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2024 NFL Mock Draft: Matthew Jones’s Picks & Predictions

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Matthew Jones’s Picks & Predictions

Now that the Super Bowl is officially in the books, I decided to take another look at how the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft could turn out. Numerous picks have been changed since my last attempt, in part to reflect changes in the stocks of different prospects, in part based on a further review of team needs, and in part for the sake of experimentation. Read on for my latest projection!

2024 NFL Draft Guide

2024 NFL Mock Draft

1. Chicago Bears – Caleb Williams (QB – USC)

There have been reports that the Bears aren’t Williams’ preferred destination, but in the absence of a total refusal to play in Chicago, I’m going to project this pick for the time being. I don’t think it makes sense to extend Justin Fields with a huge contract when there’s a good chance that Williams (or maybe even another of the top three quarterbacks) ends up being an upgrade, and with far less of a financial commitment required.

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2. Washington Commanders – Drake Maye (QB – North Carolina)

Does the hiring of Kliff Kingsbury as offensive coordinator tilt this pick toward Jayden Daniels? To me, it’s unclear. While Kingsbury viewed Kyler Murray as an ideal quarterback prospect and Daniels is arguably closer to Murray than Maye is, the North Carolina signal caller also has the arm to take shots deep downfield, and is probably viewed as the better prospect of the two by most. I do think they’d take Caleb Williams if the Bears passed.

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3. New England Patriots – Jayden Daniels (QB – LSU)

I had Harrison going third last time, and that’s still a real possibility here, especially with the quarterbacks that could be available at the top of the second round. For me, Harrison is clearly the best player available at this point, but in an effort to map up some different scenarios, let’s see what would happen if the Patriots flipped the order they addressed these two positions in, taking a wideout in the second or third round instead of here.

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

Things would get very interesting if the Cardinals missed out Harrison, but if he’s available, it seems like the most obvious of the first four picks in the draft, given the marriage of need and value. Arizona paid a heavy price for Marquise “Hollywood” Brown back in 2022, but he’s probably better off as a complementary receiver. I like what Michael Wilson showed in his rookie season, but not enough to pass on a truly elite wideout prospect.

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5. Los Angeles Chargers – Olu Fashanu (OT – Penn State)

Brock Bowers is the sexier pick here, especially because many onlookers considered Dalton Kincaid a strong possibility for the Chargers last year, but it’s rare for tight ends to go this high, especially when there are high-end prospects at other positions of need on the team. There seems to be some momentum building behind Joe Alt as the first tackle off the board, but, as I mentioned last time, I like the scheme fit better with Fashanu.

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6. New York Giants – Rome Odunze (WR – Washington)

This pick hasn’t changed since last time, and the reasons for targeting a receiver here should be fairly straightforward. Simply put, the Giants don’t have a proven number-one option on their roster. As a complement to some of the other physical/athletic profiles in the team’s receiver room, I like the size and physicality Odunze brings, so he gets the edge over Nabers.

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7. Tennessee Titans – Joe Alt (OT – Notre Dame)

Alt was off the board here in my last mock, but I think it’d be characteristic of the Titans to build through the trenches. While Mike Vrabel was fired, general manager Ran Carthon remains, and took Peter Skoronski in the first round last year. Investing in Andre Dillard to play left tackle hasn’t worked as expected, and Alt projects as a major upgrade there.

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8. Atlanta Falcons – Malik Nabers (WR – LSU)

Last time, this pick was Jayden Daniels, and I think it’d be an easy choice to opt for a quarterback if one of the top three were available. Otherwise, it’s possible Atlanta could decide to continue adding offensive weapons. While Drake London and Kyle Pitts are two very talented pieces, Nabers brings a totally different skillset to the offense.

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9. Chicago Bears – Jared Verse (DE – Florida State)

Which edge rusher stands atop this year’s class is somewhat of an open question, but I think most would agree that Verse is the most powerful bull-rusher of the top options. That seems like a good fit for the Bears, who favor bigger, power-based rushers. Pairing Verse with Montez Sweat would give the team a pair of high-end bookends on the defensive line.

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10. New York Jets – Taliese Fuaga (OT – Oregon State)

This is a make-or-break year for the Jets, and we’ve all seen what could happen if Aaron Rodgers gets hurt. With Mekhi Becton‘s long-term status with the team in question, maybe they flip Alijah Vera-Tucker to the blindside and plug in a big, nasty tackle like Fuaga on the right side. He’s one of the most consistent, pro-ready blockers in this year’s class.

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11. Minnesota Vikings – Laiatu Latu (DE – UCLA)

Last time, I had projected Cooper DeJean as the pick here, but it seems possible that I’m higher on him as a cornerback than some others are. Latu would be an interesting choice as well; while he has the big body the Vikings typically look for in their edge rushers, he’s much more of a technician than a brute-force power rusher. Minnesota seems to prefer the latter type, but with Verse off the board, I wonder if they’d like Latu as well.

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12. Denver Broncos – Terrion Arnold (CB – Alabama)

I still really like the fit of Jer’Zhan Newton here, but it’s possible Denver would also opt for a player at a more premium position. Fabian Moreau started eleven games last year, but he’s probably not the ideal number-two cornerback, and is set to hit free agency. Given how well Patrick Surtain selection worked out, maybe they’d go back to Alabama for another corner.

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13. Las Vegas Raiders – JC Latham (OT – Alabama)

This pick might scare Raiders fans after their experience with Alex Leatherwood, and admittedly, it’s possible Latham could have some of the same issues, which is why I’m not as high on him as others in the draft community. However, given that the right side of Las Vegas’ offensive line is set to hit free agency, they could be in the market for blocking help.

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14. New Orleans Saints – Amarius Mims (OT – Georgia)

Would hiring Klint Kubiak as their new offensive coordinator push the Saints in a different direction here? I’m going to stick with Mims, as the Georgia offense also ran a lot of zone-blocking concepts, and they have a major need at left tackle. With Mickey Loomis still in charge, I don’t see the team’s draft philosophy changing very much this offseason.

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15. Indianapolis Colts – Kool-Aid McKinstry (CB – Alabama)

It’s possible that Quinyon Mitchell has surpassed one or both of the Alabama cornerbacks after a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, but for now I’m going with McKinstry here. He’s another big, physical, and battle-tested corner which fits what the Colts tend to look for in the position. Cooper DeJean would be another interesting possibility at this point.

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16. Seattle Seahawks – Brock Bowers (TE – Georgia)

Taking the best player available makes sense, especially with Noah Fant‘s contract expiring and Will Dissly being overpriced. I strongly considered Tyler Guyton given the number of impending free agents on the line, as well as Jer’Zhan Newton to beef up the run defense. I had Chop Robinson here last time, but he seems to be slipping a bit at this point.

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17. Jacksonville Jaguars – Tyler Guyton (OT – Oklahoma)

Drawing from the same well as last year’s first-round pick, Anton Harrison, the Jaguars opt to prioritize protecting Trevor Lawrence, who took some big hits this past season. Guyton is a fairly similar player, although he has a bit more natural power and is probably better-suited to the right tackle spot. Releasing Cam Robinson would save over $17 million.

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18. Cincinnati Bengals – Jackson Powers-Johnson (OC – Oregon)

The board didn’t fall well for the Bengals, who probably would have liked a pick like Brock Bowers or Tyler Guyton here. They could opt to move on from impending free agent D.J. Reader, but I don’t know if Jer’Zhan Newton is really a nose tackle. Maybe they could shore up the interior of their line by moving Ted Karras to left guard, where he’s started before.

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19. Los Angeles Rams – Dallas Turner (DE – Alabama)

Between Turner, Cooper DeJean, and Quinyon Mitchell, there are some very solid values on the defensive side of the ball, where the Rams are most likely to focus in the first round. I’ll stick with Turner, as he has freakish talent off the edge, and could end up being their primary stand-up pass-rusher, playing opposite 2023 third-round pick Byron Young.

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20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Cooper DeJean (CB – Iowa)

In my view, it would be a steal to get DeJean this late, and as I said in my last first-round mock draft, the Steelers may not love the value at offensive tackle here. While some are projecting DeJean to convert to safety, that doesn’t seem necessary to me, as he has strong natural cover skills. Together with Joey Porter Jr., he’d give Pittsburgh a pair of bookends.

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21. Miami Dolphins – Quinyon Mitchell (CB – Toledo)

I’ve swapped out Nate Wiggins for Quinyon Mitchell here, as the latter has a more polished and patient game, with better recognition skills and technique. Mitchell’s getting a lot of hype as one of the first cornerbacks off the board, and with Xavien Howard struggling recently, this looks like a good chance for Miami to get younger in the secondary.

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22. Philadelphia Eagles – Jer’Zhan Newton (DL – Illinois)

This is the second straight 2024 NFL mock draft where I’ve gone with a defensive lineman here, mostly because Fletcher Cox‘s contract is set to expire, and the team currently has more financial commitments in the secondary. Philadelphia rotates often on the defensive line, so maybe they’d be willing to stop the slide of one of the most disruptive defenders in the draft.

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23. Houston Texans – Kamari Lassiter (CB – Georgia)

This is a pick that will depend to a significant extent on what happens in free agency. Steven Nelson played very well at cornerback opposite Derek Stingley Jr. last year, but he’s also 31 and on an expiring deal. Plus, he has experience in the slot. If Houston somehow doesn’t re-sign Jonathan Greenard, a bigger-bodied edge rusher would also be a good idea.

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24. Dallas Cowboys – Patrick Paul (OT – Houston)

I’m not ruling out the Cowboys drafting a defensive back or defensive tackle here, but considering how much they already have invested in the offensive line, I wonder whether or not they’ll end up re-signing left tackle Tyron Smith. Smith had a career renaissance in 2023 after dealing with injuries in recent years, but has some age and durability concerns.

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25. Green Bay Packers – Nate Wiggins (CB – Clemson)

I’m sticking with a cornerback here, but I’ve flipped the pick from Ennis Rakestraw to Nate Wiggins, mostly to account for the Packers’ well-established preference for freakish athletes. Wiggins isn’t as polished in coverage as Rakestraw, but figures to test better. It’s possible Green Bay would like to see what Eric Stokes offers, but I’m not sure they can count on him.

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26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Troy Fautanu (OL – Washington)

Momentum seems to be building for Baker Mayfield to return, and Mike Evans seems like someone they’ll try to bring back as well. Fautanu can slot right in as the team’s starting left guard, a big need. Another possibility would be a big edge rusher like Bralen Trice, as Shaquil Barrett and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka are entering contract years; Trice fits their tastes.

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27. Arizona Cardinals – Byron Murphy II (DL – Texas)

Based on his time in Philadelphia. Jonathan Gannon surely knows the value of loading up on talent in the defensive front. The Cardinals could use talent all over the place defensively. As the last-ranked run defense in the league in 2023, maybe they could use a big-bodied lineman to help out. I like their young talent on the edge more than on the interior.

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28. Buffalo Bills – Chris Braswell (DE – Alabama)

Braswell was the pick last time, and here he is again. There’s a decent chance he goes higher than this on draft day, as he is an impressive athlete at a premium position, but if he drops, I like the fit. He could take over for Leonard Floyd as one of the team’s rush linebackers, and Von Miller‘s poor 2023 campaign is another factor that might drive them in this direction.

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29. Detroit Lions – Bralen Trice (DE – Washington)

The board fell nicely for the Lions here. Opposite Aidan Hutchinson, the team could use another stud on the end of the line, and both Trice and Chop Robinson are available. Another interesting possibility is Ennis Rakestraw Jr., who has the type of length and smooth coverage skills to potentially develop into a number-one corner. Take your pick.

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30. Baltimore Ravens – Kingsley Suamataia (OL – BYU)

A receiver is still a definite possibility at this point for the reasons I mentioned last time, but drafting along the offensive line would make sense, too. Ronnie Stanley is unreliable from a durability standpoint, and both of the team’s starting guards, John Simpson and Kevin Zeitler, are set to become free agents. Sumatai could potentially play either tackle or guard.

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31. San Francisco 49ers – Chop Robinson (DE – Penn State)

This may not make up for the 49ers’ Super Bowl loss, but Robinson would be an excellent value this late in the first round. We’ll have to see what the team does with Chase Young (an impending free agent) and Randy Gregory, but based on their midseason acquisitions, it’s clear that the team felt they needed more talent on the edges. Robinson has great intensity.

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32. Kansas City Chiefs – Brian Thomas Jr. (WR – LSU)

Does Andy Reid have a type at wide receiver? I’m not sure, as he’s drafted players with a wide range of skillsets and body types. Making this pick tougher, there are several similarly-ranked receivers available. I wonder whether the Chiefs, who relied heavily on the short passing game in 2023, would like to bring in more of a downfield target here.

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More 2024 NFL Mock Drafts

Here are a few more early predictions for the 2024 NFL Draft. We’ll continue to add our 2024 NFL Mock Drafts leading up to the start of Round 1.

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