NFL Mock Draft 1.0

Source: USA Today

With new information, new reports, and the stocks of certain players rising and falling, it becomes more and more difficult to predict how the draft will fall.  But any of us paying attention can see signs of how it could logically play out.  The early part of the draft (ie. the first three picks or so) are pretty easy to figure out.  There are three teams in need of a QB and unless one of them can get a team to overpay for that pick, they will be drafting a QB.  But honestly, as early as pick four things get a bit murkier.  With just a week until the real draft let’s take a look at how things might shake out.

Round 1 

1) Chicago Bears (from Carolina) - Caleb Williams, QB, USC

This one is becoming more and more of a no-brainer.  There are some analysts and “experts” who seem to be holding out hope that a trade-down will happen, but I think that’s just because it would be exciting.  It’s not happening.  The Bears need a QB.  They’ve had the No. 1 overall pick two years in a row.  They are not passing on a player who could be a generational talent and a true difference-maker for years to come.  Williams will be the pick.  


2) Washington Commanders - Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

I bounce back and forth on this one.  I know it will be a QB, but which QB it will be is harder to predict.  In the end,  it will all come down to what type of offense new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury and new head coach Dan Quinn want to run.  The hype surrounding Daniels is much more than that for Drake Maye and if he hits, Daniels’ ceiling is higher as well.  It’s that ceiling that gives Daniels the slight edge of joining Washington next week.  

3) New England Patriots -  J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

Reports are coming out of New England that they are not as high on North Carolina’s Drake Maye as some had first thought.  If that’s true there is a real possibility that the Patriots could set the tone of this entire first round by going off-script and selecting Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy.  McCarthy’s stock has been steadily on the rise and it’s not hard to imagine him catapulting into the top three.  If the Patriots do draft him though, they might not want to start him right away.  At least not unless they can make major upgrades to the other skill positions in the draft. 

4) Minnesota Vikings (projected trade with Arizona) - Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

There is some speculation that the Falcons could be facing a punishment for tampering, with some saying that the punishment could be as straightforward as swapping picks with the Vikings which would give Minnesota the eighth overall pick.  They would use that as well as their No. 23 to jump to fourth and get their franchise QB.  Even if this doesn’t happen, I look for them to move up, but unless they can get a higher pick to deal away than their current No. 11 pick the Cardinals are not likely to move off of four.  Still, landing a great pocket-passer like Maye who is also capable of keeping plays alive with his legs would be a great fit for the team after letting Kirk Cousins walk.

5) Los Angeles Chargers - Marvin Harrison, Jr., WR, Ohio State

With the top four teams all drafting potential franchise QBs, the Chargers, who are set at QB, could be considered the first real pick in the draft.  They are in desperate need of an upgrade at receiver.  There is a chance they opt for LSU’s Malik Nabers and his big play threat potential over Harrison Jr., but the latter is still considered by most to be the most talented non-QB prospect in this draft class and would provide an elite target for Justin Herbert.  One he desperately needs after losing Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and dual-threat juggernaut Austin Ekeler this offseason.

6) New York Giants - Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

Moving up the draft board to one of the top three (or four) QBs in this draft class is not out of the question.  Giants co-owner John Mara is apparently on board with selecting a QB if there is one that the leadership covets.  I think that will be a moot point after four QBs get taken with the first four picks.  Instead, the Giants will go the route most have expected from the beginning by drafting a top WR.  Nabers is electric and has even leapfrogged Marvin Harrison Jr. in some projections.  The Giants need a truly elite pass catcher, especially with Darren Waller mulling retirement.  They will find one in Nabers.

7) Tennessee Titans - Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

Some picks never seem to change no matter how many mock drafts I do.  This is one such pick.  Notre Dame’s Joe Alt graded out as one of the nation's most consistent offensive linemen last season.  He’s the type of player that you can sign to a long-term contract up front and feel confident in the fact that you will not regret that decision. The Titans need a lot of help along the offensive line and grabbing Alt would be a great start.  Also, having someone capable of protecting Will Levis’ blindside will help in both the confidence and development of the young QB.  The Titans have had a solid offseason and they will continue that success with this pick.

8) Arizona Cardinals (projected trade with Minnesota) - Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

The Cardinals manage to trade back, get an additional first-round pick, and still land one of the top three wide receivers in this draft class.  As with Nabers, some believe Odunze just might be the cream of the crop at the position so adding him as a top receiving option for Kyler Murray makes a lot of sense.  Other than TE Trey McBride there is not a lot of offensive firepower on this team.  With his elite route running and incredible hands, Odunze would walk in and be a Day 1 starter and make an immediate impact for a team in need of upgrades at nearly every level.

9) Chicago Bears - Dallas Turner, Edge, Alabama

Some might have expected Georgia TE Brock Bowers to go here, but although he has the potential to be an elite difference-maker at a position with very few of them, I think the Bears are looking at either a wide receiver (if one of the top three falls to them) or someone to pair with star DE Montez Sweat on the outside. With all three top WRs gone, the Bears will draft Alabama’s Dallas Turner.  The Bears have had a great offseason, especially on the offensive side of the ball, adding Keenan Allen, Gerald Everett, and D’Andre Swift.  Turning to the defensive side of the ball and pairing Sweat with the consensus No. 1 edge rusher in this draft class makes too much sense not to do it.

10) New York Jets - Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Brock Bowers is a special prospect.  In fact, some people think No. 10 overall is too low for him.  He is considered to be that much of a game changer at the position, and it’s easy to see why.  His ability after the catch is unlike anything we’ve seen from the tight end position since Kyle Pitts.  Yes, I know Pitts has been a disappointment, but assuming former Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers recovers from his Achilles injury, Bowers won’t be entering a team with the same type of QB problems the Falcons have had throughout Pitts’ short career.  Pairing an elite, young, pass catcher with Rodgers could make the Jets a formidable opponent in 2024. 

11) Atlanta Falcons - Talies Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

Not only will the Falcons have to move back from eight but they will also miss out on Dallas Turner as a result.  Turner is the player I believe they would prefer in the first round, but with him off the board, they will be forced to pivot away from their initial plan.  Fuaga is an aggressive, overpowering force at right tackle, and while the Falcons have added pieces that should allow them to have a more consistent passing attack, they also have one of the best young rushers in the league and a QB in Kirk Cousins who isn’t particularly known for his mobility.  Adding someone who could help protect Cousins and aid in the run game would not be a bad consolation prize after having lost the chance to get Turner. 

12) Denver Broncos - Laiatu Latu, Edge, UCLA

This is my first mock draft for FFC, but In other mock drafts I’ve done, I’ve had the Broncos taking a QB here, and that could still happen, but they would have to really love Bo Nix or Michael Penix Jr. to reach this high for one of them.  Instead, I think Sean Payton will go the safer (and smarter) route by selecting a player who is viewed by many as the best pure pass rusher in the draft.  Moving up to grab a top-four QB option is not out of the question, but I’m not sure they have enough in their arsenal to get the job done.  Plus, trying to rebuild the defense through the draft would not be a bad move for a team whose defense was not a major strength for them in 2023. 

13) Las Vegas Raiders - JC Latham, OT, Alabama

The Raiders have to focus on offense in this year’s draft.  Starting with the offensive line would make sense.  JC Latham is an interesting prospect.  Depending on who you talk to he will fall anywhere from second to fifth offensive tackle taken in the draft.  But Latham has the type of upside at the position that does not come around too often with a rare combination of size, speed, and refinement. He also comes with youth and experience, two things that are often in conflict.  But at just 21 years old he had two years of starting experience in the SEC.  With uncertain production at both QB and RB getting someone like Latham to help protect and open things up in the run game would be a good move. 

14) New Orleans Saints - Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

In 2023, the Saints had protection problems and even though this is a deep class of offensive tackles, it would be wise for New Orleans to prioritize the position and make sure they get one of the premier prospects to fill that void.  Fashanu is incredibly talented and could be a promising starter this year and years to come.  He is still growing as a blindside protector, but with the right coaching that should be a fixable problem.  Fashanu is the type of player who despite some weaknesses you don’t let him fall beyond the first round because of his sky-high potential.  With a clear need along the offensive line, I don’t see him getting beyond New Orleans. 

15) Philadelphia Eagles (projected trade with Indianapolis) - Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa

This may seem too high to some for DeJean, but his stock has been on the rise with many claiming that he could be the best (or at least the most versatile) defensive back in the draft class.  Plus, when most of your glaring holes are on the defensive side of the ball, you go get your guy, even if it means moving up in the draft.  Yes, there is a chance that if they were to stay at No. 22 they could still get DeJean, but why chance it?  As someone who had an outstanding college career and showed out at his private workout, DeJean would be a great fit as a versatile, Swiss Army Knife player who can play corner or safety, and who is dynamic as a return man.  This might be too rich for DeJean, but if the Eagles believe he could be a real difference-maker, I could see them making the move.

16) Seattle Seahawks - Troy Fautanu, OL, Washington 

The Seahawks did just sign Laken Tomlinson which does fill a hole at a position of need, but with the interior being a major problem for this offensive line, additional upgrades are still needed.  Enter Washington’s Troy Fautanu.  Fautanu is a versatile, dynamic player who should be able to move from left tackle to the inside seamlessly and should be able to make an immediate impact on a line that struggled mightily in 2023.  He is a nimble, impressive blocker who is an obvious upgrade from what they have on their current roster. 

17) Jacksonville Jaguars - Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

If Mitchell fell to the Jaguars at No. 17 they would be thrilled.  Mitchell is largely considered the best CB in the draft, although both Cooper DeJean and Terrion Arnold have their believers as well.  With size, speed, and playmaking ability, Mitchell has everything you want at the position.  He also clearly does not lack confidence, having said he's the greatest football player ever to come out of the MAC. Plus, with the young passing attacks in their division becoming more dynamic, Jacksonville has to upgrade a pass defense that ranked 26th in yards allowed last season.  Mitchell would bolster this unit on Day 1.  

18) Kansas City Chiefs (projected trade with Cincinnati) - Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

To be blunt, the Kansas City Chiefs don’t have many holes to fill on their roster.  But one major topic of conversation in 2023 was how much any pass catcher not named Kelce underwhelmed, and with Rashee Rice’s status uncertain I doubt the Chiefs will exit the first round without addressing the position.  Some may think players like Brian Thomas Jr. or Adonai Mitchell are better picks but whereas they have exposed weaknesses that could lead to a variety of outcomes, it's hard to imagine McConkey not succeeding in the NFL. He has incredible quickness, is good in the return game, and is a strong blocker. McConkey fits seamlessly in the Chiefs system and, as a polished pass catcher who can consistently break free and move the chains, is what is necessary for the current era under Patrick Mahomes. 

19) Los Angeles Rams - Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

It seems like there are two schools of thought for the Rams at No. 19.  On one side are those who believe they will select an edge rusher to start preparing for the post-Aaron Donald era.  Others (myself included) believe that unless they trade back, the Ram’s first-ever first-round pick during Sean McVay’s tenure will be an offensive player. That’s right, McVay has been an NFL head coach since 2017 and has yet to make a first-round selection.  Los Angeles shored up its interior O-line in free agency. Guyton can play either tackle spot and will give Matthew Stafford another quality player to help protect him throughout what will be his 16th season.

20) Pittsburgh Steelers - Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

Mims met with the Steelers at the NFL Combine and even went to dinner with head coach Mike Tomlin before his Pro Day at Georgia. Mims is a natural athlete and has one of the higher ceilings at the position, but an injury history that allowed him to start just eight games throughout college could result in him falling.  But Mims comes into the league with versatility and all the talent to be considered at either tackle position. He has a high ceiling, but questions due to his lack of experience could temper early expectations.  Early on this offseason many projections were having Mims being selected inside the top 10, but in recent weeks his stock has taken a bit of a hit.  Still, I think if he’s there at 20, the Steelers will not hesitate to claim him. 

21) Buffalo Bills (projected trade with Miami) - Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU 

It’s always possible that the Bills will stay put at No. 28 and just take their chances with whoever is left.  But after losing both Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis this offseason, leaving TE Dalton Kincaid as their most exciting pass catcher, they will do what they can to get a player with the potential to be the WR1 for Josh Allen.  That means trading up a few spots to secure a player they believe in.  Thomas Jr. is an explosive athlete who can help stretch the field which is a quality that a once dynamic, highly productive passing game is lacking all of a sudden. 

22) Indianapolis Colts (projected trade with Philadelphia) - Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

The Colts trade back with the Philadelphia Eagles and still get a player they were contemplating taking at No. 15.  Depending on who you ask Arnold falls anywhere within the top three cornerbacks in this draft class.  Arnold is a versatile cornerback who can handle a variety of receivers in man coverage.  He would open up a lot of possibilities for new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen.  There’s always a good chance that the Colts stay at No. 15 and add more offensive weapons for 2nd-year signal caller Anthony Richardson, but I think they’ll trade back, get more picks, and shore up the defense. 

23) Arizona (projected trade with Minnesota) - Jared Verse, Edge, Florida State

Having landed a top three wide receiver earlier in the draft, the Cardinals can now feel free to turn their focus to what was truly their Achilles heel in 2023…defense.  The Cardinals were a bottom-eight unit in total defensive yards allowed, ranking middle-of-the-pack in pass defense and dead last in rushing defense.  Adding the talented Jared Verse will be a good start to improving that run defense.  It is difficult to find premium pass rushers, and it becomes even more difficult after the first round.  Verse will have an immediate impact in getting pressure and slowing down the run, and would likely be a Day 1 starter.  

24) Dallas Cowboys - Jackson Powers-Johnson, OL, Oregon

Although this is the way I predicted they’d go in my last mock draft, after how this one fell, I couldn’t see anything changing.  Center continues to be a major position of need and as the cream of the crop, Powers-Johnson may be the most gifted interior lineman in this year’s draft class.  He also brings with him enough versatility to play guard if called upon.  The Cowboys could address other concerns, but if apprehension regarding Powers-Johnson’s medicals continues to cause him to slip in the draft, I don’t see the Cowboys passing on a potential game-changer at such an important position.  Powers-Johnson possesses the size, athleticism, and football IQ required to be ready on Day 1.

25) Green Bay Packers - Graham Barton, OL, Duke

The Packers have had a solid offseason and still have areas of concern, but among those, I believe the offensive line will be the first one they address.  As someone who can play all over the line, including at center, Barton could be the perfect choice for a young team on the upswing.  Although this is a very talented class of linemen, Barton is considered to be one of the best prospects.  His power and explosiveness could help him develop into a cornerstone and leader of this offensive line.  There are other directions they could go, but adding reinforcements up front makes a lot of sense. 

26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Chop Robinson, Edge, Penn State

For a team whose offense will return largely intact getting another talented piece to the defensive puzzle could be a shrewd move.  Both Chop Robinson and last year’s pick YaYa Diaby are works in progress, but the electric duo could pay huge dividends if they can fine-tune some of the finer points of their techniques. Last season, Robinson posted 15 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, one pass breakup, five quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles in 10 games. Tampa Bay needs pass rush help and Robinson would be an immediate impact player in the NFC South.

27) Arizona Cardinals (from Houston) - Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

Now that they have added an elite offensive weapon and a disruptive edge rusher they have the type of flexibility that very few teams enjoy.   With the defense being grossly underdeveloped they will reach into that basket again by selecting the 6-1, 173-pound Wiggins.  Wiggins can hold up against more physical receivers and is a reliable presence against the run.  While the Cardinals were better in pass defense than run defense, there is still plenty of room for improvement, and with an additional first-round pick you can upgrade at several different phases.  This is a defense with very few difference-makers, but after adding a potential one at No. 23 they will keep it going by adding another at No. 27. 

28) Miami Dolphins (projected trade with Buffalo) - Johnny Newton, DT, Illinois 

As it stands, the Dolphins have six picks in this year’s draft, which sounds ok until you realize that there are more than 100 picks between their second-round pick and their following pick in the fifth round.  So trading back could land them an additional pick and a bit more flexibility when deciding what to do throughout the draft.  With DT Christian Wilkins leaving for the bright lights of Las Vegas this offseason, the position needs an upgrade.  Newton is not a one-for-one replacement for Wilkins, but he is a talented player with enough disruptiveness to provide a spark for a defense in need of one.

29) Detroit Lions - Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

The Lions did do a bit to address the passing defense this offseason, but the team is still in need of a young corner that they can mold and develop into a future stud for years to come.  McKinstry is smooth and fluid.  Some draft analysts had questioned his long speed but he put those concerns to rest by running a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash at Alabama's Pro Day. He did this despite having a Jones fracture in his foot. He has since had the fracture repaired and is expected to make a full recovery and projects as a solid No. 2 cornerback.  Plus, thanks to his style of play and approach to the game McKinstry could field an easier transition period than many of his peers.  He would be a welcomed addition to a roster that is suddenly very well-rounded.  

30) Baltimore Ravens - Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona

Some believe that the Ravens could go WR and give star QB Lamar Jackson another solid weapon.  But this is still, first and foremost, a run-first team, so I think focusing on pieces that can aid in that endeavor is the best option.  Jordan Morgan would be a great fit here and a great pick.  Morgan would not only be filling a need, but GM Eric DeCosta tends to deploy a “best player available” approach, and Morgan would fit that mold. He could immediately step in at right tackle as well as kick inside to guard.  Adding Morgan makes a lot of sense for a team that relies heavily on the run and shows no signs of changing their identity all of a sudden in 2024.  

31) San Francisco 49ers - Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

The consensus (and truth be told, the smart money) is on the 49ers either going offensive line or defensive back in round one.  However, with the uncertainty surrounding Brandon Aiyuk’s future with the team, selecting a WR can’t be ruled out.  There were reports that Aiyuk had officially requested a trade.  Those reports did turn out to just be rumors (at least according to Aiyuk’s agent) but it is clear that the relationship between Aiyuk and the 49ers is fractured.  Preparing for Aiyuk’s possible departure by grabbing a WR considered to be one of the top five best in this year’s draft might be smart, and if Aiyuk stays you have one of the best trio of pass catchers (plus TE George Kittle and RB Christian McCaffrey) in the NFL.  It’s a win/win.

32) Cincinnati Bengals (projected trade with Kansas City) - Byron Murphy II, DT, Texas

If things fall this way, it will have worked out brilliantly for the Cincinnati Bengals.  Murphy II was likely one of two players (the other being a top WR in case they ultimately lose Tee Higgins) the Bengals were considering at No.18 anyway.  If he falls to them at the end of the first round while acquiring additional capital it will have been one of the best moves of the draft.  Murphy is the top interior defensive line prospect in this class. Murphy is a highly disruptive, powerful, and explosive playmaker who could easily become a productive three-down defender on what is already a pretty solid defensive line.

Round Two

33) Carolina Panthers - Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

34) New England Patriots - Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina

35) Arizona Cardinals - Christian Haynes, OG, UConn

36) Washington Commanders - Chris Braswell, Edge, Alabama

37) Los Angeles Chargers - Blake Corum, RB, Michigan

38) Tennessee Titans - Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

39) Carolina Panthers (from N.Y. Giants) - Ennis Rakestraw Jr, CB, Missouri

40) Washington Commanders (from Chicago) - Kingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU

41) Green Bay Packers (from N.Y. Jets) - T.J. Tampa, CB, Iowa State

42) Houston Texans (from Minnesota) - Tyler Nubin, S, Minnesota

43) Atlanta Falcons - Payton Wilson, LB, NC State

44) Las Vegas Raiders - Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

45) New Orleans Saints (from Denver) - Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

46) Indianapolis Colts - Ja’Lynn Polk, WR, Washington

47) New York Giants (from Seattle) - Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

48) Jacksonville Jaguars - T’Vondre Sweat, DT, Texas

49) Cincinnati Bengals - Patrick Paul, OT, Houston

50) Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans) - Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan

51) Pittsburgh Steelers - Mike Saintristil, CB, Michigan

52) Los Angeles Rams - Darius Robinson, Edge, Missouri

53) Philadelphia Eagles - Jaden Hicks, S, Washington State

54) Cleveland Browns - Blake Fisher, OT, Notre Dame

55) Miami Dolphins - Ja’Tavion Sanders, TE, Texas

56) Dallas Cowboys - Trey Benson, RB, Florida State

57) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Cooper Beebe, OL, Kansas State

58) Green Bay Packers - Cole Bishop, S, Utah

59) Houston Texans - Edgerrin Cooper, LB, Texas

60) Buffalo Bills - Jonah Ellis, Edge, Utah

61) Detroit Lions - Bralen Trice, Edge, Washington

62) Baltimore Ravens - Ricky Pearsall, WR, Florida

63) San Francisco 49ers - Khyree Jackson, CB, Oregon

64) Cincinnati Bengals (projected trade with Kansas City) - Jalen McMillan, WR, Washington


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