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NFL Mock Draft 2024: Edition 1 (Early Edition)

Drake Maye, North Carolina

With college football in full swing across the country, we have a much better idea of where most NFL teams stand and which prospects will be off the board quickly next spring. For the teams at the bottom of the standings, it's likely they are already looking towards the draft, so why not take a swing at how the first round will shape up next April?

1. Chicago Bears (from Carolina)

Caleb Williams, QB, USC

Will Chicago choose to move on from Justin Fields this offseason? It's the question on everybody's minds, particularly after an underwhelming start for both Fields and the Bears this fall. There's still several months of football that will give us a better idea but as it stands today, the allure of Caleb Williams at the top of the Draft may be too difficult to pass up.

2. Chicago Bears

Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

This would be a dream scenario for the Bears, allowing them a chance to reinvigorate a passing game that has been horrific for years. Marvin Harrison Jr. is the best wide receiver we've seen coming out of college since Calvin Johnson and makes plenty of sense here for Chicago. 

3. Arizona Cardinals

Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

More and more, it looks like Arizona is set on moving on from Kyler Murray over the offseason. Even before his torn ACL, there seemed to be a gulf between him and the front office and with the 2024 NFL Draft loaded with elite quarterback prospects, the timing sets up for a new era in Cardinals football. Drake Maye should battle Caleb Williams for the top QB spot throughout the conclusion of the season and into the pre-Draft process and would be a value play here at pick No. 3.

4. Denver Broncos

Jared Verse, DE, Florida State

It's been a brutal start to the Sean Payton era in Denver, illuminating the fact that Nathaniel Hackett might not have been the problem for the Broncos. Denver is too committed to Russell Wilson to imagine them moving on this offseason, so instead they snag an impact edge rusher in Jared Verse, giving them an opportunity to upgrade a mediocre front seven.

5. Las Vegas Raiders

Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas

A hot start to the 2023 campaign has cemented Quinn Ewers as a likely Top 10 selection this next spring and he becomes the third quarterback off the board within the first five picks. He's an obvious upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo at the position, who always felt like a bridge QB, and should be able to do damage right away with Davante Adams on the perimeter.

6. New York Giants

Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

For years, the Giants have struggled to develop an adequate offensive line and it appears to still be a problem area during a rough start to the fall. Enter Penn State's Olu Fashanu, who likely would have been a first-rounder last spring, but instead decided to spend one more season in Happy Valley. He has all the tools to be a franchise left tackle for years to come, and pick No. 6 may end up being too low for him in the long-term.

7. New England Patriots

Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

New England is in a similar situation to Chicago, struggling through a rough season with a young quarterback under center. Mac Jones doesn't seem like the answer, but with the top three quarterbacks off the board, it doesn't feel very Patriots-esque to reach on a signal-caller as a replacement. Instead, they add a dynamic pass-catcher in Brock Bowers, who is a shoe-in to take home the John Mackey Award this year.

8. Minnesota Vikings

Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

Yet another team facing a quarterback quandary this offseason are the Minnesota Vikings. Kirk Cousins is not currently under contract for 2024 and it feels about time for the organization to move on. Head coach Kevin O'Connell needs a big-armed signal-caller to effectively run his offense and Michael Penix fits the bill. Eight may be slightly high for the Washington product so the more likely scenario is this pick is after a trade down but considering I don't do trades in my mocks, this is where he lands in this version.

9. Arizona Cardinals (from Houston)

Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

If Arizona does indeed move on from Kyler Murray over the offseason, it feels likely their secondary focus will be on the offensive line. Paris Johnson is thriving at right tackle, but left tackle D.J. Humphries is under the final year of his deal and will be 30 this December. The Cardinals find a long-term replacement in Joe Alt, the latest in a long line of elite Notre Dame blockers.

10. New York Jets

J.C. Latham, OT, Alabama

It will be interesting to see what the Jets do this offseason after the Aaron Rodgers injury derailed their 2023 hopes. The defense is good enough to carry the team to the postseason and assuming Rodgers is back next fall, improvement along the O-Line will be key. This could very well be Mekhi Becton's last stand at tackle, so the Jets adding J.C. Latham from Alabama makes plenty of sense sense.

11. Washington Commanders

Amarius Mims, OL, Georgia

Washington is another team that should be looking to upgrade their offensive line, providing Sam Howell more help after his strong start to the 2023 campaign. Georgia's Amarius Mims has been out for most of the year with an ankle injury, which threatens to drop him slightly, but he's still worthy of a pick in this range after a stellar Bulldog career.

12. Atlanta Falcons

Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State

Atlanta's ceiling is capped with Desmond Ridder under center, but I'm not sure there's an obvious solution at this point in the Draft. Instead, they may opt to give Ridder one more year and improve the weapons around him. Enter Emeka Egbuka, a primetime talent who would likely be the top receiver off the board in any Marvin Harrison-less draft.

13. Los Angeles Rams

Laiatu Latu, DE, UCLA

The Rams will be entering strange territory with this pick next spring, assuming it doesn't get dealt - they have not made a first-round selection since 2016. That makes this selection all the way more valuable, and I like the idea of improving a pass rush that lacks much bite behind Aaron Donald. Laiatu Latu is an ideal modern edge rusher, a stand-up end or outside linebacker with exceptional quickness and scheme versatility.

14. Tennessee Titans

Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Whether Will Levis or Malik Willis ends up as the future option under center for the Titans, this organization needs to upgrade the weapons around him. Bringing in DeAndre Hopkins was obviously a short-term fix, and we just haven't seen enough from Treylon Burks. Keon Coleman is a world-class athlete who should bring immediate playmaking to an offense that needs it.

15. Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Turner, DE/LB, Alabama

It's been a slow start to the 2023 season for the Cincinnati Bengals, but I'm under the firm belief this team will get things rolling. But if by chance they don't, they should take advantage of drafting in the top-half of the first round and add a difference-maker off the edge, such as Alabama's Dallas Turner. Turner has been productive since the moment he stepped on campus for the Tide and much like Latu, brings the scheme versatility to be an asset in any defense.

16. Houston Texans (from Cleveland)

Jer'Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

The Texans look like the early winners of the 2023 NFL Draft with the play of C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. Next, I think Demeco Ryans and the front office choose to continue bulking up the defensive front, and defensive tackle Jer'Zhan Newton is a value play here. The disruptive interior force has all the physical tools to be a stalwart on the interior D-Line for years to come.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers

Kalen King, CB, Penn State

Could Pittsburgh choose to pair two former Penn State corners together in Joey Porter Jr. and Kalen King? Porter Jr. has looked good early, but the rest of the Steeler secondary is a concern, with the short-term solution of Patrick Peterson looking like a disaster so far. King is a well-rounded defensive back with enough versatility to help in a multitude of ways.

18. Los Angeles Chargers

Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

If the Chargers want to genuinely challenge Kansas City in the AFC West, the pass defense must improve. It's been one of the worst in the NFL over the season's first five weeks, and there are options available for them if they end up landing in the mid-first round. The most enticing would be Kool-Aid McKinstry, a shutdown corner with the athletic tools to add much-needed playmaking to this back-end.

19. New Orleans Saints

Chop Robinson, DE, Penn State

I'll be very curious to see which direction the Saints go with their 2024 first-round pick. Even with Chris Olave, wide receiver seems to be in play, but New Orleans could also use reinforcements along both lines. I'll bet on them going best player available at this spot, which happens to be Demeioun "Chop" Robinson. The one-time Maryland transfer has been unblockable since he got to Happy Valley and should be a star of the pre-Draft process.

20. Indianapolis Colts

Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

For all the attention their inept offense receives, and for good reason, Iowa remains an absolute NFL factory on the defensive side of the ball. The latest Hawkeye defender set to be playing on Sundays is dynamic corner Cooper DeJean, who is the type of weapon that NFL personnel are going to fall in love with. He makes plenty of sense for an Indianapolis team that needs to continue strengthening their secondary.

21. Green Bay Packers

Patrick Paul, OT, Houston

It's always a mystery which direction the Packers will go on any given draft night, but offensive tackle seems like the obvious direction as things stand today. David Bakhtari's 2023 season is officially done, and likely his Green Bay career. The Packers hope to land his replacement here in Houston's Patrick Paul, a powerful 6'7", 315-pound blocker who has been steadily rising up boards.

22. Seattle Seahawks

Kamren Kinchens, S, Miami (FL)

Jamal Adams' health problems have been extremely unfortunate for a well-rounded Seahawk defense, and exposed the fact the team could look to upgrade the position over the offseason. Even better, Kamren Kinchens is projected to land right away here, giving Seattle a chance to land a productive defensive back who is the heart-and-soul of the Hurricane defense.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars

J.T. Tuimoloau, DL, Ohio State

Jacksonville has invested significant draft capital in the front seven over the years, but the production just hasn't lived up to expectations. That could change with the addition of a piece like J.T. Tuimoloau, who still struggles with consistency, but can absolutely take over games when he's on. He could realistically play on the inside or perimeter in the NFL, although edge rusher is likely his future.

24. Baltimore Ravens

Kingsley Suamatia, OT, BYU

Sure, Lamar Jackson can create magic when he's forced out of the pocket, but you have to believe the Baltimore front office cringes every time they see their franchise centerpiece on the turf. They should focus on improving the offensive line over the offseason, and Kingsley Suamatia offers exceptional value near the late first-round. A former five-star prospect who originally landed at Oregon, Suamatia isn't your typical BYU Cougar.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

Has there been a more surprising quarterback over the first month of the season than Baker Mayfield? I'm still convinced he's the long-term answer here in Tampa, but looks capable enough to lead a talented roster to the postseason. However, questions could be looming in the receiver corps, as Mike Evans' future is uncertain and there's a lack of depth beyond Chris Godwin. Malik Nabers is an explosive, sure-handed target that seems like a great fit at this spot.

26. Dallas Cowboys

Denzel Burke, CB, Ohio State

With Trevon Diggs out for the rest of the year and Stephon Gilmore set to become a free agent this offseason, it's likely Dallas has real concerns about the state of their cornerbacks. Even if Diggs comes back at 100 percent, it would be wise to invest at this position and Denzel Burke is the type of proven, well-built corner that should have a long NFL career.

27. Buffalo Bills

Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

Buffalo may have drafted a tight end early last spring, but I don't think that means they're done investing in their pass-catchers. Gabe Davis has been a steady No. 2 but could be looking at a big payday over the offseason, so the Bills add a cheaper option in Xavier Worthy here. The Texas wide out shouldn't be overshadowed by a loaded receiver group; he has significant upside.

28. Detroit Lions

Bralen Trice, DE, Washington

Aidan Hutchinson has developed into an elite pass rusher for the Lions and looks to be a cornerstone for the organization for a long time. It makes sense for Detroit to add another pass rusher to pair with him, considering the other ends on the roster. Enter Bralen Trice, a strong, relentless rusher from Washington who has gotten better each year in the collegiate ranks.

29. Miami Dolphins

Cooper Beebe, OL, Kansas State

I like the idea of Miami continuing to invest in their offensive line, considering Tua's lengthy injury history and the fact they could lose both starting guards in free agency. Cooper Beebe has been rising up draft boards and feels like the type of prospect that will cement himself in the first-round. He's an elite run blocker, but should be able to acclimate quickly to this offense.

30. San Francisco 49ers

Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

A ferocious San Francisco pass rush has masked many of the issues the team has on the back-end. It feels likely John Lynch will move to shore up this position group in the draft, and this is the projected range for Nate Wiggins. The Clemson product has had a strong start to his 2023 campaign and offers all the necessary physical tools.

31. Kansas City Chiefs

Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

You may not need an elite receiver corps when you have Patrick Mahomes under center, but it's still fairly shocking to see how this group has declined in recent years. Rome Odunze would immediately bring a jolt to this receiver corps and with his big-play ability, he could form a fearsome duo with Mahomes for years to come.

32. Philadelphia Eagles

Javon Bullard, DB, Georgia

Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia front office keep going back to the Georgia well with great success and it's not crazy to imagine them doing so once again in 2024. They need long-term answers among an aging back-end, and Javon Bullard can realistically play either corner or safety in the pros.

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