Following this year’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, we now have somewhat of an idea where the chips may fall in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft, although free agency will change that drastically. Let’s take a look at an early projection from the first pick through pick 32.
1. Chicago Bears: Caleb Williams, QB, USC
I’m not quite sure what’s going on in the Caleb Williams camp saga with the Chicago Bears, but when it’s all said and done, I don’t know how any team can pass on the best quarterback prospect in years, regardless of where he may “prefer” to play.
2. Washington Commanders: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU
Here’s a bit of a curveball as the Heisman winner Daniels heads to the Commanders ahead of UNC’s Drake Maye. New Commanders OC Kliff Kingsbury will be smitten with Daniels’ athletic ability, similar to his quarterback during the time as the head coach for the Cardinals, Kyler Murray.
3. New England Patriots: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
The Bill Belichick-less Patriots make it three consecutive signal-callers to start the draft as they begin their rebuild after the failed Mac Jones experience.
4. Arizona Cardinals: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
What a home run this would be for the Cardinals, a team that played good football down the stretch last season. With a healthy Kyler Murray, and arguably the best overall player in the class in Harrison Jr., they are a sneaky playoff candidate next season.
5. Los Angeles Chargers: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington
Chargers veteran wide receiver Keenan Allen will hit free agency next season, and at some point, Father Time is also bound to catch up to him. Mike Williams seems to always be on the shelf, and last year’s first-round selection Quentin Johnston couldn’t find his way onto the field last season even with Allen and Williams injured. Yikes. Odunze would immediately be one of the best receivers in the league. In a division where you have to keep up with the Chiefs, you can never have enough weapons.
6. New York Giants: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU
Three consecutive wideouts follow three consecutive quarterbacks in this NFL mock draft; is there any question about what style of play wins out in today’s day and age? The Giants desperately need to provide help on the outside for QB Daniel Jones. Malik Nabers is an athletic freak who was incredibly productive at LSU.
7. Tennessee Titans: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
Our wide receiver run ends with the best tackle in the draft heading to Nashville. Before last season, longtime Titans’ LT Taylor Lewan retired, and his replacement Andre Dillard struggled in that spot this past season.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama
The Falcons have plenty of needs on the offensive side of the ball, but with the top three quarterbacks and wide receivers off the board, they pivot to the best pass-rusher in the draft. I fully expect Atlanta to be in play for both Kirk Cousins and Justin Fields this offseason.
9. Chicago Bears: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU
Arguably the biggest reach of the draft so far, but with so much equity, Chicago can afford it. I considered TE Brock Bowers here, but the Bears’ still like TE Cole Kmet, and WR DJ Moore desperately needs a Robin to his Batman on the outside. Caleb Williams and Thomas Jr. is not a bad haul, after all.
10. New York Jets: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia
This is a dream scenario for Gang Green, as Bowers lands with QB Aaron Rodgers who is always pining for another offensive weapon. After a disappointing showing from Allen Lazard, Bowers would slot in as the number two option in the passing game behind Garrett Wilson.
11. Minnesota Vikings: Jer’Zhan Newton, DL, Illinois
Brian Flores has done an excellent job of improving the Vikings’ defense, but they could still use some help up front. Newton is arguably the best interior DL in the draft. This is a sneaky spot for a QB, but I believe Kirk Cousins will ultimately remain in Minnesota.
12. Denver Broncos: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan
New Chargers HC Jim Harbaugh will face the very quarterback who helped bring him a National Championship at Michigan twice a year, as the Broncos attempt to find a replacement for Russell Wilson. They take a shot on McCarthy’s upside, as I could see him waiting in the wings for a year before taking over in Denver.
13. Las Vegas Raiders: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State
Fashanu seems like a plug-and-play Pro-Bowler, and the Raiders could use some help up-front. This is another potential spot for a quarterback, but I think Russell Wilson could be in play here.
14. New Orleans Saints: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State
A popular name around Steelers circles, Taliese Fuaga’s stock is currently skyrocketing up boards due to a fantastic Senior Bowl. He has all the characteristics you look for in a great right tackle.
15. Indianapolis Colts: JC Latham, OT, Alabama
I think we’re going to see a big run of offensive line in picks 10-20, and Latham becomes the third selection in a row here. He’s tasked with protecting young QB Anthony Richardson, who was banged up early and often in his rookie season.
16. Seattle Seahawks: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State
Seattle has moved on from Pete Carroll, and there is new blood at the helm in former Ravens DC Mike Macdonald. I’d anticipate he’d make a splash on his favorite side of the ball and take the former small-school (Albany) transfer, a feel-good story out of Florida State.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama
The Jaguars could use offensive line help as well, but Arnold is the best player available on the board, and the Jags pounce on him here.
18. Cincinnati Bengals: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia
This is a kick in the stomach for Steelers fans, as not only a key draft target goes off the board — but he also goes to a division rival. Bengals right tackle Jonah Williams is a free agent and given the contract they gave to current left tackle Orlando Brown last offseason, it’s unlikely Williams will be back. Amarius Mims makes a ton of sense here.
19. Los Angeles Rams: Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa
DeJean is someone who showed up early and often in Steelers’ mock drafts, but it feels like that is beginning to fade. DeJean could ultimately wind up at safety and would be a great fit for the Rams, as their secondary was the weakest position group of the season in 2023. This is the Rams’ first time selecting in the first round since 2016!
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jackson Powers-Johnson, C, Oregon
This is starting to feel like the Najee Harris selection in 2021, right? Powers-Johnson has “Quenton Nelson” like vibes. Nelson, an All-Pro guard, was drafted sixth overall in the 2018 draft by the Indianapolis Colts. Guards generally aren’t drafted in the top ten, but Nelson is a different breed. Everyone knew he was one of the best players at his position in the last handful of drafts. That will be the same case with Powers-Johnson. He’s a tremendous player in a huge position of need for Pittsburgh.
In this scenario, the Steelers will also consider the likes of Oklahoma right tackle Tyler Guyton, Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell, and Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins — all of whom would be solid choices.
21. Miami Dolphins: Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington
Troy Fautanu will likely kick inside to guard at the next level but has the versatility to play each position on the offensive line. He’s got a major mean streak — something the Dolphins, a mostly finesse team, are lacking.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson
The Eagles had one of the best secondaries in the NFL during their Super Bowl run in 2023, but that wasn’t even close to the case last season, as they ranked towards the bottom half of the league in most categories. Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins will help get them back on the right track.
23. Houston Texans: Laiatu Latu, DL, UCLA
Texans HC DeMeco Ryans add another high-productive, high-motor player who will fit his culture perfectly.
24. Dallas Cowboys: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo
Quinyon Mitchell is also one of the fastest risers in the draft due to a standout Senior Bowl week and incredible length. And did you see the Cowboys' secondary against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs? Neither did I.
25. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma
Tyler Guyton is a bit raw but has all of the physical traits to turn into an absolute mauler.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Darius Robinson, EDGE, Missouri
At 6’5 and 286 pounds, Robinson can play the EDGE and has the versatility to play multiple positions in a defensive front. He’s coming off a season in which he had 8.5 sacks and will likely find his way into the first round.
27. Arizona Cardinals: Byron Murphy II, DL, Texas
Texas has two run-stuffers in Byron Murphy II and T’Vondre Sweat in this draft, and you can’t go wrong with either of them. In a division with the likes of the 49ers’ Christian McCaffrey and Rams’ Kyren Williams; the Cardinals must help find a solution to containing them.
28. Buffalo Bills: Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia
We love a good late riser around here! McConkey was one of the most productive wide receivers in college football over the past few years, however, he’s often been overlooked because of his size and lack of home-run speed. However, he has an instinctive feel for the wide receiver position and reminds me some of Rams star wideout Puka Nacua, due to his pristine route-running and ball skills.
29. Detroit Lions: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
The best name in the NFL Draft could provide a boost to a Lions secondary that was one of the worst in the league and couldn’t stop Brock Purdy in the second half of the NFC Championship game.
30. Baltimore Ravens: Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB, Missouri
The Ravens could consider a wide receiver here, but ultimately, they sign one in free agency to pair with 2023 first-round pick Zay Flowers and instead nab a highly productive cornerback in Ennis Rakestraw Jr.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Graham Barton, OT, Duke
I guess I just gave away my Super Bowl pick! Barton is another incredibly versatile, fast-rising prospect who played offensive tackle in college but will likely kick in to guard or center in the NFL.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon
Franklin is tremendous in space and would complement stud rookie wideout Rashee Rice well. The Chiefs need another weapon for Patrick Mahomes — even if they won a Super Bowl without one.
What player do you hope the Steelers target in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft? Join the Behind The Steel Curtain community and let us know in the comments!