Jeff Ratcliffe's 2024 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
We may still be in the NFL postseason, but NFL Draft season is officially here. So, let’s break out the abacus and do the first mock draft of the year.
Mock drafts are an exercise in futility. It’s essentially impossible to get even remotely close to correct on all your picks. Instead of worrying about nailing the picks, we’re going to approach this mock as an academic exercise with a few parameters in place. First, we aren’t going to worry about trades in this mock. We’ll have trades in future mocks, but we’ll keep the board static for this one. With no trades, our goal here is to 1) identify which positions teams are most likely to address in the first round, and 2) identify the top players likely to be on the board at the positions of need for each pick.
2024 NFL Mock Draft 1.0 — First Round
1. Chicago – Caleb Williams, QB, USC
Sure, there’s an argument to be made for the Bears yet again trading out of the first pick, but come on. How can you pass on this guy? Williams has the ability to make every throw and has a Mahomesian ability to operate outside structure. We aren’t going to use the “G” word with him just yet, but it’s fair to call Williams the best quarterback prospect to enter the league since Andrew Luck.
2. Washington – Drake Maye, QB, UNC
Here’s where things start to get interesting. The Commanders need a quarterback, and they’ll have two to choose from at this pick. I’m giving the slight edge to Maye. Don’t let the stats fool you — the North Carolina product has a ready-made NFL arm and can step right in and start for a new-look Washington offense.
3. New England – Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU
The Jerod Mayo era begins with a signal caller. But Daniels isn’t just any quarterback. The reining Heisman winner offers a dual-threat skill set with explosive chops as a runner. He also took a major step forward as a passer in 2023. The Patriots will still have more work to do at the other skill positions, but they’ll be off to a good start with Daniels.
4. Arizona – Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
Even though this is only the fourth pick, the Cardinals are getting tremendous value with Harrison right here. The greatest laboratories in the world couldn’t create a better-looking wide receiver prospect. Harrison has size, speed and ball skills for days. He gives Kyler Murray an instant boost in the passing game.
5. LA Chargers – Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia
The best tight end in the nation over the last two years falls right into Jim Harbaugh’s lap at five. Bowers may not be the biggest tight end, but he’s elite nearly everywhere else. A dynamic threat in the passing game and a bulldog as a blocker, he has a two-way skillset reminiscent of George Kittle.
6. NY Giants – Malik Nabers, WR, LSU
Brian Daboll’s squad boasts one of the league’s thinnest wide receiver corps, so wideout could be in play with this pick. In Nabers, they’d add a versatile pass catcher who is as explosive as they come and is especially capable of making plays downfield.
7. Tennessee – Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
Offensive line is a major area of need for the Titans, especially at left tackle. Alt would fill that need as a plug-and-play starter.
8. Atlanta – Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama
While quarterback is the biggest need for this team, the Falcons don’t get a crack at the top three signal callers in this mock. Instead, they opt to address another need along the edge. Turner is athletic as they come and has the ability to get after the quarterback in a hurry.
9. Chicago – Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State
The Bears protect their investment in Caleb Williams with Fashanu, who would be an upgrade on Braxton Jones at left tackle. Fashanu was also high school teammates with Williams.
10. NY Jets – Rome Odunze, WR, Washington
Entering the offseason, the Jets have a thin wide receiver room with Garrett Wilson and a whole bunch of role players. Odunze would give them a true X-receiver with a mouthwatering combination of height, weight and speed.
11. Minnesota – Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State
Verse offers top-shelf strength and athleticism along the edge, giving the Vikings a big upgrade at the position.
12. Denver – Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama
One of the top corners in the nation in 2023, Arnold has the versatility to excel in man and zone schemes and offers high-end athleticism. Pairing him and Pat Surtain together would be scary.
13. Las Vegas – JC Latham, OT, Alabama
The Raiders are yet another team in need of a quarterback, but instead Antonio Pierce and company go with offensive line help. Lathan could slide in opposite Kolton Miller and would be an upgrade on Jermaine Eluemunor.
14. New Orleans – Bo Nix, QB, Oregon
Well, then. The Saints get their succession plan in place for Derek Carr, who has no guaranteed money on his contract after 2024. Nix is a polarizing prospect, but he enters the NFL with a ton of experience and more than enough skills to hold his own on Sundays. Getting to develop for a year behind Carr certainly doesn’t hurt.
15. Indianapolis – Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa
Corner is a big area of need for the Colts. In DeJean, they’d land a versatile player who can essentially play anywhere you want him to in the secondary.
16. Seattle – Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA
At the time of writing this mock, we still don’t know who the Seahawks’ head coach will be in 2024. (Update: It'll be former Ravens DC Mike Macdonald, which only bolsters this pick.) However, we do know the team could use some more firepower along the edge, and they get just that in Latu.
17. Jacksonville – Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson
The Jags bolster their cornerback room with the addition of Wiggins, who comes with impressive length and ball hawking skills.
18. Cincinnati – Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State
There’s nothing wrong with adding more protection for Joe Burrow. Fuaga is gigantic and as steady as they come.
19. LA Rams – Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington
Is he a first-round prospect? That’s certainly going to be debated over the next three months. But Penix certainly has a shot at hearing his name called on Day 1. The Rams would make a lot of sense, as Matthew Stafford isn’t getting any younger. And like Derek Carr with the Saints, Stafford has no guaranteed money left on his contract after the 2024 season.
20. Pittsburgh – Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
21. Miami – Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia
22. Philadelphia – Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo
It’s no secret Philly has a need in the secondary. The Eagles consistently got roasted by opposing passing games in 2023. Mitchell is extremely athletic and has the ability to make plays on the ball at will in coverage.
23. Houston – Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State
It’s so tempting to go wide receiver here, but we’ll let cooler heads prevail and give the Texans an explosive edge to complement Will Anderson Jr.
24. Dallas – Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona
Like the Dolphins a few picks earlier, Dallas puts a contingency plan in place for life after Tyron Smith.
25. Green Bay – Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington
There’s a lot of talent at tackle in this year’s class, so the Packers follow up the Cowboys and Dolphins and line up a potential successor for David Bakhtiari, who is entering his age-33 season and is in the final year of his deal.
26. Tampa Bay – Jer’Zhan Newton, DL, Illinois
Besides Vita Vea and Shaq Barrett, the Bucs are very thin along the defensive line. Newton gives them an upgrade along the interior with the ability to get after the quarterback.
27. Arizona – Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB, Missouri
The Cardinals upgraded at wide receiver earlier in this round. Now they have the opportunity to add much needed talent to their secondary with this pick, which was acquired in last year’s trade with Houston.
28. Buffalo – Graham Barton, IOL, Duke
The Bills get a rock-solid interior defensive lineman with a high football IQ in Barton.
29. Detroit – Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia
Dan Cambell’s squad boasted an elite run defense, but they have some work to do against the pass. Don’t be surprised if they address that issue with this pick.
30. Baltimore – Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU
31. Kansas City – Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon
Like Jackson, Patrick Mahomes needs an upgrade to his wide receiver corps. Franklin is just that. The versatile and big receiver was Bo Nix’s go-to guy in 2023 and would give the Chiefs a true x-receiver to go along with ascending slot Rashee Rice.
32. San Francisco – Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma
This team has very few holes, so why not add to the offensive line? Trent Williams is still playing elite football, but it’s fair to wonder how long he can keep it up. He’ll be 36 in 2024. In the short-term, Guyton could also be a possible upgrade on Colton McKivitz on the right side of the line.