2024 Mock Draft 1.0
MOCK DRAFT 1.0
Dec. 19, 2023
We have officially reached the start of the Mock Draft Season — the time of year where the college football regular season has finalized. The NCAA Championship Committee has selected their four teams to play on for the national title, and the best college football players in the nation have been properly honored with the game's most prestigious awards.
While all this is going on, National Football League teams are making a stretch run to either a division championship or wild-card spot. Furthermore, while the actual teams are making their playoff push, millions of fantasy football diehards are either alive in their playoffs or licking their wounds and finding their NFL fix by reading this article.
With this said let's travel down the road of Mock Draft 1.0. This initial draft is not meant to be perfect. It is meant to begin the process of looking at a team’s available draft capital, impending salary cap situations and the potential personnel needs dictated by who that team loses or gains in the offseason. Because of these factors, and because evaluations of many players will fluctuate, the draft board will be continually changing throughout the upcoming weeks.
With so many undetermined variables attached to the first mock it is best to keep in mind the players selected are attached to the team, and very little emphasis is put on the positioning of the pick. For instance, do I believe Caleb Williams will be a Las Vegas Raider? YES! Does that necessarily mean he will fall down the draft board to the No. 6 selection? NO! As a mock drafter and someone who watches the draft religiously, I recognize that draft-day trades will upend many mock drafts every year. Those things will eventually start sorting themselves out as the offseason progresses and player evaluations begin. Probably best to take a wait and see approach and look at these factors later on in the process.
Time to begin. With the first pick of the 2024 NFL Mock Draft 1.0, the Chicago Bears select...
(As previously stated the picks in this mock will be selected based on the knowledge we have currently and may not be reflective of the potential trades that will occur leading up to the draft.)
1. Chicago Bears: WR, MARVIN HARRISON JR., OHIO STATE
Marvin Harrison Jr. will be the first of two sons of former NFL players taken in the first round of this draft. As speculation mounts as to what the Chicago Bears will do with Justin Fields, one thing is for certain: Harrison Jr. is the one and only can’t-miss prospect in this draft. The thinking here is Chicago still sees Fields as the man, and after this selection, the Bears will have a bonafide one-two punch at wide receiver when they pair Harrison Jr. with DJ Moore.
2. New England Patriots: QB, DRAKE MAYE, NORTH CAROLINA
As David Bowie and Butterfly Boucher once sang, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes” are on the horizon for the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick’s reign as coach is dimming, along with the light from the glory days of Brady and six Super Bowl titles. This selection may be up to a new regime to decide which of the two top quarterbacks in this year’s draft will become the face of the franchise. Maye seems better understand how to handle the spotlight and projects to be more of the “Patriot’s Way” type of player that Belichick and owner Robert Kraft will endorse.
3. Arizona Cardinals: OLB, DALLAS TURNER, ALABAMA
Head coach Johnathan Gannon and GM Monti Ossenfort traded away their opportunity to select Will Anderson Jr. during the 2023 draft. They cannot afford to do the same thing this year by passing on another outstanding OLB from Alabama. Gannon had Hasson Reddick in Philly, and had to play against Micah Parsons twice a year, so he knows the importance of having a dynamic player who can either rush the quarterback or drop into coverage in his 3-4 defensive scheme.
4. Washington Commanders: OT, JOE ALT, NOTRE DAME
The Commanders have gotten a head start on the house cleaning that is to come under the new ownership. They already traded away two young supposed cornerstones of their defense — ends Montez Sweat (Chicago Bears) and Chase Young (San Francisco 49ers) — and fired defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. On the offensive side of the ball, coordinator Eric Bieniemy is finding out he no longer has Patrick Mahomes to make plays when the offensive line breaks down. The team needs to find a way to develop quarterback Sam Howell for another year, and it starts with keeping him upright instead of picking him up off the ground play in and play out.
5. Chicago Bears: OT, OLUMUYIWA FASHANU, PENN STATE
In Bears fashion, this might be a spot where things start to get a bit squirrely. Having already used its first pick to select Marvin Harrison Jr., Chicago may look to trade down as it will not have another selection until the top of the third round. They did go with tackle Darnell Wright in last season's draft, and choosing Fashanu takes another step towards protecting Justin Fields.
6. Las Vegas Raiders: QB, CALEB WILLIAMS, USC
As mentioned earlier, we think Caleb Williams is deserving of being the first QB off the board. But because trades are not being projected in this initial mock, we have Maye as the first QB selected, and Williams taken No. 6 by the Raiders. A second variable has more to do with Caleb Williams himself: He had great success in his Heisman campaign year, but did not come close to repeating it this year. Perhaps he put too much pressure on himself to compensate for a weaker offensive line and a poor defensive unit — challenges he is again likely to face if picked by a team in the top half of the draft. Taking some time to recharge and get his mind right will be critical in the months leading into the Indianapolis Combine, his pro day, and beyond.
7. New York Jets: OT, JC LATHAM, ALABAMA
The New York Jets have finally lost their patience with Zach Wilson and will be looking to move on from him after the season. However, they still made their bed with the injured Aaron Rodgers and protecting him in his return will be paramount. In addition to Wilson, the team needs to part ways with Mekhi Becton, a tackle with freakish athleticism who just couldn’t stay healthy enough to showcase it on the field. This may be a little high for JC Latham to be selected, so look for the Jets to trade down and get him later in the first round.
8. New York Giants: WR, MALIK NABERS, LSU
The New York Giants join teams such as the Cardinals, Jets, and Saints that committed to taking to the prom the first date available rather than waiting for a more polished option. The Giants will be looking at the blank stare of Daniel Jones across the aisle of the limousine for at least another season. They might as well give him the next best available wide receiver to throw to. Nabers reminds me of a young Anquan Boldin and current Eagles superstar A.J. Brown. Jaylin Hyatt taking the top off defenses will open up the middle of the field for Nabers to operate.
9. Tennessee Titans: WR, ROME ODUNZE, WASHINGTON
In Will Levis, the Tennessee Titans may have finally found themselves the quarterback to replace Ryan Tannehill. Levis has already started to revitalize the play of DeAndre Hopkins, and the team will soon be moving on from the power-rushing attack that Derrick Henry embodied for several years. Odunze will give the developing Levis another deep threat and a reliable target as the offense shifts to more of a pass-first attack.
10. Los Angeles Chargers: TE, BROCK BOWERS, GEORGIA
This season has shown that the same ole Chargers are continuing to do same ole Chargers things. They have been underperforming their talent year in and year out, on both sides of the ball. This franchise is going to be in some dire straits no matter whom they bring in as head coach and GM, if only because they currently have $175 million of their salary cap for 2024 wrapped up in just six players: Quarterback Justin Herbert, DEs Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, safety Derwin James, and receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Significant changes will be made to this team on both sides of the ball, one of which will losing of their versatile running back Austin Ekeler.
Bowers is a generational talent and much deserving of being a top-10 selection, especially in light of how young tight ends from last year's class are impacting offenses in 2023. Lining up alongside Allen and Williams and with Herbert throwing him the ball, Bowers will find Los Angeles a great landing spot.
11. Atlanta Falcons: WR, KEON COLEMAN, FLORIDA ST.
The Atlanta Falcons spent most of the offseason revitalizing their defense through free agency. This team could go any number of ways with this selection, considering their needs. With Minnesota's Kirk Cousins soon to hit the free-agency market, it would be best for the Falcons to bring in a veteran quarterback to lead this team while they decide whether to develop Desmond Ridder or move on from him.
In last year's draft, I really thought the team's passing game needed a dynamic slot receiver like Jackson Smith-Njigba. However, the Falcons decided to go with Bijan Robinson, but basically tried to turn him into the receiving threat they desperately need. With the selection of Coleman, Atlanta will have two dynamic playmakers on the outside with Drake London playing opposite Coleman. With the Seminole star in the mix, tight end Kyle Pitts can focus in controlling the middle of the field, and the team can move Robinson back to his natural running back position, lining up behind whomever they bring in to be their signal-caller.
12. New Orleans Saints: DE, JARED VERSE, FLORIDA ST.
At the 12th pick, the New Orleans Saints will be willing sellers to a team looking to move up in the draft. They have only two picks (12 and 48) in the first four rounds. More than $82 million over the salary cap, the Saints are once again in the worst financial position of any team in the league. As did the Giants did with Daniel Jones, New Orleans made its bed with Derek Carr and have nearly $120 million dedicated to him for the next three years. Granted, if the Saints can find a trade partner to move Carr that would be most ideal, but the veteran QB hasn’t shown much this season to warrant a team taking him off the Saints' books. If they don’t find a suitable buyer for this pick, it would make sense for them to find a player to replace long-standing defensive end Cameron Jordan.
13. Seattle Seahawks:
The Seattle Seahawks may be another looking to grab more draft picks, especially since they have only five total selections in the 2024 draft. They have spent the draft capital they received in the Russell Wilson deal very wisely these past two years. They solidified their offensive line; created a young, top-notch wide receiver corps; and built up a dynamic backfield in Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet. With all these things in place, it would make perfect sense for the Seahawks to bring in the reigning Heisman trophy-winning quarterback to lead this team for the next several years.
14. Los Angeles Rams: CB, NATE WIGGINS, CLEMSON
For the first time in seven years the Los Angeles Rams will finally be able to call a player’s name on Day 1 of the draft. The dearth of first-round picks started in the 2016 draft when the Los Angeles Rams traded their 2017 pick to the Tennessee Titans to select Jared Goff. Over the ensuing years, they traded first-round picks for WR Brandin Cooks and corner Jalen Ramsey. Most recently, they traded the player that started this whole thing, Jared Goff, along with their 2022 and 2023 selections to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford. The last trade did pay off in a Super Bowl title for Los Angeles, but concerns are that the Rams' strategy is bankrupting their future while assisting teams like Detroit to build theirs.
15. Arizona Cardinals: OT, TALIESE FUAGA, OREGON ST.
Look for the Arizona Cardinals to move up from this position in a potential draft-day trade. They very well may decide to become the trade partner that the New Orleans Saints might be looking for. However, for the sake of this initial mock, they stay where they are and take the versatile offensive lineman from Oregon State. Fuaga, has the agility to step into the left guard position and continue the plan of building an offensive line in front of Kyler Murray.
16. Denver Broncos: FS, KAMREN KINCHENS, MIAMI
Sean Payton's first year as head coach of the Denver Broncos produced mixed results. Starting the season at 1-5, they went on a five-game win streak, then alternated wins and loses since. This team has to make changes on both sides of the ball, but let us focus on the safety position. With impending free agent Kareem Jackson moving on, and the potential of releasing Justin Simmons (a $14.5 million savings if they do), the team will look to bring in a young talent to fortify its secondary.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: DE, BRALEN TRICE, Washington
It's not out of the question that long-time head coach Mike Tomlin may find himself on the hot seat by season's end. The traditional Steelers' way of hard-nosed, grind-it-out football is slowly becoming a relic in the Steel City, excepting D-linemen T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward. The team will also need to address the potential losses of defensive backs Minkah Fitzpatrick ($14.5 million saved if released/traded) and Patrick Peterson. So going cornerback may not be totally out of the question with this pick. However, bringing some tenacity back to the Steel Curtain will be a priority for this team moving forward. Bralen Trice will be a late-riser in this draft process, and would have a terrifc mentor in Watt. We pencil him in here for the time being.
18. Minnesota Vikings: QB, BO NIX, OREGON
The Minnesota Vikings' 2023 has been vastly different from last season, as they just as often lose the one-possession games they won (10-1) at such a dramatic rate last year. Kirk Cousins started the season at a record yardage pace. However, injuries to Justin Jefferson, RB Alexander Mattison and, eventually, Cousins himself slowed the momentum. They did acquire Josh Dobbs, which for a few starts looked like a gem of a trade — until it became clear why Dobbs has played for seven different teams in his seven-year career. With Cousins soon to become a free agent, this team will look to draft his replacement now or possibly find a trade partner and take their chances of landing a Michael Penix Jr. later in the first round.
19. Green Bay Packers: CB, TERRION ARNOLD, ALABAMA
The are slowly adjusting to life without a Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers leading the team on offense. Current QB Jordan Love has played respectably well but would benefit from a considerably stronger defense. That unit will see four defensive backs hit the free-agency market so finding a player opposite Jaire Alexander should be a priority. With safeties Darnell Savage and Rudy Ford among those free agents, the Packers might consider moving Arnold to safety.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE, LAIATU LATU, UCLA
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be gifted one of the top players in this draft should Latu fall this far. The Bruins defensive end would bring a tenacity to the defensive line not seen since the days of Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp. Look for Latu to move up the draft board as the process plays out. However, for the time being, the Bucs will be ecstatic to write his name on the card they hand the commissioner.
21. Indianapolis Colts: DE, CHOP ROBINSON, PENN STATE
The Colts have gotten some solid quarterback play out of journeyman Gardner Minshew. Hindsight being 20/20, starting the veteran on a weekly basis from the outset of the season probably would have been the best-case scenario for developing rookie Anthony Richardson. Overall, the Colts are going to be in a good position once free agency hits, as they will have one of the more advantageous budgets for spending on players. They may also save an additional $20 million dollars by parting ways with defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who would be a free agent after the 2025 season.
22. Cincinnati Bengals: OT, AMARIUS MIMS, GEORGIA
In recent weeks, solid quarterback play from Jake Browning has helped the Bengals adjust the absence of Joe Burrows. Cincinnati is currently in the playoff picture and will surely be drafting in the mid 20s or later on draft day. The Jonah Williams experiment has run its course, and it is time to bring in a guy whose skills and abilities are more naturally suited for the offensive tackle position. Pairing Mims with Orlando Brown would help solidify an offensive line that has been a weak spot of this team in recent years.
23. Buffalo Bills: DT, JER'ZHAN NEWTON, ILLINOIS
Pretty sure once the dust settles the Buffalo Bills with their stride and find themselves in the playoff hunt by season's end. That said, this team still needs to look to the draft to rebuild its interior defensive line. The Bills currently have six linemen slated for free agency and will need to make moves to save salary-cap space. One of those players could be defensive tackle Ed Oliver, so the selection of Newton makes sense.
24. Houston Texans: WR, EMEKA EGBUKA, OHIO STATE
Under the guidance of new head coach Demeco Ryans, the Texans are a surprising force not only in their division but in the AFC as a whole. This all starts with the tremendous play of last spring's No. 2 overall pick, quarterback C.J. Stroud. Houston has also put together one of the better wide receiver tandems in the NFL with Nico Collins and Tank Dell. However, they both have found themselves on the injury report — Dell is now out for the season with a lower leg injury — and the team may want to bring in one of Stroud’s favorite weapons from his college days at Ohio State.
25. Kansas City Chiefs: DT, KRIS JENKINS, MICHIGAN
Having played a lot of games on their way to three Superbowl appearances in four years, the Chiefs appeared to have finally hit a wall in 2023. The lackluster play at wide receiver could motivate the front office to pursue a high-profile free-agent signing (e.g., Tee Higgins). The other position of need is defensive line should All-Pro Chris Jones depart. Considering the best available wide receivers of this draft have already been selected, Kansas City will go the defensive tackle route with Jenkins.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE, JT TUIMOLOAU, OHIO STATE
The Jaguars have established themselves as the AFC South's best team and look to be a mainstay in the playoff hunt for the foreseeable future. Through the draft and free agency, Jacksonville has beefed up its passing offense. This offseason and in the draft, however, they find themselves needing to address their pass rush, as their pass defense currently ranks in the bottom half the league in almost all statistical categories. They will also be seeing Josh Allen, Dawuane Smoot, and K’lavon Chaisson entering free agency. Addressing the DE position in this year's draft is a must need and Tuimoloau is an ideal option at No. 26.
27. Detroit Lions: CB, KOOL-AID MCKINSTRY, ALABAMA
For the Detroit Lions I will be using the Mustang-striped logo in honor my good friend Jason. Jason is in his seventh year of surviving cancer and spends everyday of life showcasing the same grit and grind that Dan Campbell has brought to the Lions organization. Whenever I visit Jay at his house I have to pass “Goldie” our fantasy football league trophy that sits on a stand at the entry way to his living room. As the reigning league champ, he has provided “Goldie” with a Mustang-striped mini helmet to wear upon its head.
Having grown up about an hour and half north of the Detroit area in the thumb of Michigan. I have always been surrounded by the “Blue Kool-Aid” drinking Lions fans that cheer them on through the best and worst of times. This pick is for the “Honolulu Blue, Kool-Aid” drinking fools that are part of the Sudden Death Fantasy Football League. The moment that Kool-Aid received his namesake he was destined to be drafted by the Detroit Lions.
28. Philadelphia Eagles: ILB, JEREMIAH TROTTER JR., CLEMSON
In case you were wondering who is the second son of a former NFL player to be picked in first round of this year's draft. To have Trotter Jr. follow in his father's footsteps and start his career in an Eagles uniform would only be fitting. Philadelphia has struggled to find solid linebacker play for several years, and the Clemson standout can immediately stabilize the position. Another need the Eagles may target with this pick is defensive line, since Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham are getting long in the tooth.
29. Miami Dolphins: OG, TROY FAUTANU, WASHINGTON
The strength of the Dolphins is the explosive talent found on the offensive side of the ball. They most likely will lose guard Connor Williams to free agency this offseason, so Fautanu is a solid pick to help protect Tua and open holes for the running game.
30. Dallas Cowboys: CB, DENZEL BURKE, OHIO STATE
The Dallas Cowboys are sitting pretty well at the cornerback position, with Trevon Diggs and rising star Daron Bland. However, Diggs has been shelved for the majority of this season, and veteran CB Stephon Gilmore is not getting younger. Burke's versatility will allow the Cowboys to move him around the secondary, putting him at corner, or letting him roam the middle of the field as a free safety. Either way, they are getting a player whom defensive backs coach Al Harris can have fun with.
31. San Francisco 49ers: OT, TYLER GUYTON, OKLAHOMA
The 49ers are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball and could go any number of directions with this pick. However, with left tackle Trent Williams nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career, GM John Lynch will be looking to groom Williams' successor to protect Brock Purdy’s blind side. With two picks each in Rounds 3–7, expect the 49ers to be movers and shakers throughout the draft.
32.) Baltimore Ravens: CB, KAMARI LASSITER, GEORGIA
The Baltimore Ravens have been mining gems of talent in the bottom half of the first round for several years, and this year they will continue the trend. There could be a competition building as to who gets selected first between Denzel Burke and Lassiter, which would be fun to watch. Both players can play CB and safety at the next level. Currently, I'm giving Burke the edge based on the measurables, though Lassiter will have time to prove himself at the Indy Combine and his pro day.