Will Helms’ 2024 NFL Mock Draft: Joe Alt to Los Angeles Sets Off Chain Reaction

In a 2024 NFL Mock Draft leading up to the NFL Combine, we explore what would happen if the Chargers took Joe Alt fifth overall.

In the penultimate mock draft before the NFL Combine, I’m moving back to my roots. After exploring both “what I would do” and “what NFL teams will do” models, I’m back to exploring a mock draft that answers a question.

Here, we’ll explore what could happen if the Los Angeles Chargers choose an offensive lineman over a pass catcher in the 2024 NFL Draft. So far, the consensus has been that the Chargers are destined to select one of the top receivers or even Brock Bowers. But what if they take a tackle?

In this 2024 NFL Mock Draft, we’ll explore the far-reaching consequences of that decision.

2024 NFL Mock Draft

1) Chicago Bears (From CAR): Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

While I’ve been beating this drum for months, it seems the rest of the industry is starting to explore the possibility that Caleb Williams might not be the top quarterback in the class.

Drake Maye is a better in-phase passer who is extremely accurate and displays a deftness in the pocket that many quarterbacks wish they had. In a quick-hitting offense, Maye is a guy who can thrive early.

2) Washington Commanders: Caleb Williams, QB, USC

While the Kliff Kingsbury connection doesn’t make it a foregone conclusion that Washington will trade up for Caleb Williams, you can reasonably expect the Commanders to run Williams’ name to the podium if he’s available at No. 2. Williams has a huge arm and any issues in the pocket should be able to be sorted out quickly at the NFL level.

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

Jayden Daniels remains the top quarterback on my personal Big Board, though he does come with risks. He’s as reckless with his body as any quarterback prospect we’ve seen since Cam Newton — who was 45 pounds heavier than Daniels. That will have to stop immediately.

If you can get past that obvious issue, however, Daniels is a high-level prospect with an accurate arm and the best athleticism at the position in the class.

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

Marvin Harrison Jr. is the top overall prospect on my big board. When need meets value, teams have to pounce. Arizona looks poised to go into the 2024 season with Kyler Murray behind center, so let’s get him an elite receiver prospect.

Harrison has All-Pro potential, and while he may not ascend to the level of some of these guys, he’s a better prospect than Ja’Marr Chase and on par with Amari Cooper.

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

Here’s where we take a turn. In most mock drafts, I’ve had the Chargers taking a pass catcher (Usually Malik Nabers or Brock Bowers). But what if Los Angeles takes the best tackle in the class? What then?

MORE: Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

Joe Alt is second on my Big Board, provides positional value, and it’s not like the Chargers’ offensive line was wonderful last season. I’m not sure anyone would question the pick, but it would be a surprise (at this point).

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

Malik Nabers remains the second wide receiver on my draft board, and he’s as talented as some of the top receivers drafted over the past few years — he just happens to be in the same class as Harrison.

Nabers excels at creating separation in the rare combination of “deep threat” and “reliable chain-mover.” Adding Nabers to a decent receiver room allows New York to shift to a move-pass-heavy team.

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

No one is more upset about the Chargers going rogue than the Titans (or maybe the Jets; we’ll get to them in a minute). Olu Fashanu isn’t a bad second option, however, and I kept the position the same here.

I wanted to mock Brock Bowers to Tennessee in this situation but gave the Titans the high-upside Fashanu, who still has room to grow despite a stellar college career.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

While I didn’t put the trade graphic under this pick, this comes with the assumption that Atlanta addresses its quarterback situation through means other than the draft.

In particular, I think the Falcons pulled the trigger on a trade for Bears quarterback Justin Fields. Dallas Turner is an extremely popular pick here, but instead, I’ll give the Falcons a top corner in Alabama’s Terrion Arnold.

It’s the question of a secondary or defensive line to fix a pass defense. Here, the Falcons will go with the former.

9) Chicago Bears: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

I’ve had this as a landing spot for Rome Odunze or another top pass catcher, but with Turner falling past eight, the Bears pounce here. Dallas Turner‘s hand usage has impressed me as I look at more of his films. He has the talent to immediately upgrade the defensive line in front of what is becoming a talented secondary.

10) New York Jets: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

Missing out on one of the top two tackles hurts. The next crop of tackles — Taliese Fuaga, JC Latham, Tyler Guyton, and Amarius Mims — all come with more risk than Fashanu and Alt, but here, the Jets stick with the plan and take one of the higher-upside pass blockers in the draft.

Mims was primarily a right tackle in college, but the goal would be to shift him over to the left side eventually.

11) Minnesota Vikings: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

The clock is ticking on Minnesota’s time as a contender, especially with Justin Jefferson expected to get the type of money that alters a team-building strategy.

J.J. McCarthy might have the highest floor of the quarterbacks in this class, so going to an already-established offense in Minnesota seems like a solid landing spot. I still don’t have a first-round grade on McCarthy, but the NFL seems to, which is ultimately what matters.

12) Denver Broncos: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

I have a sneaky suspicion that Denver is in the market for another receiver. I’m not sure how I feel about this pick, even after making it.

On one hand, Odunze is in my top 10, but I’m not sure how he fits with Courtland Sutton, as Odunze isn’t an elite separator and makes a lot of his money on contested catches, much like Sutton. Still, the value is there.

13) Las Vegas Raiders: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

The Raiders haven’t taken a quarterback in the first round since the disastrous JaMarcus Russell pick in 2007. Expect that streak to continue, as there’s just not enough value here to justify reaching on a quarterback. Quinyon Mitchell‘s man coverage skills and athleticism make him one of the top corners in the draft.

14) New Orleans Saints: JC Latham, OT, Alabama

Confronted with a run on tackles early in the first round, New Orleans’ hand is forced here. While the Saints are a candidate to either trade back or prioritize other needs, they’ll need to exit draft weekend with a tackle, whether that’s in the first round or later.

15) Indianapolis Colts: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

Like the Saints ahead of them, the Colts have several needs but likely need a tackle at some point. Fuaga fits here are a mauling run blocker for Anthony Richardson and the rest of the Colts’ running game. He’s developmental, but the tools are there for him to be a high-level NFL tackle.

16) Seattle Seahawks: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Admittedly, I have no idea what to do for the Seahawks here, and when I don’t know what to do for a team, I have them take Brock Bowers.

Every team needs a Brock Bowers, who excels as a receiver while maintaining above-average ability as a blocker. He’s a steady yet athletic target for whoever quarterbacks the Seahawks for the next several years.

17) Jacksonville Jaguars: Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

Jer’Zhan Newton is one of my favorite draft prospects, but most of the teams with interior defensive line needs have other glaring holes in their rosters.

MORE: Top DTs in the 2024 NFL Draft

While I think the Jaguars could target an edge rusher, corner, or receiver in this spot, I also think they’d be excited to take the ultra-athletic Newton, improving the interior pass rush.

18) Cincinnati Bengals: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

One of my favorite corners in the draft, Cooper DeJean, is physical at the line of scrimmage, both as a presser and as a tackler. Cincinnati needs to get tougher in the secondary, and that’s a trait that DeJean exudes.

If the right receiver is available, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bengals go that direction, but the corner still makes the most sense to me.

19) Los Angeles Rams: Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

While I had picked offensive tackles for the Rams in the first few mocks that I made, I’ve fallen in love with a potential hometown pick in Laiatu Latu. If film was all that mattered, Latu would be a top-five pick. His medical history will scare teams, but when healthy, he’s a high-level difference-maker.

20) Pittsburgh Steelers: Jackson Powers-Johnson, C, Oregon

It’s not likely Jackson Powers-Johnson will fall to 20th, but if he does, expect the Steelers to snatch him up. Powers-Johnson is a younger prospect who already seems to have an extremely high floor. It’s not a premium position, but the chance to get a potential decade-long starter at any position is huge.

21) Miami Dolphins: Troy Fautanu, G, Washington

A college tackle, Troy Fautanu has positional versatility, something that a Miami offense low on quality linemen will covet. He’s not an elite prospect, but the run on tackles early in the first round forces Miami’s hand. Still, he’s a guy who could step in and start at several positions and should upgrade a weaker offensive line.

22) Philadephia Eagles: Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

This is earlier than you’ll typically see Ladd McConkey go in the draft, but he’s a guy who fits well with Jalen Hurts and the Eagles offense. Especially with Dallas Goedert struggling to stay healthy, Philadelphia has lacked receivers who can get open underneath and create space and separation. As McConkey showed at the Senior Bowl, he’s the best in the business at doing just that.

23) Houston Texans (From CLE): Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

If I were to pick the rookie edge rusher to be the first with a 10-sack season, Jared Verse would be my pick. He needs to improve in his lane integrity and run defense, but Verse can get after the passer and should improve Houston’s pass rush.

24) Dallas Cowboys: Byron Murphy II, DT, Texas

Byron Murphy II, at worst, would immediately upgrade Dallas’ run defense, something fans should be excited about. He flashes pass-rushing ability as well, though not as consistently as his run defense. The Cowboys have a void in the middle, and Murphy would get plenty of snaps as a rookie.

25) Green Bay Packers: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

In my opinion, this is an obvious tackle spot for the Packers, and Guyton is the last of the top tackles that I’d feel comfortable drafting here. Guyton isn’t the most seasoned prospect, but at 6-foot-7, 328 pounds, he’s a natural pass blocker at right tackle and could slot in immediately.

26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cooper Beebe, G, Kansas State

I have no idea what to do for the Buccaneers here. Will they pay Baker Mayfield after losing quarterback whisperer Dave Canales? If not, this is a sneaky spot for a quarterback. The value on the board is at receiver, a position Tampa Bay probably isn’t looking to draft early.

Cooper Beebe is my favorite guard in the draft, and while I’m higher on him than most, he’s a candidate to move up after meeting with teams at the combine.

27) Arizona Cardinals (From HOU): Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

The more I do these mock drafts, the more apparent it has become that a player or two at a premium position will fall too late in the first. Here, just two corners have gone off the board by pick No. 27, and Arizona is the beneficiary. Kool-Aid McKinstry has no glaring weaknesses in his game and should be an immediate starter.

28) Buffalo Bills: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

Wiggins is one of my favorite corners in the draft and finds a good landing spot here with the Buffalo Bills. He has good recovery speed and got markedly better every season at Clemson, indicating he still has room for growth. Buffalo likely wants another secondary piece to deploy, and Nate Wiggins can play a variety of alignments.

29) Detroit Lions: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

I don’t love the idea of Detroit taking a wide receiver first, especially with holes in the secondary, but as Keon Coleman falls, I could see the Lions going in that direction. Coleman is extremely athletic and brings another unique skill set to a talented receiver room.

30) Baltimore Ravens: Graham Barton, G, Duke

I’ll be following prospect visits closely with the Ravens, as, at this point, I have no idea which direction they will go. Graham Barton makes sense here as he has positional versatility to play at multiple spots along the offensive line, and he’s a strong run blocker. He’s a powerful blocker who can occasionally drive even larger defensive linemen out of the picture.

31) San Francisco 49ers: Payton Wilson, LB, NC State

Let’s throw a wrinkle in things with a pick seemingly out of left field. Super Bowl LVIII showed the importance of having excellent linebacker play as the game completely changed when Dre Greenlaw went down.

Greenlaw will likely miss the 2024 season, and Fred Warner needs a contract restructuring. Payton Wilson is an incredibly athletic, ball-hawking linebacker with the ability to play multiple defensive positions. If a team falls in love with him, it’s not crazy to think he could sneak into the first round.

32) Kansas City Chiefs: Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

Troy Franklin can fly and would give the Chiefs their first burner since Tyreek Hill. However, that’s not the extent of his game. Franklin is a polished route runner with some upside as a jump ball receiver.

MORE: Top WRs in the 2024 NFL Draft

The Chiefs won despite its receiver play — outside of Rashee Rice — not because of it, and getting another playmaker is a high priority for the Chiefs.

All the 2024 NFL Draft resources you need — the draft order, the top QBs<, the Top 100 prospects, and the full 2024 Big Board — right at your fingertips at Pro Football Network!

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