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2024 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Lots of Quarterbacks Go Early

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NFL Draft prospect, Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. warms up before an NCAA college football game Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

With the 2024 NFL Draft a little over a month away, it’s time for a third attempt at a mock draft. PFN’s second mock draft of the season was done before the Senior Bowl. Following the NFL Scouting Combine and the beginning of NFL free agency, a clearer picture is beginning to form. Of course that doesn’t mean the predicted picks are getting any more accurate.

The actual 2024 NFL Draft doesn’t begin until Apr. 25, 2024. Obviously, between now and then there will still be changes to the draft board and team needs. But, for now, here is version 3.0 of Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft…

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

Justin Fields has been traded to the Steelers, so any notion the Bears may trade this pick appears to be gone. Caleb Williams has been the presumptive No. 1 pick for quite some time and remains as such. Williams winds up in Chicago short of following in the footsteps of John Elway and Eli Manning, outright refusing to sign. He hasn’t indicated that would be the case

2. Washington Commanders – Jayden Daniels, QB (LSU)

A 6-foot-4 mobile quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy and was selected No. 2 overall in the NFL Draft. That describes new Commanders QB Marcus Mariota. Perhaps the 2014 Heisman winner was brought in to be a mentor to the 2023 Heisman winner. Still possible Washington will opt for Drake Maye here, but Jayden Daniels is the choice for now.

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

Hard to imagine the Patriots don’t opt for a quarterback here. They are left with whoever remains of the Top 3 options, barring something unforeseen. That said, Drake Maye might have the highest ceiling in the group. Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt has stressed the importance of solid footwork, an area where Maye struggles with consistency. If that can be straightened out the potential for success is there. Eliot Wolf might run this pick up to the podium himself.

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

The Cardinals need help virtually everywhere. Getting a true playmaker is a top priority. The opportunity to get arguably the best prospect in the draft at four 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. Minnesota Vikings – J.J. McCarthy, QB (Michigan) via L.A. Chargers

TRADE: Minnesota trades No. 11 and No. 23 to the Los Angeles Chargers for No. 5 and No. 105

This is the first in any of the mocks to date and the only one in this version. Minnesota needs a quarterback and the best option is moving up to grab J.J. McCarthy ahead of the Giants selection. While this might seem too high for McCarthy to some, teams are willing to reach for a potential franchise quarterback (as is seen several times in this mock). The Chargers have holes to fill and picking up the additional first-round pick is big for them.

6. New York Giants – Malik Nabers (LSU)

This is the third mock NFL Draft on here. Malik Nabers was the choice in version 1.0, before switching to Rome Odunze in 2.0. Nabers returns to the sixth slot in this version, though either stud receiver would be a great addition for New York. Some analysts have even bumped Nabers ahead of Harrison. While not willing to go that far, this would be a great addition for the Giants.

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 – Dallas Turner, ED (Alabama)

A defensive player is finally off the board to Atlanta. It is tempting to give them Ondunze here as another weapon for Kirk Cousins, and it would be a great pick. But the Falcons need defensive help as well and Dallas Turner proved at the combine that he could be the most explosive defensive in the draft, regardless of position.

9. Chicago Bears – Rome Odunze, WR (Washington)

The Bears want to put Caleb Williams in a position to succeed immediately. Chicago has D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen already on the roster, so it is tempting to fill some other needs here. An edge defender or an offensive lineman both received consideration. Ultimately Rome Odunze was the pick, representing outstanding value at nine.

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

Offensive tackle was certainly a consideration here. With Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses both added, the Jets have the luxury of taking the top player remaining on the board, Brock Bowers. Tyler Conklin played well for New York last season but Bowers will make the entire offense more dynamic, including playing two tight end sets.

11. Los Angeles Chargers – Taliese Fuaga (Oregon State) via Minnesota

The Chargers passed up their chance to take either an offensive tackle (Joe Alt) or wide receiver (Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze) when they traded down. But by moving down they can add to both positions. They grab a starting right tackle here at eleven in Taliese Fuaga. An extremely powerful blocker, Fuaga is a perfect fit for Jim Harbaugh’s vision of playing bully ball.

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. 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. Bo Nix was recently compared to Drew Brees on this site, so why not pair him with Drew Brees’ former head coach in Denver?

13. Las Vegas Raiders – Michael Penix Jr., QB (Washington)

There is only one of the top prospects remaining and the Raiders need a quarterback. In the 2.0 mock draft, Las Vegas selected J.J. McCarthy, but he is long gone. So they turn to Michael Penix Jr. The Washington QB might be the most “Raiders” QB prospect. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s lefty, and he throws a beautiful ball. He won people back with his throwing at the combine, following a disappointing national championship game. However, that game was the exception, not the rule.

14. New Orleans Saints – Olu Fashanu, OT (Penn State)

Fashanu has slipped down draft boards a bit but is still an elite tackle prospect. The Saints selected Trevor Penning in the first round in 2022 (No. 19) but Penning has done little to validate that pick today. Fashanu would be an immediate upgrade. New Orleans might not be ready or willing to write Penning off just yet or move him into guard, but it has to be under consideration.

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

The first group of cornerbacks in the NFL Draft is excellent and the Colts get their pick of the litter. Cooper DeJean is the pick here. He may eventually transition to safety, but his athleticism gives Indianapolis multiple options in the defensive backfield. He can play slot or outside. DeJean was also an outstanding returner at Iowa, though it is unclear if he will continue in that role in the NFL. All of the top corners (Arnold, Mitchell, Wiggins, McKinstry) will be under consideration here.

16. Seattle Seahawks – Laiatu Latu, ED (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 Laiatu Latu, but none have put up better tape in 2023. An incredibly smooth player with a variety of pass-rushing moves and counter moves. 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 Seahawks defense right away.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars – Terrion Arnold, CB (Alabama)

The Jaguars have needs at cornerback and edge. Jared Verse is a tempting option here but Jacksonville goes for Arnold, the top corner on many boards. Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid 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.

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

Signing Trent Brown might make tackle seem like less of a need for Cincinnati, but it arguably makes Mims the perfect pick. The biggest knock against Mims is his lack of playing. The Bengals could get an incredibly talented tackle without needing to play him immediately. At 6-foot-7 and 340 pounds, Mims is another massive tackle who should fit right in with Trent Brown and Orlando Brown Jr. He’ll have a chance to learn under the veterans.

19. Los Angeles Rams – Quinyon Mitchell, CB (Toledo)

In the previous mock draft, Mitchell went No. 29 to the Lions. At the time it seemed like a bold move to put Mitchell in Round 1. After a very impressive Senior Bowl week and performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, No. 19 might be too conservative for Quinyon Mitchell. Quality of competition will be a knock against Mitchell, as the Rockets play in the MAC. Other top corners under consideration here all play in the (former) Power-5 Conferences.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jackson Powers-Johnson, C (Oregon)

Powers-Johnson is the top center in the 2024 NFL Draft. He was under consideration as high as No. 17 to Seattle. Teams below Pittsburgh might want to move up to ensure getting him. The Steelers will certainly give a strong look to the offensive tackles and cornerbacks here as well. Jackson Powers-Johnson stood out at the combine. In drills, he showed excellent form and power. He also has nimble feet for a man of his size (6-foot-3, 328 pounds).

21. Miami Dolphins – Troy Fautanu, OL (Washington)

Fautanu could go significantly higher than No. 21 but Miami is happy to see him here. He can play guard or tackle. The Dolphins might have him start inside and kick him out when Terron Armstead retires. Miami adding a replacement for Christian Wilkins here is also a distinct possibility. Top defensive tackles Byron Murphy II and Jer’Zhan Newton are both available.

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 Clemson’s Nate Wiggins 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. Los Angeles Chargers – Brian Thomas, Jr. WR (LSU) via Minnesota and Houston

The Chargers traded down from No. 5 and grabbed their offensive tackle in Fuaga at No. 11. Here they add the wide receiver they covet in Thomas Jr. After losing both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, wide receiver quickly went from a strength to a position of need. They look to bring in some young, cheaper talent here and Thomas Jr. should be able to produce immediately.

24. Dallas Cowboys – JC Latham, OT (Alabama)

Dallas could not have scripted this much better. They need help at offensive tackle after the departure of Tyron Smith and  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.

25. Green Bay Packers – Tyler Guyton, OT (Green Bay)

Green Bay may have considered the top safety on the board (Minnesota’s Tyler Nubin) before signing Xavier McKinney in free agency. With one of the top tackles still on the board, Guyton is the pick here. Tyler Guyton stands 6-foot-8 but was not awkward in drills at the combine. He showed excellent footwork. Guyton looks like he can still add bulk to his frame, but he is a solid prospect at a position of need for the Packers.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jared Verse, ED (Florida State)

Verse was under consideration as high as No. 9 to Chicago. There is no reason he should still be on the board at No. 26 other than teams drafting just had more pressing needs. He is still the third edge defender off the board, behind only Turner and Laiatu, but it is hard to envision him lasting this long. Jared Verse 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. He looks capable of being an impact player in the NFL as a rookie.

27. Arizona Cardinals – Byron Murphy II (Texas)

The Cardinals need help on the defensive line. They have their choice of defensive tackles still on the board. The Cardinals choose to select Byron Murphy II here over Jer’Zhan Newton. 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. Murphy also showed off some of his athleticism for Texas by scoring two touchdowns on offense last year. He was impressive at the combine, showing swagger and performing drills with impressive intensity.

28. Buffalo Bills – Ladd McConkey, WR (Georgia)

Ladd McConkey does two things exceptionally well that Josh Allen will appreciate. He knows how to get open and catch the ball. McConkey might not have the size or speed of some other receivers still on the board, but he is not lacking in either category to the point where it should scare teams off. At 6-foot-0 and 186 pounds he ran a 4.39 40-yard dash. McConkey will need to put on more muscle to keep from getting too beat up in the NFL. He might not have the ceiling of some, but he seems one of the surest bets in this NFL Draft to have a very solid pro career.

29. Detoit Lions – Nate Wiggins, CB (Clemson)

Cornerback is the primary need for Detroit and fortunately for the Lions, there are still a few corners remaining who are worthy of first-round consideration. Nate Wiggins was in consideration as high as No. 14 to Indianapolis. Wiggins is thin, but he stands 6-foot-2 and doesn’t turn 21 until August. He played as a true freshman for Clemson, and this past season he earned first-team All-ACC honors. Tremendous potential for him to be a start in the NFL, which is great value this far back in Round 1.

30. Baltimore Ravens – Darius Robinson, DE (Missouri)

Baltimore doesn’t have a lot of needs, but some added depth on the defensive line would be nice. Darius Robinson has the size to play sturdy against the run and could move inside on a pass rush. He is 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds. While some prospects tried to slim down to run faster at the combine, Robinson came in looking ready to play an NFL game that day if necessary. While his combine performance may have underwhelmed, he was awesome at the Senior Bowl and has great tape. A big, strong, versatile defensive lineman who will be able to join the Ravens rotation immediately.

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

Graham Barton is an excellent offensive lineman who has 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 in San Francisco for now, Barton could begin as a right tackle before moving into the interior. If they trade wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and look to replace him with this selection, Adonia Mitchell makes a lot of sense.

32. Kanas City Chiefs – Adonai Mitchell, WR (Texas)

A high-ceiling receiver to pair with Patrick Mahomes seems almost unfair, but here we are. Adonai Mitchell displayed incredible athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine, helping to secure his position in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Mitchell measured in at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds. He had the longest broad jump, showing excellent explosiveness. He also ran a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash. With Marquise Brown already signed in free agency, the Super Bowl champions already look even more dangerous on offense in 2024.

Moved Out of the First Round Since NFL Mock Draft 2.0

DT Jer’Zhan Newton (Illinois)
WR Keon Coleman (Florida State)
OT Jordan Morgan (Arizona)
WR Troy Franklin (Oregon)
DE Bralen Trice (Washington)
WR Xavier Legette (South Carolina)

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