As we get set to kick off Super Bowl XLIII, it’s time to run our first NFL Mock Draft of the year. Aaron St. Denis hosted this one and was one round. At this time, I have the San Francisco 49ers in with the final pick in the round as they were the better team in the regular season, but even if the Chiefs win the Super Bowl and the 49ers drop to 1.31, the two final picks would remain the same, they would reverse in order. So let’s take a look at the 2024 NFL Mock Draft 1.0.
I’m a big fan of trying to balance team needs with the best player available, so that’s what I will do here. For this mock draft, we will not allow any trades or potential free-agent acquisitions to be factored in. Instead, each team will make the pick they currently own. As you will see right off the bat, some picks are made with future trades in mind. So let’s get into it.
With the first pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select Caleb Williams, a quarterback out of USC. Instead of the Bears trading away the first pick, I have them selecting Williams as their franchise quarterback of the future, this pick means Justin Fields will be finding a new home for the 2024 season. That new home could be found on Day 1 of the draft, as the Bears are likely to swing a deal to move him for an additional first-round pick. Williams is one of the best quarterback prospects we’ve seen in a couple of years, and with the mixed results Fields has produced, this seems like the time for the Bears to move on.
With the second pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Washington Commanders select Jayden Daniels, a quarterback out of LSU. The run on quarterbacks is going to start early this year and Daniels will be the second one off the board. Much like Chicago, we see a floundering team that opts to draft a potential franchise quarterback and move on from their current quarterback. Sam Howell isn’t likely to fetch nearly as much as Fields did above, but he could still fetch a potential Day 2 pick. A new coaching staff and a new quarterback is exactly what the Commanders need to turn this thing around.
With the third pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select Drake Maye, a quarterback out of North Carolina. There is a definite theme developing early in this mock draft. Teams are choosing to move on from the struggling quarterbacks they currently have in favour of high-upside swings.
With the fourth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select Marvin Harrison Jr, a wide receiver out of Ohio State. Finally, we have a pick that isn’t a quarterback as the Cardinals snatch up the consensus WR1 in this class. Harrison Jr is a “generational” prospect who could easily be the WR1 in the NFL by this time next year. This pick will jumpstart what will soon be a re-vamped Cardinals offence. Let’s see how good Kyler Murray can be with a handful of elite offensive weapons.
With the fifth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers select Brock Bowers, a tight end out of Georgia. Bowers is regarded as the best tight-end prospect of all time, even better than Kyle Pitts was only a few years ago, so it seems reasonable to assume he will go in the same range of the draft as Pitts. The Chargers are in desperate need of a tight end with more upside than the aging Gerald Everett, and Bowers is an excellent weapon for Justin Herbert.
With the sixth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select Malik Nabers, a wide receiver out of LSU. The onslaught of offensive skill position players continues as the Giants finally decide to move on from their patchwork wide receiving corps in favour of a bonafide stud receiver. Nabers may not be as high-profile as Harrison Jr, but he has every bit as much upside and could make this Giants offence fun to watch for years to come, provided Daniel Jones can recapture his 2022 magic and production.
With the seventh pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans select Joe Alt, an offensive tackle out of Notre Dame. It finally happened, a non-fantasy relevant player has been selected, although it’s still an offensive player. The Titans are in need of anything even remotely resembling a solid offensive lineman, so to get the top one in the class with the seventh overall pick, they should be more than satisfied. This addition should give second-year quarterback Will Levis a fighting chance to prove he is an NFL-level quarterback.
With the eighth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons select JJ McCarthy, a quarterback out of Michigan. This one is going to be the first curveball for many of you. Not only is this another quarterback going off the board in the top 10, but it’s a quarterback that many experts don’t have going in the top 50. McCarthy is my QB2 in this class and I prefer to trust the potential he has flashed and trust that he is still young and could develop into a far better quarterback than Maye or Daniels. The Falcons appear to be overpaying here, but in the long run, are getting a steal of a deal on their next franchise quarterback.
With the ninth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select Rome Odunze, a wide receiver out of Washington. More offensive weapons are flying off the board here as we see the next potentially elite wide receiver go to a Bears team starved for offensive weapons. The big and speedy Odunze should be an excellent complement to DJ Moore and should give Caleb Williams tons of firepower for his rookie campaign.
With the tenth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Olumuyiwa Fashanu, an offensive lineman out of Penn State. The Jets are going to need an upgrade on the offensive line if they have hopes of Aaron Rodgers lasting three plays in 2024. Olumuyiwa Fashanu is a great choice here for the Jets and will allow them to protect their best chance at making noise in the AFC this season, as we’ve seen, this team is going to go as far as Rodgers can carry them because their backups certainly aren’t the answer.
With the eleventh pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select Dallas Turner, an edge rusher out of Alabama. The Vikings were a mixed bag of defensive results in 2023, but one thing that remained consistent throughout the season was how poor their pass rush was. Star edge rusher Terrion Arnold would be a great first step in turning that pass rush around and giving them a chance in a wide-open NFC. Turner could be exactly what they need to put up a more respectable defence and not force themselves to score 35+ points per game to win.
With the twelfth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select Terrion Arnold, a cornerback out of Alabama. Denver’s secondary was rather formidable, anchored by Patrick Surtain II, but adding Alabama stud cornerback Terrion Arnold would make this secondary nearly impossible to score on. I’m not convinced Denver needs to make this pick, but it is incredibly sexy to imagine what this secondary would look like with a duo of Arnold and Surtain II.
With the thirteenth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders select Nate Wiggins, a cornerback out of Clemson. The Raiders were a tough team to project because they needed pretty much everything. Therefore, I went with the highest-ranked player left on the board at this point. Wiggins has the potential to be a Pro-Bowl level defender and will help to shore up one of Las Vegas’ many holes. One thing is certain, for IDP players Wiggins could be a great target because he is going to see tons of action.
With the fourteenth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select Jared Verse, an edge rusher out of Florida State. Much like with the Denver Broncos, the Saints are going to draft a potential stud rookie to pair with a stud already on their roster. The combination of Jared Verse and Cameron Jordan is downright scary to think about. If the Saints opt to go this way and select Verse, it will strike fear into the quarterbacks of every team that is on their 2024 schedule.
With the fifteenth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select Cooper DeJean, a cornerback out of Iowa. The Colts struggled heavily in the secondary in 2023 and shoring up that area with DeJean could be exactly what the Colts need. Their offence seems to be set and does not have any major holes, but this pick is exactly what the defence needs to get back on track.
With the sixteenth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Laiatu Latu, an edge rusher out of UCLA. The Seahawks are another defence that struggled to get pressure during the 2024 season. Adding the talented Latu to go with a new coaching staff could be the first step in restoring the Legion of Boom and making the Seahawks a true contender once again.
With the seventeenth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select Taliese Fuaga, an offensive tackle out of Oregon State. If the Jaguars need to do one thing this year, it’s to protect Trevor Lawrence better. This pick should give them a chance to do just that. Jacksonville was a huge disappointment last season after the emergence of a far tougher AFC South than anyone expected. If the Jaguars expect to keep pace with the rapidly improving teams in their division, they are going to have to inject some life into a floundering roster.
With the eighteenth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select JC Latham, an offensive tackle out of Alabama. Since passing on Penei Sewell for Ja’Marr Chase several years ago, the Bengals have been trying to fill that weakness. Latham would be the biggest step they have made to accomplish that since that time. Joe Burrow has struggled to stay healthy for the majority of his career and the added protection could be exactly what he needs to stay upright for a lengthy playoff run.
With the nineteenth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams select Kool-Aid McKinstry, a cornerback out of Alabama. McKinstry could easily be the first defensive player so for the Rams this is a steal. He is one of the most talented cornerback prospects in recent memory and would be an instant improvement on anything the Rams are currently throwing out there in the secondary. If McKinstry happens to fall this far after the run on offensive players, the Rams should sprint to the podium to make this selection. He is a franchise player on the defensive side of the ball.
With the twentieth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Quinyon Mitchell, a cornerback out of Toledo. The depth of this rookie cornerback class is truly breathtaking as we’ve seen four potential Pro-Bowl caliber corners go off the board already even before we get to Mitchell who is every bit as good. The Steelers struggled on both sides of the ball in 2023 and appeared doomed to mediocrity. Mitchell on the back end of this defence would make them a far tougher defence to pass on and could take some of the pressure off their struggling offence. However, the offence needs work too.
With the twenty-first pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select Amarius Mims, an offensive tackle out of Georgia. The Dolphins have more offensive firepower than almost every team in the NFL, what they need is to strengthen the offensive line in front of Tua Tagovailoa. I selection of Mims would go a long way to ensuring that Tua has the time to make plays and the protection to prevent any further potentially career-threatening concussions. At this point in the first round, Mims is easily the most talented offensive lineman left on the board and will make an excellent addition.
With the twenty-second pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select Jer’Zhan Newton, a defensive lineman out of Illinois. Newton is easily the best defensive lineman left on the board at this point in the draft and he would make an excellent addition to the Eagles. Philadelphia is loaded on the offensive side of the ball. They have a full complement of weapons to rack up points and an elite offensive line, shoring up the defensive line with an early pick is exactly what the Eagles need to improve on a run defence that was suspect at times in 2023.
With the twenty-third pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select Brian Thomas Jr, a wide receiver out of LSU. It’s been a little while since we saw a receiver go off the board, so the Texans are lucky that Brian Thomas Jr lasted this far in the draft. The Texans already have a wide receiving corps that features the young, duo of potential superstars Tank Dell and Nico Collins, adding a third potentially elite receiver would make them one of the highest-flying passing attacks in the league. Houston is an extremely well-rounded team through tons of recent draft capital, so using this year’s first-round pick on a luxury receiver is a solid fit.
With the twenty-fourth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select Troy Fautanu, an offensive tackle out of Washington. As most of the high-end offensive weapons have flown off the board, the Cowboys are primed to begin a rebuild of their aging offensive line. Fautanu out of Washington is a great value at this pick and could really help the Cowboys to run the ball with more success and have a more balanced offence. Dak Prescott is inching closer and closer to the end of the line and putting an impressive tackle in front of him could allow him more freedom to really cook.
With the twenty-fifth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select Tyler Guyton, an offensive tackle out of Oklahoma. Guyton is a bit more of a gamble than some of the other tackles that we’ve seen go in the last ten picks, but it’s easily the biggest position of need for the Packers. Green Bay surprised many by riding Jordan Love into a playoff spot and as he continues to grow and succeed in this offence. If Guyton could develop and progress into the offensive tackle of the future for Green Bay, he could be a great piece on the Packers line.
With the twenty-sixth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Chop Robinson, an edge rusher out of Penn State. Chop Robinson is big and strong and could be an anchor for Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mayfield isn’t getting any younger and has never been what you would call a mobile quarterback, so putting Robinson between him and defenders could buy him the extra time he needs to find his downfield weapons. This selection is made under the assumption that they have indeed opted to re-sign Baker Mayfield. Should they not bring Mayfield back, this could be the spot for Oregon quarterback Bo Nix.
With the twenty-seventh pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select Keon Coleman, a wide receiver out of Florida State. Coleman is an intriguing prospect. He fits squarely into the second tier of rookie wide receivers and has nowhere near as much upside as the other receivers selected in this mock draft. That’s not to say that Coleman is bad, he just isn’t likely to be as elite as the first group of receivers. The other reason this pick could be interesting is that it sees the Cardinals taking a second receiver in the first round. While it may be unlikely that they do this, it would sure be fun to see Arizona load up with offensive weapons in what could prove to be a make-or-break season for Kyler Murray.
With the twenty-eight pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills select Byron Murphy, a defensive lineman out of Texas. The Bill’s defence was plagued by injuries in 2023, so it’s difficult to accurately judge just how much of a re-vamp they are in need of. One thing is certain, Murphy is an ultra-talented player with the potential to be a disruptive force in Bill’s lineup for years to come. It would have been nice for Buffalo to grab an early wide receiver, but with them flying off the board early and often, it’s best for them to address another position of need rather than drafting a second-tier receiver.
With the twenty-ninth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Bralen Trice, an edge rusher out of Washington. My hope is for the Detroit Lions to come away from Round 1 with a cornerback, however, in this scenario where all of the potentially elite ones have been selected before they are on the clock, they are best suited to fill their second-biggest position of need. Giving Aidan Hutchinson a running mate to torment opposing quarterbacks should be the next order of business for the Lions and Trice is easily the best one left.
With the thirteenth pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select Ennis Rakestraw Jr, a cornerback out of Missouri. If Trice had not been on the board, this would have been my pick for the Detroit Lions. Rakestraw Jr has loads of talent and is an excellent prospect but he is far less complete than the corners taken above him. He is unlikely to be a star from Week 1, but with proper development, he could be an excellent addition to an already strong Ravens defence.
With the thirty-first pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select Troy Franklin, a wide receiver out of Oregon. It finally happened! The Kansas City Chiefs finally drafted a wide receiver in the first round. This was the case after Travis Kelce rode off into the sunset with Taylor Swift. Despite the immense talent Rashee Rice displayed as a rookie, it was evident that the Chiefs would need someone to pair with him after the retirement of Kelce and Franklin has loads of potential. Many fantasy managers will be thrilled with this selection, but this one feels like a reach by the Chiefs who are in a hurry to replace Kelce in their lineup. They may have been better served to wait until the second round for a receiver like they did with Rice.
With the thirty-second pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select Graham Barton, an offensive lineman out of Duke. The 49ers might have been the most well-rounded team in the NFL from top to bottom, so any position they chose to address was already a strength. Adding a stud offensive lineman is never a bad idea, so San Francisco will choose to spend their luxury pick on exactly that. Barton may have to up his game for a massive increase in competition level, but he should be able to rise to the challenge.