2024 NFL Mock Draft - One Month Out

Mar 29th 2024

Hayden Winks

The modern era of NFL roster building is fully embracing positional value. QBs over everything. EDGE, WR, OT, DT, and OG over C, TE, RB, LB, and S. We've seen a total distancing in free agency dollars and it'll forever change the NFL Draft, too. My latest mock draft is an example of how things could look. I prioritized the Tier 2 QB group ahead of all other prospects (1-2-3-4), mocked the Tier 2 WR ahead of the elite TE prospect, had 6 OTs before an IOL, pushed OGs earlier than their consensus rankings, and generally valued pass rush over CB. Ultimately, there were just 2 non-premium position players selected in my Round 1; TE Brock Bowers and C Jackson Powers-Johnson.

1. Bears - QB1 Caleb Williams

I have a gap between Caleb Williams and Drake Maye in my QB Rankings, as do most.

2. Commanders - QB2 Jayden Daniels

This is basically a guess with consensus QB2, QB3, and QB4 grades seeming close-enough together. The Athletic's Ben Standig, who covers the Commanders and crushes his mock draft annually, recently mocked Daniels here, as have Adam Schefter and Albert Breer. That said, Daniel Jeremiah has mocked Maye at 2nd overall in every mock and Maye's former OC Phil Longo is the best air raid play caller according to current Commanders air raid OC Kliff Kingsbury. Ultimately, I could see the Commanders' analytics-based ownership and staff liking what Daniels did in the box score. I'd say we're about 60-35-5 between Daniels-Maye-McCarthy.

3. Patriots - QB3 J.J. McCarthy

Once again, I wouldn't be surprised with any QB2-QB4 order. In fact, I ranked McCarthy as my personal QB3 with an early Round 1 grade, so I believe the reports that he's a potential top-5 selection. New England is open to trade talks per their staff's interviews and the Vikings have the ammo to get here, but I ultimately think most teams with a major QB need don't pass up on QBs this high up in the draft. Coach Jarod Mayo mentioned toughness and playing complementary football as things he likes in a QB prospect, which McCarthy has showcased during his time at Michigan in my opinion. The Patriots also arguably have the best current starter, Jacoby Brissett, of the teams in the QB mix, so they could be more likely to take the prospect who may need to sit on the bench early in his rookie season.

4. Vikings - QB4 Drake Maye

This would require 11th, 23rd, and a 2025 3rd rounder to send to the Cardinals, who are listening to trade back calls per their GM. The Vikings are obviously in the trade up market after paying a premium to get a second 1st-rounder in a surprisingly early trade with the Texans. That tells me they have another trade in place under certain draft day scenarios, more than likely at 4th overall rather than 5th overall so they can guarantee one of the top-4 QBs. Coach Kevin O'Connell is from the Shanahan tree where throws over the middle are important. That skillset fits both Maye and McCarthy in my opinion. It doesn't hurt that new QB coach Josh McCown coached Maye in high school.

5. Cardinals - WR1 Marvin Harrison Jr.

This would require 11th and 23rd overall, which basically meant the Cardinals added a 2025 3rd rounder during this trade down and immediate trade up. They did this exact dance last year with OT Paris Johnson in fact, and the Chargers should be open to a trade down if they are set on offensive line like coach Jim Harbaugh mentioned. The Cardinals have a lot of needs, most notably at WR though. Missing out on a top-3 WR would be a travesty given their gate position.

6. Giants - WR2 Malik Nabers

Some evaluators have Nabers ahead of Harrison Jr. Some even have Nabers as their 1st overall prospect per The Athletic's Dane Brugler. I completely understand the hype and would be surprised if he wasn't a top-7 selection. Even though Rome Odunze's skillset perfectly aligns with the Giants' specific X WR need, Nabers' juice is just hard to compete with. Nabers said he loved his meeting with New York's staff, too... Real quick: The Giants rumored interest in QB makes some sense (Daniel Jones is a low-end starting QB), but they have him on a $48M cap hit this year with another $22M in prorated guarantees in 2025. That's a lot to forfeit. With Drew Lock as a capable backup and injury fill in, the Giants seem more set at QB than they do at WR. Long term, they need both.

7. Jets - WR3 Rome Odunze

This would require 10th and 73rd overall, but the Titans could be open to a trade down if they hold the cards to the last top-3 WR available. The Jets are all in right now after spending all free agency bringing in injury-risk 1-year contracts. They technically have a starting 5 across the OL, but they don't have a starting 3-WR set with Garrett Wilson and Mike Williams missing a running mate. Odunze would be the long-term X receiver with Wilson rotating between Z and the slot, which is a great setup for whoever ends up replacing the 40-year-old Aaron Rodgers. Odunze is taking an official top 30 visit with the Jets.

8. Falcons - EDGE1 Laiatu Latu

If one of the top-3 WRs is still available, Atlanta could consider him in OC Zac Robinson's 3-WR set offense or they answer trade up calls from across the league. If they are all gone as I have in this mock draft, then there is a tier break in consensus rankings to the top EDGE and CB prospects. No consensus has built at either position, so this is an impossible projection. Latu's floor is low because of a medical "retirement" early in his college days, but he played well at UCLA. Really well. In fact, he had the highest PFF grade by a wide margin during his 15-sack season, which is why he's my sneaky prospect to land inside the top-10 overall. There's also a connection with Atlanta. Latu played for new DC Jimmy Lake at Washington before having to shut down football activities. The relentless pass rusher said his Combine meeting with the Falcons staff went well. Oh, and Anthony Amico put me onto Clemson Jeff, who is a Falcons "insider" legend a la CrakRok or Pretty Rickey. Clemson Jeff says the Falcons rank Latu the highest and plan to take EDGE in Round 1 before a CB in Round 2. Let's see what you got, Clemson Jeff.

9. Bears - OL1 Olu Fashanu

With only 4 draft picks this year, Chicago is a trade down candidate. If they stay put with blue chips available, they are in the need of an OT1, WR3, and EDGE2. That's at least the order coach Matt Eberflus listed during his latest interview. 2022 5th-round LT Braxton Jones has been a clutch find and mid-to-low-end starter, but 5th round is typically not the draft capital of an irreplaceable player. Fashanu is a divisive prospect who has size, athleticism, and age on his side even though he had a relatively down 2023 season. If Fashanu needs some time to develop, then Jones could hold the fort down. I hope they keep surrounding Caleb Williams with offensive firepower because last year's defense was already plenty good enough following the Montez Sweat trade. Finally, to tie this pick together, consider this:

10. Titans - OL2 Joe Alt

After signing Calvin Ridley to a multi-year $50M guaranteed contract, the Titans are in position to find a WR-needy team to trade their 7th overall pick to, especially with multiple prospects ready to replace Taylor Lewan and Andre Dillard at left tackle. The consensus top-3 LTs are Fashanu, Alt, and Troy Fautanu. All are fits. It's worth noting NFL Network's Lance Zierlein, who specializes in OL evaluations, believes Alt is a little too hyped compared to his league sources. Maybe 7th overall is a bit rich, but 21-year-old stud athletes at premium positions are the ones who typically go top-12 overall. Olu and Alt fit the bill.

11. Chargers - OL3 J.C. Latham

After securing multiple 1st rounders with their trade down, the Chargers can grant coach Jim Harbaugh's wishes of solidifying the OL. Latham is a run-first styled prospect and fills the Chargers' RT void. He's both a culture and team need fit, who happened to just face Harbaugh in the Rose Bowl this past January. Harbaugh also offered Latham out of high school when he was ranked as 247's 3rd overall recruit. Latham, of course, Roll Tided.

12. Broncos - EDGE2 Dallas Turner

How patient will coach Sean Payton be? His roster is a mess after dumping Russell Wilson, Jerry Jeudy, highly-paid C Lloyd Cushenberry, and Pro Bowl FS Justin Simmons. The Broncos also lost the Sam Darnold bid, leaving a massive hole at QB. Without a 2nd-round pick, it'll be hard to compete with the Vikings for a trade up, so will Bo Nix have a high enough grade to pass up on the best available EDGE, CB, or WR prospect? I view Nix as a late Round 1 prospect. Most others see him on Day 2.

13. Raiders - CB1 Terrion Arnold

I'm stealing this from Anthony Amico, who noted coach Antonio Pierce called finding a CB1 "a priority" and that Arnold played the 7th-most zone snaps which aligns with the Raiders' zone-heavy scheme. At the Alabama Pro Day, coach Antonio Pierce told Arnold that he "likes him already."

14. Saints - OL4 Taliese Fuaga

2022 1st-round LT Trevor Penning has busted so far, and Pro Bowl RT Ryan Ramczyk's knee injury is scary enough for retirement rumors. Fuaga was a powerful RT at Oregon State and would fit the typical New Orleans' identity. This same staff loved Penning's aggression. Fuaga can play like that but without the reckless abandon.

15. Colts - CB2 Quinyon Mitchell

GM Chris Ballard exclusively drafts not good but great athletes. Enter Mitchell who climbed up draft boards after another elite season at Toledo and an MVP-level week at the Senior Bowl. Mitchell then proceeded to run a 4.33 forty with a 38-inch vert and 20 bench press reps at 195 pounds. The dog levels are simply off the charts. Indianapolis drafted freak athlete JuJu Brents in Round 2 last year but still have an opening next to him. Mitchell is far more polished than Brents was coming out of school. Maybe Mitchell's strong prospect profile was enough for the Colts to pull out of L'Jarius Sneed trade discussions.

16. Seahawks - OL5 Troy Fautanu

Seattle's interior OL remains a mess. They're starting an undrafted free agent, 5th-rounder, and 4th-rounder right now, and 2022 3rd-round RT Abe Lucas struggled with injuries last year. Fautanu has the length for LT where he played in all four season at Washington, but he has the strength and tenacity to kick inside. There are also very clear connections to the Seahawks. Fautanu played in Seattle throughout his college career, and new OC Ryan Grubb and new OL coach Scott Huff literally coached him at Washington. In fact, Huff was specifically listed as the top recruiter for Fautanu as a high school recruit when he was listed as a 4-star guard.

17. Jaguars - WR4 Brian Thomas Jr.

Jacksonville's pre-offseason plan wasn't to lose outside deep threat Calvin Ridley, but they didn't have enough cap space to retain him once the Titans and Patriots were in a bidding war. I also don't think the Jaguars want to have Gabe Davis and Zay Jones as their perimeter receivers while Trevor Lawrence plays on his cheap rookie contract. Thomas isn't the route runner Ridley is yet, but he fills the same role. He caught 15-of-22 deep targets for 12 TDs and 30.4 yards per target last year, then ran a 4.34 forty at 6'3"/209. It's worth noting the only top-100 selection GM Trent Baalke has made at WR was A.J. Jenkins, who ran a 4.39 forty and had a 38.5-inch vertical.

18. Bengals - TE1 Brock Bowers

I don't think RT Trent Brown's 1-year, $2M guaranteed contract eliminates right tackle as a need despite Brown's household name, and there's a reasonable chance that Fuaga, Latham, Graham Barton, or Amarius Mims are sitting right here. In this case, Bowers falls because of positional value and some size concerns. He'd be a great fit in the flats with Joe Burrow, who takes simple completions underneath often. This would be a creative way to eventually replace Tee Higgins' targets.

19. Rams - EDGE3 Jared Verse

Especially with the Aaron Donald retirement, the Rams need pass-rush help. Verse doesn't have the elite bend of the premiere EDGE defenders but can collapse the pocket and eat snaps immediately. The Rams' secondary looks much improved with SS Cam Kurl, CB1 Darious Williams, and CB2 Tre'Davious White being added in free agency. They still could use a nickel corner like Cooper DeJean, but Verse is in a tier above per consensus rankings.

20. Steelers - OL6 Amarius Mims

The Steelers have OT flexibility because Broderick Jones played LT in college and RT as a 1st-round rookie last year. Mims was Jones' teammate at Georgia, where he was in-and-out of the lineup due to injury. The RT offers truly rare size and athleticism, plus the downhill run blocking potential that new OC Arthur Smith needs. Current LT starter Dan Moore Jr. is a low-end starter in the final year of his rookie deal. The Steelers, who have hosted Mims on a pre-draft visit, won't be a functional offense if they don't get strong play from both tackle spots with sack artists Russell Wilson and Justin Fields at QB. I could also see Graham Barton as a fit because he could push current C starter Nate Herbig in addition to fitting at LT.

21. Dolphins - DT1 Byron Murphy

Miami added DTs Benito Jones, Neville Gallimore, and Jonathan Hankins in free agency, but they don't have the juice left behind when they couldn't franchise tag Christian Wilkins. Murphy is more athletic than Wilkins, who was drafted 13th overall back in 2019.

22. Eagles - OL7 Jackson Powers-Johnson

GM Howie Roseman did a great job of plugging obvious needs during free agency. LB Devin White, NCB/SS Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, RB Saquon Barkley, and WR DeVante Parker are all capable starters, leaving interior OL as the weakest link in the wake of C Jason Kelce's retirement. The Eagles have RG Cam Jurgens as the Kelce replacement right now, but they could keep him at RG if Powers-Johnson is selected. We know Roseman's priority will always be dominating the trenches and adding depth at QB. Let's continue the trend with the defensive line already taken care of.

23. Chargers - CB3 Cooper DeJean

With RT being filled with the 11th overall pick, Jim Harbaugh beefs up the defense with a familiar face. DeJean dominated the Big Ten while playing outside CB, but he has the versatility and physicality to play nickel corner or potentially even safety. The Chargers have outside CBs in Asante Samuel and Kristian Fulton. They don't have a slot corner, however. I'd love to see DC Jesse Minter move DeJean, Samuel, and Derwin James all over the secondary. That coaching tree loves flexibility.

24. Cowboys - DT2 Jer'Zhan Newton

Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence are as good of an edge duo as it gets, but the Cowboys interior was a problem in 2023 after 337-pound 1st-rounder Mazi Smith disappeared as a rookie (13 tackles). Newton is a different body type (6'2"/304) with far more pass rush production (18.5 college sacks to 0.5). There were some very special reps on his tape, so much so that I don't see him sliding any further than the top-25 overall. I'm not ruling out a surprise top-12 selection either.

25. Packers - OL8 Graham Barton

Whenever Justis Mosqueda talks Packers draft, I listen closely. He happened to tweet "Packer" after Barton destroyed the agility drills at Duke's Pro Day. Green Bay has fine starters across the entire OL, but there is room for improvement. Barton played C as a freshman, played LT for his final 3 seasons, and potentially profiles as a OG in the pros. His versatility would allow the Packers to field their best five.

26. Buccaneers - EDGE4 Chop Robinson

An elite athlete who needs to be groomed, Robinson would do well to land in Tampa Bay under coach Todd Bowles. He has interior push from DTs Vita Vea and Kalijah Cancey, and he would be in a 3-4 edge rotation with Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and YaYa Diaby. He'd essentially be a replacement for Shaq Barrett, so it's not a surprise that Robinson's first visit at the Combine was with the Bucs.

27. Cardinals - OL9 Jordan Morgan

He played LT at Arizona two hours south from Phoenix, but Morgan has sub-33-inch arms, sometimes considered a threshold to remain at tackle. The good news is Morgan is a 95th percentile athlete if considered a guard. With guard jumping up in value this free agency, late Round 1 is a prime spot for this interior OL run to start (Powers-Johnson, Barton, Morgan, etc.). Cardinals OC Drew Petzing comes from the Browns, who made athletic guard play a massive priority, and Morgan has the feet to dance in Arizona's pull-heavy rushing offense (4th most snaps with a pulling OL). Current LG starter Elijah Wilkinson is a 29-year-old playing on a $1.8M, 1-year contract. That's obviously backup value.

28. Bills - WR5 Adonai Mitchell

After losing X WR Gabe Davis in free agency and after watching 30-year-old Stefon Diggs' production take a downturn late last year, Buffalo is desperate for perimeter receiver talent while Diggs, Curtis Samuel, and Khalil Shakir rotate between Z and the slot. Mitchell has a boom-bust profile with few wins on breaking routes, but at the very least, he's a field stretcher with elite straight-line athleticism. That's a great fit for Josh Allen. Mitchell has visited with the Bills.

29. Lions - CB4 Kool-Aid McKinstry

The Carlton Davis trade gives Detroit some flexibility with this selection, but they are still looking for a CB2, especially after releasing Cam Sutton for felony domestic battery by strangulation. GM Brad Holmes says he's really picky with his CBs, but McKinstry could fit his vision. He's very smart and versatile after being coached up by Nick Saban at Alabama, and he's also very tough. In fact, McKinstry ran a 4.47 forty at his Pro Day despite having a Jones fracture in his foot that'll require surgery very soon. Holmes was in person for the event.

30. Ravens - OL10 Tyler Guyton

Standing at nearly 6-foot-8, Guyton has the impressive size that the Ravens are used to drafting. He would fill in for 33-year-old RT Morgan Moses, who was traded to the Jets this offseason. The Ravens' OL is typically a strength but doesn't look like one on paper after free agency. It's in their DNA to make it a priority.

31. Broncos - QB5 Bo Nix

Coach Sean Payton's patience lasted just a dozen picks after selecting the top-ranked defensive player at 12th overall. Without an answer at QB, Nix becomes the 2024 and 2025 flier, as a trade up into Round 1 likely means sending a future 1st rounder because the Broncos don't have their 2nd-rounder this draft. Nix isn't for everyone (his arm is average), but he is an experienced, quick-release prospect that fits Payton's offense to a tee. I just don't see how Jarrett Stidham is a viable plan.

32. Chiefs - CB5 Nate Wiggins

Trading away L'Jarius Sneed opens up a need on the perimeter with Trent McDuffie dominating in the slot. Wiggins won't be for everyone because of his skinny frame (173 pounds), but 4.28 speed is 4.28 speed. Sneed posted a 4.37 forty with the very similar height and length as Wiggins. The Chiefs also have to find competition at LT with Donovan Smith gone and at outside WR with Hollywood Brown only on a 1-year deal.

33. Panthers - WR6 Ladd McConkey

Diontae Johnson at X WR on a 1-year deal. Adam Thielen in the slot for the next 1-2 years. Then McConkey at Z and in the slot for the long term. He'd be their fastest skill guy immediately.

42. Texans - WR9 Roman Wilson

Houston's reported interest in trading for Keenan Allen shows they are serious about adding a slot target to pair with outside deep threats Nico Collins and Tank Dell. Wilson offers more speed than Robert Woods and John Metchie.

54. Browns - DT3 Braden Fiske

His elite athleticism has pushed him up boards, and the Browns haven't made a real investment to the position for years despite it being a premium position.