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2024 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Pre-Shrine and Senior Bowls

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NFL Draft prospects: LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers (8) celebrates after his touchdown with quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia State in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

With the 2024 NFL Draft order almost set, it’s time for a second attempt at a mock draft. PFN’s first mock draft of the season was done in Week 13 of the regular season. There have been changes to both the order and the player rankings in the interim.

The actual 2024 NFL Draft doesn’t begin until Apr. 25, 2024. Obviously, between now and then there will be plenty of changes to the draft board. This week prospects will have a chance to improve their stock in the Shrine Bowl and Senior Bowl games. There is also individual workouts, team pro days, and the NFL Combine on the horizon. As those things happen, the mock drafts will be updated on Patriots Football Now. But, for now, here is version 2.0 of Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft…

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

Current quarterback Justin Fields could still keep his job in Chicago. The assumption here is that Fields will be traded to a QB-needy team in exchange for more draft capital. For the sake of this exercise, the assumption is that the team will be Fields’ hometown Atlanta Falcons. Even if the Bears opt to keep Fields at quarterback, this selection will still likely be Caleb Williams by a team that trades up to take him. The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner was not as dominant this past season, but his supporting cast wasn’t as strong either. He could be a victim of being in the spotlight for so long that there was a plethora of time to scrutinize. But ultimately the first overall selection should end up being the Trojans quarterback.

2. Washington Commanders – Drake Maye, QB (North Carolina)

Drake Maye replaced Sam Howell as the starting quarterback at UNC. After April’s draft, Maye should be primed to battle him to become the Commanders new QB1. Howell had a solid start to the season, but by season’s end, he had thrown 21 interceptions and no longer looked like the franchise’s quarterback of the future. With a new front office and coaching staff coming to Washington, a reset at the most important position is likely to follow as well. Maye gets the nod over LSU’s Jayden Daniels, for now.

3. New England Patriots – Jayden Daniels, QB (LSU)

New England needs a quarterback. If there is one thing they learned in 2023 is that neither Mac Jones nor Bailey Zappe are the long-term answer to their problems. With an opportunity to select a franchise quarterback this high, there is no passing it up. Daniels was not on a first-round radar before this season, but the same could be said about LSU’s last Heisman Trophy winner, Joe Burrow, as well. The Patriots will be very pleased if Daniels can give them similar production to what Burrow has done for the Bengals.

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

The Cardinals need help virtually everywhere. Getting a true playmaker is a top priority. With the opportunity to get arguably the best prospect in the draft at four, it is too good to pass up. Arizona gets some immediate 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 who are considered to be ‘generational talents’ at their respective positions (more on that below).

5. Los Angeles Chargers – Brock Bowers, TE (Georgia)

It was noted that Marvin Harrison, Jr. was one of two ‘generational talents’ at their position. The other is Georgia tight end Brock Bowers. The priority here could switch to wide receiver, depending on what the Chargers do with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. But adding another weapon for Justin Herbert is a top priority. Bowers is the most complete tight end prospect in years, with the production for the Bulldogs to back it up. A special prospect like this is simply too good to pass up.

6. New York Giants – Rome Odunze, WR (Washington)

In the first mock draft, the Giants took LSU wide receiver Malik Nabors. Here they stick with the same position but opt for Washington’s Rome Odunze. He finished the season with 92 receptions, 1,640 receiving yards, and 13 touchdown receptions. A combination of size, strength, speed, and production would make him WR1 in most draft years. If not for Harrison that would be the case in 2024 as well. He immediately makes Daniel Jones’ life easier in New York.

7. Tennessee Titans – Joe Alt, OT (Notre Dame)

Like most teams near the top of the draft, the Tennessee Titans have a lot of needs. Adding an NFL-ready tackle in Joe Alt helps alleviate some of those concerns for new head coach Brian Callahan. Both Alt and Olu Fashanu would be solid options here. Alt had a better 2023 season and appears to be a safe selection. Although Fashanu might have a higher ceiling, the more NFL-ready player is the priority with a young signal-caller in Will Levis.

8. Atlanta Falcons – Malik Nabers, WR (LSU)

As previously stated, the assumption here is that Justin Fields will be the Atlanta Falcons QB in 2024. If that changes, this draft projection could change as well. But adding Malik Nabers to a skill position group that includes Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgier, Drake London, and Kyle Pitts forms a formidable offense. This was something sorely lacking last season. New OC Zac Robinson will be very happy to add some new weapons to the Falcons offense. It was tempting to take the first defensive player off the board, but ultimately revamping the offense becomes the call.

9. Chicago Bears – Jer’Zhan Newton, DT (Illinois)

The Bears could go with several options here, including adding another weapon at wide receiver for Caleb Williams. But instead, a defensive player comes off the board. Admittedly, Newton might be higher on my board than on most. However, he was easily the most dominant defensive tackle in college football in 2023. The tape does not lie. Jer’Zhan Newton was a force. At 6-foot-2 and 295 pounds he looks like he could add even more size to his frame. He was stout against the run and a premier pass rush threat from his position. Chicago opts to keep the Illini star in state.

10. New York Jets – Olu Fashanu, OT (Penn State)

With Alt off the board, this pick should be an easy one. Olu Fashanu entered the season as the top offensive tackle on my board and only dropped because of Joe Alt’s incredible season. Fashanu is still an elite tackle prospect who the Jets would be fortunate to grab at ten. The offense struggled in 2023, but they will be adding QB Aaron Rodgers and OL Alijah Vera-Tucker back from injuries. Although adding another playmaker would be nice, the value of Fashanu here surpasses other options, with Bowers and the top three receivers already taken.

11. Minnesota Vikings – Laiatu Latu, OLB (UCLA)

Latu was one of the most impressive players in all of college football this past 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 tape in 2023. He had to temporarily retire from football due to a neck injury, so his medical information will be scrutinized more than most. If that all checks out okay. Latu has a chance to be an impactful player for the Bears defense right away.

12. Denver Broncos – Bo Nix, QB (Oregon)

Is this too high to select Nix? Possibly, but Sean Payton needs a new quarterback in Denver to take over for Russell Wilson. The evaluation process on Bo Nix is still far from complete. That feels odd given his lengthy college career. Twelve is likely as high as he will be going in any mock draft. But the idea of his sliding into the second or even third round is not inconceivable either. The beauty of the draft is it only takes one team to fall in love with a prospect, and Nix has enough quality intangibles that somebody is going to gamble on him. The gamble here is that it will be the Broncos.

13. Las Vegas Raiders – J.J. McCarthy, QB (Michigan)

Former Raiders owner Al Davis used to say, “Just win, baby!” and nobody in college football has done more of that than McCarthy. McCarthy is a polarizing prospect. This is largely due to him not being asked to do much at times for Michigan. The reality is that he didn’t need to, they were able to win without relying on him. But that does not mean J.J. McCarthy was not capable of stepping up if needed. Over the past two seasons, his record is 28-1 including winning this year’s National Championship. He threw 44 touchdowns against just nine interceptions, while completing 68.5% of his passes (72.3% in 2023). The 6-foot-3 QB is still just 20 years old.

14. New Orleans Saints – Dallas Turner, OLB (Alabama)

Turner has elite physical traits, so it is not hard to imagine he is already gone at this point. But if not, New Orleans gets an immediate upgrade to their pass rush. Taking the top offensive tackle remaining is tempting here as well, but if Dallas Turner is available he is the pick. He was the SEC’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American selection. The combination of production and skills could land him in the top ten when all is said and done.

15. Indianapolis Colts – Cooper DeJean, CB (Iowa)

Indianapolis needs help at cornerback. They are fortunate to get first choice among this year’s class. I’m not convinced DeJean is the best cornerback in the 2024 NFL Draft, but he can serve as a placeholder of sorts. DeJean was off to an outstanding start in 2023 before breaking his leg in November. The assumption for now is that the medicals will come back fine. DeJean is an outstanding athlete who can play the slot, outside, and was also effective in the return game (though unclear if that will continue in the NFL). There are seven cornerbacks with an opportunity to go in the first round.

16. Seattle Seahawks – Michael Penix, Jr., QB (Washington)

Quarterback Geno Smith is just a year removed from the Pro Bowl and under contract for two more seasons at a reasonable number. But the Pete Carroll Era in Seattle has come to an end and it is time to start anew. Michael Penix, Jr. is not as great as he looked in the national semifinal against Texas, but he is also much better than he showed against Michigan in the CFB Championship Game. If there were no injury concerns with Penix, this pick might be a no-brainer. But despite suffering multiple season-ending injuries with Indiana, Penix was largely healthy during his time with the Huskies. As with Nix and McCarthy, this might seem to be a reach, but a potential franchise QB is worthy of reaching for.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars – Keon Coleman, WR (Florida State)

This pick includes projecting free agent wide receiver Calvin Ridley could exit Jacksonville. If that happens, the Jaguars will look to add help at that position and there are still quality options on the board. Once again in Round 1, a team keeps a prospect close to home. This time, it is Florida State’s Keon Coleman moving from Tallahassee to Jacksonville. At 6-foot-4 Coleman has good size and is also a deep threat. He’s the type of complete wideout who could help get Trevor Lawrence back on track in 2024 and beyond.

18. Cincinnati Bengals – Taliese Fuaga, OT (Oregon State)

If Jonah Williams leaves in free agency, Taliese Fuaga could step in to start at right tackle as a rookie. He was one of the NFL Draft’s highest risers during the 2023 season. Fuaga was particularly dominant in the run game for the Beavers. At 6-foot-6 and 334 pounds, Fuaga would present a huge bookend opposite LT Orlando Brown, Jr. (6-foot-8, 344 pounds) for the Bengals. He allowed 18 pressures over the past two seasons, but zero sacks.

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

The Rams find themselves in a solid position. There is some speculation they could draft Matthew Stafford’s eventual replacement, but with six quarterbacks already off the board that is not happening here. Two positions that need upgrades are offensive line and cornerback. There are still several quality options at both still there for the taking at 19. Nate Wiggins gets the nod here, but it is not hard seeing several other cornerbacks going here in his place. Wiggins is 6-foot-2 and does not turn 21 until August. He played as a true freshman for the Tigers, earning All-ACC honors this past season.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Amarius Mims, OT (Georgia)

Broderick Thomas and Amarius Mims were the starting offensive tackles on the 2022 Georgia Bulldogs National Championship team. Now they have a chance to reunite in Pittsburgh. There are some cornerbacks still available who could interest the Steelers, but adding a quality tackle opposite their 2023 first-round pick is an excellent option here. At 6-foot-7 and 340 pounds, Mims is another massive tackle who should start immediately in the NFL. Other considerations here include OT JC Latham, DE Jared Verse, and Alabama’s two cornerbacks, among others.

21. Miami Dolphins – Jared Verse, DE (Florida State)

Miami’s biggest need is in the interior offensive line, but there are no prospects worthy of being selected No. 21 from that group. It is possible that changes this week as Washington OL Troy Fautanu will be playing both guard and tackle. He was exclusively a left tackle for the Huskies but projects as a guard in the NFL. However, Jared Verse is also a great gamble for Miami here. He has tremendous upside and looks dominant at times. His performance against Lousiville in the ACC Championship looked like that of a top-five pick, which is where many projected Verse before the season. While it might not be the biggest need for Miami, Verse is too good to pass on here.

22. Philadelphia Eagles – Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB (Alabama)

The Eagles are another team in need of help at positions where help is there to be had. They look to add a cornerback here, with an Alabama player hoping to gel with a defense full of Georgia Bulldogs. Kool-Aid McKinstry and teammate Terrion Arnold are the top options here and either would be a nice addition to the Eagles. His size and strength make him NFL-ready, something a contending team like Philadelphia is looking for.

23. Houston Texans – Brian Thomas, Jr. WR (LSU)

Defensive tackle is a position of need for the Texans. Both Byron Murphy II (Texas) and Leonard Taylor III (Miami, Fla.) were intriguing options. However, Thomas should not still be available. Giving C.J. Stroud more offensive firepower to work with is a great plan. Thomas is as sure-handed a receiver as there was in college football last season. He finished with 68 receptions for 1,177 yards and 17 touchdowns. Concerns about having “good hands” wasn’t an issue in 2023. His results at the NFL Draft Combine could move him up or down the board, though he displays good speed on film. He would make an excellent compliment to Nico Collins in Houston.

24. Dallas Cowboys – Byron Murphy II, DT (Texas)

Like Houston, Dallas needs help at defensive tackle. The Cowboys choose to do something about it here by selecting Byron Murphy II. The Longhorn was a second-team All-American selection in 2023. He was solid in both the pass and rush defenses for Texas. He recorded 29 tackles, 8.5 TFL, and 5.0 sacks. Having some added bulk in the middle can help sure up the Cowboys’ run defense. It can also take some attention away from their edge rushers, specifically Micah Parsons. Murphy also showed off some of his athleticism for Texas by scoring two touchdowns on offense last year.

25. Green Bay Packers – JC Latham, OT (Alabama)

Green Bay could not have scripted this much better. They need help at offensive tackle and Wisconsin native JC Latham slides into their lap at No. 25. Latham is 6-foot-6 and 360 pounds. He does not turn 21 until February. He was named first-team All-SEC this past season, helping the Crimson Tide reach the CFB Playoff. Coming out of high school, Latham was the top offensive lineman in the Class of 2021. With his size, age, and pedigree there is a real possibility of him going significantly earlier if he tests and interviews well between now and draft day.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Terrion Arnold, CB (Alabama)

The Buccaneers might have other needs to address, depending on what happens in free agency. But for now, it appears edge and cornerback would be the biggest targets. Luckily, there are still multiple players at each position remaining with a first-round grade. Arnold and McKinstry formed the nation’s top cornerback duo in 2023. Terrion Arnold finished with five interceptions and was named first-team All-American. Still just 20, there is potential for further growth from his already evolving game. Impressive workouts could see him climb draft boards before April.

27. Arizona Cardinals – Jordan Morgan, OT (Arizona)

Yet another prospect who doesn’t need to travel far from his college home to begin his NFL career. After selecting Marvin Harrison, Jr. at No. 4, the Cardinals take Jordan Morgan to provide better protection for Kyler Murray. Morgan improved every year at Arizona. He allowed only two sacks over the past two seasons. He was ranked as the sixth-best offensive tackle in the nation in 2023 by Pro Football Focus (83.5 overall grade). At 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds, Morgan looks like he still has room to bulk up even further. He should be a day-one starter in Arizona. Has a chance to boost his stock at this week’s Reese’s Senior Bowl.

28. Buffalo Bills – Troy Franklin, WR (Oregon)

The Bills’ biggest needs here seem to be an edge rusher or a wide receiver. Both Chris Braswell (Alabama) and Bralen Trice (Washington) would be solid options if they opt for a defender. But here they go with Troy Franklin, who would replace Gabe Davis as WR2 in Buffalo. Franklin has good height at 6-foot-3. His numbers increased drastically in all three years with the Ducks. In 2023 Franklin caught 81 passes for 1,383 yards and 14 touchdowns. His drop rate is slightly higher than one would like out of a first-round wide receiver, but the production is there.

29. Detoit Lions – Quinyon Mitchell, CB (Toledo)

Cornerback is the primary need for Detroit here. Fortunately for the Lions, there are still a few corners remaining worthy of first-round consideration. Quinyon Mitchell gets the nod here due elite coverage skills. Quality of competition will be a knock against Mitchell, as the Rockets play in the MAC, whereas the other two corners under consideration here are both from the SEC (Georgia’s Kamari Lassiter and Missouri’s Ennis Rackestraw, Jr.). A strong showing at the Senior Bowl could solidify his status as a Day 1 selection.

30. Baltimore Ravens – Bralen Trice, DE (Washington)

Baltimore doesn’t have a lot of needs, but some added depth on the defensive line would be nice. Bralen Trice has the size to play sturdy against the run, and possibly even move inside on a pass rush. He is 6-foot-4 and 273 pounds. He has 17.0 sacks over the past two seasons. This year he also recorded 49 tackles, forced a fumble, and deflected two passes. Trice’s outstanding season earned him first-team All-American honors from Pro Football Focus. Trice seems like a safe pick in the sense that he should be able to join the rotation and contribute immediately for the Ravens.

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

Giving Patrick Mahomes could start to get unfair, but it is a luxury Kansas City can enjoy here. Xavier Legette exploded onto the scene in 2023. In his first two seasons for South Carolina, he recorded a total of 26 receptions for 260 yards and four touchdowns. But this past season Legette was nearly unstoppable. He caught 71 passes for 1,255 yards and seven touchdowns. His drop rate of 2.7% is elite. At 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds, Legette also has great size to match his production. If he tests well (think 40-time) he might not even make it this far down the draft. The rapid ascent for a player not on draft radars a year ago is impressive).

32. San Francisco 49ers – Graham Barton, OL (Duke)*

Both Graham Barton and Washington’s Troy Fautanu are solid options here. Not only are both excellent offensive linemen, but both should have positional versatility as well. Barton played left tackle at Duke but could be moved to any of the five spots along the offensive line, including center. With Trent Williams holding down the left side, Barton could begin as a right tackle before moving into the interior. If they are looking for more of a pure tackle, Houston’s Patrick Paul is another excellent option for San Francisco.

*the order of the final two selections will be determined by the outcome of the Super Bowl

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