Who doesn’t love a mock draft?
The real answer to that question is: a lot of people. However, the majority seems to enjoy predicting what upcoming draft classes have in store, and luckily for me, I just so happen to watch draft tape of college football prospects in my free time!
The 2024 NFL Draft is still 6 months away, but there’s been enough action in the college football season to determine who some of the biggest risers in this year’s draft class will be. With this, let’s take an early look at my latest Round 1 mock draft for the 2024 class.
Note: The draft order used for this mock draft was determined by the current order, which was gathered by Tankathon.
1. Chicago Bears (via Panthers): Caleb Williams, QB, USC
Amidst controversy — whether from Justin Fields stans, Tyson Bagent stans or those in the middle — the Bears stick with the No. 1 overall pick and draft the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner. Williams isn’t the “generational player” some touted him to be heading into the season, but he’s still a damn good prospect with elite arm talent, great athleticism, great natural accuracy and playmaking ability. Even with a recent cold spell, he’s the overwhelming favorite to go No. 1.
2. Las Vegas Raiders (via Cardinals, projected trade): Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
The Raiders trade up to No. 2 here, jumping the likes of the Broncos, Patriots and Titans to secure Maye. They give up a large haul headlined by a 2024 second-round pick, a 2025 first-round pick and a 2026 second-round pick (among other selections) to select the North Carolina quarterback, whose size, arm strength, toughness and athleticism would likely make him QB1 in most other draft classes.
3. Chicago Bears: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
The Bears could entertain trade offers for the No. 3 pick, but they instead stay put and select one of the best wide receiver prospects in recent memory. Harrison is a unicorn prospect with elite size, ball skills, hands, great route-running ability and impressive deep speed. He has All-Pro upside and the potential to easily crack 1,000 yards as a rookie. Not a bad gift to give your new quarterback and pair with DJ Moore!
The Broncos could look for a quarterback, but Russell Wilson’s contract makes him very tough to move off of. Instead, they opt for Verse, an explosive pass-rusher with a polished arsenal of moves to penetrate opposing backfields and great flexibility off the edge. He projects as a multi-time Pro Bowler if his current level of play translates to the NFL level.
5. New York Giants: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State
The Giants may not be willing to push Evan Neal inside to guard so early given their high investment in him, but if they end up with a stud like Fashanu still on the board, it only makes sense. The Penn State tackle is a phenomenal athlete with the agility, power, length, body control and rapidly improving technique to dominate in the NFL in due time.
6. New England Patriots: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama
You mean to tell me that Bill Belichick would fall in love with a super athletic, super productive defensive player from Alabama like Turner? Consider me shocked.
Injuries have depleted Green Bay’s offensive line over the years, and while it’s still quite a good unit when everyone’s healthy, that just hasn’t happened often, especially with David Bakhtiari’s inability to stay on the field. Alt is an athletic, powerful left tackle with insane size and length, great awareness in pass protection and the type of skill set you’d feel comfortable succeeding a three-time Pro Bowler on the blind side.
Surprised? Don’t be. The Commanders could look to move on from Sam Howell this offseason, and there’s no consensus QB3 in this draft yet. McCarthy has the arm talent, the athleticism, the winning pedigree, flashes of insanely good accuracy and has improved his pocket presence this season. He has the highest ceiling of the quarterbacks still on the board, and Washington shoots for the moon by trading up for him.
9. Tennessee Titans: Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA
The medicals are huge for Latu, who medically retired due to a neck injury in 2021. However, his tape showcases a tantalizing combination of size, speed, strength and hand quickness, and he has 17 sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss in his last 20 games. That’s going to be very hard to ignore for EDGE-needy teams as early as the top 10.
10. New Orleans Saints: Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State
The Saints signed Carl Granderson to an extension, and they still have Cameron Jordan. However, the latter turns 35 this summer and is off to a slow start this season. It could be time to find a succession plan for the star pass-rusher, and an elite athlete like Robinson with dizzying quickness, flexibility and hustle could be a plan worth pursuing.
11. Arizona Cardinals (via Raiders, projected trade): Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
After moving back from the No. 2 spot, the Cardinals still acquire a standout prospect at a premier position. McKinstry has the size, fluidity, speed and ball skills to become a serious disruptor as a perimeter cornerback in the NFL, and he would be a fantastic addition for a young Arizona team looking for building blocks on both sides of the ball.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington
Age and injury concerns push Penix out of the top 10, but there’s no denying how good he’s been these last two seasons. He’s an accurate distributor who reads the field well and has a good arm that’s been tested on big stages. He would be a perfect replacement for Kirk Cousins, allowing the Vikings to keep the same offensive philosophies while moving onto a younger and (most importantly) cheaper quarterback to build a strong team around.
13. Indianapolis Colts: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia
An ankle injury and playing a non-premier position sees Bowers drop out of the top 10, but the Georgia standout ends up right in the lap of the Colts, who see the chance to get a potential game-changing tight end to pair with Anthony Richardson. Bowers is an elite athlete at his position who can separate very well, dominate after the catch and has more than enough chops as a blocker: he’s the real deal.
14. Los Angeles Chargers (via Commanders, projected trade): Jer’Zhan Newton, DL, Illinois
The Chargers deal back six spots, acquiring a second-round pick in the process while still getting the chance to address their defensive line need. Newton is an explosive 3-technique defensive tackle with quick hands, ideal pad level and a red-hot motor who could instantly upgrade Los Angeles’ defensive front.
15. Los Angeles Rams: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa
Off of sheer coaching ability and a dynamic passing attack, the Rams find themselves firmly in the playoff hunt as of this writing. That doesn’t change the fact that their defense desperately needs more building blocks, and DeJean fits that bill. He has the length, ball skills, acceleration and fluidity to step into an NFL starting lineup right away and make a positive impact in coverage.
16. Arizona Cardinals (via Texans): Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State
Trading out of the No. 2 pick sees the Cardinals pass on the chance to draft Marvin Harrison Jr. However, when you consider the massive haul they’d get from a QB-needy team, as well as the chance to still land a physical freak at wide receiver with elite ball skills like Coleman, and I’m sure Arizona would end up feeling good about their decision in this scenario.
17. New York Jets: J.C. Latham, OT, Alabama
Assuming Aaron Rodgers recovers from his injury and serves as the Jets’ starting quarterback in 2024, their top priority should be protecting him. Latham is a dense, powerful offensive tackle with impressive grip strength and quick feet for an offensive tackle who’s listed at 6-foot-6 and 335 pounds.
18. Cincinnati Bengals: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington
Both Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are slated to hit free agency, and the Bengals won’t be able to keep both of them. They’ll bring one of them back (likely Higgins) and could find a great replacement in the 2024 draft. Odunze is a large receiver with a huge catch radius, very good explosiveness off the snap, inside-outside versatility, elite ball-tracking skills and encouraging development as a route runner over the years.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington
The Buccaneers seem to be prioritizing youth along their defensive front, but there’s still work to be done. In this mock draft, they pair the explosive Joe Tryon-Shoyinka with a former Huskies teammate in Trice, whose power and refined hands would make him a nice complement rushing off the edge.
20. Atlanta Falcons: Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas
As sad as it would be from a pure marketing perspective to see the Falcons go with a quarterback other than Shedeur Sanders, Ewers is the superior prospect at this stage. He has a cannon arm, sound throwing mechanics and a poised, tough demeanor in the pocket. He would be an upgrade at quarterback for Atlanta, who would hope to unlock the full potential of their dangerous young trio of Drake London, Kyle Pitts and Bijan Robinson.
Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis is a mighty fine wide receiver duo, but if the Bills get a talent like Nabers, who’s an elite deep threat with good hands and tantalizing quickness after the catch, the thought of giving Josh Allen another stud weapon might be too good to pass up.
22. Dallas Cowboys: Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State
Many saw Egbuka as the likely WR2 heading into the 2023 college football season, and while he’s fallen down boards a bit, it’s more so of the other receivers around him rather than bad play. This could make him a steal for a team like the Cowboys, who could use his precise route running ability and top-notch YAC skills to form a potentially elite duo with CeeDee Lamb.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kalen King, CB, Penn State
Pittsburgh already acquired a young stud Penn State cornerback in Joey Porter Jr. in the 2023 draft. Why not follow up with his former running mate in King, whose athleticism and finesse-first style of play made him and JPJ arguably the most feared cornerback duo in college football in 2022?
24. Houston Texans (via Browns): Leonard Taylor III, DL, Miami (FL)
There’s a good chance the Texans add a weapon or lineman to help C.J. Stroud here, but Taylor fits that perfect blend of need and value that could be too good to pass up. His athleticism off the snap and his hand activity, pad level and alignment versatility could see him high in demand with NFL teams next April.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Maason Smith, DL, LSU
The Seahawks take the gamble on Smith’s tools with this pick. His production hasn’t quite been up to par since recovering from a torn ACL, but his length, athleticism, natural strength and ability to stack and shed give him top-notch upside as either a 5-tech or a 3-tech defensive lineman in the pros.
Get to know Fuaga if you haven’t heard his name yet. He’s a rapid riser with tremendous size, a strong anchor, very good athleticism and nice hand placement at the point of attack. The 49ers would be a great spot for him to slide into his natural right tackle position and thrive in one of the best offenses in the game.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars: Graham Barton, OG, Duke
Though he’s a left tackle at Duke, I like Barton a lot better as a guard or even center in the NFL. He’s a nasty blocker with good bend in his lower half, nice awareness as a zone blocker and the consistent strike placement that allows him to thrive in all the fundamentals. He’d be far from the sexiest pick for the Jaguars, but he’s arguably one they really need along their offensive line right now.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson
Baltimore has a great defense as it is, but if you add a lengthy cornerback with dazzling ball skills and hip fluidity like Wiggins to the mix? That unit becomes even more difficult to score points against.
29. Detroit Lions: Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas
Amon-Ra St. Brown and Sam LaPorta have proven to be two extremely talented young weapons, but one can’t help but feel like the Lions are missing one more star in the passing game. That would be Worthy, a lanky weapon with elite track speed who can stretch the field at a high level and create separation with his combination of pure burst and a high route-running IQ.
30. Miami Dolphins: Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona
Austin Jackson isn’t it at right tackle, and Terron Armstead has dealt with numerous injuries over the years. A gifted offensive tackle like Morgan, whose length, mobility in pass protection and powerful hands give him absurd amounts of untapped potential, could be a strong investment for the Dolphins and their otherwise loaded offense.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Kamren Kinchens, S, Miami (FL)
Kinchens is my top safety in the 2024 draft, as his range in coverage, processing skills on the back-end and ability to attack the ball at an extremely high level have him look the part of a future impact starter. Why not just add him onto an already loaded Chiefs roster?
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Denzel Burke, CB, Ohio State
Similar to the Chiefs, it’s tough to pinpoint too many major needs on the Eagles’ roster. It wouldn’t hurt them to continue to invest in young cornerbacks, though, and Burke’s competitive and physical style of play along the boundary could make him a great long-term play for Philadelphia to close out Round 1.
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