-Aid McKinstry gains recognition, Terrion Arnold is not to be overlooked. Arnold’s transition from safety to cornerback provides the Steelers with a potential asset in man coverage, addressing cornerback issues.
24. Miami Dolphins – Graham Barton, G, Duke
The Dolphins, looking to secure the offensive front, opt for Graham Barton. While the offensive line has shown improvement, Barton’s addition provides added security, especially with Robert Hunt in the final year of his contract.
25. Philadelphia Eagles – Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State
Despite defensive struggles, Howie Roseman’s affinity for building up the offensive line leads to the selection of Taliese Fuaga. Fuaga’s powerful presence offers a short-term option at guard and a potential long-term replacement for Lane Johnson.
26. Kansas City Chiefs – Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU
With a keen eye on a dynamic target for Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs choose Brian Thomas Jr. Thomas’s impressive tracking and red zone prowess provide much-needed assistance to Mahomes and Travis Kelce, elevating the Chiefs’ offensive attack.
27. Houston Texans (from Cleveland Browns) – Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma
Ensuring superior protection for C.J. Stroud, the Texans select Tyler Guyton. A former H-back, Guyton’s outstanding physical tools make him a valuable right tackle to safeguard the franchise quarterback.
28. Detroit Lions – Jared Verse, DE, Florida State
The Lions add Jared Verse to their pass rush, providing support opposite Aidan Hutchinson. Verse’s strength and ability as a run stopper make him a welcome addition to Dan Campbell’s defensive plans.
29. Buffalo Bills – Leonard Taylor III, DT, Miami (Fla.)
Facing potential departures in the defensive line, the Bills turn to Leonard Taylor III. Taylor’s imposing presence at the point of attack and untapped potential position him as a valuable asset to address Buffalo’s defensive concerns.
30. Dallas Cowboys – Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona
Amidst uncertainties about Tyron Smith’s future, the Cowboys select Jordan Morgan. Versatile and experienced, Morgan offers flexibility to the offensive line, with a likely fit at guard for the Cowboys.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia
Building on reports linked to cornerback acquisitions around the trade deadline, the 49ers choose Kamari Lassiter. Lassiter’s pro-ready skills, schematic versatility, and route recognition make him a valuable addition to the 49ers’ secondary.
32. Baltimore Ravens – JT Tuimoloau, DE, Ohio State
Embracing a strategy of finding gems in the draft, the Ravens select JT Tuimoloau. The powerful edge rusher addresses potential departures in the pass rush, fortifying a defense that could face challenges in free agency.
In conclusion, as the NFL offseason unfolds, these early predictions for the 2024 NFL Draft provide a glimpse into the potential future stars set to make an impact in the league. The draft season is sure to bring surprises, trades, and unexpected selections, but for now, these projections offer a starting point for teams and fans to anticipate the next wave of talent entering the NFL.