Dalton Miller’s 2024 NFL Mock Draft: Patriots Make Blockbuster Trade for Top Pick, Sean Payton Falls in Love With a QB

The regular season is over, and draft season is upon us for 18 franchises. This 2024 NFL Mock Draft boasts five first-round QBs, but which teams secured them?

Michigan is college football’s national champion, but we’re all winners now because NFL Draft season is officially upon us. The regular season is over, and an NFL mock draft is coming in hot. With five quarterbacks going in the first round, which teams have spent precious draft capital on the most important position in professional sports? HI

1-Round NFL Mock Draft

1) New England Patriots (From CAR via CHI): Caleb Williams, QB, USC

Trade: New England trades pick Nos. 3 and 34, a 2024 first-round pick, and a 2024 third-round pick; Chicago trades pick No. 1

The trade package up for Caleb Williams ends up being relatively less impressive than the package Carolina put together a year ago to go get Bryce Young. That’s a win for New England, but it’s only logical that would be the case.

Chicago doesn’t want to move down past the third or fourth pick. Although they were about to leverage a bit more from the Patriots because so many other teams called Chicago, Ryan Poles had no interest in moving down very much. That allowed the Patriots to move up and select Williams.

We know his story. Williams is an outrageous off-platform playmaker who possesses the ability to work within structure and time, but too often decided to throw caution to the wind in the name of playmaking. But coaches will undoubtedly believe that they can work the recklessness out of Williams and find the perfect balance.

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

Sam Howell has been a fun player, but this situation is a nice anecdote for life. Don’t let the average get in the way of the good, and never let good get in the way of great. Even if Howell proved to be an average NFL starter (debatable at best), Drake Maye‘s physical talent far surpasses Howell’s potential.

Playing behind a papier-mâché offensive line for two years forced Maye into quick processing. While that process remains imperfect, he’s beyond Williams in that arena.

But Maye is no statue in the pocket, either. He’s more than athletic enough to be a consistent weapon on the ground both as a scrambling passer and runner or on designed option runs.

3) Chicago Bears (From NE): Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

Marvin Harrison Jr. kept the Bears from taking a historically big trade package further down the line. Multiple high-end darts are usually better than one, and this one dart has a laser-guided tracking system locked onto the very center of the bullseye.

The Ohio State WR is as complete a draft prospect as there has been in a very long time. Nothing is ever a sure thing, but it’s easy to believe there’s a 99% chance that Harrison quickly becomes one of the five best WRs in the entire NFL.

Harrison is effortlessly fast, endlessly fluid, and exceptionally aware of his surroundings. He has the same kind of downfield trump card that Ja’Marr Chase possessed coming out of LSU but with a much longer wingspan and even better hands. But what separates Harrison from Chase, who was a phenomenal success in his own right, is his route-running ability.

4) Arizona Cardinals: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

D.J. Humphries’ injury should make just about everyone circle offensive tackle with the first of Arizona’s first-round picks.

Joe Alt is an incredible left tackle prospect. While he’s still relatively young for the position overall, he’s technically sound beyond almost all of his peers.

But technical prowess is only one piece of the puzzle. Alt’s awareness, athleticism, and explosiveness are what make him an elite tackle prospect.

5) Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

It should come as no surprise that Malik Nabers ends up going just after his college passer. In many years, Nabers could be considered a perfectly fine WR1. But with Harrison in the class, that was never an option.

MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Reports

Nevertheless, Nabers is a legitimate three-level threat. He possesses proper speed that takes the top off of defenses. The slot fade has been kind to Nabers, but he’s far more than just a straight-line talent.

His physicality is eye-popping along the route stem, and he’s a natural separator.

6) Atlanta Falcons (From NYG): Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Trade: Atlanta trades pick Nos. 8 and 105, and a 2024 first-round pick; New York sends pick No. 6

The Jayden Daniels surge in his final collegiate season isn’t so dissimilar to Joe Burrow. The Heisman Trophy winner had multiple high-caliber wide receiver prospects at his disposal, and he did not disappoint with them.

Daniels’ deep ball is gorgeous, and while he’s not uber-consistent in the quick game, his overall versatility makes it so he doesn’t have to be a passing assassin like Burrow.

Daniels’ trump card is his outrageous explosiveness and agility. In that respect, he’s not too unlike Lamar Jackson. But the fear of injury always lurks with Daniels because of his slim build and desire to take bone-crushing hits.

7) Tennessee Titans: Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State

If not for a few reps in the Ohio State game where JT Tuimoloau got the best of Olu Fashanu, the Penn State LT likely would have been the first blindside blocker drafted.

Fashanu had a near-perfect collegiate career. Although he isn’t the TE convert that Alt was, Fashanu possesses the smooth and explosive athleticism that makes him an elite OT prospect. But it was his technical sharpness at such an early age that made everyone enamored with the blocker.

Many believe that had he declared after 2022, Fashanu would have been the first tackle taken. Given the Titans’ dire need for the position, this is a no-brainer. Additionally, the pairing of Fashanu and Peter Skoronski makes for a potential decade-long wall on the left side.

8) New York Giants (From ATL): Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

The Evan Neal experiment comes to an unfortunate end with Taliese Fuaga‘s arrival in New York. They could have easily considered JC Latham here as well, but since we’re still over three months away from the 2024 NFL Draft, we need to highlight Fuaga’s outrageous abilities because he remains underrated.

Fuaga is a massive right tackle, but he holds his 330-pound frame incredibly well, and it certainly doesn’t hinder his freedom of movement. He possesses a strong strike with accurate hands. His solid foundation as a run blocker and pass protector makes him a high-floor prospect.

However, it’s also important to note with any lineman that coaching matters so much. Many bad linemen have turned things around with a coach who teaches things the way they once found success. But OL technique varies greatly, so a bad coach pairing could cause struggles for any blocker. Because of that, there are no sure things.

9) Chicago Bears: Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

Matt Eberflus’ defense would benefit more from a Jer’Zhan Newton-type than most NFL defenses. While Newton’s power, athleticism, and pass-rushing prowess could be a fit on all 32 rosters, not all defenses are the same.

Eberflus’ defense could thrive with a gap-penetrating 3-technique. With money stacked to the ceiling and Montez Sweat already on campus, the Chicago HC could transform the Bears’ front four this offseason.

However, Newton deserves top-10 consideration as an interior player because he’s the complete package as a pass rusher and run defender from the B gap.

10) New York Jets: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

Rome Odunze has been a fan favorite for a while now, but any naysayers have officially been eradicated by this point in the process.

Odunze is an interesting prospect because, on the field, he doesn’t seem fast. The tape doesn’t necessarily scream, “This 6’3″, 215-pound WR runs a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash.”

That’s not a slight. The other areas of Odunze’s game are dialed in, and he clearly possesses the ability to separate late in the process downfield. More than likely, he’s usually pacing himself on the field so he can use that late explosiveness to uncover downfield at the last second.

But while Washington’s offense highlights his downfield receiving ability, Odunze is a target-rich, three-level threat that will quickly become a great friend to Aaron Rodgers in 2024 alongside Garrett Wilson.

11) Minnesota Vikings: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

Brian Flores runs the most unique defense in the NFL. But while unique, it’s far from a gimmick.

Flores blitzes as much as anybody, but unlike Wink Martindale, he backs those exotic pressures with a heaping dose of zone coverage on the back end. That’s a bit of a change from Flores’ roots, but it was the best marriage for the defensive personnel he had.

Kool-Aid McKinstry to Minnesota might be the most obvious fit in this draft class. He’s a zone-coverage savant, his positional leverage maintenance is outrageous, and his downhill trigger is impressive. But even though he’s stronger in zone coverage than man, McKinstry doesn’t lack fluidity or explosiveness.

12) Denver Broncos (From ARI): Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

The saying goes, “If you love something, you have to let it go.” But Sean Payton doesn’t believe in that.

In fact, he believes in the exact opposite and proved that multiple times during his run with the Saints. New Orleans consistently “overdrafted” players they fell in love with during the process.

MORE: Top Quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft

If 2023 taught us anything, it’s that Payton wants a quarterback who will run his offense the way he wants it to look. Any deviation from that is an affront to his very being, and it cost Russell Wilson his job.

From a talent and stylistic perspective, Payton will likely adore Bo Nix. He’s the perfect candidate to run a fast-paced passing attack that is based around attacking space. However, he also has the athleticism and arm talent to create when necessary and let it rip downfield.

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

Youth and athletic upside matters at cornerback. Terrion Arnold‘s growth as a redshirt sophomore was meteoric. In a complex Nick Saban defense, Arnold took his lumps as a redshirt freshman and early this season. But his growth as the season progressed was among the most obvious in the nation.

Arnold and teammate Kool-Aid McKinstry were both top-tier basketball talents as well. Each had the opportunity to be two-sport athletes at Alabama. While McKinstry is a great cornerback, I think Arnold was the Gary Payton of the duo.

Arnold is a gnat with outstanding patience at the line and outrageous eye discipline in man coverage that keeps him in good positional leverage. It doesn’t hurt that he’s as explosive and fluid as you need from a cornerback.

14) New Orleans Saints: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Besides MHJ, Brock Bowers may be the most unique talent in this class. He’s a top-five talent but plays a position that rarely provides early production at the NFL level.

In the end, college and NFL teams often don’t feature the TE position because WR targets have been proven forever to be more efficient.

However, Bowers is more than that. He’s explosive, fluid, and creative enough to be a legitimate threat as a runner on jet sweeps and other manufactured touches.

With players like Sam LaPorta and other young tight ends beginning to flourish, could Bowers be one of the few first-round tight ends to actually produce immediately?

Do you trust Pete Carmichael to figure that out?

15) Indianapolis Colts: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Shane Steichen’s offense is maximized with a legitimate alpha on the outside. Although Michael Pittman Jr. is a good football player, he’s not proven to be a legitimate No. 1. Still, he’ll almost certainly be looking for a substantial contract extension this offseason.

Keon Coleman can be that guy for the Colts. His only issue is that he happens to be in an insane draft class that actually boasts old-school prototype receivers with outstanding size and athleticism. For a while, it seemed Coleman might be a top-10 pick, but the emergence of Odunze likely pushes Coleman into “holy cow, this is great value” territory.

16) Seattle Seahawks: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

The Seahawks could use help at cornerback and safety, so why not draft a young man who might end up being a top-tier player at either position while also being an impressive return man?

MORE: Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

Cooper DeJean suffered a lower leg injury late in the season, but if that injury checks out and he’s able to test at the NFL Combine, it should help solidify his case as one of the best defensive prospects in the class.

DeJean’s size and intuition in coverage suggest he could be an elite safety who can play on the back end or in the box, but he flourished as an outside cornerback in the Big Ten.

17) Jacksonville Jaguars: Troy Fautanu, G, Washington

Troy Fautanu has the kind of footwork you love to see in an offensive tackle and the passion for work that you love to see in an interior blocker. He’s been projected to the inside at the next level, but Fautanu has the skill to survive at offensive tackle. He possesses an innate ability to use defender’s leverages against them.

The Jaguars could certainly use an uptick on the offensive line, no matter what position Fautanu ends up playing at the next level. Trevor Lawrence was uncomfortable in the pocket all season, and it’s because the poor play of his OL has consistently forced the ball out of his hand early.

18) Cincinnati Bengals: JC Latham, OT, Alabama

Like McKinstry in Minnesota, JC Latham in Cincinnati simply makes sense. Cincinnati has leaned into big and physical offensive linemen to improve the run game and be a wall for Burrow and the quick passing attack.

Latham flourished despite being sabotaged by the offensive linemen surrounding him at Alabama, along with a quarterback who consistently held onto the ball for a fortnight. The massive RT is a great athlete with outstanding power output. Although he’s a people mover, Latham’s footwork and explosiveness in pass protection make him a first-round talent.

19) Green Bay Packers: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

Cornerbacks are a different breed. The quarterback throws a never-in-history ball seven yards into the bleachers, only for the corner to dance despite getting dusted downfield.

That type of goldfish attitude — that delusion — is what makes them special. But it’s also not uncommon to see lackluster effort at the position.

MORE: Top Cornerbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft

That’s not a problem with Nate Wiggins, who has spent a ton of time making game-saving plays as a tackler. The effort is there, and so is the rest of the package.

Wiggins is a downhill playmaker in zone coverage and an effortless athlete in man. Missing time due to injury and Arnold’s emergence at Alabama could mean that someone gets a great player at an insane value.

20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

We’re not used to seeing a draft go 14 picks before seeing an edge rusher come off the board, but this is a unique class. The offensive talent is abundant at incredibly important positions, and there is no Myles Garrett in this class.

Dallas Turner has all the physical tools to be a high-end pass rusher at the NFL level, but he’s not quite there yet. His explosive first step and bend make him a menace on the edge as a run defender, but he could be a more consistent edge setter.

Turner grew as a pass rusher in 2023, but there’s more development necessary. Nevertheless, his overall athleticism is a fantastic fit for Jonathan Gannon.

Turner can turn and drop into space and not be a complete liability in zone coverage. He can also peel off his rush and survive against backs swinging to the flats.

21) Arizona Cardinals (From DEN): Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

Laiatu Latu is the pass-rushing savant’s pass rusher. Being a QB hunter is an art that isn’t often replicated at other positions. Latu is an artist in a way that nobody else in this class is.

He might not have the outrageous physical tools of Turner or Penn State’s Chop Robinson, but Latu has the bend and technical prowess to dominate the arc, and there’s an athletic threshold necessary for NFL success.

We’ve seen other artists in college, such as Utah’s Bradlee Anae, not work out because he didn’t have the requisite physical tools to be a difference-maker in the NFL. That’s not a problem for Latu, whose fluidity and explosiveness are enough to make him a first-round prospect.

22) Los Angeles Rams: Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State

Chop Robinson just feels like a Rams edge rusher. The explosive and bendy edge player still has much to learn before becoming a consistently dangerous pass rusher. However, Los Angeles already got more than expected out of the Play-Doh-like Byron Young.

Robinson’s outstanding get-off and his ability to reduce surface area up the arc give him a trump card entering the league, even while he nails down the finer points of the position. Having Aaron Donald on the interior won’t hurt either.

23) Pittsburgh Steelers: Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

Kenny Pickett hasn’t been it, and the Steelers don’t have the luxury of waiting around for him to magically develop or the freedom to build a ridiculous roster alongside him. They can’t do that with Burrow and Lamar Jackson in the same division.

Michael Penix Jr. has been outrageous since leaving Indiana for the Pacific Northwest. The lefty has an outstanding deep ball, and despite some funky mechanics, he delivers with impressive velocity to the intermediate areas of the field. Penix’s injury history could be a concern during the draft process, but as a talent, he’s worth this capital.

24) Miami Dolphins: Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

Just when it seemed like the Dolphins couldn’t get any faster on offense, they go out and draft Ladd McConkey. He’ll inevitably and incorrectly be compared to every productive white receiver over the past two decades, but McConkey is his own player.

But if there was a general stylist comp, Brandin Cooks may not be a horrific name to bring up. Each receiver possesses conspicuous foot speed, both as a route runner and downfield threat. But despite not possessing prototypical size, each player can thrive on the outside.

25) Philadelphia Eagles: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

James Bradberry fell off the production cliff, and while Darius Slay has avoided that fate, he’s no spring chicken. Philadelphia bet their defense on two cornerbacks over 30, and they were taken for their last dollar.

Quinyon Mitchell possesses the prototypical size and athleticism of a man-coverage cornerback. However, he’s an absolute menace in zone coverage. He might be the most instinctive playmaker at the position in the 2024 NFL Draft. A spotlight in Mobile for the Reese’s Senior Bowl could skyrocket his status.

26) Kansas City Chiefs: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

Brian Thomas Jr., like so many in this class, is a properly large pass catcher at 6’4″, 205 pounds. He’s also, like Mitchell, the No. 2 on his college team, but with No. 1 ability.

We never thought that things could get this ugly for the Chiefs’ offense that still boasted Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, but the talent on the outside is lacking.

27) Houston Texans: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Jared Verse may lack the high-end bend of a truly elite QB hunter, but that’s not the only way to affect the game. Verse’s length, hands, and power potential make him an impressive run defender and someone who can still win quickly on the edge.

He may never be Batman in Houston with Will Anderson Jr. on the opposite side, but Robin was no crimefighting slouch.

Although he’s an older prospect and wasn’t quite as productive as a season ago, Verse still posted nine sacks in each season while proving his ability to take over particular matchups. He had four multi-sack games in 2023.

28) Detroit Lions: Kalen King, CB, Penn State

Meanwhile, Kalen King has declared for the NFL Draft. The Lions tried supplementing their defense with free agents in the defensive backfield, but injuries kept them from ever realizing their potential on the back end.

MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Big Board

And when it comes to potential kneecap biters in the 2024 NFL Draft, none comes to mind faster than King, who wants all of the smoke when coming downhill against the run and in the screen game.

Although he’s not necessarily the physical specimen the other top cover corners in the class are, King’s more than athletic enough to thrive on the outside, and his coverage instincts are superb.

29 )Buffalo Bills: Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

Adonai Mitchell and the Buffalo Bills are a marriage that makes as much sense as any in the NFL Draft. Gabe Davis is a very nice receiver, but Mitchell is potentially a perfect replacement for him.

MORE: Top Wide Receivers in the 2024 NFL Draft

Mitchell possesses effortless explosiveness and uncanny flexibility for his size, which makes him an incredible red-zone threat. His downfield receiving ability is also no joke, and that speed and tracking ability will keep the downfield bombs from Josh Allen alive and well.

30) Dallas Cowboys: Jeremiah Trotter Jr., LB, Clemson

The Cowboys aren’t shy about using premium draft capital to address the linebacker position. They used a first-round pick on Leighton Vander Esch, who they’re looking to replace this offseason, and they took a gamble on Jaylon Smith in the second round before that.

Jeremiah Trotter Jr. is a great fit for Dan Quinn’s defense. He’s an excellent blitzer who could be a nice chess piece for Quinn’s pressure packages, particularly if he insists on playing so much Cover 1.

31) San Francisco 49ers: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

Drafting a dominant physical presence like Amarius Mims on the right side of the offensive line feels right up the 49ers’ alley. Although Trent Williams is about ready to collect social security, he’s playing at such a high level that it feels unlikely that he’d hang up his cleats in the next season or two.

32) Baltimore Ravens: Graham Barton, OL, Duke

Graham Barton is a fantastic option for the Ravens because we’re not entirely sure where he’ll slot in at the next level. However, there could be multiple different openings on the Ravens’ offensive line.

Ronnie Stanley struggles to stay healthy, the team could look to upgrade at LG, and Morgan Moses is over the hill.

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