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May 23, 2024

2024 NFL mock draft: Quarterbacks and tackles dominate the first round

By FREDDY BRANSON | April 25, 2024

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ALEXANDER JONESI / CC BY-SA 2.0

Branson explores some of the possibilities in the upcoming NFL Draft for all 32 NFL teams picking in the first round.

With the NFL Draft beginning this Thursday, we have one last opportunity to look at the possibilities that could unfold and to delve into a bit of the chaos. A lot of these teams have already been “locked in” to take certain players; however, if previous drafts are anything to go by, there will most certainly be some crazy moves that occur, so it’s best to take these mock drafts merely as a thought experiment rather than gospel. I’ll be giving some of my thoughts on the first 15 picks and then going through what I believe will transpire throughout the rest of the first round.

Pick 1: Chicago Bears (traded from Carolina Panthers): Caleb Williams QB, University of Southern California

There’s not much that needs to be said about Williams other than the fact that he has been penciled in for this pick for nearly two years now. Williams is a generational player, and the Bears should have their QB for the future.

Pick 2: Washington Commanders: Drake Maye QB, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)

For a player that was generally agreed upon as a top two pick at the end of the 2022 season, Maye has certainly fallen in public consensus. However, I still believe that the Commanders will stick with the young QB out of UNC and pick Maye. He has displayed all of the necessary traits to be a top QB in the NFL; it might just take a couple of developmental years to reach that full potential.  

Pick 3: New England Patriots: Jayden Daniels QB, Louisiana State University

Franchises often don’t find themselves picking at the top of the draft, especially in a year when there are so many QBs worthy of selection, so I think that the Patriots will go ahead and select Daniels with the hope that he can become their franchise QB. There is some skepticism that Daniels’s game won’t transfer to the next level given the fact that he didn’t perform well until his fifth season, but the potential that he possesses will likely outweigh any concerns and put him in the top five of the draft.

Pick 4: Arizona Cardinals: Marvin Harrison Jr. WR, Ohio State University

The Cardinals should be thanking their lucky stars if the draft falls this way because, in any other draft, there’s a chance that Harrison Jr. isn’t available after pick two, let alone at pick four. Harrison Jr. is almost a perfect WR prospect, and, for a team severely lacking in receiver talent, he would be the perfect addition to the roster.

Pick 5: Minnesota Vikings (projected to trade picks 11, 23 and a 2025 second round pick to the Los Angeles Chargers for the fifth pick): J.J. McCarthy QB, University of Michigan

Every team is looking for the winning lottery ticket QB, and I think that the Vikings will trade up in hopes of landing their signal-caller of the future. It will likely cost them a lot to move up, but they have the perfect infrastructure with which to surround a rookie QB (as long as they can extend Justin Jefferson), especially one lacking a lot of experience like McCarthy. McCarthy certainly has a lot of potential, but it remains to be seen the extent to which a team will be able to tap into it.

Pick 6: New York Giants: Malik Nabers WR, Louisiana State University

In what is a bit of a trend for this draft class, Nabers would be the first WR off the board in any other year; he just happens to be draft-eligible in the same year that Harrison Jr. is. Possessing a rare blend of athleticism with a knack for getting open, Nabers arguably presents the highest upside of any receiver in the draft, and the Giants would finally have the star WR they have been desperately seeking since losing Odell Beckham Jr in 2019.

Pick 7: Tennessee Titans: Joe Alt OT, University of Notre Dame 

After Williams to the Bears, Alt to the Titans seems like the next-most likely pick to happen on draft night. Alt has shown everything on tape that would suggest he projects as a top-tier tackle in the NFL, and the fact that he will likely slide to the Titans at seven is a blessing for a franchise that needs to beef up their offensive line.

Pick 8: Atlanta Falcons: Dallas Turner Edge, University of Alabama

Turner is another in a long line of athletic freaks out of the NCAA Southeastern Conference at the edge rusher position, following the likes of Travon Walker, Nolan Smith Jr., and Will Anderson Jr. After signing Kirk Cousins this offseason, the Falcons look to be solidified on the offensive side of the ball, and they should look to add some help on the defensive line. Turner is a handful for any lineman to deal with off of the edge due to his athletic profile and collection of pass-rushing moves, and he should slot in immediately and be a favourite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Pick 9: Chicago Bears: Rome Odunze WR, University of Washington

As I discussed in my earlier article about my five favourite fits for the first round, Odunze makes perfect sense to the Bears. By pairing up their young QB with another young promising WR, the Bears will have set up a very bright future and the ability to contend — hopefully — from the get-go.

Pick 10: Cincinnati Bengals (projected to trade picks 18 and a 2025 second round to the pick to the New York Jets for the 10th pick ): Brock Bowers TE, University of Georgia

This is the position that makes the most sense for the Bengals to trade up to take Bowers, and giving up a 2nd round pick is a casualty that shouldn’t make their front office think twice. Bowers fits perfectly for the Bengals, giving them a dominant weapon in the slot who, when paired with Joe Burrow, should give defensive coordinators nightmares. 

Pick 11: Los Angeles Chargers (trade from the Vikings): Olu Fashanu OT, Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)

With the hiring of Jim Harbaugh, it would make perfect sense for the Chargers to trade back, acquire more assets to build up their depleted roster and address the most important position in a Harbaugh offense: the offensive line. Harbaugh will be looking to instill a culture that resembles what he had at Michigan that prioritizes domination in the trenches, and Fashanu, when paired with star OT Rashawn Slater, would be the perfect player to begin that with.

Pick 12: Denver Broncos: Bo Nix QB, University of Oregon

The Broncos have had an interesting offseason, electing to waive their QB Russell Wilson, and, more recently, trading for the disappointing Jets QB Zach Wilson. I ultimately don’t believe that these moves will stop Sean Payton and his team from taking “their guy.” Nix should fit seamlessly inside of the West Coast offense that Payton runs and take over the helm from day one as the most experienced QB in this class.

Pick 13: Las Vegas Raiders: Terrion Arnold CB, University of Alabama

The talent in this year’s cornerback class is very close with no one cementing themselves as the surefire best; however, Arnold is a very talented player and is definitely in contention to be the best out of the bunch. After a dominant season at Alabama, it would make sense for a team lacking CB talent to take the red-shirt sophomore with the promise of developing him into their number one CB for the future.

Pick 14: New Orleans Saints: Taliese Fuaga OT, Oregon State University  

The Saints are another team that are desperately in need of offensive line help (especially considering the disappointment that Trevor Penning has been), so Fuaga makes complete sense. At 6 feet 6 inches, Fuaga is an imposing figure, and he couples this with impressive play strength and quickness out of the gate at the line of scrimmage that should allow him to be a productive player for a long time.

Pick 15: Indianapolis Colts: Quinyon Mitchell CB, University of Toledo

Colts General Manager Chris Ballard has shown that there is a certain type of player that he targets throughout the draft process: the athletic freak. I believe that this trend will continue by selecting Mitchell. 6-foot-tall Mitchell is far and away the most athletic corner in the draft, having run a 4.33-second 40-yard dash, and, when evaluated in conjunction with the performance he put on at the Senior Bowl, it’s easy to see why many teams would have him as their No. 1 CB in the draft. 

Pick 16: Seattle Seahawks: Laiatu Latu Edge, University of California, Los Angeles

Latu is the most league-ready edge prospect in the draft and should help make a difference on the Seahawks defense immediately.

Pick 17: Jacksonville Jaguars: Nate Wiggins CB, Clemson University

For a team lacking CB depth, the speedy Wiggins would be a valuable addition and help secure one of the Jaguars’s biggest weaknesses.

Pick 18: New York Jets (trade from the Bengals): Troy Fautanu OT, University of Washington

While the Jets signed veteran OT Tyron Smith this offseason, Fautanu gives the Jets a tackle for the future who also has the ability to be a backup anywhere on the offensive line this year.

Pick 19: Los Angeles Rams: Byron Murphy II DL, University of Texas at Austin

The Rams lost their Hall-of-Fame-worthy DT Aaron Donald to retirement, and they look to find his replacement with a player molded in a very similar archetype.

Pick 20: Pittsburgh Steelers: Amarius Mims OT, University of Georgia

After taking Broderick Jones in the first round last year, the Steelers should pair him up with his former teammate, Mims, to shore up the other side of the offensive line.

Pick 21: Miami Dolphins: Jer'Zhan Newton DL, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

One of the biggest moves during free agency was the departure of Christian Wilkins to the Raiders, and the Dolphins will be looking to find his replacement with the defensive lineman out of Illinois.

Pick 22: Philadelphia Eagles: Jackson Powers-Johnson IOL, Oregon

Powers-Johnson is the best IOL prospect in the draft, and, following the retirement of legend Jason Kelce, the Eagles should be able to find their long-term replacement at center.

Pick 23: Buffalo Bills (projected trade Vikings to Chargers for picks 28, 128): Brian Thomas Jr. WR, Louisiana State University

The Bills are in desperate need for any kind of WR, and Thomas Jr, while being raw as a prospect, should be the perfect addition alongside Josh Allen.

Pick 24: Dallas Cowboys: Jerome “JC” Latham OT, University of Alabama

After losing Tyron Smith, the Cowboys find themselves landing the talented OT out of Alabama to be his replacement.

Pick 25: Green Bay Packers: Cooper DeJean CB, University of Iowa

DeJean is one of the most versatile players in the draft, and he should be able to play immediately out of the gate on the boundary, in the nickel or even as a safety.

Pick 26: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jared Verse Edge, Florida State University (FSU)

Coming off a dominant season at FSU where he logged nine sacks, Verse would be a valuable addition to a team looking to make it back to the playoffs.

Pick 27: Arizona Cardinals (trade Houston Texans): Ga'QuincyKool-Aid McKinstry CB, University of Alabama

Kool-Aid came in to the year as the favorite to be the first CB selected in the draft, and, while he has fallen a bit, I believe the Cardinals will be happy to land a talented player on a roster lacking a lot of direction.

Pick 28: Los Angeles Chargers (trade Bills): Graham Barton IOL, Duke University

Going along with the direction that the Charger’s first pick was made, I think Harbaugh will continue to build up the offensive line with a player who has flexibility across all five positions on the line.

Pick 29: Detroit Lions: Zach Frazier IOL, West Virginia University

The Lions don’t have that many holes on their roster, so adding a guy who can be a proficient backup on the offensive line could be the perfect move in case of any injury.

Pick 30: Baltimore Ravens: Edgerrin Cooper LB, Texas A&M University

After losing Patrick Queen this offseason, the Ravens could look to find his replacement in the athletic LB out of A&M. 

Pick 31: San Francisco 49ers: DemeiounChop Robinson Edge, Pennsylvania State University 

Robinson had an up-and-down final season at Penn State; however, the athletic upside is most definitely there, and the Niners would love to have someone to match up across from Nick Bosa following the departures of Arik Armstead, Randy Gregory, and Chase Young.

Pick 32: Kansas City Chiefs: Andrew Ladd McConkey WR, University of Georgia

Against all odds, Patrick Mahomes somehow found a way to win the Super Bowl with practically no help from his receiver position. If the Chiefs are able to land a route-running maestro with a strong pair of hands in McConkey, it could be a scary time for the rest of the league.


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