NFL mock draft: With one major trade-up, it’s a QB party in the top 5

In this final mock before the 2024 NFL Draft, Charles McDonald makes the selection of the odd-numbered draft picks while Nate Tice selects the even.

Not much more to say about this one. Williams took only one top-30 visit and it was with the Bears. Congratulations, Bears fans. You might actually have the quarterback you’ve always wanted — Williams is that promising.

Daniels has become more of a favorite to go to Washington, but after a recent top-30 visit/battle royale with other quarterbacks, this might be more up in the air than recently assumed. We’re still going with Daniels here, who can hit the ground running with the solid surroundings the Commanders have on offense, and he’ll liven up the franchise with his dynamic play.

The Patriots have a long way to go until they’ll be competitive again, giving them a ton of options on how to handle the third pick in the draft. Trading down is a viable route, but passing on a quarterback talent like Maye to kick off this rebuild seems rash. Here, the Patriots get a quarterback with extremely high upside to give them stability and star potential at the most important position in the game.

4. Arizona Cardinals — Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

This Cardinals selection has a chance to be one of the main pivot points of this draft, especially for the teams that have targeted J.J. McCarthy (or fancy Harrison or one of the top WRs themselves). Here, the Cardinals decide they don’t need any more picks to accumulate and actually need the players to start building around. Harrison is as good of a building block there is, makes for a fun 1-2 punch with tight end Trey McBride, and gives the Cardinals an intriguing group of pass catchers with second-year player Michael Wilson and personal favorite Greg Dortch.

Minnesota gets its hands on a young quarterback by flipping its first-round picks to the Chargers for McCarthy. The QB wasn’t asked to drive the ship while he was at Michigan, but he has enough traits where it’s possible to envision him as a long-term starter in the NFL. Getting to throw to Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson to start his career would certainly help McCarthy get off to a fast start.

The Giants have done their work on this year’s quarterbacks and are keeping track of this deep class of offensive linemen, but instead they add the firepower that this passing attack has desperately needed. Nabers can take any touch to the house and would give the Giants an explosive play element to make everyone else’s lives easier, including the quarterback and play-caller.

7. Chicago Bears (via Titans) — Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

Chicago jumps the Falcons to get their hands on Odunze, who has the potential to be a true No. 1 receiver in the NFL. Wide receiver is not an immediate need for the Bears with DJ Moore and Keenan Allen on the roster, but Allen won’t be around forever and Odunze is one of the premier players in this draft. Moore, Allen and Odunze would be a fantastic trio for Caleb Williams to work with and he would have Moore and Odunze for the long term.

8. Atlanta Falcons — Brian Thomas, WR, LSU

Despite adding Darnell Mooney and Rondale Moore this offseason, the Falcons could still use another wide receiver who can make a living on the outside. Mooney is best from the slot and Moore is essentially a running back in everything but name only, so adding a player with the size, speed and ascending game like Thomas makes more sense than you’d first think. The Falcons absolutely need pass rush help, but they might not think any of the defensive prospects are worth it at this point in the draft (they could be prime trade-down candidates), so they decide to push their offense to superpower levels.

Best-case scenario for the Titans. They get to trade back and still get the player they likely would have taken at their original pick. The Titans have a need at left tackle and Alt is the cleanest left tackle prospect in the draft. Easy choice.

The Jets might be playing footsy with Brock Bowers a bit here, but instead they go with Fautanu to give themselves the perfect insurance for their revamped but oft-injured offensive line. Fautanu is a technician with quick feet and could start at any offensive line spot in his career. He might have to this season if the Jets continue to have bad injury luck.

Here’s the top 10 of Charles McDonald and Nate Tice’s final 2024 NFL mock draft. (Taylar Sievert/Yahoo Sports)

11. Los Angeles Chargers (via Vikings) — Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Head coach Jim Harbaugh has stressed the importance of offensive linemen and can get his hands on a big-time talent with Fashanu, who is falling down draft boards after an inconsistent senior season, which may have been due to injury. Either way, Fashanu can slide into right tackle while the Chargers figure out a different route for their wide receiver problem.

12. Denver Broncos — Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

What head coach Sean Payton and the Broncos decide to do this draft is anyone’s guess. They could address any position in the first round and I would understand why they did so. In this current situation, Payton decides to juice up his pass catchers with Bowers, a different kind of mismatch player than Jimmy Graham, but a player with whom Payton will have a field day in moving around the formation and creating matchup advantages.

The first defensive player is off the board with Mitchell making an appearance. The Raiders have a dangerous duo on the defensive line with Maxx Crosby and Christian Wilkins, and can add a playmaking cornerback to help maximize the impact those two make in the passing game. Bring in Mitchell, who has checked off every box a team could want from a smaller-school prospect.

The Saints need offensive linemen. Period. Latham was a right tackle in college and he can easily hang out there at the next level, giving the Saints a possible answer at their left tackle conundrum and/or a succession plan for Ryan Ramczyk.

Turner’s fall stops! The Colts could use another quality rusher up front and Turner would find himself in a great spot by being able to play with a star defensive lineman like DeForest Buckner. It’s hard to find 21-year-old edge rushers in the draft who also run a 4.47. Don’t be surprised if Turner goes much higher than this during the actual draft.

Barton on the Seahawks is a fit that I’ve liked more and more as silly season has gone along. Barton can hold up at offensive tackle, but won’t have to with Charles Cross and a hopefully healthy Abe Lucas. Instead, Barton can shore up the interior of the offensive line and any spot where he’s most needed, plus insurance if one of the offensive tackles goes down with another injury.

The Jaguars have a huge need at wide receiver after losing Calvin Ridley to the in-division Titans. Here, they can call up Mitchell, who is a type of receiver they don’t really have on the roster. Still, he’s a nice fit with Trevor Lawrence as a big-bodied, athletic target who can win contested catches and bring down passes over the middle of the field.

Texas WR Adonai Mitchell could fill a big need for the Jaguars, who could use a big pass-catching target after they lost Calvin Ridley in free agency. (Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

A trench pick (or Brock Bowers) feels right for the Bengals. An offensive lineman could make sense as insurance for 2024 and a starter for beyond. Instead the Bengals add the disruptive Murphy to bring some juice to their defensive front. Murphy pairs really well with Sheldon Rankins and B.J. Hill, and with neither Rankins nor Hill’s contracts going longer than the next two seasons, Murphy would give the Bengals a long-term potential needle mover in the paint.

The Rams still have a need in the secondary even though they brought in Kamren Curl, Tre’Davious White and Darious Williams. They could use a long-term option with the upside to play all over the secondary and DeJean fits that bill. He has the athleticism to play cornerback and the toughness to be a safety as well. He might end up being a steal if he goes this late in the first round.

Offensive line could be addressed here, and it’s a priority in Pittsburgh, but the idea of pairing Arnold with Joey Porter Jr. is an exciting proposition. Two physical and smart corners on either side of the ball could make life hell for wide receivers on the outside, plus Arnold has some slot ability that could make for some fun defensive looks with Minkah Fitzpatrick roaming the middle.

21. Miami Dolphins — Jer’Zhan “Johnny” Newton, DT, Illinois

The Dolphins still have a need at defensive tackle after losing Christian Wilkins in free agency. This would be a great get for the Dolphins. Newton is a high-floor, polished player who should immediately be a disruptive presence for the Dolphins. It would also get them a cost-controlled contract at a position of need for now and the future.

There might be a Lane Johnson-sized hole to fill sooner than later, and general manager Howie Roseman loves to attack the lines in the first round. Mims has a sky-high ceiling and will get to have time to be brought along behind Johnson and under offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, perhaps competing for the right guard spot during his initial campaign.

23. Los Angeles Chargers (via Vikings) — Jared Verse, Edge, Florida State

The second Chargers pick goes to the defensive trenches, picking up Verse to solidify their future at defensive end. Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack are still on the roster, but Mack isn’t going to be around that much longer and the Chargers need insurance in case Bosa’s injury history continues. This is a good landing spot for Verse at this point in the draft.

The 49ers shoot up to nab a right tackle or right guard who can start right away in Fuaga, a lineman who is at or near the top of quite a few big boards. There are legitimate questions on whether Fuaga can stay out at tackle (I like him at guard better), but this type of offense would translate well from what Fuaga did at Oregon State and would help hide his deficiencies in pass protection. Whether it’s inside or out, Fuaga will add thump immediately to the 49ers’ run game.

Green Bay needs a long-term solution at left tackle after the departure of David Bakhtiari. At this point in the draft, they’ll probably be taking an upside swing and Suamataia works in this scenario.

Out goes Carlton Davis, in comes Wiggins. He is skinny but a twitchy athlete who consistently stays sticky with receivers and also plays the cornerback position way differently than Davis, yet could be a similarly useful player for Todd Bowles to deploy in his knuckleball scheme.

27. Arizona Cardinals (via Texans) — Laiatu Latu, Edge, UCLA

Latu’s draft stock feels extremely fluid, but the Cardinals are happy to land him here. He has the production and traits to be a long-term fixture on the Cardinals’ front as they continue to rebuild their defense.

Maybe a tad rich for McConkey, but he is a superb route runner and great athlete who can win at all three levels. McConkey can consistently win on the outside, something necessary given the Bills’ current group of pass catchers. (I also kinda like the McConkey-Khalil Shakir two-man game.)

29. Detroit Lions — Michael Hall Jr., DL, Ohio State

A bit of a surprise! Defensive tackle isn’t the biggest immediate need for the Lions with the signing of D.J. Reader and presence of Alim McNeill, but Hall has a different kind of juice that the Lions (and every team) could use on the interior. Hall ran a 4.75 40-yard dash at 299 pounds and offers significant pass-rush upside as a defensive tackle.

The Ravens need reinforcements at offensive line, and Guyton is a good athlete who is an easy mover in space but still needs work in refining his game. He has quality starting tackle upside, something so hard to find at this point in the draft, and wouldn’t necessarily need to play right away. He would also give them a player to keep the bottom from falling out in case Ronnie Stanley’s career keeps trending downward.

31. Dallas Cowboys (via 49ers) — Jackson Powers-Johnson, C, Oregon

After trading back, Dallas has the opportunity to grab a talented player at a big position of need in Powers-Johnson. The Cowboys need a new center and Powers-Johnson could create a butt-kicking duo with Pro Bowl guard Tyler Smith.

32. Kansas City Chiefs — Patrick Paul, OT, Houston

The Chiefs currently have Wanya Morris slated to start at left tackle (which is fine!), but Paul has high-end traits that would, ideally, address Patrick Mahomes’ blindside for years to come. Paul has plenty of stuff to clean up, but enters an ideal situation with a quarterback who can help mitigate any damage he creates and gets to work with a long-time offensive line coach like Andy Heck.

Teams without a first-round pick

33. Carolina Panthers — Chop Robinson, Edge, Penn State

The Panthers should feel ecstatic about landing Robinson at this point in the draft. They still have needs on offense, but their defense is in rough shape after an offseason facelift. Robinson has all the potential in the world to become a high-impact pass rusher and playing with Derrick Brown and Jadeveon Clowney is a good cast to lean on as a rookie.

42. Houston Texans (via Vikings) — Maason Smith, DL, LSU

Smith has a ways to go before he should be seen as a long-term, every-down player, but he has the frame, athleticism and natural skills that should make a coveted player outside the first round of the draft. Smith played only one full season at LSU, but the upside is there for him to be a true game-wrecker if he lands with the right team. What better fit than landing with head coach DeMeco Ryans, who has done nothing but get the best out of his defensive linemen? This would be a great spot for Smith with established players like Will Anderson Jr. and Danielle Hunter around to make his on-field transition easier.

The Browns’ defense is loaded with talent, but one weak spot is at linebacker. Wilson has a concerning injury history, but at this point in the draft the investment is probably OK and it gives the Browns another speedy, productive linebacker to pair with Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

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