NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Steelers land Senior Bowl standout, Giants nab a game-changer

  • A run on quarterbacks to open the draft
  • Offensive tackles coveted early
  • Super Bowl teams address offense

Jayden Daniels, Malik Nabers, LSU
Jayden Daniels, Malik Nabers, LSU / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages

We are still months away from the 2024 NFL Draft, but the conclusion of Super Bowl LVIII means that the first-round draft order is finalized. NFL fans now set their sights on the loaded talent pool this year, and Senior Bowl Week gave us a taste of what we could be getting in the draft. Several players stood above the rest in Mobile and some solidified their status as a future first-round pick.

The next big offseason event is the NFL Combine and performances in Indianapolis are sure to throw a monkey wrench in current talent evaluations. My initial first-round NFL mock draft of 2024 includes a run on offense early and the Pittsburgh Steelers passing up one fan-favorite Senior Bowl standout for another.

1. Chicago Bears: Caleb Williams, QB, USC

It's early in the process, but it feels pretty safe to go ahead and pencil in Caleb Williams to the Bears. Justin Fields showed promise down the stretch, but Chicago gets a chance to hit the reset button with an excellent QB prospect, and they're not about to pass up Williams.

2. Washington Commanders: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Drake Maye has been a popular selection to the Commanders, but Washington is in a state of disarray, and they need a polarizing figure at the helm who could really shake things up. Jayden Daniels feels like a more polished version of Lamar Jackson coming out of college. He will help keep Washington in games they don't belong thanks to his ability to move the chains with his legs.

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

The New England Patriots can finally wash their hands of the Mac Jones experiment with a quarterback prospect who has significantly more tools. Drake Maye didn't have the electrifying junior season at North Carolina that everyone was hoping for, but all the traits are there to become a long-term franchise quarterback.

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

Of all of the early picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, this one feels like one of the safest. Kyler Murray has shown that he can elevate the play of his team at times, but he's desperately lacking a big receiver who can win all over the field. Marvin Harrison Jr. gives Murray a plug-and-play WR1.

5. Los Angeles Chargers: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

This seems a bit early for a tight end, but then again, Brock Bowers isn't your typical first-round TE prospect. The Georgia stud has the traits and receiving ability to be the best tight end in the NFL at some point in his career. He's likely to wind up as the greatest prospect I've ever graded at the position. Bowers will give QB Justin Herbert a new weapon over the middle of the field.

6. New York Giants: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

You could make a case that Malik Nabers is the most well-rounded receiver set to enter the 2024 NFL Draft. Though the Giants would love to add more offensive line help, Nabers is an electrifying prospect in the mold of former Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. His ability to win at every level and with the ball in his hands would give New York's offense an immediate spark.

7. Tennessee Titans: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

This just feels like a perfect fit. Joe Alt is about as clean as it comes for an offensive tackle prospect, and he will end up being higher than the 7th overall player on my draft board. This would be a slam-dunk pick by the Titans who would now have their future left tackle for the next decade.

8. Atlanta Falcons: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

The Falcons cannot get caught with such an ugly quarterback situation again. New head coach Raheem Morris is going to want to play good defense and take care of the football, but new OC Zac Robinson needs an upgrade at QB to lead his offense. It would be ideal for J.J. McCarthy to land with a team where he can sit and learn, but he would instantly be an improvement over what they had, and his upside is worth betting on.

9. Chicago Bears: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

The Chicago Bears could be losing Jaylon Johnson in free agency, and it would be hard for them to pass up arguably the best cornerback in the draft. Terrion Arnold is coming off an outstanding redshirt sophomore season at one of the nation's best football programs at Alabama. He's a plug-and-play starter with Pro Bowl upside.

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

In many drafts, you couldn't dream about getting a premier left tackle prospect with the 10th overall pick. The Jets have had some bad injury luck at offensive tackle, and Mekhi Becton only looked like a shade of the OT we saw as a rookie. Olu Fashanu is a true left tackle prospect with outstanding traits, length, and foot quickness in pass protection. He would immediately aid a struggling offensive line.

11. Minnesota Vikings: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

The Vikings have spent a lot of high draft capital on cornerbacks over the years and 2024 might not be any different. Byron Murphy hasn't played up to his billing so far after signing with Minnesota during the 2023 offseason. This team still needs to find its number one cornerback, and Kool-Aid McKinstry has the tools to be that guy.

12. Denver Broncos: Jer'Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

The Broncos are the beneficiary of a draft dominated by offensive players early. Denver gets their pick of the litter among front-seven players this year, and I have them going with Jer'Zhan Newton. The crafty interior defender had a brilliant 2022 season with Illinois but wasn't quite as dominant this past season. Still, he projects as a high-end starting defensive tackle with Pro Bowl upside.

13. Las Vegas Raiders: Cooper DeJean, CB/S, Iowa

The Raiders could use help everywhere in their secondary, and Cooper DeJean fits the bill. The versatile Iowa defensive back is coming off a season-ending injury, but the true junior turns just 21 years old before the NFL Draft and he has been outstanding since becoming a starter in 2022. DeJean played most of his snaps at outside cornerback, but he has Minkah Fitzpatrick-like versatility if Las Vegas wants to move him around their secondary.

14. New Orleans Saints: JC Latham, OT, Alabama

The Saints experimented with an old offensive tackle from a small school in Trevor Penning. Now it's time to go the opposite route. JC Latham is a Junior out of Alabama and a former five-star recruit. His presence would be a welcome addition to a team struggling to find quality OT play outside of Ryan Ramczyk.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

Dallas Turner feels like a very safe bet to be a rock-solid player defensive player from this draft class. Turner has two-and-a-half years of starting experience at Alabama and has made significant strides in each season. The Colts need pass-rush help, and Turner could be a foundational piece of Indy's defense.

16. Seattle Seahawks: Graham Barton, OG, Duke

The Seahawks could several big upgrades to their interior offensive line. Graham Barton was an offensive tackle at Duke who can bully at the point of attack, but his lack of length is going to force him to kick inside at the next level. Still, he could very well end up being the best interior offensive lineman in this class.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

The Jaguars have swung and missed too often at cornerback, and Tyson Campbell took a noticeable step back this year when he was healthy. Nat Wiggins is a long, physical cornerback who excels in man coverage. Wiggins is raw, but with the proper coaching, he could fix some of the big issues this team has experienced in the secondary.

18. Cincinnati Bengals: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

Rome Odunze could go much higher, but a crowded group of offensive tackles and some elite receiver prospects in Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers could cause a slight dip in his draft stock. Regardless, this would be an excellent value selection for the Cincinnati Bengals, who could be losing Tee Higgins to free agency this offseason.

19. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Jared Verse was once thought of as the top defender in the 2024 draft class (and he still could be). Verse isn't as young or as explosive as some of the other edge rushers in this class, but he has an excellent sample of play over the past three years and he can bully offensive linemen at the line of scrimmage.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

This selection would be a little out of the norm for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as they typically steer away from small school players in the first round of the NFL Draft. However, Quinyon Mitchell was the star of the Senior Bowl, and this team is desperate for a cornerback to pair with Joey Porter Jr. After a run on corners early, Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan might not feel comfortable enough to wait until the second round to address such a big position of need. Mitchell would give them a lockdown player at RCB with outstanding speed and impressive ball skills.

21. Miami Dolphins: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

Austin Jackson finally turned things around in Year 4 with the Miami Dolphins. Prior to that, he earned a big three-year contract during the 2023 offseason. However, offensive line play continues to be an issue for Mike McDaniels's team, and it's one of the only things that holds their offense back from reaching their potential. Miami can find a spot for Taliese Fuaga, his ability to move at his size is impressive.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Under GM Howie Roseman, the Philadelphia Eagles have a habit of just sitting back and taking the best player on their draft board when their selection rolls around. This time, it's Keon Coleman. The Florida State wide receiver didn't have amazing college production and has some refining to do, but Coleman has excellent size and the traits of a future number one NFL wide receiver if he can put it all together.

23. Houston Texans: Laiatu Latu, DL, UCLA

The Texans traded up to get Will Anderson Jr. last year. Now I have them finding his running mate on the edge with Laiatu Latu. This just adds to the healthy rotation Houston has on the edge in DeMeco Ryans' defense. Latu would be a remarkable value selection at this point in the draft.

24. Dallas Cowboys: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

The Cowboys have a hard time passing up talented offensive linemen, and Tyler Guyton could be the latest example of that. After taking a project in the first round two years ago in Tyler Smith, Guyton is another OT prospect who offers remarkable upside and raw power. He will fit in perfectly.

25. Green Bay Packers: Troy Fautanu, OG, Washington

The Packers desperately need to upgrade their interior offensive line to ensure that Jordan Love stays protected. Troy Fautanu was an offensive tackle in college, but his lack of size and length is going to force him inside in the NFL. Still, Fautanu could be an excellent guard at the next level thanks to his well-rounded skill set.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jackson Powers-Johnson, C, Oregon

Jackson Powers-Johnson quickly became a fan-favorite among the Steelers fanbase after a dominant showing at the Senior Bowl. However, centers rarely come off the board before late in the first round. The Buccaneers are getting a beast in the Oregon product.

27. Arizona Cardinals: Byron Murphy II, DL, Texas

It seems like there's a Bryon Murphy who comes into the draft every year. The Texas star was outstanding in 2023. Murphy has the athletic traits and tools to develop into one of the better interior pass rushers in the NFL if all goes well. He would offer a big boost to the Cardinals' defense.

28. Buffalo Bills: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

In most other NFL Drafts, Brian Thomas would be off the board by this point, but a stacked WR class forces him to fall. The Bills will gladly snatch him up, as Buffalo needs another reliable outside receiver to help them take the next step.

29. Detroit Lions: Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

The Lions got plenty of impact rookies from their 2023 draft class. Now they go back to the defensive side of the football early and land a cornerback that will help slow down opposing passing games. Kamari Lassiter is a well-rounded CB coming off his best season with the Georgia Bulldogs in 2023. Lassiter has just one career interception, but he's a man-coverage cornerback who allowed a 48.7 passer rating this past season.

30. Baltimore Ravens: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

Like the Eagles, the Ravens often take the highest player on their board when their pick rolls around. Amarius Mims is a former five-star recruit with a remarkable frame at 6'7'' and 340 pounds with long arms. His lack of elite foot quickness could be a concern for some teams, but he could be an ideal replacement down the line for a soon-to-be 33-year-old Morgan Moses (who has just one year remaining on his contract). Mims needs some time to sit and develop anyway.

31. San Francisco 49ers: Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona State

The 49ers' front office is great when it comes to valuing important positions in the NFL Draft. They already possess one of the most talented top-to-bottom rosters that we have seen in ages, so they don't need to reach to draft a particular position. I have them going with a stable offensive tackle in Jordan Morgan. Morgan's tape has been excellent for the past two seasons at Arizona State. He has only played left tackle in college, but he has great feet and excellent technique that help him find a new position with Trent Williams still in town.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

I would be floored if the Chiefs didn't draft a wide receiver after seeing what a disaster Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney turned out to be. Travis Kelce and Rashee Rice need someone to take the pressure off of them in the passing game. Adonai Mitchell is a sure-handed WR prospect with excellent size to line up outside. Kansas City finally gets the spark they've been missing since Tyreek Hill was traded.

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