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2024 NFL Mock Draft: Erickson’s First-Round Picks & Predictions (3.0)

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Erickson’s First-Round Picks & Predictions (3.0)

We are back: My 2024 NFL Mock Draft 3.0 is officially here, and the excitement is through the roof in my first post-free agency mock draft.

As noted in my magnum opus: NFL Draft Needs for Every Team Post-Free Agency (2024 Fantasy Football), NFL teams’ needs have changed dramatically since the 2024 free agency period. And although it seems like NFL Free Agency will never actually come to an end, we must trudge forward with the release of my latest 2024 NFL Mock Draft with the initial free agency frenzy in the rearview.

Let’s dive in!

2024 NFL Draft Guide

2024 NFL Mock Draft

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

Now currently listed at -3500 to -5000 odds to be the No. 1 overall pick, USC’s Caleb Williams looks like the next coming of Patrick Mahomes. Friendly reminder that Bears GM, Ryan Poles, was the Chiefs former director of college scouting when KC drafted Mahomes in 2017.

The off-script playmaking ability is so apparent with the USC product, and that makes him deadly when paired with his elite production from a clean pocket. This past season, Williams posted PFF’s highest grade operating from a clean pocket.

With Justin Fields traded to the Steelers, the Bears can shift focus to their new franchise quarterback whom they will select No. 1 overall. And it’s hard to argue against Williams’ great landing spot with the weapons he has at his disposal between D.J. Moore, D’Andre Swift, Keenan Allen and Cole Kmet. I listed Williams as one of my biggest fantasy football winners in free agency.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Caleb Williams partner-arrow

2) Washington Commanders: Jayden Daniels (QB – LSU)

In Mock Draft 2.0, Drake Maye was still the favorite as the No. 2 overall pick. The odds have since shifted toward Daniels as the second overall pick by the Commanders. Hope you got the plus-money on Daniels to go second overall back when I wrote it up in 2024 NFL Draft Prop Bet Card at the start of March.

But here’s why I think the market is correct with Daniels as the second overall pick versus Maye.

A lot will be made about this potential rookie QB’s fit in new OC Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, but new GM Adam Peters will likely also have a large input on the future franchise QB. He’s referenced that his new home in Washington is eerily similar to his situation when he first landed in SF back in 2017 – citing the team needs to build through the draft. Trading “down” is still a possibility in my estimation.

All in all, Peters saw the disaster that was Trey Lance during his tenure in SF. He also benefitted greatly from the Brock Purdy selection, claiming that the tape and how well Purdy played the QB position pointed them in drafting the QB.

And although Lance’s rushing ability makes more sense in comparison to Daniels, I think Maye has more of the boom-or-bust profile that Peters would rather avoid. Injuries withstanding, Daniels offers more of an under-the-radar game manager with strong fundamentals, accuracy and decision-making. Maye has the arm and a size that offers ceilings like Josh Allen and Justin Herbert. But that is accompanied by inconsistent play at times, like from what we saw from him in 2022 versus 2023.

The other thing that is overlooked about Daniels – is his experience. 5 seasons of college ball. 55 games. Purdy played 48 games at Iowa State. 2023 Heisman Trophy Winner, Jayden Daniels is the selection at No. 2. With his ability to add value as a rusher and experience with five years under his belt, he can thrive in a familiar Kingsbury system with underrated weapons already entrenched at the skill positions. In 55 games in college, Daniels rushed for over 3,300 yards – 60 rushing yards per game. Last year’s third quarterback selected, Anthony Richardson, also averaged 60 rushing yards per game in the college ranks.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Jayden Daniels partner-arrow

3) New England Patriots: Drake Maye (QB – North Carolina)

The Patriots have seen firsthand what a Josh Allen-esque QB can do to defenses when he reaches his final form.  When you get the opportunity to pick a franchise QB with a super-high ceiling, you take it. Signing Jacoby Brissett as a bridge QB does not change that.

They select UNC’s Drake Maye. The former Tar Heel tied a bow on his collegiate career with 62 passing TDs and 16 interceptions. Even after taking a slight step backward in 2023 compared to his elite sophomore campaign, Maye shouldn’t wait very long to hear his name called with scouts comparing his outlook to franchise QBs like Justin Herbert and Josh Allen.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Drake Maye partner-arrow

4) Arizona Cardinals: Malik Nabers (WR – LSU)

The current betting odds have Marvin Harrison Jr. listed between -600 and -700 to be the first non-QB selected in the draft. The expectation is for him to land in Arizona, as Kyler Murray‘s new No. 1 WR and replacement for Marquise Brown, who signed with the Chiefs in free agency.

The Cardinals’ odds are listed at -200 for them to select the talented Buckeyes WR. However, from a betting perspective, the value is all about Malik Nabers being the first non-QB selected. Lance Zierlein had Nabers over Harrison in his last mock. Just one team picking inside the top-5 needs to be convinced he’s the better WR to draft over Marvin Harrison Jr.

If there’s any GM that could go off script it would be Ossenfort given his roots stem from New England – notorious for making the “wrong” WR selections. N’Keal Harry is the most recent one that comes to mind. Ossenfort was also part of the Titan’s draft plans to select Treylon Burks in 2022.

Also, Adam Schefter said on his recent podcast, that he heard from multiple trusted sources at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, that Nabers and not Harrison Jr. would be the 1st WR drafted come April. It’s not working in Harrison’s favor that in addition to not working out at the NFL Combine, MHJ did not work out at Ohio State’s pro day.

Nabers is listed at +550 to be the 1st WR selected in the draft per FanDuel Sportsbook, while Harrison is listed at -750. The gap has narrowed since Mock Draft 2.0.

During my rookie WR research to put together my Top Dynasty Rookie Wide Receivers (2024 Fantasy Football), my closest comparison to Malik Nabers was Stefon Diggs.

Nabers, a junior wide receiver from LSU, made significant waves in the college football scene with his impressive 3-year career. Standing at 6 feet and weighing 200 pounds, Nabers led all college-wide receivers during the regular season with 86 receptions for 1,546 yards and 14 touchdowns (34% dominator rating). Over his collegiate career, he accumulated 186 receptions for 2,983 yards and 21 touchdowns, showcasing his consistent development and explosive playmaking ability.

His 28% career college dominator rating ranks 3rd among all WRs in the 2024 draft class.

But what’s more impressive is Nabers’ age-adjusted production. Broke out at 18 years old in 2021 as a freshman. A great sign of things to come for him at the next level. His skill set, marked by his speed, playmaking after the catch, explosiveness and sharp route running, positions him for an immediate impact in the NFL. As he continues to refine his technique and releases, Nabers has the potential to become a dynamic and versatile receiver at the professional level who is yet to turn 21 years old.

As a final note on this pick, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cardinals traded down from 4 as part of a trade-up for a quarterback. Note that in Ossenfort’s first draft calling the shots for Arizona last season, he was aggressive with trades. He also was not afraid to take shots at guys who fell due to injury concerns. So perhaps Arizona doesn’t stick at No. 4 and instead trades down if another team wants to move up for a QB.

JJ McCarthy is listed at +470 to be the 4th overall pick per FanDuel Sportsbook. Drake Maye (should he fall) is listed at +2500 on FanDuel to be 4th overall pick.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Malik Nabers partner-arrow

5) Los Angeles Chargers: Marvin Harrison Jr. (WR – Ohio State)

It’s a brand-new era in LA. New head coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Joe Hortiz (from Baltimore) are IN, as the decision-makers when it comes to personnel and shaping the roster heading into 2024. And as much as it pains Harbaugh to select an Ohio State Buckeye with his Michigan bloodlines, the talent is undeniable for a roster that needs WR juice.

The Chargers are another team that desperately wants to trade down, so this is another spot where we could potentially see a team trade up for a QB to get ahead of the Giants. The two most logical QB options here are McCarthy (+400 FanDuel Sportsbook) and Maye (+3000 FanDuel Sportsbook).

I already bet Harrison Jr. to be selected by the Chargers at +1400. His best odds of being the fifth pick are +600. No need to put more down on my investment as if Harrison is selected 5th overall, it will likely be in the scenario that my mock has followed where Nabers goes first, and the Chargers can’t trade back.

If I were to diversify my selection at 5 (assuming LAC stays), it would be targeting tight end Brock Bowers to be the 5th overall pick. +5000 on FanDuel. Wasn’t that long ago when Bowers was the FAVORITE (in Mock Draft 1.0) to be drafted by the Chargers. His odds are 10-1 to be selected by the Chargers (regardless of where they select).

It’s hardly far-fetched to envision Jim Harbaugh following an unorthodox approach with a TE selection in the top-5. He loves tight ends.

Per PFF, only Iowa has targeted its tight ends more than Harbaugh’s Michigan teams among the entire FBS. Ergo, it’s an important position to Harbaugh’s offensive philosophy, and there’s no better prospect than Bowers in this class.

They want to run the football. Another win for tight end over wide receiver.

Lastly, the HC/GM combination of Harbaugh and Joe Hortiz (from Baltimore) screams they will have completely different values on the “non-premium” positions.

I think chasing the Chargers’ pick in a trade-down scenario is a better approach than projecting the QB the team trades UP for.

And if it’s not a pass-catcher, Harbaugh will draft an OL piece that can further improve the run game. They are -125 to take an OL first per DraftKings Sportsbook. And yet Joe Alt (the consensus No. OL player) is +650 to be selected 5th overall.

Specifically at RT. Given that JC Latham is the highest-ranked pure RT, he could be the first OL drafted. Per the 33rd Team, one of Latham’s strengths is his run-blocking power. Music to the ears of Harbaugh.

Latham is +900 to be the first OL drafted. 25-to-1 odds to the the 5th overall pick.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Marvin Harrison Jr. partner-arrow

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

Enough of the Giants drafting a QB nonsense in Round 1. The team has Daniel Jones under contract with an out in his contract in 2025. Should they be feeling “buyer’s remorse” they might draft a new QB with three picks inside the top 50. But the Jones’ contract has them in a bind for 2024.

I also think the narrative on Jones has gone way too far after a disastrous 2023 season. The guy played in just 6 games because of injuries.

I for one believe this is a total smokescreen to convince QB-needy teams to trade up so the WRs in the draft fall into the Giants’ laps.

The current odds for New York to draft a WR are at -175 per DraftKings Sportsbook.

They so desperately need an alpha WR, and Washington’s Rome Odunze screams like that guy. Odunze is listed at +470 to be selected 6th overall are the odds per FanDuel Sportsbook.

The Giants signed Jermaine Elumunor as a potential RT replacement. 2 years and $14 million. Guard Aaron Stinne also signed with the Giants. New York also signed Austin Schlottmann and Jon Runyan to a 3-year $30 million contract.

The Giants have made “enough” OL improvements to potentially skip on an OT prospect at the top of the draft. Eluemunor was better than Neal at RT last season, so they can justify going WR over OL in the draft if that’s the decision.

New York was connected to several of last year’s top WRs throughout the draft process but ultimately went the defensive route in Round 1 with Deonte Banks. They drafted Jalin Hyatt in Round 3, but that will not dissuade them from doubling down on an obvious area of weakness in one of the strongest WR classes in recent years. The Giants finished 32nd in total PFF receiving grade in 2023. Darius Slayton will be an FA at the end of the season.

The only WR FA move they made was signing Isaiah McKenzie.

Washington’s Rome Odunze‘s four-year career with the Huskies has been marked by consistent improvement, with his junior year in 2022 marking his status as one of college football’s best WRs: accumulating 75 catches for 1,145 yards, averaging 15.3 yards per reception, with 7 TDs.

The 2023 season saw further improvement, with the 6-foot-3 and 215-pound WR amassing 81 catches for 1,428 yards and 13 TDs, leading to a spot on the AP first-team among other awards en route to a career-high 33% dominator rating.

And that was accomplished with him battling through a reported broken rib and punctured lung in late September. Odunze’s 42% deep route percentage ranked third-highest in the class.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Rome Odunze partner-arrow

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

Tennessee gets back to the basics with an offensive tackle, Joe Alt. Alt was PFF’s second-highest graded pass blocker in 2023 (91.2). He also tested like a true ANIMAL at the NFL Combine.

87th percentile 40-yard dash and 88th percentile broad jump.

Per Sports Info Solutions, Alt also posted the second-lowest blown block percentage (1%) among his classmates in 2023. Alt is listed on FanDuel Sportsbook as the favorite to be the first OL selected in the 2024 NFL Draft at -220.

After the Calvin Ridley signing, it’s pretty obvious that the Titans will go OL in Round 1. However, one could argue they couldn’t risk that the “right” WR would fall to them in the draft. Hence, why I wouldn’t just assume that WR is off their draft board after the Ridley signing. Especially when you can get the odds as high as 25-1 (ESPN Bet) versus -550 (FanDuel) for them to take OL. The offensive line makes the most sense after their free-agency moves, but I don’t think it’s the lock of all locks. Will they draft an OL player first? Probably. But I am willing to throw a WR bet at 25-to-1 odds to find out if that’s certain. You better believe it.

Last season, the Titans splurged in free agency on OL and still drafted an OL in Round 1. They could do the same at WR. DeAndre Hopkins and Nick Westbrook are in the last years of their deals. Treylon Burks was drafted by the previous regime. Ran Carthon comes from the 49ers organization, where he has seen multiple weapons be needed for a young QB to thrive.

This could be the Titans selecting the No. 1 rookie tight end Brock Bowers as an option at 7th overall, given the dire need for an upgrade at the position. +1300 on FanDuel for the Tennesse to land Bowers. +3100 for him to be the 7th overall pick per FanDuel Sportsbook.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Joe Alt partner-arrow

8) Atlanta Falcons:  Byron Murphy II (DT – Texas)

This is where I feel strongest about the first defensive player being selected. With defensive head coach Raheem Morris taking over, he and GM Terry Fontenot might flip the script and likely look HARD at the highest-ranked defensive player on the board.

It’s going to come down to CB vs EDGE. And I wouldn’t even completely rule out an interior pass rusher as a contrarian pick for Atlanta.

Morris did so as much in 2 of the last three seasons with the Buccaneers as their previous head coach, with selections of game disruptors Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn. And as the Rams defensive coordinator this past season, LA’s defense ranked first in interior pass-rush win rate.

The betting markets favor Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner between -200 and -225 odds. But given that Turner isn’t a generational pass rusher, I think this is a bit of overconfidence by the betting markets. Again, betting “favorites” this far out isn’t the right approach. Still believe CB is strongly in play here between Quinyon Mitchell and Terrion Arnold. +400 for the Birds to select a CB with their first pick per DraftKings Sportsbook. (-250 for EDGE/DL). These odds should not be this stark given the need for both. Much closer to 50/50 in my estimation.

But the longshot bet I love is for them to take the top interior defender in Byron Murphy II.

The former Texas DT finished with the second-highest pass rush win rate (30%) on true pass sets in 2023 as an interior defender. Per PFF, he was the only interior defender to finish inside the top-10 in PFF pass-rush grade on true pass sets.

Bowling ball of a man at 6-foot-1 and 297 pounds.

Per Mockdraftable.com, one of Byron Murphy’s closest comparisons on the DL is Kentavius Street. Street was just re-signed to the Falcons. Another one of his closest comps is Grady Jarrett. FantasyPros’ own Thor Nystrom compared Murphy to Justin Madubike.

Give me Murphy at 25-1 odds to be the first defender selected. For longer odds, it’s +3400 for him to be the 8th overall pick. I prefer the latter given the odds and the fact that Atlanta to Murphy is the main scenario where he is also the first defender selected.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Byron Murphy II partner-arrow

9) Chicago Bears: Jared Verse (EDGE – Florida State)

The Bears finished with the second-fewest sacks and PFF’s 32nd-ranked pass rush grade. Pass rush is what they need defensively, with their franchise QB already selected. Jared Verse posted the 4th-most pressures in the nation on true pass sets in 2023, with 11 sacks. Came up huge versus Louisville with 10 total pressures and two sacks in his last game as a Seminole. Verse currently owns the third-shortest odds to be the first defender selected in the NFL Draft (+650).

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Jared Verse partner-arrow

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

Two words. Offensive line. Whoever the top OL remaining on the NFL Draft Board will inevitably be the Jets selection at No. 10 after they missed out on the top tier in last year’s class thanks to Bill Belichick. And this is even after they added during the free agency period with a few immediate band-aid fixes, as Aaron Rodgers isn’t getting any younger. 33-year-old tackle Tyron Smith signed with the Jets in free agency. 1-year and $6.5 million. The definition of a band-aid fix.

Interestingly enough, the Jets also traded for OT Morgan Moses (also 33 years old). Moses was traded from the Ravens after finishing last season as PFF’s 10th-highest-graded tackle. He figures to slide in at the starting RT position. He played with the Jets back in 2021.

Still, rumor has it that GM Joe Douglas already has an affinity for the Oregon State tackle. This lines up with Douglas’ recent tendencies to draft players from Power Five schools. Taliese Fuaga was PFF’s second-highest graded tackle in 2023 lining up as the team’s starting right tackle the past two seasons. And given that he can also play guard, it makes sense for Fuaga as the selection over Olumuyiwa Fashanu.

Fuaga has the second-shortest odds of being the first OL selected.

Give me the Jets +200 to take an OL with their first pick.

Just how bad was the Jets’ O-Line last season? Alijah Vera-Tucker posted the highest PFF blocking grade in five games played. AVT is also entering the last year of his rookie deal (5th-year option withstanding). Tackle Mekhi Becton (who is a free agent) was their highest-graded pass-blocker (60.7). He ranked outside the top 60 tackles. Essentially the worst starting-caliber tackle in the NFL last season. OG Laken Tomlinson was released. Center Connor McGovern is also a free agent, but the Jets should be glad to move on. He was PFF’s 34th-graded center…out of 37 qualifiers. Expect 2023 second-rounder Joe Tippmann to be the starting center in 2024. They also signed IOL John Simpson from the Ravens.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Taliese Fuaga partner-arrow

11) Minnesota Vikings: J.J. McCarthy (QB – Michigan)

Whether it’s at pick 11 or as part of a trade-up package, there’s no denying the Vikings’ connection with J.J. McCarthy.  He’s currently -130 to be selected by Minnesota. We got the number at +500 back on March 7th in the 2024 NFL Draft Prop Bet Card.

The super-accurate QB posted the third-highest adjusted completion percentage in the nation (80%) in 2023. McCarthy’s throw air time below an expectation also ranked first in the class (-0.13). This is determined by throw distance and the quarterback’s footwork when throwing. Per Sports Info Solutions a lower number is better, because in that case throws of the same distance are taking less time to get to the target.

The top trade-down candidates include the Patriots, Cardinals, Chargers and Falcons. From a betting perspective, the value is long gone with McCarthy to the Vikings. The value is matching players to teams that will trade back. I think it will be the Cardinals that ultimately trade back.

Think about what the “trade down” team would do in this spot. Could be Brock Bowers or perhaps the first CB in the draft – given that all the teams I listed above need a CB.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for J.J. McCarthy partner-arrow

12) Denver Broncos: Olumuyiwa Fashanu (OT – Penn State)

The top QBs are gone. But the Broncos will not be swayed into over-drafting another based on need alone. In an ideal world, the Broncos trade back to collect picks and scoop up a quarterback later in Round 1 or early in Round 2, similar to what we have seen in recent years with Will Levis, Jordan Love, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson and Drew Lock. Bo Nix is rumored to be viewed very highly by Payton and is the betting favorite to be a Bronco. But it might not be in Round 1.

They need to collect assets without second-round picks to work with.

But if they are “stuck” at No. 12, it has to be a pick in the trenches. I lean toward OL, given they have not drafted any tackles in the last three drafts. Tackle Garrett Bolles is in the final year of his deal with backup LT Cam Fleming already a FA.

They draft a future franchise in LT Olumuyiwa Fashanu. Fashanu earned the 4th-highest PFF pass-blocking grade in the class in 2023.

It could very well be Terrion Arnold, Quinyon Mitchell or Brock Bowers at this pick.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Olumuyiwa Fashanu partner-arrow

13) Las Vegas Raiders: Terrion Arnold (CB – Alabama)

CB Jakorian Bennett struggled as a rookie, and they lost Amik Robertson as another CB starter in FA (signed with the Lions). New head coach Antonio Pierce has stressed the need for a CB1. They get their CB1 in the form of Terrion Arnold.

He was named All-American in 2023, alongside teammate Kool-Aid McKinstry. Arnold finished the 2023 season as PFF’s 4th-highest graded CB in the class, with the No. 1 grade as a run defender (90.6). Arnold also finished 3rd in the nation in pass breakups (13) and interceptions (5).

Arnold and Quinyon Mitchell are duking it out for CB1 alpha status. Per FanDuel Sportsbook, Arnold is listed at +1400 to be the first defensive player drafted. Only Mitchell has shorter odds among CBs (+380).

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Terrion Arnold partner-arrow

14) New Orleans Saints: JC Latham (OT – Alabama)

The Saints have had a bottom-10 PFF pass-blocking grade in back-to-back seasons. Trevor Penning has been a colossal bust as a former 2021 first-round pick. Andrus Peat (also declining) and Cameron Erving are gone. James Hurst took a pay cut to stay with the Saints. New Orleans should get back to the basics with an offensive tackle at the top of the draft. They select tackle JC Latham from Alabama.

Latham took a slight step back in 2023, as he was PFF’s second-highest graded pass-blocker in 2022. But that Crimson Tide pedigree suggests he comes with a high floor.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for JC Latham partner-arrow

15) Indianapolis Colts: Brock Bowers (TE – Georgia)

There’s no better tight end prospect than Brock Bowers in this class. Or perhaps ever as Bowers is regarded as the greatest college football tight end of all time.

The former Bulldog tight end broke out immediately in 2021, posting a 28% dominator rating in his first season as a true freshman with 13 TDs and 882 receiving yards. He has the second-shortest odds of being drafted by the Colts (+300). But this might just be a pipe dream.

Per Tony Pauline, the Chargers, Titans, Bears and Jets are all in on Bowers. Possibly he won’t make it past Denver at No. 12.

Still, the Colts have zero difference-makers at tight end on their current roster. The lack of high-tier tight-end talent was so apparent last year when they would split snaps between three and even four tight ends at times. Mo Alie-Cox can be cut for a zero dead cap hit with a potential “out” in the final year of his 2024 contract.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Brock Bowers partner-arrow

16) Seattle Seahawks: Dallas Turner (EDGE – Alabama)

Mike Macdonald is IN as the new head coach for the Seattle Seahawks, and there’s certainly credence to his defensive background influencing the first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Last year’s defense struggled – specifically with rookie edge rusher and last year’s second-rounder, Derick Hall. They need to improve the pass rush across the defensive line in 2024. Their run defense was also a major liability.

Seattle’s made enough improvements on the OL that I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go DL/EDGE in Round 1. There’s some value in Seattle taking a DL/EDGE player at +110 odds per DraftKings Sportsbook.

Alabama’s Dallas Turner comes to NFL ready from Nick Saban’s defense, which will help him create an instant impact for Seattle’s defensive line.

Turner tested off-the-charts at the NFL Combine posting 92nd percentile or better marks in the broad jump, vertical jump, and 40-yard dash with an 88th percentile wingspan.

Given the performance, I fully understand I might be too low on Turner, given his testing and current odds as the favorite to be the first defensive player.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Dallas Turner partner-arrow

17) Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Thomas Jr. (WR – LSU)

The Jaguars are in an interesting position in the NFL Draft with the 17th overall pick because the odds are in their favor that they can get a solid CB or tackle option to solve their team’s most obvious needs after a disastrous second half of the 2023 season. Four top 100 draft picks (as well as a projected 3rd-round compensatory draft pick coming their way).

However, given that their secondary and OL are complete by the way of starters in place, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go the WR route after losing out on the Calvin Ridley sweepstakes.

Over 38 games in college, Brian Thomas Jr. showcased his ability to be a game-changer, culminating in a junior year where he exploded onto the scene with 68 receptions for 1,177 yards and an FBS-leading 17 touchdowns, averaging an impressive 17.3 yards per catch.

Thomas Jr. tested extremely well at the NFL Scouting Combine, running a 4.33 40-yard dash time (94th percentile) with a 1.5 10-yard split (87th percentile). He also jumped 38.5″ in the vertical (83rd percentile) and 126″ in the broad jump (80th percentile).

One of Thomas’ closest comps per mockdraftable.com is former Clemson WR, Justyn Ross.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Brian Thomas Jr. partner-arrow

18) Cincinnati Bengals: Xavier Worthy (WR – Texas)

The Bengals’ director of player personnel Duke Tobin has been running the show as the team’s de facto general manager since as early as 2013. Over that time, he’s been no stranger to investing high-end draft capital into offensive linemen. Since 2015, the Bengals have drafted five offensive linemen (Cedric Ogbuehi, Jake Fisher, Billy Price, Jonah Williams, and Jackson Carman) with first- or second-round picks.

But they’ve selected a wide receiver in the first round (John Ross and Ja’Marr Chase) twice. Their other recent highly drafted WRs have been second-rounders (Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins).

Bolstering OL and WR is something the Bengals are not shy about doing as they look to get back into Super Bowl contention, even if they appear set at each position post-free agency.

They tagged Higgins and signed Trent Brown in free agency. But neither are long-term answers. They need to acquire a cheap player in this year’s draft at one of those premium positions.

The last time the debate was between OL vs WR, WR came out victorious. And I’d bet these Bengals don’t change their stripes when it comes to this decision in 2023.

Tobin drafted John Ross after he broke the 40-yard dash record at the NFL combine in 2017. He repeats the process by drafting Xavier Worthy after he broke the all-time 40-yard dash record time at the NFL Combine.

The betting odds are 25-1 for the Bengals to draft Xavier Worthy.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Xavier Worthy partner-arrow

19) Los Angeles Rams:  Quinyon Mitchell (CB – Toledo)

The Rams skated through last season with almost zero investment in their defense. No team had less money invested in their secondary than the Rams (or on defense overall). And that remains true even after the initial wave of 2024 free agency. Finishing 21st in pass defense DVOA with a no-name secondary unit is impressive, but there’s obvious room for growth – 32nd in PFF coverage grade.

I’d imagine they invest heavily in defensive backs in the NFL Draft. They have drafted more defensive backs in the first three rounds than any other position. In 2022, they drafted two cornerbacks and a safety with three of their first five selections. After completely foregoing any defensive back in last year’s draft, their draft strategy should normalize with secondary options.

In free agency, the only move they made was bringing back CB Darious Williams after his disappointing two-year stint in Jacksonville.

Quinyon Mitchell from Toledo ran a 4.33 40-yard dash (second-fastest among all CBs) with a 38” vertical (75th percentile) and 122” broad jump (49th percentile) at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

He has finished as PFF’s highest-graded cornerback in back-to-back seasons. He also has the shortest odds per FanDuel Sportsbook of any CB to be the first defensive player selected in the NFL Draft (+380).

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Quinyon Mitchell partner-arrow

20) Pittsburgh Steelers:  Troy Fautanu (OT – Washington)

The Steelers’ top priorities in the draft will likely come down between OL and WR. Incumbent left tackle starter Dan Moore Jr. is a 2025 free agent and is coming off a season as PFF’s 6th-lowest graded tackle. They can and should upgrade at LT. They already released OT Chukwuma Okorafor (who signed with the Patriots).

And even though all their OL starters should return from last season, they can upgrade everywhere. IOL and OT are both major needs after the Steelers posted the second-worst passing block grade in 2023 per PFF. Keep in mind they “upgraded” the OL last offseason.

The need for CB is lessened in favor of WR given the trade with the Panthers for Donte Jackson. The WR needs increases with Diontae Johnson now a Panther.

Troy Fautanu played LT at Washington but could likely kick inside to guard with his size at 6-foot-4 and 317 pounds. Finished the 2023 season as PFF’s 5th-highest graded pass-blocker while logging over 1,200 pass-blocking snaps the past two seasons. Over that span, just two sacks were allowed from his blocking. His stock is steadily on the rise after the NFL Scouting Combine, given that Fautanu posted an impressive 5.01 40-yard dash (90th percentile), 1.71 10-yard split (86th percentile), 32.5” vertical (91st percentile) and 113” broad jump (92nd percentile).

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Troy Fautanu partner-arrow

21) Miami Dolphins:  Laiatu Latu (EDGE – UCLA)

On defense, Jaelan Phillips will also be up for a new contract at the end of the year. It comes at a really bad time with Miami’s DL missing guys like Andrew Van Dinkel (Vikings), Raekwon Davis (Colts) and Christian Wilkins (Raiders) all on new teams in 2024. To add legitimate insult to injury, Bradley Chubb‘s Week 17 torn ACL adds another wrinkle to the Dolphins’ pass rush woes into next season. The team also cut DE Emmanuel Ogbah to save close to $14M in cap space.

No team is spending less across the DL than the Miami Dolphins.

Miami’s trenches on both sides are decimated. Although they threw more bodies on the defensive side by signing DT Jonathan Harris, DE Da’Shawn Hand, DT Benito Jones, DT Neville Gallimore and OLB Shaq Barrett. Hand and Barrett are the only two that could be actual difference makers, so I don’t think the DL is finished from a drafting perspective.

Laiatu Latu has size at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds and pass-rushing production to fill the Dolphins’ pass-rush devoid. Latu led the nation in pass rush win rate (40%) on true pass sets in 2023 as PFF’s highest-graded pass-rusher. He comes with some scary injury red flags stemming from a neck injury in 2020 that almost ended his football career.

Per Sports Info Solutions, Latu finished first in the class in pressure rate over expectation (17.2%), true pressure rate (30%) and tackles for loss per game (2.2).

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Laiatu Latu partner-arrow

22) Philadelphia Eagles: Tyler Guyton (OT – Oklahoma)

The Eagles’ defense regressed in a major way in 2023, especially at cornerback, with their veteran starters playing way past their prime. They desperately need to rehaul their secondary entirely between cornerback and safety.

But this team loves to invest high-end draft picks into their OL more than any other position. And when in doubt, the Eagles usually just draft a player from Georgia.

Jason Kelce has retired, but the Eagles were ahead of this when they drafted Cam Jurgens and Tyler Steen in back-to-back drafts. Landon Dickerson was also entering the last year of his contract. but the Eagles are too keen on letting their OL pieces hit free agency. He signed a 4-year, $84 million extension.

The Eagles added additional depth across the OL with the signing of Matt Hennessy. The former Falcons IOL missed all of last season with a knee injury. He was PFF’s third-highest-graded run-blocker in 2021.

Sua Opeta (Buccaneers) and Jack Driscoll (Dolphins) are both gone, testing the depth of the Eagles’ IOL. Lane Johnson isn’t getting any younger at age 34.

They re-invest in the OL with Tyler Guyton. The Oklahoma product posted the second-lowest blown block percentage in the OT class in 2023. And he is Lane Johnson’s protégé.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Tyler Guyton partner-arrow

23) Minnesota Vikings: Cooper DeJean (CB – Iowa)

The Vikings are up again, after making a trade with the Texans. With a franchise QB on the roster, they can shift focus to their defense.

They address the weakness by drafting CB Cooper DeJean.

DeJean allowed a sub-40 passer rating and zero TDs when targeted last season for the Hawkeyes’ top-tier defense. DeJean is a super versatile player with experience at safety, linebacker, and special teams returner. He was also a three-sport athlete with an extensive track background.

Byron Murphy is entering the last year of his contract. They drafted two CBs last season, with Mekhi Blackmon playing well enough to be a feasible piece in 2024. Still, Andrew Booth Jr. has barely played over the last 2 seasons. Akayleb Evans should not be viewed as a legitimate stater after finishing as the team’s worst CB in 2023.

The Vikings really could use an improved slot CB/S considering both Murphy and Josh Metellus were bad defending the inside in 2023. DeJean’s versatility can offer a diverse skill set for Flores’ defense.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Cooper DeJean partner-arrow

24) Dallas Cowboys: Amarius Mims (OT – Georgia)

Offensive tackle is a glaring issue for Big D. 33-year-old Tyron Smith signed with the Jets in free agency. Terence Steele is penciled in as the other starting tackle, but he finished as a bottom-15 pass blocker in 2023. He allowed more QB hits than any other tackle.

Insert Amarius Mims who was Georgia’s starting RT the last two seasons, although he missed time with injuries in 2023. But in the 7 games he did play – he allowed just one pressure. The guy is an absolute mammoth, measuring 6-foot-8 at 340 pounds with 36 1/8-inch arms (97th percentile).

I might be too low on Mims, with the Steelers, Bengals and Raiders all “IN” on the former Bulldog tackle prospect. Note that he does come with inexperience, so he might be best fit for a team that already has two starting tackles in place, with Mims their plan for the future.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Amarius Mims partner-arrow

25) Green Bay Packers: Kool-Aid McKinstry (CB – Alabama)

I’d envision the Packers either going IOL or CB with decent draft capital. Green Bay has also drafted a center/interior offensive lineman in four of the last five drafts – two of which have been selected inside the top 65. After foregoing IOL in 2023, look for the Pack to add more big bodies to bolster the inside of the line. Especially given their surplus of selections on Day 2 of the draft.

Cornerback is a big issue, given that all the ones that played last year besides Jaire Alexander weren’t very good or were injured. Eric Stokes is going on the final year of his rookie deal after missing most of the 2023 season with injuries. Keisean Nixon was last year’s starting slot CB and re-signed for a 3-year deal worth $18 million. CB Corey Ballentine will also return on a one-year deal.

The two DBs they drafted late last season in Round 7 – Carrington Valentine and Anthony Johnson Jr. – shockingly didn’t pan out.

CB Kool-Aid McKinstry finished as PFF’s 4th-highest graded CB in the 2024 class in 2023, ahead of teammate Terrion Arnold. He allowed a sub-50% completion rate in coverage (49%) and the highest coverage snaps per target (11.7) – a strong indicator that teams were not throwing his way.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Kool-Aid McKinstry partner-arrow

26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Nate Wiggins (CB – Clemson)

The Buccaneers brought back Baker Mayfield in free agency, putting them outside the Round 1 QB market. On the eve of the legal tampering period, the Buccaneers signed the former No. 1 overall pick to a 3-year deal worth $100M with $50M guaranteed.

So instead of searching for a QB, anticipate Tampa to bolster their secondary that was gashed for the fourth-most passing yards per game in 2023.

Carlton Davis was playing in the last year of his contract before he was traded to the Lions for draft picks. They also signed CB Bryce Hall from the Jets and Tavierre Thomas from the Texans. But they could use more help.

The Buccaneers select a cornerback from Clemson, Nate Wiggins. The 6-foot-2 and 173-pound CB (2nd percentile) allowed a 44.4 passer rating in coverage in 2023. He came in slightly underweight at the combine but delivered in the 40-yard dash with a 4.28 (98th percentile) before exiting with an injury.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Nate Wiggins partner-arrow

27) Arizona Cardinals: Chop Robinson (EDGE – Penn State)

The Cardinals drafted a No. 1 WR with their first pick, and balance out their first round with a selection on defense to improve Jonathan Gannon’s squad that ranked 32nd in expected points added in 2023. They need help everywhere defensively. They have to go with a pass-rusher which was part of the nucleus behind the Eagles’ defensive success under Gannon in past years. Chop Robinson finished as PFF’s second-highest graded pass rusher in 2023 (92.3). The 6-foot 254-pounder edge rusher’s got all the intangibles from twitch to explosiveness that will have NFL draft rooms salivating, especially after he blew the doors off the testing at the NFL Scouting Combine.

He ran a 4.48-second 40 (98th percentile), leaped a 34.5-inch vertical (66th percentile) and jumped 128” broad jump (95th percentile). But he was not done. His 10-yard split at 1.54 seconds (98th percentile) was the fastest for any edge rusher over 250 pounds per the 33rd Team.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Chop Robinson partner-arrow

28) Buffalo Bills:  Adonai Mitchell (WR – Texas)

The top need for Buffalo is easy to identify. WR. Joe Brady took over as offensive coordinator in the second half of the 2023 season, and his approach with more WRs will be at the forefront, with Gabe Davis signing with the Jaguars in free agency. They already released Deonte Harty as well. Veteran Mack Hollins should slide in and take up the majority of cardio routes, while Curtis Samuel adds a speed element that the offense has been lacking.

Per DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bills’ shortest odds are to select a WR with their first selection at -110, followed by DL/EDGE (+175) and CB (+600).

AD Mitchell is the pick with him cementing his status as a potential first-rounder after an impressive combine.

Mitchell measured at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and had a big day:

  • 34-second 40-yard dash (94th percentile)
  • 52-second 10-yard split (76th percentile)
  • 5” vertical jump (89th percentile)
  • 136” broad jump (98th percentile)

As a Longhorn, Mitchell posted a breakout season en route to a 32 percent dominator rating with 11 TD scores on 55 receptions. Standing at 6’2″ with a lanky frame at 204 pounds, Mitchell offers an ideal build for an outside receiver. Mitchell reminded me a lot of a lighter Michael Pittman Jr. while watching him on film.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Adonai Mitchell partner-arrow

29) Detroit Lions: Jer’Zhan Newton (DT – Illinois)

The Lions revamped their secondary in free agency, making it less likely they draft a CB. And there’s no better way to accompany an improved secondary than with a strong pass rusher opposite the up-and-coming superstar, Aidan Hutchinson.

However, the Lions are still listed with +115 odds to draft a CB first per DraftKings Sportsbook, followed by OL (+235), and then DL (+330).

But Romeo Okwara is stepping away from football. They added DE Marcus Davenport after he got hurt last season. They bolstered the run defense though, with a massive addition of DT D.J. Reader. Still, they could use more DL help. Some of their DTs are in the final year of their contracts in 2024.

They’ve met with several EDGE/DT prospects that project to be picked at the end of Round 1 including Jer’Zhan Newton.

Newton works from the defensive interior but provides a pass rush that is not easily replicated. Led the nation in pass-rush snaps, with 8 sacks and a top-10 pass-rush win rate %. Per Sports Info Solutions, he led all DTs in pressure rate above expectation (8%), true pressure rate (15%) and pressure share (30%). The 6-foot-2 and 304-pound DT has timeshares in opposing backfields.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Jer’Zhan Newton partner-arrow

30) Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Morgan (OT – Arizona)

OT Jordan Morgan. 3-year starter at Arizona State with 2,400 snaps under his belt as a left tackle. The perfect replacement for Morgan Moses.

They’ve got impending FAs across the OL this season – John Simpson (Jets), Kevin Zeitler (Lions) – and next season – Patrick Mekari, Ben Cleveland, and Morgan Moses. Moses was traded to the Jets. Massive need now at OL.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley is under contract for two more seasons but has gone through ups and downs since his injuries started piling up. If the Ravens see an opportunity to upgrade from Stanley, don’t think they won’t pull the trigger to do so. The front office is not happy they are paying him like a top-5 LT. If they see a future franchise tackle on the draft board, they will pull the trigger.

Hence, the Ravens are listed with -175 odds to draft an OL first per DraftKings Sportsbook, followed by DL/EDGE (+350), and then WR (+500).

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Jordan Morgan partner-arrow

31) San Francisco 49ers: Graham Barton (IOL – Duke)

OL makes a ton of sense as the 49ers’ other top need, given that two of their starters last season – Jake Brendel and Spencer Burford – were well below league average at center and right guard. Jon Feliciano re-signed as the team’s starting center. Aaron Banks will be a free agent at the end of 2024. Colton McKivitz re-signed a 1-year deal with the 49ers.

Duke’s Graham Barton has spent the last three seasons at left tackle for the Blue Devils, but he could also kick inside for the 49ers if he is needed on the offensive interior. Per SIS, Barton finished the 2023 season with the highest positive run-behind block percentage among the OG class.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Graham Barton partner-arrow

32) Kansas City Chiefs: Troy Franklin (WR – Oregon)

I have to imagine that the KC Chiefs invest heavily in surrounding Patrick Mahomes with more weapons. With Rashee Rice entrenched as the possession receiver, they still could add a speedy ROOKIE WR like Oregon’s Troy Franklin as another (and reliable) big-play threat to Mahomes’ arsenal. Note that they only signed Marquise Brown to a one-year deal worth $7 million. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is gone. Justin Watson and Kadarius Toney are all free agents at the end of the season. Mecole Hardman and Richie James are free agents this offseason.

The Chiefs are listed with -125 odds to draft a WR first per DraftKings Sportsbook, followed by OL (+175), DL/EDGE (+1300), and then CB (+400). The CB odds have shortened dramatically since I first bet this in my BettingPros featured piece: 2024 NFL Draft Prop Bet Card (+750). Again, that is with the hopes they traded L’Jarius Sneed.

But in this exercise, they just want another WR for Mahomes.

By his junior season in 2023, Franklin had established himself as a premier college football receiver, amassing nearly 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns, demonstrating not just his ability to find the end zone but also his consistency as a receiver with a final season dominator rating of 29% – 17th-highest mark in the 2024 class.

Franklin’s strengths lie in his speed, with a 40-yard dash time of 4.35 seconds, making him a formidable deep threat with 14 catches of 20-plus air yards and the third-highest yards per route run (3.32) in the 2024 draft class.

However, 4.35 appeared to be an overly aggressive time, as the former Duck ran a more modest 4.41 at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine. Not slow by any means, but slightly disappointing for the 6-foot-2 and 176 pounds. Specifically, Franklin’s 10-yard split out of the gates wasn’t particularly fast at 1.61 seconds, good for dead last in the class (20th percentile).

Franklin’s jumping drills were still solid: 39″ vertical (86th percentile) and 124-inch broad jump (70th percentile).

3-cone was listed at 6.9 seconds (63rd percentile) and his 20-yard shuttle was at 4.31 (30th percentile). But apparently, he was battling the flu while at the NFL Scouting Combine. He weighed closer to 183 pounds at Oregon’s pro day. Even if he doesn’t go Round 1, he will be drafted highly in Day 2.

Check out our full 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report for Troy Franklin partner-arrow

Just Missed the Cut

More 2024 NFL Mock Drafts

Here are a few 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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