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2024 NFL mock draft: Vikings land QB, first-round projections after first NFL free agency wave

2024 NFL mock draft
Credit: Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Now that the first wave of NFL free agency is over, team needs have completely changed ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft, and we even got our first trade with the Vikings getting an additional first-round pick. How have the recent moves impacted the first round of Sportsnaut’s latest 2024 NFL mock draft? There’s only one way to find out.

Let’s dive into our latest 2024 NFL mock draft as we approach April.

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NFL mock draft 2024: Round 1 predictions

1. Chicago Bears: Caleb Williams, QB, USC

caleb williams
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

There’s only one quarterback who some feel is a generational talent in this year’s draft class, and the Chicago Bears are lasered in on making him the first overall pick. Caleb Williams can help erase some of the Bears’ weaknesses along the offensive line by keeping the play alive with his quick feet, but the real magic happens when he changes arm angles, a la Patrick Mahomes. With Williams joining DJ Moore and Keenan Allen, expect a quick turnaround in Chicago, and they may not be done adding receivers with star potential.

Related: 2024 Chicago Bears mock draft

2. Washington Commanders: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

drake maye
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

There’s talk of Jayden Daniels becoming the pick here, but Drake Maye has been viewed as the No. 2 QB prospect for much longer. Remember, it’s smokescreen season, so we can’t believe everything heard this time of year. Drake Maye has the mobility to manipulate the pocket and an arm capable of making all the throws. He’ll be excellent when paired with Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson.

Related: 2024 Washington Commanders mock draft

3. New England Patriots: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

jayden daniels
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve heard all about the rumors of the New England Patriots trading down, but the chance to take a franchise QB doesn’t come around often, and this organization knows how valuable the position is. Jayden Daniels has the potential to be a superstar with his arm and his legs. Sure, there’s risk, like there is with any draft prospect, but the Patriots can address key needs later on, they can’t find a QB like Daniels anywhere else though.

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

marvin harrison jr.
Credit: Brooke LaValley / USA TODAY NETWORK

Again, teams will want to trade for the fourth overall pick in the hopes of landing a QB, but the Arizona Cardinals don’t have to play ball. If they trade down, they run the risk of losing arguably the best 2024 NFL Draft prospect available, Marvin Harrison Jr. While they also need an offensive tackle, this is a talent-rich class, and MHJ can be an All-Pro talent.

Related: 2024 Arizona Cardinals mock draft

5. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

NCAA Football: Georgia St. at Louisiana State
Credit: Matthew Dobbins-USA TODAY Sports

By shedding the contracts of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, there’s suddenly a massive void at the receiver position in L.A. While teams may have interest in trading up for this pick, being able to land the player who’s widely regarded as the second-best pass-catcher in this draft class has its own appeal. Quick and explosive, Malik Nabers is the perfect complement to Quentin Johnston in Los Angeles.

Related: Top Available Free Agents For Los Angeles Chargers’ 4 Key Positions

6. New York Giants: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

rome odunze
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

No QB? It’s smokescreen season, so don’t buy the hype that the New York Giants are eager to replace Daniel Jones despite his injury-riddled season. The bigger need is finally adding a No. 1 receiver like the 6-foot-3 Rome Odunze. He can run every route on the tree, has excellent hands, and has the size to snag 50-50 balls in the red zone. He’s the total package.

See where Daniel Jones lands in Sportsnaut’s NFL QB Rankings

7. Tennessee Titans: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

joe alt
Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

After addressing the receiver position, the Tennessee Titans can afford to pick the best player available, which is surely left tackle Joe Alt. His addition will buy more time for Will Levis in the pocket while helping improve the rushing attack as Tony Pollard takes over the bulk of the workload. He feels like a can’t-miss prospect, which is a steal at No. 7

Related: Tennessee Titans mock draft 2024

8. Denver Broncos*: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

j.j. mccarthy
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

TRADE: Atlanta Falcons trade eighth overall pick to Denver Broncos for 12th and 76th picks

There isn’t a more QB-desperate team than the Denver Broncos. But now that several others have addressed their needs, the Broncos shouldn’t feel as much pressure to make a massive trade up the board. J.J. McCarthy has everything Sean Payton could ask for, coming from Michigan with experience in a pro-style offense, plus the mobility and enough arm strength to develop into a potential star.

9. Chicago Bears: Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State

olumuyiwa fashanu
Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After getting their franchise QB another weapon with the trade of Keenan Allen, there is no longer an urgent need to spend their second first-round pick on another receiver, that can come later. Instead, the Bears will want to make sure their new QB has the protection to stay healthy, and have enough time to execute big plays with his arm and his legs. Olu Fashanu can push Braxton Jones from left to right or allow Chicago to open up a training camp battle with Darnell Wright. Either way, he can be a starter for the next ten-plus seasons.

Related: 2024 NFL Draft order, picks by team

10. New York Jets: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of a NCAA college football game against UAB in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023.
Credit: Credit: Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Jets used free agency to address their biggest needs by signing Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses. While both are just one-year contracts, it gives Joe Douglas the flexibility to take the best player available at 10. Adding a long-term left tackle could still fit here, but the Jets are ready to win now, adding a weapon like Brock Bowers helps them the most in 2024. By drafting Bowers, the Jets’ need for another playmaking receiver is greatly reduced. He will quickly become one of Aaron Rodgers’ top targets.

2024 NFL mock draft: Vikings, Falcons, Raiders add key pieces

11. Minnesota Vikings: Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

Sure, this may feel like the Vikings are reaching, but with other teams like the Broncos and Raiders (and who knows who else) still eyeing a QB, Minnesota might want to strike quickly to get the guy they want. We don’t have any specific intel about that prospect being Michael Penix Jr., but it’s possible. While he’s largely being forgotten about due to his injury history plus a woeful showing in the CFP National Championship, Penix has a very strong arm, and was highly productive in college. If the Vikings scouts are sold on Penix being a legit prospect, taking him before other teams can makes a lot of sense.

Related: 2024 Minnesota Vikings Mock Draft – 3.0 w/Two First-Round Picks

12. Atlanta Falcons*: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

TRADE: Denver Broncos trade 12th and 76th picks to Atlanta Falcons for eighth pick

After shoring up the offense in free agency, it’s finally time to start addressing the defense for Raheem Morris. The Falcons’ biggest need comes at the pass rusher position after Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree tied for the team lead with 6.5 sacks. Now that both players are gone, the Falcons must use their top pick on an edge rusher like Alabama’s Dallas Turner. But he’s a great prospect to get at 12, with the potential to record double-digit sacks even as a rookie.

Related: 2024 NFL Combine’s biggest losers, including Blake Corum

13. Las Vegas Raiders: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

Barring a massive trade up, the Raiders won’t be able to take a future franchise QB in the first round, which could cause them to pick someone like Bo Nix on Day 2. Yet, getting the best cornerback prospect of the draft class could still transform the Raiders’ defense. Nate Wiggins has freakish speed, and a 6-foot-1, he looks like he has all the tools necessary to become a shutdown corner.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders: 5 priority targets for the second wave of 2024 NFL Free Agency

14. New Orleans Saints: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

Trevor Penning, the Saints’ first-round pick in 2022, was benched after just five starts in his sophomore season, and Ryan Ramczyk’s durability is in question. Offensive tackle is one of the most valued positions in the NFL, and if the Saints can solidify their offensive line, it will go a long way toward helping this scoring attack become more consistent. Taliese Fuaga will bring the intensity back to the Saints’ offensive line, ensuring this unit doesn’t get bullied again in 2024.

Related: NFL free agency predictions 2024

15. Indianapolis Colts: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

If the Colts are able to trade for L’Jarius Sneed, then they could turn to picking a wide receiver like LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. here. But without adding another starting cornerback, then drafting someone like Cooper DeJean makes a lot of sense. He can play multiple positions in the secondary, including safety, but the 6-foot-1 athlete has enough speed to be a very good cornerback too.

Related: Kansas City Chiefs on the verge of trading L’Jarius Sneed to AFC contender

16. Seattle Seahawks: Troy Fautanu, OL, Washington

Getting Geno Smith better protection feels like a top priority in Seattle. Drafting Troy Fautanu, who may be a better fit at guard or even center than tackle, would reunite him with Ryan Grubb, his offensive coordinator with the Huskies. But for the Seahawks, Fautanu would bring more versatility to an offensive line that lost two starters in free agency.

Related: NFL defense rankings 2024

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

After ranking 26th in passing yards allowed, if the Jacksonville Jaguars want to compete in the AFC, they’ll need to add more talent to their secondary. Kool-Aid McKinstry not only has a refreshing name, he’s also the type of player who can seamlessly transition to any NFL scheme. McKinstry has a knack for breaking up big plays, and his length allows him to handle one-on-one coverage with ease.

Related: 10 worst moves in NFL free agency 2024, including Las Vegas Raiders’ overpay

18. Cincinnati Bengals: JC Latham, OT, Alabama

After Joe Burrow suffered his second season-ending injury in just his fourth season, the Cincinnati Bengals can’t afford not to invest in their offensive line. It hasn’t happened in free agency this offseason, but the draft is always a better long-term solution, if you can pick the right player. Alabama’s JC Latham is not only built to play in the trenches (6-foot-6, 335 pounds), the offensive tackle has great footwork and displays an advanced understanding of his blocking duties.

Related: 2024 Super Bowl odds

19. Los Angeles Rams: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Aaron Donald is a loss that can’t be replaced. Without Kobie Turner, this pick would surely be a defensive lineman, but the Rams arguably have an even bigger need at cornerback. Adding Darious Williams provides an instant boost, yet pairing him with another new starter in Quinyon Mitchell would take a lot of pressure off new defensive coordinator Chris Shula. Mitchell is a speed demon who forces a lot of incompletions and could take over as the No. 1 corner in no time.

Related: Los Angeles Rams mock draft 2024

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jackson Powers-Johnson, iOL, Oregon

Russell Wilson can fix a lot of the Steelers’ problems offensively, but he cannot block for himself. Pittsburgh adding Jackson Powers-Johnson is all about fixing their woes along the offensive line. Running backs haven’t had space to work with, and that’s not ok in Pittsburgh. Powers-Johnson is a people-mover who dominates when opening holes in the run game and is also excellent in pass protection. He might even be able to play guard too.

Related: 10 most underrated free agent signings, including Russell Wilson

2024 NFL Draft projections: Dolphins, Eagles, and Vikings strengthen their defense

21. Miami Dolphins: Byron Murphy II, DT, Texas

The Dolphins have seen several players on both sides of the ball leave in free agency, but no loss has been bigger than Christian Wilkins. Luckily, Byron Murphy has the skillset to be stout against the run right away, and he could develop into a consistent pass-rushing threat too.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

It’s only a matter of time before the Eagles move on from one or both of Darius Slay and James Bradberry, and Howie Roseman is always one step ahead when building his roster. Terrion Arnold has the ability to play in the slot or on the outside and has the ball skills that the Eagles love in the secondary.

Related: Philadelphia Eagles mock draft 2024

23. Minnesota Vikings: Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

After locking in a QB with their first pick, the Vikings now have the benefit of addressing their second-biggest need. It’s been years since the Vikings had a true difference-maker along their defensive line, but Jer’Zhan Newton has a chance to make an impact right away. Newton could still develop more pass-rush moves, but he has a quick get-off and a nonstop motor.

Related: Which Teams Are Most Likely to Steal the Vikings’ Top QB Target in NFL Draft?

Related: Houston Texans mock draft 2024

24. Dallas Cowboys: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

Now that Tyron Smith is in New York, the Cowboys could very well move Tyler Smith to left tackle, but that just leaves another hole at left guard. If they want to ensure their running game has any chance, they’ll have to reinforce the offensive line eventually. Amarius Mims might be best at right tackle, but he has the potential to be a great one.

25. Green Bay Packers: Graham Barton, OT, Duke

Longtime Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari won’t be blocking for Jordan Love in Green Bay in 2024. While the Packers could rely on other internal options, finding another franchise left tackle should be viewed as a priority in the first round. Graham Barton might end up at another position in the NFL, but already having experience as a blindside protector is a major plus.

Related: Green Bay Packers mock draft 2024

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Shaq Barrett is gone, and while YaYa Diaby showed he’s ready for a bigger role, Antoine Winfield Jr. shouldn’t be a team’s second-most effective pass-rusher. Jared Verse has the potential to be a dominant pass-rusher thanks to having a quick first step and a powerful punch move that can lead to quick wins.

27. Arizona Cardinals: Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

While Monti Ossenfort has added several defensive linemen, none have the potential to be sack artists. UCLA’s Laiatu Latu does. He recorded 27 sacks the past two seasons thanks to boasting a wide array of pass-rush moves that allow him to rush from nearly any position along the edge and in the trenches.

28. Buffalo Bills: Tyler Nubin, S, Minnesota

The purge has finally happened, with both Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer no longer roaming the secondary in Buffalo. But landing Tyler Nubin is a fine solution. He’s a very high IQ player with a nose for the football and a knack for making big plays.

Related: NFL playoff predictions

29. Detroit Lions: Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona

Consideration could be given to Chop Robinson, but after losing Jonah Jackson, the Lions might feel more inclined to patch up their offensive line. Jordan Morgan played tackle in college, but scouts believe he can be even better at guard in the NFL. Morgan has good feet and an above-average IQ that should lead to an easy transition.

Related: Top NFL free agents in 2024

30. Baltimore Ravens: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

Zay Flowers was a home run pick last season, but it’s clear the Ravens still need more talent at the receiver position. Brian Thomas Jr. can not only make plays downfield with his 4.33 speed, but his 6-foot-3 frame allows him to be an effective weapon in the red zone too. He pairs nicely with Flowers and Mark Andrews.

Related: NFL MVP odds 

31. San Francisco 49ers: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

Not only is Tyler Guyton a mountain at 6-foot-8, 322 pounds, but he also has the agility to play either left or right tackle. This should allow him to easily transition to protecting Brock Purdy’s blindside once Trent Williams decides he’s done punishing opponents, but Guyton can start immediately on the right side for now.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Kingsley Suamataia, OT, Penn State

After losing Donovan Smith to free agency, Patrick Mahomes needs a new blindside protector. Kingsley Suamataia may need a bit more seasoning before becoming an effective starter, but the upside for him to become a star is there. Plus, Mahomes is used to running all over the yard anyway.

Related: 2024 Super Bowl odds

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