2024 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers grab an expected name, centers fall

Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Ladd McConkey (84)
Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Ladd McConkey (84) / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

I will be upfront when I tell you that I dislike doing first round mock drafts. While I follow the Steelers religiously, my focus on the league as a whole has dwindled as my life has gotten busier with age. Throw in a new baby in the house and I can barely remember the draft order let alone who has shown interest in who.

That said, I wanted to try my hand at mocking out the entire first round to see how Thursday could feasibly work out. This allows me to see if my first-round prediction for the team is at all realistic. As well, it allows me the chance to see just how wrong my predictions will ultimately be on draft night. With all of that said, here is my entire first-round mock draft.

QB. Caleb Williams. Caleb. Caleb Williams. . USC. player. 57. . 1

1. Chicago Bears: Caleb Williams

The one pick in this mock draft that I am confident in is Caleb Williams going first overall. This pick has, essentially, been locked in since the Bears traded away Justin Fields. Williams is their guy, and it would be shocking to see anyone else take over this top pick.

. QB. Jayden Daniels. Jayden Daniels. Daniels. 58. . LSU. 2. player

2. Washington Commanders: Jayden Daniels

Picks two and three are a toss-up, as both the Commanders and the Patriots are expected to take a quarterback but the order is in question. I’ll buy into the rumors that Washington is growing smitten with Jayden Daniels. To be fair, he certainly has the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this draft class, and if he pans out, the Commanders will be set for a long time.

. . 3. maye. Drake Maye. player. 47. QB. UNC. Drake Maye

3. New England Patriots: Drake Maye

Whoever doesn’t go at two is the likely selection for the Patriots. In this world, they get Drake Maye, who is my personal favorite quarterback in this class. He has the size and natural arm talent you want in an elite prospect. If given some time, Maye could easily be viewed as the top quarterback from this class.

Harrison. player. Cardinals. Marvin Harrison Jr.. 4. 32. . . WR. Marvin Harrison Jr.

4. Arizona Cardinals: Marvin Harrison

A lot of people have the Cardinals trading down here, but I feel like they need to grab Marvin Harrison. With a second first-round pick later, it makes sense to grab the elite prospect and continue to fill out their needs with that additional pick later on day one.

J.J. McCarthy. player. 60. McCarthy. . . Michigan. 5. QB. J.J. McCarthy

5. Minnesota Vikings: J.J. McCarthy

I wasn't planning on mocking any trades, but this seems like a logical spot for the Vikings to move up. They ship out both of their first-round picks this year to move up and get their guy. J.J. McCarthy is a polarizing player, but he is the last top quarterback prospect and the Vikings need someone desperately to throw the ball.

Nabers. Malik Nabers. LSU. 6. player. 31. . WR. . Malik Nabers

6. New York Giants: Malik Nabers

There are some rumors that the Giants will be targeting a quarterback, but with Daniel Jones still stuck on the roster because of his contract, it seems like a hard sell at this point. Instead, you go best player available and take a potentially elite receiver for your quarterback to target.

Notre Dame. . Joe Alt. Joe Alt. player. Alt. . OT. 7. 35

7. Tennessee Titans: Joe Alt

This seems like an easy connection here. The Titans have been stockpiling weapons for Will Levis, and now they need to better protect him. There is no better prospect to do that than Joe Alt. He is a blue-chip prospect who would normally be a top-three pick if this draft wasn’t as deep at quarterback as it is.

EDGE. Dallas Turner. 44. player. . 8. Turner. . Alabama. Dallas Turner

8. Atlanta Falcons: Dallas Turner

The first defender goes off the board! With so much offensive firepower, a talented prospect like Dallas Turner falls a bit. Atlanta is gearing up for a serious run given the addition of Kirk Cousins, so getting some pass-rush help is paramount in this draft.

Latu. EDGE. UCLA. 9. . Laiatu Latu. 57. . player. Laiatu Latu

9. Chicago Bears: Laiatu Latu

I went back and forth on if the Bears grab a receiver here. While you should want to build around a rookie quarterback, this receiver class is deeper than edge rushers and they have two capable receivers already. They grab the last elite prospect at the position with the hopes of adding some receiver help later in the draft.

Washington. 30. Odunze. . Rome Odunze. 10. player. . WR. Rome Odunze

10. New York Jets: Rome Odunze

The Jets are also gearing up for a big run this year with a (hopefully) healthy Aaron Rodgers at the helm. While tight end is a slightly bigger need, Rome Odunze is the better prospect. They grab the last top receiver to form a potent trio of pass catchers for the offense.

Brock Bowers. player. 11. . Brock Bowers. TE. Georgia. 13. . Bowers

11. Los Angles Chargers: Brock Bowers

The Chargers need to retool their pass-catcher room, and while landing a top receiver would have been ideal, they can also settle for the best tight end in this class. Brock Bowers is an elite prospect who can be a threat all over the field for an offense.

Michael Penix Jr.. 12. Penix. Washington. 45. . player. . QB. Michael Penix Jr.

12. Denver Broncos: Michael Penix Jr.

Even with Zach Wilson joining the Broncos, they need a capable quarterback. Michael Penix Jr. is the last top quarterback to me (sorry Bo Nix), and with a lot riding on this season, they grab someone who could potentially save the coaching staff.

Taliese Fuaga. 13. 28. Fuaga. Oregon State. OT. . . Taliese Fuaga. player

13. Las Vegas Raiders: Taliese Fuaga

A lot of speculation is on the Raiders taking a quarterback with their top pick. I feel like the money invested in Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell’s decent rookie season makes it a battle between the two this year and if neither works out, you draft someone next year. Instead, they get Taliese Fuaga who can be a plug-and-play right tackle or even a potentially an elite guard.

. 14. 15. Olumuyiwa Fashanu. player. Fash. . Penn State. OT. Olumuyiwa Fashanu

14. New Orleans Saints: Olumuyiwa Fashanu

The Saints tackle play has begun to decline. Trevor Penning hasn't been great at left tackle, and Olumuyiwa Fashanu is a natural fit there. He can take over the blindside and allow Penning to try his hand at the right side of the line.

CB. player. Quinyon Mitchell. 46. Mitchell. . Quinyon Mitchell. 15. . Toledo

15. Denver Broncos: Quinyon Mitchell

One of the biggest needs for the Colts is an outside cornerback, and they benefit from having such an offensive-heavy draft in the first round. They get their pick of the litter and take the late riser in Quinyon Mitchell. He has the size and athleticism to thrive there long-term.

. Washington. player. Fautanu. . Troy Fautanu. 16. 36. Troy Fautanu. OL

16. Seattle Seahawks: Troy Fautanu

Troy Fautanu is one of the hardest players to figure out. His tape is excellent, his athleticism is off the charts, but his height is a major question mark. His length is fine, but he is short as a tackle. Seattle has needs along the interior of their line, and Fautanu could fill a variety of spots.

Terrion Arnold. player. . Terrion Arnold. . CB. Alabama. 17. 52. Arnold

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Terrion Arnold

The Jaguars are in a weird spot. There aren’t a lot of glaring needs, so they can target the best player available here. They have a small need at cornerback, and Terrion Arnold is my top player at the position in this draft. He makes sense in this frame and the Jaguars try to boost their secondary.

Latham. JC Latham. OT. Alabama. player. 56. . JC Latham. 18.

18. Cincinnati Bengals: JC Latham

The Bengals continue to bolster their offensive line in the hopes of protecting Joe Burrow. Orlando Brown will continue to man down the left tackle spot, and they get an equally impressive prospect on the right side in JC Latham.

Murphy. . Texas. Byron Murphy II. 19. 51. DT. Byron Murphy II. player.

19. Los Angeles Rams: Byron Murphy II

The Rams lost Aaron Donald in the offseason, so they took his clone in Byron Murphy in the first. While completely replacing Donald will be impossible, Murphy is a similar style of player as an undersized but explosive pass rusher. They try to beef up their defensive line which is now a huge need.

. Amarius Mims. Amarius Mims. Mims. . OT. Georgia. 20. player. 55

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Amarius Mims

Running through the first round has really confirmed what I put in my final Steelers mock draft: Amarius Mims is going to be their guy. It is easily feasible for him to fall this far, and he feels like their top target this offseason. He is a boom-or-bust player but would be a potentially elite right tackle long-term.

Newton. . DT. . Jer'Zhan Newton. 59. player. Illinois. Jer'Zhan Newton. 21

21. Miami Dolphins: Jer'Zhan Newton

This seemed like a relatively easy puzzle to fill. With the Dolphins offense already elite, adding to the defense makes sense. They lost Christian Wilkins in the offseason and are looking to replace him with Jer’Zhan Newton. He is a hard prospect to figure out, but he can help fill the hole that Wilkins has left.

. 22. . DB. player. 54. DeJean. Iowa. Cooper DeJean. Cooper DeJean

22. Philedelphia Eagles: Cooper DeJean

This seems like a great fit for the Eagles this far down the board. Cooper DeJean can play all over the secondary, and he partners with Darius Slay to form a daunting cornerback room. You can try him on the outside but he can also become a viable slot option for this defense long-term.

LSU. player. 13. WR. Brian Thomas Jr.. Brian Thomas Jr.. . . Thomas. 23

23. Los Angeles Chargers: Brian Thomas Jr.

This is the other pick that the Chargers got from the Vikings. They landed a great tight end with their first pick and add a potent deep-threat receiver in Brian Thomas Jr. later in this draft. This gives Justin Herbert plenty of options to target after what has been an eventful offseason for that receiving room.

OL. 123. Barton. . Graham Barton. player. . Graham Barton. Duke. 24

24. Dallas Cowboys: Graham Barton

The Cowboys have a huge need along the interior of their line, which makes Graham Barton a perfect fit for their offense. You could try him at left tackle if you want, or give him a try along the interior. Barton is a great prospect, so he could fill a variety of needs for this offense.

Tyler Guyton. . Tyler Guyton. 25. player. 49. . OT. Oklahoma. Guyton

25. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Guyton

The Packers have a glaring hole at left tackle, so they take a player with a high ceiling, but one that also needs a lot of work. Tyler Guyton looks the part of a great tackle, but he needs a lot of refinement and needs to be more consistent. He may need to start on the bench, but in time he should be a viable starter.

Verse. EDGE. 48. . Jared Verse. . Jared Verse. 26. player. Florida State

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jared Verse

Following the release of Shaq Barret, the Buccaneers have a big need at edge rusher. Jared Verse isn’t in the same category as the earlier pass rushers off the board, but he has a lot of quality traits that you can work with and mold into a good starter.

Kool-Aid McKinstry. player. 32. . Kool-Aid McKinstry. CB. 27. McKinstry. . Alabama

27. Arizona Cardinals: Kool-Aid McKinstry

It almost feels like the Cardinals could double-dip at receiver here, but there is also a big need at cornerback. Kool-Aid McKinstry has seen his draft stock fall during the offseason, but he should be a viable outside cornerback early in his career.

28. WR. Adonai Mitchell. Adonai Mitchell. . . Texas. player. 16. Mitchell

28. Buffalo Bills: Adonai Mitchell

It is no secret that the Bills need a receiver following the trade of Stefon Diggs. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them try and move up for a top name, but with them staying pat, they take the last top receiver in this class. Adonai Mitchell has everything you want in a potential top target and should fit well into the Bills' plans.

Chop Robinson. player. 50. Robinson. . 29. Penn State. . EDGE. Chop Robinson

29. Detroit Lions: Chop Robinson

Penn State has been churning out some freaky pass rushers, and Chop Robinson is following suit. The Lions have struck gold with Aiden Hutchinson and are looking for a good counterpart to pair with him in Robinson. A potent pass rush will go a long way in keeping the Lions as a serious contender.

. CB. 30. player. Wiggins. Clemson. 26. . Nate Wiggins. Nate Wiggins

30. Baltimore Ravens: Nate Wiggins

The Ravens would love to land a top cornerback this year such as Nate Wiggins. You get an instant starter across from Marlon Humphrey and a potential long-term replacement for him as he gets older and more injury-prone. Wiggins is a good prospect who needs to answer some size questions to develop into a great starter.

Franklin. Troy Franklin. . . WR. Oregon. Troy Franklin. 31. player. 42

31. San Francisco 49ers: Troy Franklin

With the potential of Brandon Aiyuk getting dealt this draft, and even if he doesn’t there isn’t a guarantee that remain with the team past 2024. Troy Franklin is a potent deep threat with good size and deep threat ability to provide this offense something unique.

124. McConkey. Georgia. player. Ladd McConkey. WR. Ladd McConkey. 32. .

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Ladd McConkey

This could easily be a nightmare for the league. Ladd McConkey is one of the best route runners in this draft class and knows how to get open. Pairing him with Patrick Mahomes could spell trouble for opposing defenses that are already trying to figure out how to stop this offense.

Most likely Steelers center target by round of the NFL Draft. dark. Next. Most likely Steelers center target by round of the NFL Draft