2024 NFL mock draft: A shock at the top, plus four QBs in first round, New England Patriots, New York Jets fix problems

2024 NFL mock draft
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Now that the 2023-24 NFL regular season is over, the 18 teams that didn’t reach the playoffs are officially in offseason mode. First up is free agency, but soon enough, the entire football community will be focused on the 2024 NFL Draft.

Related: 2024 NFL Draft order

As fans know all too well, the 2024 NFL mock drafts can never come too early, but now with the top half of the NFL Draft order set, projecting players to teams feels more acceptable now than ever before. While NFL team needs are sure to change as teams go through free agency, here’s how the 2024 NFL Draft could play out if it began today. Our 2024 NFL mock draft doesn’t feature trades this week, but those are coming soon.

Related: NFL QB rankings

1. Chicago Bears (via CAR): Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

NCAA Football: North Carolina at North Carolina State
Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

It will come as a surprise to many to see the Chicago Bears leading off the 2024 NFL mock draft with Drake Maye. For us, it truly is a neck-and-neck race between the North Carolina and USC quarterbacks for the No. 1 spot. However, Maye gets the nod because he more consistently demonstrates he can win inside of structure.

Related: Chicago Bears coaching candidates

Williams’ playmaking is unmatched, but Maye is also an elite playmaker when things break down. What matters to us is how the quarterback plays within the rhythm of the offense, consistently staying within the play call and taking what the defense gives him. The NFL comparison to Justin Herbert is on point and pairing Maye with D.J. Moore can unlock the Bears’ offense. – Matt Johnson

2. Washington Commanders: Caleb Williams, QB, USC

caleb williams
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We don’t know what happened at the top, but Washington turned their draft card in quicker than Darrell Green could run a 40-yard dash. The truth is, any quarterback would be lucky to walk into a situation with a No. 1 and No. 2 wide receiver aready in store with Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson.

The offensive line could use work, but Caleb Williams has the mobility to mask Washington’s patchy protection up front. Also a former No. 2 overall pick, Robert Griffin III was once a franchise QB in DC, prior to his injury, and if Williams can have more longevity, the NFC East better watch out. – Andrew Buller-Russ

Related: Washington Commanders ownership group may take unconventional route to hiring head coach

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

Syndication: USA TODAY

Assuming a new regime takes over the New England Patriots, they’d be wise to roll the dice on a potential franchise quarterback. Jayden Daniels catapulted his 2024 NFL Draft stock more than any other prospect this season. However, he’s not a one-year wonder. Daniels showed elite tools as a freshman at Arizona State and it all came together in 2023 at LSU. Daniels will be the Patriots’ offense and if the right core is built around him, he could one day become an MVP candidate in his prime. – MJ

Related: New England Patriots coaching candidates; Patriots general manager candidates

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

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch

It almost seems unfair, but the Arizona Cardinals might be getting the most polished, pro-ready player available in the 2024 NFL Draft, while sitting pretty at No. 4. With no need to worry about the quarterback position, plus getting Paris Johnson last year, the Cardinals can focus on their top need, which just happens to also be the best player available.

Marvin Harrison Jr. has been ready for the next level for over a year now, and he should have no trouble becoming a 1,000-yard receiver in his rookie season. Suddenly an offense led by Kyler Murray, James Conner, and MHJ doesn’t look so bad. Plus, Arizona picks again at No. 21. – ABR

Related: ‘No doubt’: Arizona Cardinals sticking with Kyler Murray as their ‘franchise quarterback’ in 2024

5. Los Angeles Chargers: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

NCAA Football: Penn State at Maryland

It might come as a surprise to Los Angeles Chargers fans to see the team take Olu Fashanu at No. 5 in our 2024 NFL mock draft. It comes down to this, the third-most valuable position in the NFL is an offensive tackle and generational talents on that side of the ball are even more cherished. Fashanu can move over to right tackle opposite Rashawn Slater, potentially providing Los Angeles with the best tackle tandem in the NFL for five-plus years. Do that and Justin Herbert will look even better. – MJ

Related: Los Angeles Chargers coaching candidates

6. New York Giants: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

Syndication: The Daily Advertiser

Some New York Giants fans who just witnessed lackluster play at the quarterback position may be eager to replace Daniel Jones after an inconsistent stretch. But, if I could put my NYG GM cap on, I’m getting the franchise QB we signed last season a bonafide No. 1 wideout. Not to mention, ownership probably wouldn’t appreciate being asked to sign off on a $160M contract one year, and then dump him the next.

With Malik Nabers, the Giants can address the need they’ve been ignoring for far too long. Who was the last gamebreaking receiver in the Big Apple? OBJ? Yeah, it’s been a minute. There’s no way to have a high-powered offense without someone capable of consistently winning their 50-50 battles, and Nabers has consistently shown his big-play ability at LSU, helping Jayden Daniels win the Heisman. – ABR

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

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Notre Dame
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The Tennessee Titans have had arguably the worst offensive line in the NFL over the last two seasons. Whether Will Levis is the quarterback of the future or it’s someone else, the next face of the franchise must be protected. Joe Alt is right up there with Olu Fashanu as a tackle prospect. Coming from Notre Dame’s offensive line factory, Alt (6-foot-8) projects as a high-end starter at left tackle for the next decade. – MJ

8. Atlanta Falcons: Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

michael penix jr.
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The Atlanta Falcons can’t afford to enter another season without a better option than Desmond Ridder at QB. Their focus on other positions in recent drafts has helped boost the talent on the roster, giving whoever does step into the offense a strong foundation. Imagine Michael Penix Jr. throwing deep passed downfield to Drake London and Kyle Pitts in the perfect indoor conditions at Mercedes-Benz Stadium? Yeah, we’re pretty stoked about it too. – ABR

Related: 5 Atlanta Falcons coaching candidates to replace Arthur Smith

9. Chicago Bears: Jer’Zhan Newton, iDL, Illinois

The final game of the regular season was the final piece of evidence demonstrating the need for help on the defensive interior. Thankfully for the Chicago Bears, Jer’Zhan Newton plugs the hole perfectly. Newton will shore up the Bears’ run defense and complement Montez Sweat nicely, collapsing the interior pocket and forcing quarterbacks right into Sweat’s awaiting arms. – MJ

10. New York Jets: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

This one isn’t too difficult. While Aaron Rodgers’ injury may not have been due to a woeful offensive line, the rest of the New York Jets’ issues this season came down to lackluster protection. While poor quarterback play didn’t help, the Jets allowed 64 sacks this season, and they didn’t open up enough holes in the running game either. Plus, Taliese Fuaga plays with the type of mean streak that Robert Saleh would love to have on his roster. – ABR

Related: Top NFL free agents 2024

11. Minnesota Vikings: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

Brian Flores did historically great work with the Minnesota Vikings defense in 2023, turning it from a bottom-five unit into a top-10 defense entering December. Unfortunately for Minnesota, inconsistency and insufficient talent in the secondary showed out. Kool-Aid McKinstry is the best cornerback prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft, coming off a season that saw him allow just a 48.7 percent completion rate when targeted (PFF). Put him at CB1 and Flores’ scheme will look even better next fall. – MJ

Related: 2024 Minnesota Vikings Mock Draft – 1.0

12. Denver Broncos: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

While at one point it seemed like the Denver Broncos had an embarrassement of riches at the receiver position, it never worked out that way, with Jerry Jeudy never living up to his potential, and Tim Patrick getting hurt every year. Now it’s just Courtland Sutton and Marvin Mims out there, and as we’ve seen, that’s just not enough. Rome Odunze can step in as the new No. 1 wideout in town, and suddenly, Sutton is one of the better complementary options in the game. – ABR

Related: NFL coaching candidates

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

The turnaround by the Las Vegas Raiders defense in the second half of the season was a fantastic treat for Raider Nation. However, those same fans would also admit that the Raiders’ secondary has some voids to fill. Wiggins doesn’t bring much as a run defender, but the 6-foot-2 cornerback is exactly who Las Vegas would want shadowing No. 1 wide receivers in the NFL. Add Wiggins to the Raiders’ secondary and this could be a top-12 defense in 2024. – MJ

Related: Las Vegas Raiders coaching candidates

14. New Orleans Saints: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

It feels like the New Orleans Saints draft a new pass rusher every year, but no one else has been able to match Cameron Jordan’s production, or even come close. Defenses have shown how lethal they can be with a collection of fresh legs in the front seven, and Turner just happens to be one of the best edge rushers in the draft class. – ABR

Related: NFL executive raves about Alabama’s Dallas Turner, says he’s better than Will Anderson in one key area

15. Indianapolis Colts: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

The dream scenario for the Indianapolis Colts in our 2024 NFL mock draft happens. Brock Bowers is arguably a top-10 talent, earning NFL comparisons to George Kittle lite. Not only can he play the Dallas Goedert role as a pass-catcher in Shane Steichen’s offense, but Indianapolis can also depend on Bowers to help open up running lanes for Jonathan Taylor. Bowers is a tremendous fit for the Colts’ offense. – MJ

16. Seattle Seahawks: JC Latham, OL, Alabama

Geno Smith and the Seattle Seahawks offense took a step back this season despite drafting a first-round receiver in 2023. One way to help the entire unit regain their momentum is by continuing to invest in the trenches, buying Smith more time to find his open receivers, while opening more space in the running game. – ABR

Related: Best NFL coaches of all time

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

The Jacksonville Jaguars defense was one of the most frustrating units in the NFL during the regular season. While there are plenty of reasons for the team’s second-half collapse, a pass-rushing unit that couldn’t consistently take down the quarterback was a major issue. Jared Verse won’t bring anything as a run defender, but the Florida State Seminoles star can wreak havoc opposite of Josh Allen as a pass-rushing specialist in his rookie season. – MJ

Related: NFL stadium rankings

18. Cincinnati Bengals: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

Despite spending a few Day Two picks on cornerbacks the past two seasons, the Cincinnati Bengals are still seeking a shutdown option who can lock down one side of the field. Entering Week 18, the Bengals had allowed an NFL-worst 7.2 yards per pass. Terrion Arnold has shown the ball skills that make one believe he can become a playmaker at the next level too, and if so, he’d be a big boost to Lou Anarumo’s defense. – ABR

19. Green Bay Packers: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

Jaire Alexander will likely return to the Green Bay Packers in 2024, but the future at cornerback for this team isn’t as promising as expected entering the year. Cooper DeJean is one of the best athletes in the 2024 NFL Draft. Not only could be a Pro Bowl cornerback opposite of Alexander, but DeJean could also be an explosive return specialist to set up the Packers’ offense in great field position for years to come. – MJ

Related: Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator candidates

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have invested top picks in the front seven quite often, but you can never have too many fresh legs in the trenches. Laiatu Latu is an ideal player to throw into the mix, as his versatility allows him to rush from the inside or the outside, using a wide variety of pass-rushing moves to get home. – ABR

Related: NFL Black Monday: 10 NFL head coaches who could be gone, including Ron Rivera

21. Arizona Cardinals (via HOU): Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington

For the lack of talent on the roster, the Arizona Cardinals pass rush was fairly effective this past season. With that said, Jonathan Gannon needs a lot more disruptors who can make plays in the backfield. Bralen Trice was the best player on the Washington Huskies’ defense, posting an outstanding 16.4 percent pass rush win rate (PFF) with 53 hurries in 14 games. – MJ

22. Los Angeles Rams: JT Tuimoloau, EDGE, Ohio State

While the Los Angeles Rams struck gold with the selection of Kobie Turner, now it’s time to get more help along the edge. JT Tuimoloau is the type of defender who isn’t just a one-trick pony, he also shows up in run defense too, where his explosiveness often leads to making plays behind the line of scrimmage. – ABR

Related: Why Kobie Turner Deserves to Win Defensive Player of the Year

23. Pittsburgh Steelers: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

The Pittsburgh Steelers go back to the well, drafting a Georgia offensive tackle with their first-round pick for the second consecutive year. Amarius Mims isn’t a finished product, but the combination of power, size and athleticism that he brings to the table makes him a prototype at left tackle. As for the Steelers’ quarterback situation in 2024, Pittsburgh needs to find a veteran starter. – MJ

Related: Best NFL dynasties ever

24. Miami Dolphins: Troy Fautanu, iOL, Washington

Age and durability aren’t on the side of the Miami Dolphins offensive line and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa can’t afford to sustain a lot of hits long-term. While he plays left tackle at Washington, Troy Fautanu will likely kick inside to guard at the next level. Following that transition, he could thrive as an interior pass-protector who keeps the pocket clean for Tagovailoa. – MJ

25. Philadelphia Eagles: Ennis Rakestraw Jr, CB, Missouri

The Philadelphia Eagles had one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL during the regular season, demonstrating that Darius Slay and James Bradberry aren’t long for this game. Ennis Rakestraw Jr has the size (6-foot) to play on the outside at the next level and he can also be trusted by the Eagles’ coaching staff to come down and make tackles against the run for some big stops. – MJ

Related: Philadelphia Eagles coaching candidates

26. Kansas City Chiefs: Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

Is there any question what the Kansas City Chiefs’ top need is? Patrick Mahomes will be pounding the table to find another No. 1 wideout, and Andy Reid may join him. At 6-foot-3, Troy Franklin has the high-end potential that will thrive after burning defenders deep downfield with Mahomes throwing dimes with a flick of his wrist. ABR

Related: NFL Q&A: Super Bowl LVIII start time, channel, date, and how to watch

27. Houston Texans (via CLE): Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State

Reunited and it feels so good. While C.J. Stroud didn’t have quite the same connection with Emeka Egbuka at Ohio State as he did with MHJ, the Stroud-Egbuka connection was still sensational. Wide receiver remains a need for the Houston Texans offense and nabbing Egbuka nullifies any concerns of Stroud having to learn to build rapport with his newest playmaker. – MJ

Related: NFL Rookie of the Year candidates

28. Detroit Lions: Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

This Detroit Lions defense has come a long way, but they’ll never become an elite unit until they find a shutdown corner capable of sticking with the best receivers in football. Considering they share a division with the very best wideout in the game, finding a player like Kamari Lassiter, who’s capable of becoming their new No. 1, may be the most impactful move the Lions can make this offseason. – ABR

Related: NFL playoff predictions

29. Buffalo Bills: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

Stefon Diggs, for whatever reason, has faded down the stretch of the 2023 season. We’re not worried about Diggs, but the Buffalo Bills may want to start thinking about finding another receiver who’s capable of being an explosive deep threat in addition to Gabe Davis. Brian Thomas Jr. is a rare find, in that his 6-foot-4 frame, combined with his excellent speed makes him a freakish deep threat, and that just excites us when paired with Josh Allen – ABR

Related: NFL offense rankings

30. Dallas Cowboys: Leonard Taylor, DL, Miami (FL)

Aside from Micah Parsons, the Dallas Cowboys don’t have a player who has consistently shown they can cause problems for the protection scheme. Now, imagine if the Cowboys had two players of wrecking the opponent’s game plan? At 6-foot-3, 305 pounds, Leonard Taylor is hard to move, which should help Dallas improve against the run, but he also has enough quickness to chase after QBs too. – ABR

Related: NFL MVP race 

31. San Francisco 49ers: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Those unfamiliar with Quinton Mitchell will get to know him quickly leading up to the 2024 NFL Draft. The 6-foot cornerback out of Toledo was sensational in his last two seasons, allowing just a 43.5 percent completion rate in coverage last season (PFF) and holding opponents under a 50 QB rating over his last two seasons. That’s exactly the type of cornerback the San Francisco 49ers need to have the No. 1 defense in ’24. – MJ

Related: NFL defense rankings

32. Baltimore Ravens: Chris Braswell, EDGE, Alabama

The Baltimore Ravens finished with more sacks than any other team in the NFL, but Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy are on a one-year contract. Chances are, after the season they had, they won’t want to play anwhere else, but drafting a player like Chris Braswell gives the Ravens a player who they can develop into a long-term contributor for more than just one season. – ABR

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