The dust has settled from NFL free agency, so let’s take another crack at an NFL mock draft. A lot has changed since my first mock draft, but one thing remains the same: Mock drafts are an exercise in futility, as it’s essentially impossible to get even remotely close to correct on all your picks. So instead of worrying about that, 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 could have trades in future mocks, but we’ll keep the board static for this one. Thankfully, the Bears and Panthers have already shaken things up with their blockbuster trade for the No. 1 overall pick. With no other 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 2.0 — First Round

1. Chicago – Caleb Williams, QB, USC

With Justin Fields officially traded, this pick is all but a lock at the top of the board. Williams can make every throw and has a Mahomesian ability to operate outside structure. He’s the new face of the franchise for the Bears.

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 reigning 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 – Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

Jim Harbaugh cleaned house at wide receiver, trading Keenan Allen and moving on from Mike Williams, so look for the Chargers to address the position in the draft. In Nabers, they’d add a versatile pass catcher who is as explosive as they come and is especially capable of making plays downfield.

6. NY Giants – Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

Brian Daboll’s squad boasts one of the league’s thinnest wide receiver corps, so wideout could be in play with this pick. Odunze would give them a true X-receiver with a mouthwatering combination of height, weight and speed.

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

After attacking the offensive side of the ball in free agency, the Falcons address a big need  on defense at edge. Turner is athletic as they come and can get after the quarterback in a hurry.

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9. Chicago – Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

With the second of their first-round picks, the Bears add a high-ceiling option along the edge. Verse offers top-shelf strength and athleticism along the edge, giving Chicago a big upgrade at the position.

10. NY Jets – Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State

The Jets went after offensive line in free agency, but it won’t hurt the cause to add some young talent to the mix. With Aaron Rodgers north of 40, it’s more important than ever to keep him protected.

11. Minnesota – JJ McCarthy, QB, Michigan

Current betting odds have the Vikings as the clear favorite to draft McCarthy at -115. Sure, there’s a good chance they package their two first-round picks to move up the board, but this mock has McCarthy falling to them at 11. With Kirk Cousins out of the mix, and not much else to fall back on (sorry Sam Darnold truthers), the Vikings are a good bet to go quarterback in the first round.

12. Denver – Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Brock Bowers Georgia 2024 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

The best tight end in the nation over the last two years falls right into Sean Payton’s lap. 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

13. Las Vegas – 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. He would fill a major need for the Raiders.

14. New Orleans – Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

Offensive line is a glaring weak spot for the Saints, especially on the left side of the line. They address that need in Fuaga, who is gigantic and as steady as they come. 

15. Indianapolis – Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

The Colts didn’t address corner in free agency, so expect them to hit the position in the draft. Mitchell is extremely athletic and can make plays on the ball at will in coverage. He’s a big step up from JuJu Brents.

16. Seattle – JC Latham, OT, Alabama

Mike Macdonald kicks off his head coaching tenure by addressing the trenches. Lathan could slide in opposite Charles Cross and would be an upgrade on Abraham Lucas

17. Jacksonville – Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

The Jags let Calvin Ridley walk in free agency, and yes, they did sign Gabe Davis. But Davis is a bit of a one-trick pony. That isn’t the case for Thomas, who is a height-weight-speed specimen who put on a show at the combine.

18. Cincinnati – Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington

There’s nothing wrong with adding more protection for Joe Burrow. Fautanu has experience at tackle and guard but would likely give the Bengals help along the interior.

19. LA Rams – Byron Murphy, IDL, Texas

With Aaron Donald retired, the Rams have a big hole to fill along their defensive line. Murphy offers a three-technique skill set to help the Rams on that front.

20. Pittsburgh – Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

Corner is a big area of need for the Steelers. In DeJean, they’d land a versatile player who can essentially play anywhere you want him to in the secondary. However, he’d likely slide in opposite Joey Porter with Patrick Peterson out of the mix for the Steelers.

21. Miami – Jer’Zhan Newton, DL, Illinois

Christian Wilkins walked in free agency, so Miami address a big need with this pick. Newton gives them an upgrade along the interior with the ability to get after the quarterback.

22. Philadelphia – Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

It’s no secret that Philly has a need in their secondary. The Eagles consistently got roasted by opposing passing games in 2023. They get a much-needed upgrade to their cornerback room with the addition of Wiggins, who comes with impressive length and ball hawking skills.

23. Minnesota - Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

The Vikings acquired this pick in a trade with Houston. While there seems to be momentum building for Minnesota to package this pick with the 11th overall to move up the board, we’ll keep them here in this mock. In Latu, Minnesota adds some firepower to the edge.

24. Dallas – Jackson Powers-Johnson, OC, Arizona

The Cowboys have Tyler Smith and Zach Martin, but they’re thin elsewhere along the offensive line. Powers-Johnson gives them an upgrade at center to help the interior of their offensive line.

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25. Green Bay – Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

There’s a lot of talent at tackle in this year’s class, so the Packers line up a potential successor for the recently released David Bakhtiari

26. Tampa Bay – Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State

It’s so tempting to go wide receiver here, but we’ll let cooler heads prevail and give the Bucs an explosive edge. Besides Vita Vea, Tampa is extremely thin along the defensive line. 

27. Arizona – Darrius Robinson, EDGE, Missouri

The Cardinals continue to backfill their roster with talent in the first round, grabbing the physical and athletic product out of Mizzou.

28. Buffalo – AD Mitchell, WR, Texas

All right, let’s have a little fun. Buffalo let Gabe Davis walk in free agency and look to be coming to the end of the line with Stefon Diggs. So, let’s give Josh Allen his next generation of pass catchers starting with Mitchell. The former Longhorn is an athletic freak who ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds.

29. Detroit – Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

The best first name in this year’s draft class lands with the Lions, who could use an upgrade at the position. Dan Campbell’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 –Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

Xavier Worthy Texas 2024 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

We have another sexy Texas wideout coming off the board at the end of the first round. Wide receiver was a weak spot for the Ravens beyond Zay Flowers this season. In Worthy, they add world-class speed and a player who could serve as a great counterpoint to Flowers.

31. 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.

32. 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 and recently signed field-stretcher, Marquise Brown.