2024 NFL mock draft: Pre-Combine projections feature early run on QBs, WRs

USA Today

The 2024 NFL draft is two months away, and we’re in the thick of draft season, where there are no shortage of storylines involving this quarterback class and what ultimately happens with the No. 1 pick.

The NFL Scouting Combine kicks off this week, where NFL general managers, scouts and staff will descend upon Indianapolis for a look at this draft class’ top prospects.

With the Combine this week, we’re unveiling our first NFL Wires mock draft, which features plenty of offense in the top 10. In fact, quarterbacks and wide receivers account for the first six picks in the draft, and there are four quarterbacks that go in the top 11.

Our NFL Wire editors made their selections for the first round of the draft ahead of the Combine:

1. Chicago Bears (from CAR): QB Caleb Williams, USC

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

All signs point to the Bears trading Justin Fields and starting over with a rookie, and Williams is the obvious choice here at No. 1. While Fields made strides in Year 3, he didn’t show enough improvement as a passer for Chicago to pass up selecting a potential generational talent in Williams. There’s been plenty of discussion about whether Williams would want to play for the Bears, but Chicago would actually be an ideal landing spot for a first overall pick given their ascending defense, solid offensive line, weapons on offense and the fact that they weren’t the worst team in the NFL last year. Alyssa Barbieri, Bears Wire

2. Washington Commanders: QB Jayden Daniels, LSU

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

This could go either way for the Commanders. Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels? If Williams goes No. 1 overall, as expected, Washington, under new GM Adam Peters and head coach Dan Quinn, will roll with the 2023 Heisman Trophy winner who was phenomenal last season at LSU, showing outstanding progress as a passer. Daniels has arguably the highest upside of any quarterback in the draft, including Williams, and the Commanders are betting on that upside here. Bryan Manning, Commanders Wire

3. New England Patriots: QB Drake Maye, North Carolina

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots would be wise not to play any games with their future by passing on a quarterback in this situation. There are no guarantees they’ll ever be in this spot again, and Drake Maye might end up being the best quarterback taken in this draft. There are some Justin Herbert-like similarities in his game—size, rocket arm, accuracy and the ability to run when things break down. Of course, he’ll need a much better offensive cast than the one the Patriots fielded last season to be effective, but they can figure all of that out later. Get the quarterback first. Jordy McElroy, Patriots Wire

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

Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch

If three quarterbacks go with the first three picks, this is easy. Harrison is the best player in the draft. He is a potentially elite player at a position of extreme need for the Cardinals. He has size, speed and playmaking ability. Ohio State receivers come into the NFL every year and make an impact, and Harrison is the best one yet. The Cardinals might be tempted to trade this pick like they did last year when Will Anderson was available. We will see if GM Monti Ossenfort values having more picks now and next year than a player like Harrison. For now, this is an easy pick, especially when they have a second pick in the first round. Jess Root, Cards Wire

5. Los Angeles Chargers: WR Malik Nabers, LSU

USA Today Sports

Even though the Chargers drafted Quentin Johnston this past year, they still lack an explosive element in the offense. Furthermore, Mike Williams could be a cap casualty, and Keenan Allen is not getting any younger. Nabers is a dynamic playmaker whose release, play speed and run-after-catch ability make him a home-run threat each time he touches the ball. Gavino Borquez, Chargers Wire

6. New York Giants: WR Rome Odunze, Washington

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

With the top three quarterbacks and two of the top wide receivers off the board, the Giants are left in an unenviable situation. They could trade back and attempt to take a quarterback here but if Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll are on the hot seat, ownership may nix that idea. Ultimately, they settle on Rome Odzune, who is far from a bad consolation prize. He’s arguably the ideal receiver to fill the Giants’ desperate need at WR1, giving their first true outside threat since trading Odell Beckham Jr. Dan Benton, Giants Wire

7. Tennessee Titans: OT Joe Alt, Notre Dame

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Titans have had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL for multiple years in a row now, and left tackle has been the biggest issue. The Titans can’t hope to get the most out of their young quarterback, Will Levis, if this keeps up. Alt is the best left tackle in the class and projects to be the long-term solution Tennessee desperately needs at the position. Mike Moraitis, Titans Wire

8. Atlanta Falcons: EDGE Dallas Turner, Alabama

Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News

With the top quarterbacks and wide receivers off the board, the Falcons look to the defensive side of the ball and add arguably the best edge rusher in this year’s draft class. Turner finished his final season at Alabama with 11 sacks, 33 hurries and two forced fumbles. Atlanta has two quality defensive tackles under contract in Grady Jarrett and David Onyemata, but both Bud Dupree and Calais Campbell are set to hit free agency this offseason. Falcons head coach Raheem Morris is a brilliant defensive mind and should be able to maximize Turner’s ability to get after the quarterback. Matt Urben, Falcons Wire

9. Chicago Bears: EDGE Jared Verse, Florida State

Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Depending on how the board falls, this is a spot where the Bears could go several different ways. But since the top three wide receivers are off the board, Chicago elects to shore up their pass rush with Verse, a disruptive defender considered among the best edge rushers in this draft class. He can step in immediately and make an impact as a rookie. Verse would be a solid addition alongside stud Montez Sweat, acquired in a trade last season, to help elevate this defense into a top-10 unit. Alyssa Barbieri, Bears Wire

10. New York Jets: OT Olu Fashanu, Penn State

USA Today Sports

Passing on Brock Bowers will be a tough chore for the Jets here, but they have to protect Aaron Rodgers at all costs. They cannot afford another season where he gets injured early. He’s a 40-year-old quarterback coming off an Achilles tear and the Jets have all their chips in the middle of the table. That starts up front after 2023 provided another dismal season from the got due to injuries and poor play. Some may liken Fashanu to that of former Jets great D’Brickashaw Ferguson. If the Jets can get that from Fashanu, they’re set for quite a while at one of the tackle positions, but particularly in 2024, where the team was all but given an ultimatum to make the postseason by owner Woody Johnson. Billy Riccette, Jets Wire

11. Minnesota Vikings: QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings are likely going to be very aggressive in trying to move up to get a quarterback. They made every effort to get into the top five last season with Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson being the target. Without having to move up for a quarterback, they get one in Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy. He isn’t viewed by everyone as a top quarterback in this class, but his performance under pressure and on third and long has him standing out. Pair that with his dual-threat ability and the ability to throw deep on the run and you have a really intriguing prospect. Plus, I think the Vikings will like McCarthy more than most due to his skill set. Tyler Forness, Vikings Wire

12. Denver Broncos: TE Brock Bowers, Georgia

USA Today Sports

The Broncos would probably love to land a quarterback, but the top QB prospects all went off the board quickly. So the team picks Bowers, the best tight end in this year’s class. Greg Dulcich has struggled to stay healthy through his first two seasons in the NFL and Adam Trautman is set to become a free agent in March. Even if Trautman returns, he’s not a difference-maker at the position. Bowers would be a great addition to Sean Payton’s offense. Jon Heath, Broncos Wire

13. Las Vegas Raiders: CB Terrion Arnold, Alabama

Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Raiders would have loved to see one of the top quarterbacks fall to No. 13, but that just didn’t happen. Instead, they take the best cornerback in the draft to pair with Nate Hobbs and Jack Jones. Arnold has plenty of experience in the SEC and his physical play style will mesh well with Antonio Pierce. Selecting Arnold would allow Hobbs to go back to the slot, which his natural position. This isn’t a home-run pick for Las Vegas, but it’s the best they could do after the way the top 12 picks shook out. Marcus Mosher, Raiders Wire

14. New Orleans Saints: EDGE Laiatu Latu, UCLA

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Latu checks so many boxes for the Saints. He was highly productive in college, he tore it up at the Senior Bowl practices, and he comes with a serious injury history, which is something they’ve gambled on before. The good news is Latu has developed into a very impressive pass rusher through two years at UCLA after transferring from Washington, where he suffered a career-threatening neck injury. If his medicals check out and the Saints can address other needs in free agency, Latu could add a lot to the defense. John Sigler, Saints Wire

15. Indianapolis Colts: WR Brian Thomas Jr., LSU

USA Today Sports

Though it would have been nice to snag a cornerback like Terrion Arnold or another explosive weapon like Brock Bowers, there is a lot of upside with Thomas. He brings the type of explosive play the Colts need on offense to further Anthony Richardson’s development. His acceleration and burst off the line allow him to eat space quickly, and he’s impressively agile for his size at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. He works best on in-breaking routes such as digs, slants and crossers while his innate tracking abilities make him a fantastic vertical weapon. There is still a lot of development left for Thomas at the next level, but he’s an intriguing upside play the Colts should be considering heavily. Kevin Hickey, Colts Wire

16. Seattle Seahawks: OT Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Incoming Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald and new offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb have both made it clear that they intend to field a physical offensive unit with an emphasis on improving their run game. While Pete Carroll might have taken running backs early in the draft with the same goal in mind, the right way to do it is to build up your offensive line with maulers like Taliese Fuaga (6-foot-6, 334 pounds). Fuaga could instantly take over and start at right tackle in Week 1, allowing the ailing Abe Lucas (knee) to slide inside to right guard. Fuaga had PFF’s highest run blocking grade in the nation last season at OT and would supercharge what could be a very potent two-headed run game with Ken Walker and Zach Charbonnet. Fuaga also earned solid grades in pass protection. Tim Weaver, Seahawks Wire

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Nate Wiggins, Clemson

Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

There are a few areas that could be a priority for the Jaguars in the draft, but cornerback is a tough one to try to fix by looking through the bargain bin. With new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen relying heavily on tight, press coverage, Jacksonville needs to find a player to complement Tyson Campbell on the other side of its secondary, regardless if the team keeps Darious Williams or not. Wiggins, a lengthy 6’2 cornerback, fits the bill of what Nielsen needs and the type of player general manager Trent Baalke typically picks. Adam Stites, Jaguars Wire

18. Cincinnati Bengals: OL JC Latham, Alabama

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Call it a good problem to have that the Bengals need to choose between Latham and defensive linemen such as Jer’Zhan Newton here. The concern, of course, is that the Bengals have been horrific at drafting offensive linemen (remember Cedric Ogbuehi, Jake Fisher, Billy Price and Jackson Carman, to name a few?), hence lately paying up big on free agents other teams have developed. Even so, that’s no reason to skip on Latham if he’s here. Cincinnati probably won’t compete on an inflated Jonah Williams market, so they need a new starter at right tackle. Drafting Latham and signing a mid-tier veteran to compete might be the most sensible approach. Chris Roling, Bengals Wire

19. Los Angeles Rams: CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo

Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams secondary became a weakness on defense last season and the cornerback group is in desperate need of some talent. Even if Ahkello Witherspoon re-signs with the Rams, Mitchell would make a fantastic starter opposite him on the outside, allowing Cobie Durant to remain in the slot. Mitchell can play in just about any scheme, whether it’s man or zone coverage, and he’s a willing tackler, which is a bonus for a cornerback as talented as him. The Senior Bowl standout should’ve caught the attention of the Rams in Mobile and they may not let him get past No. 19. Cameron DaSilva, Rams Wire

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

Craig Strobeck-USA TODAY Sports

When the Steelers went on the clock, there were some excellent options still on the board. The Steelers need to decide between cornerback, offensive tackle and center with this first pick and then fill in the rest after. I was honestly torn between Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson and Duke offensive lineman Graham Barton. We opted for JPJ to be sure the team has a quality starting center when training camp starts and a guy who can be a 10-year starter at a high level. Curt Popejoy, Steelers Wire

21. Miami Dolphins: OL Troy Fautanu, Washington

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins only have one starting offensive lineman that is guaranteed to return in 2024, and that’s right tackle Austin Jackson. Left tackle Terron Armstead is mulling retirement while left guard Isaiah Wynn, center Connor Williams and right guard Robert Hunt are all set to be unrestricted free agents. Fautanu allowed just two sacks in roughly 1,250 pass-blocking snaps in collegiate career and earned the Morris Trophy, which is given to the best offensive lineman in the Pac-12 in 2023. He played mostly tackle in college, so he could take over for Armstead on the left side if he were to retire, but he could also slide in and be a great guard with his size and skill set. Mike Masala, Dolphins Wire

22. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

USA Today Sports

The Eagles could move on from CB James Bradberry and will look to continue to get younger at the cornerback position with Kelee Ringo and El Ricks already on the roster. McKinstry was a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide and, over the last two seasons, established himself as one of the top defensive backs in the entire country. With 22 pass breakups and an interception over two seasons, McKinstry has shown excellent growth as a defender and could be an all-pro level player at the next level, given his physical traits. Glenn Erby, Eagles Wire

23. Houston Texans (from CLE): DT Byron Murphy II, Texas

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

DeMeco Ryans preached at his final press conference of the 2023 season that improving the defensive front is “where our focus is” entering the off-season. Defensive tackle Byron Murphy II from the University of Texas helps the Texans become younger and more talented in that aspect immediately. Murphy is a strong, penetrating defensive tackle who should excel in Ryans’ aggressive scheme alongside Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Anderson. He projects as a three down player for Houston and this investment would certainly fortify the Front 7 as the Texans begin to turn towards Super Bowl aspirations. John Crumpler, Texans Wire

24. Dallas Cowboys: C Graham Barton, Duke

Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys never seem to be able to have everything working at the same time. In 2023, the blocking up front was pretty average, despite having three players make it to the Pro Bowl. The easiest link to upgrade is at the center position, where Tyler Biadasz is a free agent after starting for the last four seasons. Fortunately there are three great center prospects in this year’s haul. Barton is a highly versatile offensive lineman who spent six games at center back in 2020, but has been on the outside the last few years. His arm length will kick him inside for most teams but he’s an absolute technician who is both physical and quick. KD Drummond, Cowboys Wire

25. Green Bay Packers: DB Cooper DeJean, Iowa

USA Today Sports

The Packers may need new Week 1 starters at both cornerback and safety entering the offseason. DeJean, an All-American at Iowa, could potentially be an early starter at either position in the NFL. He won’t test at the NFL Scouting Combine but he’s expected to be one of the best athletes in the draft class. The Packers prefer young and elite athletes at premium positions in the first round, and DeJean – who just turned 21 in February – fits the bill. Also, the former Hawkeye intercepted seven passes in his collegiate career and could help the Packers get more ball production in 2024 and beyond. Zach Kruse, Packers Wire

26. Kansas City Chiefs (from TB): DL Jer’Zhan “Johnny” Newton, Illinois

Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Trade details:

  • Chiefs receive: Nos. 26, 203, 2025 6th round pick
  • Buccaneers receive: Nos. 32, 94

Newton is one of Pro Football Focus’ top players in this draft class and would give Kansas City flexibility to move on from Chris Jones should the Chiefs decide that they’d rather keep L’Jarius Sneed. Though Newton isn’t likely to hang around this late in the first round, his selection here would be worth the compensation on the trade up, and depending on the Buccaneers’ placement in 2025, Kansas City could come out a slight winner in draft pick value. John Dillon, Chiefs Wire

27. Arizona Cardinals (from HOU): OT Tyler Guyton, Oklahoma

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It was tempting to go with a pass rusher like Washington’s Bralen Trice, as the Cardinals had one sack over the final six games of the season. But with left tackle D.J. Humphries going down at the end of the season with a torn ACL, tackle becomes a critical need. Guyton doesn’t have a lot of experience but his length and expected athleticism will give the Cardinals, along with Paris Johnson, young tackles to anchor the offensive line for years. Jess Root, Cards Wire

28. Buffalo Bills: WR Troy Franklin, Oregon

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Bills would no longer have Gabe Davis in this scenario. With his semi-goodbye message posted to social media this past week, it seems like that’s the way things will go. Franklin still being on the board when Buffalo selects would be a great fall for the Bills, too. This past season, Oregon had a promising year and Franklin played his part. He put up 81 catches, 1,383 yards and 14 touchdowns in 13 games. Similar to Davis, Franklin can stretch the field but likely has a better route tree in his game already with even more room for growth. Nick Wojton, Bills Wire

29. Detroit Lions: OL Cooper Beebe, Kansas State

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

With the top three guards from 2023 all free agents, the Lions have a dire need for interior line help. Beebe is an NFL-ready starter with both a high floor and a high ceiling. Technically proficient and powerful on the move, Beebe can step right into the Lions gap-based blocking scheme and immediately become an asset. With the cornerbacks of preference all off the board already, addressing the offensive line is an easy plan here for GM Brad Holmes. Jeff Risdon, Lions Wire

30. Baltimore Ravens: EDGE Darius Robinson, Missouri

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Robinson made a ton of money at the Senior Bowl and fit significantly in Baltimore. The 6-foot-5, 286-pounder showed elite power and athleticism while playing at both defensive end and defensive tackle during Senior Bowl practices. The Ravens love large outside pass-rushers, and with Justin Madubuike and Jadeveon Clowney entering free agency, he’s an A+ addition. Robinson had 8.5 sacks in 2023 — and his stock is soaring. Glenn Erby, Ravens Wire

31. San Francisco 49ers: OT Amarius Mims, Georgia

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers desperately need help on their offensive line, particularly at right tackle, and Mims provides that assistance at a good value spot late in the first round. Experience is a little bit of an issue for the former Bulldog, who played just 803 snaps in 30 games across three seasons. However, the 6-7, 340-pound Mims can flat out move which makes him an enticing option to take over at right tackle for an already very good rushing attack. He also allowed no QB hits and no sacks in 402 pass blocking snaps per Pro Football Focus. Mims has all the tools to be a long-time NFL starter at least at right tackle, with the upside to potentially swing to the left side and take over there whenever Trent Williams decides to hang up his pads. Kyle Madson, Niners Wire

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from KC): EDGE Chris Braswell, Alabama

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Not only do the Bucs trade down here and get an extra third-round pick from the Kansas City Chiefs, but they also draft a player that is frequently mocked to them at 26 anyway. Tampa Bay needs edge rusher help with the likely departure of Shaquil Barrett in the offseason and the continuing lack of emergence from Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, and Braswell could fit that bill well — he has a high motor and good upper body strength and he used both of those traits to net eight sacks last year. He also has experience dropping into coverage, and Todd Bowles loves front-seven players who can do that. River Wells, Bucs Wire

Articles You May Like

Black and blue division #detroitlions #onepride
Detroit Lions players react to new uniform release
Former Detroit Lions Players Reinstated by NFL After Gambling Suspension
Why the Lions should draft Cooper DeJean in 2024 NFL Draft
Daniel Jeremiah Believes Lions Could Move Up in NFL Draft

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *