2024 NFL mock draft: Surprising rise for 4th QB taken

The 2024 NFL draft is heavy on offensive prospects with quarterbacks, wide receivers and offensive tackles expected to dominate the first round. The rich crop of QBs could lead some clubs to consider bold trades, but with a disproportionate number of underclassmen opting to return to college football this year, the talent drops off considerably in the middle rounds. That fact could make some of the teams currently picking in the top 10 hesitate to trade down.

As such, rather than attempt to forecast trades, I stuck with the current draft order and projected the best schematic and personality fits for each club.

2024 NFL Draft prospect rankings | Top 10 QB prospects | Top 10 RB prospects | Top 10 WR prospects | Top 10 TE prospects | Top 10 OT prospects | Top 10 IOL prospects | Top 10 Edge prospects | Top 10 DT prospects | Joel Klatt's mock draft

1) Chicago Bears (from Carolina): Caleb Williams, QB, USC

No surprise at the top, with the Bears selecting Williams, the most gifted quarterback of the class. The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner’s unique combination of improvisational ability and accuracy to all levels should make the Bears an immediate playoff contender.

2) Washington Commanders: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

It might seem silly for the Commanders to trade away one former Tar Heel quarterback (Sam Howell), only to draft another one, but Maye’s upside justifies the move. Prototypically built, athletic and already well-versed in the Air Raid scheme new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury is installing, Maye is a logical fit in Washington.

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3) New England Patriots: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

The Patriots would almost surely pounce on Williams or Maye if either were available here, but for a franchise seeking a true rebuild, Daniels’ dual-threat talents and Heisman pedigree match nicely with new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, providing a perfect departure from the stationary pocket passers that typified the previous era.

4) Arizona Cardinals: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

The Cardinals currently have 11 wide receivers on their roster but only one of them — second-year pro Michael Wilson — is signed into 2025. Further, the club already leads the NFL with seven of the first 104 selections of this draft. Harrison is the No. 1 target Kyler Murray and the Cardinals have been waiting for.

5) Los Angeles Chargers: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

I’m fascinated with the Chargers’ decision at No. 5. With longtime stars Keenan Allen (Chicago) and Mike Williams (NY Jets) playing elsewhere, nabbing a new pass-catcher for Justin Herbert like LSU’s Malik Nabers or Washington’s Rome Odunze would certainly make sense. This is Jim Harbaugh’s team now, however, and fortifying the offensive line with a decade-long starting tackle is more his style. Speaking of Harbaugh, his seemingly ceaseless public gushing over former Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy suggests that this pick may be up for auction to a QB-needy club.

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6) New York Giants: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

While the season-ending injury to starting quarterback Daniel Jones obviously played a role, Big Blue was relatively tiny when it came to production from its receivers in 2023, with Darius Slayton leading the team with just four touchdown receptions among the club’s 15. Nabers caught 14 himself last year and rewrote the LSU record books in just three seasons.

7) Tennessee Titans: JC Latham, OT, Alabama

Don’t let the fact that Derrick Henry has been replaced with Tony Pollard fool you into thinking that the Titans are going to abandon the running game under new head coach Brian Callahan. This year’s tackle crop is phenomenal, which is why I expect that position group to lead all others in first round selections. Latham is as safe and versatile as it gets, warranting a top-10 pick, though with the Titans lacking a third-round selection and possessing just two picks among the first 105 overall, there is a possibility Tennessee trades out of this spot.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Dallas Turner, Edge, Alabama

One of the most interesting subplots to the 2024 NFL Draft will be when the first defender comes off the board. Head coach Raheem Morris might push for Turner here given the former Alabama star’s upside and the fact that Atlanta was led in sacks (6.5) and QB hits (17) last season by 16-year NFL vet Calais Campbell, a current free agent.

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9) Chicago Bears: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

Investing in a young quarterback at No. 1 overall only makes sense if the Bears protect him. Fuaga never surrendered a sack in college and is even better as a run blocker. He is a plug-and-play NFL starter with the size, power and mindset to help immediately at tackle or guard.

10) New York Jets: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

The acquisitions of veterans Mike Williams (WR), Tyron Smith (OT), Morgan Moses (OT), Haason Reddick (OLB), and Javon Kinlaw (DT), among others, suggest that the Jets are very much building around Aaron Rodgers in win-now mode. Pairing Bowers — the best tight end prospect I’ve evaluated in nearly 25 years in this business — with Rodgers would be a coup.

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11) Minnesota Vikings: Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

Like the Jets one pick ahead of them, everything the Vikings have done in the offseason points to them targeting a skill-position star early in this draft, specifically a quarterback to replace Kirk Cousins. With all due respect to their divisional rival Bears and presumptive No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams, Penix is the most accurate pocket passer in this class and an ideal fit in Kevin O’Connell’s aggressive downfield attack. 

Despite what you may have heard or read, there is no guarantee Penix will be available here, however, so Minnesota packaging this selection and the one recently acquired from Houston (No. 23 overall) to move into the top 10 for a QB would not be surprising.

12) Denver Broncos: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

The Broncos also are on the lookout for a quarterback, but with just two of the top 120 picks of the 2024 NFL draft at their disposal, Denver lacks the resources to realistically move up and will be at the mercy of the teams selecting ahead of them. McCarthy lacks Penix’s arm talent but is much younger and his anticipation, athleticism, accuracy (including on the move) and team-first mentality match nicely with Sean Payton.

13) Las Vegas Raiders: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

The Raiders are another candidate for a quarterback, but with five off the board over the first 12 picks, defensive-minded head coach Antonio Pierce might push for a defender, instead. Arnold is a classic Alabama cornerback — feisty, physical and technically sound.

14) New Orleans Saints: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

Adding some youth to an aging front seven is the most likely plan for New Orleans but longtime Saints GM Mickey Loomis is too experienced not to adjust and take the best-player-available strategy. Odunze, a top-10 candidate, certainly would qualify while providing the size and jump-ball skills to perfectly complement speedster Chris Olave.

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15) Indianapolis Colts: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

Like the Saints a pick ahead of them, the Colts have bigger concerns than wide receiver, but Thomas is simply too good to ignore at this point in the draft. He offers a rare combination of size, agility and speed — a package that could terrify opponents currently planning on dedicating extra players to the box in an attempt to corral the Colts’ unique two-headed running game led by Anthony Richardson and Jonathan Taylor.

16) Seattle Seahawks: Jared Verse, Edge, Florida State

Fortifying an offensive line that struggled to consistently create holes in the running game might seem like the top priority in Seattle, but GM John Schneider has often preferred the bold move over the safe one. Polished, proven and passionate, Verse would make the Seahawks’ front seven more versatile and physical, similar to the one new head coach Mike Macdonald left in Baltimore. Seattle is another likely trade-down candidate, with the Seahawks currently having the largest gap in the NFL between their first and second (No. 81) selections, a span of 65 picks.

17) Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

After failing to build upon their 2022 divisional championship a year ago by falling just short of the playoffs, the Jaguars will be looking to address specific needs. One clear concern is a secondary that allowed 27 touchdowns (only six NFL teams surrendered more). Mitchell erased any concerns about his level of competition with terrific performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, ranking as the top cornerback in the draft for some scouts.

18) Cincinnati Bengals: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

Protecting Joe Burrow is the obvious top priority in Cincinnati and few come better prepared to do so than Mims, a gargantuan (but shockingly graceful) man at 6-foot-6 and 340 pounds. With just eight starts over his college career, Mims’ lack of experience could push him down the board a bit, but he may just be the most physically gifted blocker in this class, offering the kind of upside the Bengals have been willing to gamble on in the past.

19) Los Angeles Rams: Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

Let’s state the obvious: no one defender is going to replace future first-ballot Hall of Famer Aaron Donald. But Newton, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, offers a pro-ready combination of quickness, power and technique that could make the Rams’ transition from his retirement smoother than most expect.

20) Pittsburgh Steelers: Troy Fautanu, OL, Washington

Regardless of whether it is Russell Wilson or Justin Fields taking the snaps in Pittsburgh this season, the Steelers must protect their blindside. If he's here, Fautanu would easily rank among the best players available, offering a blue-collar style of play always prioritized in Pittsburgh.

21) Miami Dolphins: Byron Murphy II, DT, Texas

Similar to the Rams a few picks earlier, the Dolphins are facing a significant hole in the middle of their defense with former first round pick Christian Wilkins lured to Las Vegas in free agency. Given Miami’s explosive offense, adding a talented pass-rusher to batter opposing quarterbacks attempting to keep up with would seem like a logical corresponding move by the Dolphins’ savvy duo of GM Chris Grier and head coach Mike McDaniel.

22) Philadelphia Eagles: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

At first glance, the Eagles would appear to as loaded at cornerback as any team in the NFL, boasting two veteran starters in Darius Slay and James Bradberry and plenty of depth behind them. Nevertheless, Philadelphia allowed 35 passing touchdowns in 2023 (second-most in the NFL to Washington’s 39) with just nine interceptions. With Slay and Bradberry due millions and on the wrong side of 30 years old, GM Howie Roseman could see the quick and highly competitive Wiggins as a perfect refresher.

23) Minnesota Vikings (from Cleveland through Houston): Ruke Orhorhoro, DT, Clemson

While replacing long-time standout Danielle Hunter would seem like the top priority on the defensive side of the ball in Minnesota, improving the talent and depth inside is just as needed. Orhorhoro is among a nationally underrated defensive tackle class, offering pro-ready size, strength and quickness while still just scratching the surface of his potential, having only played football since his junior season of high school.

24) Dallas Cowboys: Jackson Powers-Johnson, OL, Oregon

The Cowboys can only hope the actual draft follows this projection as the club has just one center — former practice squad member Brock Hoffman — currently on their roster. The 6-foot-3, 334-pound Powers-Johnson is aptly-named, boasting rare bulk, strength and agility for his frame.

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25) Green Bay Packers: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Like the Cowboys, the Packers need to reinforce their offensive line given that the club appears to be moving on from longtime starting left tackle David Bakhtiari. Fashanu has the size and grace to warrant a selection much earlier than this, but he isn’t as powerful as some of his classmates and could slip slightly as a result. At this point in the draft, however, he could prove a steal.

26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Laiatu Latu, Edge, UCLA

Similar to the Packers a pick earlier, Tampa Bay is in good position to nab a falling star. Latu — the reigning Vince Lombardi Award (given annually to the nation’s top lineman), Ted Hendricks Award (defensive end) and PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year — certainly is. Powerful, agile and possessing this year’s best array of pass rush moves, Latu should be a top-25 cinch if teams are satisfied with his medical grade.

27) Arizona Cardinals (from Houston): Chop Robinson, Edge, Penn State

While certainly not as accomplished as the aforementioned Latu, Robinson is the quickest edge rusher in this class, projecting as a possible top-15 pick for team’s willing to gamble on upside. Questions about his durability and consistency against the run could push the explosive edge rusher down the board, but the Cardinals could see the duo of Harrison (projected at No. 4) and Robinson as Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates — like what the Texans received by trading with Arizona last year to nab CJ Stroud and Will Anderson Jr.

28) Buffalo Bills: Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa

With longtime standouts Tre’Davious White and Jordan Poyer now longer in Buffalo, the Bills will be looking to the draft for reinforcements in their secondary. An excellent value at this late point in the first round, DeJean is a highly versatile and instinctive defender who could play multiple roles.

29) Detroit Lions: Ennis Rakestraw, Jr. CB, Missouri

Even after the trade for quality veteran Carlton Davis from Tampa Bay, the Lions will be in the market for more cornerbacks following their release of former starter Cam Sutton. Rakestraw won’t earn first-round grades from every NFL team, but he plays with the degree of physicality that head coach Dan Campbell requires.

30) Baltimore Ravens: Darius Robinson, DL, Missouri

The Ravens boasted arguably the most physical defense in the NFL a year ago, but given that the club is replacing several key players and its defensive coordinator, reinforcements will be a priority. Robinson looks and plays like a Raven, boasting a rare package of size, physicality and positional versatility.

31) San Francisco: Graham Barton, OL, Duke

Given the contract squabbles with wideout Brandon Aiyuk, it would be easy to project a sudden and pro-ready pass-catcher (like Georgia’s Ladd McConkey?) in this space. But at their core, the 49ers remain a run-first unit. With depth concerns along the interior, nabbing a highly versatile and dependable blocker like Barton just makes too much sense to ignore.

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32) Kansas City Chiefs: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

The Chiefs surprised many with their trade of star cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, but tough decisions come annually for a cap-tight club competing for every title. With several quality starting-caliber corners expected to come off the board at the tail portion of the first round, GM Brett Veach gambles (and wins) that a good one will fall to him.

Teams without first-round picks:

33) Carolina Panthers: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

The Panthers invested heavily in free agency on guards to provide last year’s top pick Bryce Young the pocket in which he can flourish. Now, he needs better weapons on the perimeter. Coleman — arguably the best jump-ball receiver in this class — would be a fine fit to lead off Day 2 of the draft.

42) Houston Texans (from Minnesota): Kris Jenkins, DT, Michigan

A suddenly dynamic offense caught a lot of Houston’s opponents off-guard a year ago, but they’ll adjust to attack a run defense that allowed 19 touchdowns on the ground a year ago (tied for 5th most in the NFL). While not quite as big as his father (a four-time Pro Bowler of the same name), Jenkins has the frame and physicality to help immediately.

54) Cleveland Browns: Junior Colson, ILB, Michigan

Like the aforementioned Texans, the Browns were gashed in the red zone by opposing running games, surrendering 18 touchdowns in 2023. The powerfully built Colson would erase any long-term concerns the club may have at inside linebacker.

Rob Rang is an NFL Draft analyst for FOX Sports. He has been covering the NFL Draft for more than 20 years, with work at FOX, Sports Illustrated, CBSSports.com, USA Today, Yahoo, NFL.com and NFLDraftScout.com, among others. He also works as a scout with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. Follow him on Twitter @RobRang.