With the national title game in the books and the 2024 NFL Draft order continuing to solidify, prospect rankings and landing spots will be much of the talk over these next four months. There is plenty of blue chip talent in this class, including at key areas such as quarterback, wide receiver and offensive tackle. Let’s take a look at some ideal fits for Round 1 in April with my latest mock draft.
Caleb Williams, QB, USC
While it remains a mystery if the Bears move forward with Justin Fields as their quarterback, whoever is under center will officially be working with a new offensive staff.
If I had to make a prediction, they ultimately move Fields for Day 2 compensation and Ryan Poles takes his guy with the top pick in the draft. While his final college season didn’t go as expected, there’s no denying Williams’ special arm and playmaking ability.
Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
It was a brutal season for the Commanders, yet bottoming out will be tremendous for them in the long run. Picking second overall in this draft (on top of competent ownership) makes their front office and coaching staff openings much more attractive.
Whoever lands those roles will walk away with the best available quarterback at this selection. Maye’s size and ability to throw with touch and consistent accuracy makes him a no-brainer as the future of this franchise.
Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
There’s no way around it: the Patriots need a quarterback. Both Caleb Williams and Drake Maye are expected to be off the board (and in this scenario they are). Does this lead to New England looking for a bridge signal caller through a trade or free agency?
If that happens, I’d expect the Patriots to take the best player in the draft in Marvin Harrison Jr. He’s the type of playmaker they’ve lacked since Randy Moss. There’s also a world where they fall in love with the talent of quarterback Jayden Daniels and select the 2023 Heisman winner here, but Harrison is the much better overall prospect.
Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
In a perfect world, Marvin Harrison Jr. falls into Arizona’s lap due to the quarterback craze. In this scenario they still make out great with a blue chip tackle in Joe Alt. Paris Johnson Jr. would stay at right tackle for the Cardinals in this scenario, where he spent all of his rookie year.
Alt’s movement for his size is impressive, while being an extremely disciplined player who can move defenders in the run game.
Malik Nabers, WR, LSU
With a new regime taking over soon, wide receiver is still in play even after the previous group took Quentin Johnston in the first round of last year’s draft.
Nabers is a different tier of prospect, with explosive acceleration that can beat you before and after the catch. In any normal draft class, he’s the top wide receiver.
Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU
The Giants are only tied to Daniel Jones from a financial perspective for one more season. If they are picking this high again in 2025, there’s a chance general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll aren’t making that selection.
The point I’m making is there should be some urgency to find an upgrade under center. Daniels’ electric running ability and vertical passing is a great fit with Daboll, who unlocked both of those aspects while working with Josh Allen a few years ago in Buffalo.
Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State
General manager Ran Carthon took his quarterback last year in Will Levis, now he needs to set him up for success. Fashanu is a tremendous pass blocker with light feet, long arms and excellent recovery skills.
Levis tends to hold the ball long as most young quarterbacks do. Fashanu enhances the chances of keeping him upright, playing alongside last year’s first rounder in Peter Skoronski.
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Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama
The first defensive player to come off the board, Turner is as athletic as they come in the front seven. In 2022, so much of his game was built around speed, but the strength strides he made in 2023 have turned him into a top 12 prospect.
He’ll play his entire rookie season as a 21-year-old, with a massive pass rush ceiling in front of him.
9. Chicago Bears
Rome Odunze, WR, Washington
The Bears (and Jets right after them) are sitting in a prime trade down spot considering how many teams outside the top 10 could have interest in a quarterback. With no trades in this mock, the Bears land their new quarterback, Caleb Williams, a big target from the same conference in Rome Odunze.
This season he caught 20 of his 27 contested-catch opportunities (Per PFF), a remarkable improvement from 2022 where he hauled in just 4 of 16.
Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State
The Jets’ offseason mission is very clear: upgrade at both wide receiver and all across the offensive line. They will most likely do the former through a trade or free agency, leaving the latter as a huge mission in this year’s draft.
They’d love if Joe Alt or Olu Fashanu made it to this pick, but that’s not likely as it stands right now. Don’t overlook Fuaga, who had a monster year at right tackle for Oregon State. He’s a mauler in the run game and shows tremendous strength against power in pass protection.
Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington
The College Football Playoff was a rollercoaster for Penix Jr., who looked like the best quarterback in the country against Texas and then came back down to earth against Michigan.
More importantly, he put out two years of great tape in the Huskies offense. His arm challenges every layer of the field and specifically outside the numbers. For a player viewed as a late Day 2, early Day 3 pick before the season, I’ve heard a ton of buzz about him over the last two months indicating he’s on the rise in this draft.
Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State
The Broncos have some pieces on defense coming off the edge in Jonathon Cooper, Baron Browning and Nik Bonitto, but they need a bona fide game wrecker. That’s what Verse has been for Florida State these past two seasons, with heavyweight hands and knock back power.
Jer’Zhan Newton, DL, Illinois
Much like the Vikings and Broncos in front of them, I could see the Raiders making an aggressive play for a quarterback in this draft. If they stand pat, Newton bolsters a defense that really came to life when Antonio Pierce took over.
Newton’s explosive off the ball for his size and easily works off blockers to shut down the run. I think in a scheme that lets him loose he has much more pass rush upside.
Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA
Latu is one of the best stories of this draft, going from being medically retired to posting back-to-back double digit sack seasons. His pass rush tool box is deep, showing off a variety of moves and refined hands to create a pathway to the quarterback.
Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia
Bowers is a top 10 player in this draft, but could the positional value of tight end lead to a slide? If that happens, Shane Steichen’s offense gets a complete steal. He’s as dynamic as they come at the position with arguably the best hands in the draft. He’s also held his own as a blocker throughout his time at Georgia.
Troy Fautanu, OL, Washington
There is a lot of chatter about Fautanu, a college left tackle, kicking inside at the next level. He kept Michael Penix upright while also anchoring the Huskies rushing attack. Seattle could use interior help and no matter where he ultimately lands on an NFL offensive line, he has the talent to warrant a top 20 selection.
Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU
The Jaguars need to retool the interior of their offensive line, but I think they can accomplish that on Day 2 of the draft. If they lose Calvin Ridley in free agency, that will open up a key spot on their wide receiver depth chart.
Enter Brian Thomas Jr., who can flat out fly. He’s got length, tracking and body control to excel as a consistent vertical threat. He averaged 18 yards per reception last season while hauling in 15 touchdowns.
Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia
With Jonah Williams set to test free agency, the Bengals could be back in the market for tackle help. Mims, a mammoth of a human (6-foot-7, 340 pounds) with upside to match, started six games at right tackle for Georgia this season. Him and Orlando Brown Jr. would be one of the biggest tackle tandems in all of football.
Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa
A lot of the discussion around DeJean throughout this pre-draft process will be around him playing corner or safety at the next level. The argument for him in Green Bay is easy: They get a ballhawk and sturdy tackler for the backend of their defense.
Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson
It was a down year for Carlton Davis after signing an extension last offseason, leaving cornerback a very real possibility for the Bucs with this pick (especially with the top three edge rushers off the board in this scenario).
Wiggins has excellent length, awareness and leaping ability in coverage. He also played 94 of his 277 coverage snaps in press, an added bonus.
Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama
There’s a lot of work to be done from a personnel standpoint on Arizona’s defense and it’s easy to start at corner. Arnold’s 2023 tape is tremendous, showing off athleticism and the ability to remain sticky in coverage. He hauled in five interceptions and broke up 12 more passes, constantly making his presence felt when the ball was in the air.
Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State
With Wiggins and Arnold going off the board right in front of them, the Rams look to add pass rush help here instead. Robinson will challenge to be the most athletic edge rusher in this class and his flashes are truly brilliant. He’s explosive off the ball and uses his speed when turning the corner into the pocket. While he just turned 21 years old, he needs to become a much more consistent threat.
Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
With a big reputation coming out of summer, McKinstry wasn’t challenged in the same capacity his teammate Terrion Arnold was this year. He does a really good job against short and intermediate routes where he can use his instincts and arm length to disrupt wide receivers. The Steelers desperately need another outside corner to pair with Joey Porter Jr.
Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington
The Dolphins’ injury woes at edge pass rusher have been ruthless. They lost Jaelen Phillips to a torn Achilles in late November, then Bradley Chubb to a torn ACL in Week 17. Andrew Van Ginkel is a free agent after this season as well.
Enter Bralen Trice, who plays as hard as any defender you’ll come across in college football. He constantly fights through and around blocks, showing off consistent ability to convert speed to power.
Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB, Missouri
Even at their ages, it was hard to predict this kind of drop off for the Eagles’ secondary this year. They have a few young, developmental corners on the roster (Kelee Ringo and Eli Ricks), but it’s a position worth investing a first round pick in.
Rakestraw Jr. has played both inside and outside over the last two seasons and he’s done it in impressive fashion. He’s good at disrupting receivers’ routes with physicality and has a few highlight reel run stops, showing off how he plays with an edge.
Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon
The Chiefs have been missing a big play threat at wide receiver and Troy Franklin can quickly fix that. He averaged over 17 yards per catch this season on his way to nearly 1,400 receiving yards. His explosive vertical acceleration and long speed will play at the next level.
Chris Braswell, EDGE, Alabama
Will Anderson was a home run pick for the Texans, giving DeMeco Ryans a building block on his front four. In this spot the Texans tap back into that Alabama pipeline with Chris Braswell. He has some of the best power rushes on tape in this edge class. If Jonathan Greenard leaves in free agency, Ryans will need to bolster the pass rush again.
T.J. Tampa, CB, Iowa State
It’s been a great season for the Lions where their offense continues to ascend and their front seven made some serious strides. Yet, this is a secondary that still needs more cover talent. Tampa’s length and vertical speed make him plug and play at outside corner.
Devontez Walker, WR, North Carolina
With free agency looming, the boom or bust nature of Gabe Davis in Buffalo could be coming to an end. Enter Devontez Walker, a long strider that covers a lot of ground to win over the top, while bringing a big time catch radius to attack the football.
JC Latham, OL, Alabama
The Cowboys are a franchise that will wisely always prioritize the offensive line. This is a bit of a slide for Latham, who’s flashes of pure power are brilliant, but he needs to cut down on penalties and improve his overall balance. His two years of starting experience at right tackle for Alabama projects well for his fit with Dallas.
Jordan Morgan, OL, Arizona
Kyle Shanahan’s run game asks a lot of the offensive line, but Jordan Morgan’s career at Arizona shows he’s ready for that task. His work in the outside zone rushing attack stands out on film. Much like Troy Fautanu earlier, it’s up in the air whether he plays guard or tackle at the next level.
Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State
The Ravens got a shifty, creative wide receiver in Zay Flowers last year in Round 1. Now, they grab a big-bodied, above-the-rim target in Keon Coleman. His play style fits with Lamar Jackson’s ability to create magic out of structure.
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