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2024 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Maye Day in New England



North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (10) passes against Clemson during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Clemson, S.C. Maye is projected to go to the New England Patriots in the first 2024 NFL Mock Draft on PFN. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Week 13 of the 2023 NFL season is upon us. For some franchises, this is when they gear up to make a playoff push. The majority of teams near the top of the NFL Power Rankings still have Super Bowl ambitions. For those closer to the bottom, there isn’t much to look forward to this season. Those fanbases are already looking forward to the 2024 NFL Draft, trying to figure out how to turn their team around.

The actual 2024 NFL Draft doesn’t begin until Apr. 25, 2024. Obviously, between now and then there will be plenty of changes to both the draft order and the draft board. Players will have a chance to improve their stock in bowl games, individual workouts, pro days, and the NFL Combine. As those things happen, the mock drafts will be updated on Patriots Football Now. Bur, for now, here is a first look at Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft…

1. Chicago Bears – Caleb Williams, QB (USC) via Carolina

Current quarterback Justin Fields still has a chance to keep his job with an impressive showing down the homestretch. But the Bears are in position to own this pick regardless, as it comes from the Panthers. It is tough to see Chicago passing up a chance to select their top choice of quarterbacks in the NFL Draft if presented with the opportunity. They also have their own first round pick to add help elsewhere. Williams stock has fallen with some regression this year, but he has also been scrutinized like to other prospect. The bet here is that by the time April rolls around, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner is back on top.

2. Arizona Cardinals – Marvin Harrison, Jr., WR (Ohio State)

The Cardinals are in need of help virtually everywhere. As a result, it is possible they try to trade down and pick up draft capital. But for this first mock draft there are no mock trades. So, Arizona takes some help for Kyler Murray. Marvin Harrison, Jr. is possibly the safest pick in the entire draft. He is the best wide receiver prospect in years, and one of only two players in the draft that are considered to be ‘generational talents’ at their respective positions (more on that below).

3. New England Patriots – Drake Maye, QB (North Carolina)

New England needs a quarterback. If there is one thing they have learned in 2023 is that Mac Jones is not the answer to their problems. With an opportunity to select a franchise quarterback this high, there is no passing it up. Maye is another prospect that has been hurt by not ‘flying under the radar’ this season, in terms of added scrutiny. But come draft time the cream will rise to the top. At 6-foot-5, Maye has great size. Although not a runner, he looks comfortable rolling out to either side and throwing on the run. Already set for ‘Maye Day’ headlines in 2024.

4. Chicago Bears – Joe Alt, OT (Notre Dame)

After taking Caleb Williams first overall, Chicago is back on the clock. This time, protecting their new franchise QB is the priority. Either Alt or Olu Fashanu would be solid options here. Alt has been better in 2023. Although Fashanu might have a higher ceiling, the more NFL-ready player is the priority with a rookie under center. With Darnell Wright at right tackle, the Bears could suddenly find themselves in solid position with a pair of young bookends on the offensive line.

5. Washington Commanders – Olu Fashanu, OT (Penn State)

With Alt off the board, this pick should be an easy one. There are certainly other solid options available here. Laiatu Latu would be a solid option to make up for the losses of Montez Sweat and Chase Young at the trade deadline. There are QB options if they want to move on from Sam Howell. There are also playmakers available if they want to provide Howell with more help. But the best option here is proving some protection for their quarterback and giving him another year to prove if he can own the starting job, and Olu Fashanu is the man for the job.

6. New York Giants – Malik Nabers, WR (LSU)

As is the case with other teams at the top of the draft, there are a lot of needs for New York. Replacing QB Daniel Jones is on the table, but would mean eating a lot of money on the massive extension he signed earlier this year. So instead of replacing Jones, the Giants will attempt to get him some help. When Odell Beckham, Jr. came from LSU to the New York it worked out well. The Giants are hoping that Nabers is able to make a similar splash in the Big Apple.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Laiatu Latu, DE (UCLA)

Finally a defensive player comes off the board at seven. Latu has been one of the most impressive players in all of college football this season. There is a group of edge defenders that should all go in the first round. Some are more impressive physically than Latu, but none have put up better film in 2023. Deciding on whether to bring back Baker Mayfield at quarterback is the biggest decision for the Buccaneers. He is set to be an unrestricted from agent. Again, this is another franchise with a lot of needs, which is why they are drafting in the top ten. Somebody to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks is a solid start for any team.

8. New York Jets – Brock Bowers, TE (Georgia)

Earlier it was noted that Marvin Harrison, Jr. was one of two ‘generational talents’ at their position. The other is Georgia’s tight end. The Jets are in desperate need of some offense. Improving their offensive line is certainly a need. However, they will be getting Alijah Vera-Tucker back in 2024. With Alt and Fashanu both gone, Brock Bowers is simply too good to pass up here. It will add another dimension to the Jets offense, which has the ability to improve considerably, simply by the additions of Bowers, Vera-Tucker, and of course QB Aaron Rodgers.

9. Los Angeles Chargers – Jer’Zhan Newton, DL (Illinois)

Aside from Bowers at tight end, there is no bigger gap between the top player at the rest of his position as there is between Newton and the other defensive linemen. The Chargers offense has not been the issue for them this season, but they desperately need to improve their defense. With Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack already in place on the edges, Los Angeles opts for the Illini’s interior defensive lineman to solidify the front seven.

10. Tennessee Titans – Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB (Alabama)

There are certainly a number of wide receivers worthy of consideration here. Taking the third offensive tackle is also going to be given serious consideration. But ultimately the top corner on the board is too tough to pass up tenth overall. McKinstry entered the year as the best cornerback prospect, and has played well enough to remain there. At 6-foot-1 he has good length, and is capable of locking up opposing top receivers. With Trevor Lawrence, C.J. Stroud, and Anthony Richardson in the AFC South, being able to slow down passing attacks will need to be a priority.

11. Las Vegas Raiders – Jayden Daniels, QB (LSU)

The Raiders have always been a franchise happy to make a splash. They are also a franchise in desperate need of a starting quarterback, barring rookie Aidan O’Connell showing something special before the end of the season. If that happens, there is a chance the Raiders address other needs here (defense) and opt for a QB later in the draft. But right now, the Heisman Trophy favorite proves too tough to pass up for Mark Davis.

12. New Orleans Saints – JC Latham, OT (Alabama)

Taking a quarterback certainly has to be in consideration for New Orleans, but instead they grab the third offensive tackles off the board. At 6-foot-6, 335 pounds, Latham has great size and good athleticism. He was the top ranked tackle in the high school class of 2021. Once again, a lot of needs for this franchise, but locking down a left tackle is a good place to begin.

13. Green Bay Packers – Taliese Fuaga, OT (Oregon State)

Providing some protection for QB Jordan Love should be atop the to do list for the Packers. The Green Bay running game has been a disappointment this season, and that starts in the trenches. Fuaga has climbed draft board higher than any other offensive tackles this season. He has vaulted from a possible Day 2 pick to landing solidly in Round 1. The premier right tackle in the draft, Fuaga has been dominant for the Beavers in 2023.

14. Los Angeles Rams – Nate Wiggins, CB (Clemson)

Skill position players on offense are not a problem for the Rams, but some secondary help is needed. Wiggins provides as much upside as any defense player in the draft. Although there are still some consistency issues for the 6-foot-2 corner, he played his best against the toughest opponents. Wiggins improved every year at Clemson, and should be ready to start from his first day in the NFL.

15. Cincinnati Bengals – Amarius Mims, OT (Georgia)

This pick is dependent on whether the Bengals bring back free agent wide receiver Tee Higgins. If Higgins returns, Mims would be a great selection here. He has experience playing in big games against the best competition. Mims is another right tackle going in the first round. He missed several games in the middle of the season with an ankle injury, but appears to have made a full recovery. At 6-foot-7 and 335 pounds, Mims is not lacking the size to compete at the next level. His run blocking needs to catch up to his pass blocking for him to become elite at the next level. If Higgins is gone, a wide receiver is likely the pick here.

16. Buffalo Bills – Rome Odunze, WR (Washington)

With only Marvin Harrison, Jr. and Malik Nabors off the board 15 picks in, the Bills have their choice among the remaining deep group of wide receivers at 16. Here, Buffalo opts for Rome Odunze. He had an incredible year for the Huskies, compiling 81 receptions, 1,428 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns. Adding a threat of his magnitude opposite Stefon Diggs is going to cause problems for Buffalo opponents.

17. Arizona Cardinals – Cooper DeJean, CB (Iowa)

After taking MHJ second overall, the Cardinals attempt to get some help on the defensive side of the ball. At this point, Laiatu is the only edge rusher off the board, so still plenty of options available there. But Arizona goes secondary, opting for the Hawkeyes cornerback. DeJean has not been quite as good as he was in 2022, but has continued to be a solid, reliable corner. He is the third corner taken, but there will be several more before the first round is through.

18. Denver Broncos – Chop Robinson, DE (Penn State)

Robinson could easily go higher than 18. He is the second edge player to go, but several teams who picked higher could target this position as well. Robinson had a major injury scare earlier in the season, but fortunately avoided a longterm absence. He returned to be the same disruptive pass rusher he had been previously. For a player of his caliber, it is surprising to see only 3.0 sacks for Robinson in 2023. But when watching him on tape, is presence is always obvious.

19. Atlanta Falcons – Bo Nix, QB (Oregon)

Falcons QB Desmond Ridder has already been replaced once this season. It is possible Atlanta opts to make a trade here, perhaps bringing him Georgia native Justin Fields is the Bears draft his replacement. But based on their current situation, quarterback is a priority. There is a group of players who deserve consideration here, but Bo Nix gets the nod. His accuracy is excellent, and he is mobile, a quality necessary in Atlanta.

20. Indianapolis Colts – Keon Coleman, WR (Florida State)

Whether Michael Pittman, Jr. comes back or not (he could be the top wide receiver on the free agent market) adding another weapon for Anthony Richardson is a solid plan. Coleman has flashed enough to warrant serious consideration much higher in the draft. Some might have him ranked as the second wideout available. If Indianapolis gets back a healthy Richardson brings back Pittman, and can add Coleman, their offense suddenly goes from ho-hum to very dangerous.

21. Minnesota Vikings – Michael Penix, Jr. QB (Washington)

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is the top free agent quarterback available in 2024. If he stays, obviously Minnesota will go in a different direction here. But if Cousins moves on, and they don’t trade for a replacement such as Kyler Murray, this is a position that obviously will need to be addressed. Penix is clearly the top passer still available. The lefty might actually be the most pro-ready passer in the entire draft. Throwing to Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson is not a shabby group of weapons for a rookie QB.

22. Seattle Seahawks – Jared Verse, DE (Florida State)

Preseason, many had Verse as the top edge defender going off the board. Here, he is the third to be selected. At 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, Verse is large and looks like he could still get bigger once he hits the NFL. Verse might be a victim of high expectations, as his overall numbers (hurries, hits) are up across the board from a very solid 2022 season. He does need to improve against the run to be a three-down player in the NFL. The Senior Bowl and NFL Draft Combine will be good opportunities for him to move up draft boards.

23. Pittsburgh. Steelers – Kamren Kinchens, DB (Miami, Fla.)

Pittsburgh has a history of great defensive backs, and adding the top safety in the 2024 NFL Draft could add to that equation. Kinchens has actually had a disappointing season based on his 2022 performance, but still solid regardless. At his best, Kinchens is a true difference maker. He is an aggressive tackler (which does lead to some missed tackles). Kinchens has the physical tools to wow people at the combine, and move up draft boards. Other teams in need of a safety, such as Buffalo, could prevent him from making it to 23.

24. Houston Texans – Emeka Egbuka, WR (Ohio State)

Egbuka gets reunited with his former Buckeyes quarterback, C.J. Stroud. With QB set in Houston, it is simply a matter of building around Stroud at this point. Bringing in a familiar receiver is a great option. Egbuka can fly under the radar at times due to his more heralded teammate in Harrison, but is a force in his own right. His 40 time will be interesting to keep an eye on. He is certainly capable of running in the 4.3’s, which should solidify being a top 25 pick, as he is here.

25. Miami Dolphins – Graham Barton, OT (Duke)

If the Dolphins do go with an offensive tackle here, there are several options. In addition to Barton, Jordan Morgan (Arizona) and Patrick Paul (Houston) are two others to keep an eye on. Barton was awesome in 2022, but struggled in the Blue Devils first two games of 2023. However, since then he has returned to his prior form. This includes an awesome performance against Florida State. Perhaps Barton isn’t the most exciting pick of 2023, but the Dolphins don’t need any other world class athletes at skill positions. Edge is another position that will be on their radar.

26. Dallas Cowboys – Dallas Turner, DE (Alabama)

A player with the upside of Turner, with a name like Dallas, is too tough for Jerry Jones to pass on. The Cowboys would get their first choice from interior offensive linemen or linebackers here. They could also opt for an offensive tackle or cornerback. Does not seem to be a player at some of their other need positions (tight end, running back, safety) worth picking this highly. Don’t be surprised if they try to move up to grab Kinchens. But with the current draft board, Dallas Turner has steal potential at 26. He was the top ranked edge player in his high school class, and has tremendous upside. He has 23 career sacks for the Crimson Tide, and could provide pass rushing assistance to Micah Parsons.

27. Detroit Lions – Leonard Taylor III (Miami, Fla.)

Taylor is 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds. He is the second defensive lineman off the board. The Lions could definitely use some help along their defensive front, and Taylor appears to be the best bet of options available. Has the potential to be similar to Patriots DT Christian Barmore. Putting on some additional weight to compete against NFL lineman is probably in his future. If he can do that and keep his burst, he will be dangerous along the front, helping to open things up for Aidan Hutchinson and company. Even when not finishing the sack, he has been putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks non-stop.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars – Kalen King, CB (Penn State)

Unfortunately for King, his worst film of 2023 has come in the biggest games. He struggled in Penn State’s losses to both Ohio State and Michigan. However, the skill and athleticism is still high enough to keep him in Round 1. There are several cornerbacks at this stage with similar rankings, so all of the postseason activities and measurables will help determine which order these players slot into. For now, King is tasked with helping to bolster the Jaguars pass defense.

29. Kansas City Chiefs – Xavier Legette, WR (South Carolina)

Nobody is suggesting that Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes actually needs more help, but he won’t refuse it either. Despite the Kansas City high scoring offense, the wide receiver options are currently Rashee Rice, Kadarius Toney, and Skyy Moore. Legette has been elite for the Gamecocks this season. He has 71 receptions for 1,255 yards and seven touchdown. Adding firepower to an awesome offense is one of the luxuries teams on this end of the draft are allowed to have.

30. San Francisco 49ers – Josh Newton, CB (TCU)

Over the past two seasons, Newton has been targeted 120 times. The opposition has only completed 49 of those attempts (%) for 610 yards. This season he has allowed only one touchdown. It is also possible that San Francisco goes with a tackle here, but with 12 draft picks they should be able to add depth there later in the draft. Cornerback is a more immediate need, and thus Newton appears to be a solid fit.

31. Baltimore Ravens – Terrion Arnold, CB (Alabama)

Baltimore is known for selecting very safe, solid players. Terrion Arnold would add to that reputation in 2024. Playing opposite Kool-Aid McKinstry in the Crimson Tide backfield, Arnold is targeted more than most first round corners. However, the 6-foot Arnold has been up to the challenge, snagging five interceptions and allowing only two touchdowns in 2023. Washington edge defender Bralen Trice could also be targeted by the Ravens in this slot.

32. Philadelphia Eagles – Kamari Lassiter, CB (Georgia)

With the last pick of the first round in the 2024 NFL Draft, Philadelphia can still selected the top running back, top interior offensive lineman, or top linebacker. They can also take the second tight end or safety. Instead, for now, the Eagles opt for another Georgia Bulldog, a college program they certainly like to target in the draft. Lassiter is CB1 on the top team in the country, and will certainly have a lot of familiar faces in the locker room on day one. While it may not be the biggest need, it does feel like the best fit.