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    Will Helms’ 2024 NFL Mock Draft: Jayden Daniels, Joe Alt Should Go 1-2 Come April

    A surprise first overall pick? Spencer Rattler in the first round? Step inside for a 2024 NFL Mock Draft that focuses on what teams should do in April.

    Most of the time, mock drafts are meant to be predictive, as analysts sort through information to guess what teams might be thinking come the NFL Draft. Every once in a while, it’s nice to break the monotony of mock drafts with some out-of-the-box thinking, such as you’re about to encounter in this latest 2024 NFL Mock Draft.

    2024 NFL Mock Draft

    After finishing the top 50 of my initial 2024 NFL Draft Big Board, I have opinions about what teams should do. This early in the process, every mock has a dash or two of the writer’s opinion, but most reflect what we’re hearing about teams, their needs, and the players they’re leaning toward in the annual selection event.

    But this mock is different. Rather than focus on what teams might do or what they could do, it suggests what teams should do when they’re on the clock in April.

    1) Chicago Bears (From CAR): Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

    Every Super Bowl since 2013 has featured a quarterback on a rookie contract, and unless your team has a Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes, it won’t make the big game with a quarterback taking up a sizable amount of its cap space.

    The Bears should trade Justin Fields and take the best quarterback in the draft. I’m confident they’ll do the first but skeptical that they’ll do the second.

    Jayden Daniels is QB1 for me. In a way, I think he suffers from what I call “Lamar Jackson syndrome.” I’m not suggesting Daniels’ athleticism is on par with Jackson’s, but people seem to be understating Daniels’ throwing ability partially due to his elite rushing ability, much like they did — or do — with Jackson.

    Daniels throws the best deep ball of any quarterback in the class, and he showed he’s every bit as pro-ready as a passer as the other quarterbacks in the class.

    2) Washington Commanders: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

    In a recent mock, I had the Washington Commanders going in a similar direction after trading down with the Minnesota Vikings.

    I still believe in Sam Howell, who was dealt one of the worst hands in football last season. He faced the most pressure in the league and was solid when kept clean. This course of action is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Commanders.

    If Joe Alt, the second-ranked player on my Big Board, keeps Howell clean and Howell succeeds, the Commanders have a left tackle and a quarterback of the future.

    If Howell still struggles, the Commanders will be in a position to have their pick of the top quarterbacks next season, with a roster that is closer to being a quarterback away than it is currently.

    3) New England Patriots: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

    Drake Maye and Caleb Williams are neck-and-neck for QB2 in this class for me, so how any prospective passer fits with the New England Patriots’ scheme is the tie-breaker here. Maye is a better “in-phase” passer than Williams, and while both have highlight-reel scrambles and “Houdini” plays, Maye is most comfortable as a rhythm passer.

    In New England, that’s likely the move. Maye held the ball, on average, nearly half a second less than Williams and had one of the lowest turnover-worthy play rates in the country. Without an elite option on the outside, getting a quarterback who can spread the ball out quickly is a must.

    4) Minnesota Vikings (From ARI): Caleb Williams, QB, USC

    Projected Trade: Vikings receive the fourth overall pick; Cardinals receive the 11th, 42nd, and 155th picks, plus Minnesota’s 2025 second-round pick

    I’m completely on board with the Minnesota Vikings trading up for their quarterback of the future. It’s so rare that teams hit on multiple receivers, but Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison are probably the best receiving duo in football.

    Accordingly, Minnesota needs to swing for the fences and take a quarterback. If the board falls this way, the Vikings can swoop in for Williams, who has the highest upside of any quarterback in the class.

    5) Los Angeles Chargers: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

    The Chargers need another receiver; Marvin Harrison Jr. is available. You won’t find an easier pick in this mock (or many others incidentally). There’s not much else to say about this one.

    6) New York Giants: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

    The Giants need another weapon, likely one who can command double teams and take pressure off the rest of the receiving corps. I actually like this group, but there’s a distinct lack of a game-changing talent.

    Brock Bowers, while not exactly a wide receiver, can do that and did so often in college. He played through injuries in 2023 and still flashed dominance. Even with Darren Waller on the roster, Bowers makes so much sense in New York.

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

    Here’s one of the rare picks where I’m probably in line with what the Titans want to do. Tennessee should build its offense from the line outward, and while a receiver isn’t out of the question here, Will Levis needs more time in the pocket to deliver the ball.

    Olu Fashanu gave up just one sack in college and has the profile to project as a long-term answer at left tackle.

    8) Atlanta Falcons: Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

    Laiatu Latu is my favorite edge rusher in the draft, and though there are some past injury concerns, his production is too good to ignore. Atlanta needs a pass rusher, and the UCLA standout projects as a guy who can put up double-digit sack totals.

    9) Chicago Bears: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

    Is there a better use of a team’s top two draft picks than pairing a top quarterback with his top receiver? Teams like the Bengals and Dolphins have bolstered their offenses by drafting former college teammates of Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, giving them immediate rapport with their new target.

    Pairing LSU quarterback Daniels with Malik Nabers would be a home run of a first round for the Bears, who have the opportunity to completely reinvent their offense in the 2024 NFL Draft.

    10) New York Jets: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

    I strongly considered Rome Odunze in this spot, but the Jets’ offensive tackle issues are becoming comical at this point. Taliese Fuaga is a guy who has really impressed me at the Senior Bowl and has risen up my draft board.

    This may be a bit early for him based on that board, but the Jets have to address the offensive line, not just for Aaron Rodgers, but for whoever their future quarterback will be.

    11) Arizona Cardinals (From MIN): Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

    Dallas Turner hasn’t done anything wrong to fall in this mock, but I have Latu above him and the teams ahead prioritizing other needs. The Cardinals would be elated in this scenario, trading down and still taking a player who has been paired with them in previous mocks at the fourth overall spot.

    Turner’s hands are impressive for a college prospect. I’m interested in seeing his NFL Combine numbers, as they’ll confirm some of the athleticism we see on tape.

    12) Denver Broncos: Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

    In the NFL, if a team not coached by Kyle Shanahan (or maybe Dan Campbell) doesn’t have an elite quarterback, its chances of making a Super Bowl are almost zero. Denver is seemingly over Russell Wilson, so unless the Broncos prioritize finding a quarterback on a rookie deal, they’ll be floating in no man’s land for years to come.

    MORE: Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

    Bo Nix is the top “in phase” passer in the draft and is surgical when he’s in a groove. Wilson has always worked himself into pressure, but Denver’s offensive line was solid last season despite that. Nix carved up defenses that couldn’t pressure him last season and when given time, there are few better.

    He also excels at putting the ball in a spot where his receivers can get upfield after the catch, a perfect trait for Denver’s offense.

    13) Las Vegas Raiders: Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

    If you’re noticing a trend here, you’d be correct. That makes five quarterbacks in the top 13 of this mock draft. Simply put, if a team doesn’t have a superstar veteran quarterback or a budding superstar on a rookie contract, it’s time to look for a new one.

    Michael Penix Jr. is the most fluid player on my draft board. Some days, I’ll look at tape and want to put him in the top 10. Other days, I’ll remember his injury history, funky delivery, and occasional inconsistencies and bump him down.

    That being said, if he’s a hit in the NFL, he has perennial Pro Bowl potential. It’s a risk the Las Vegas Raiders and new head coach Antonio Pierce should be willing to take.

    14) Cincinnati Bengals (From NO): Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

    Projected Trade: Cincinnati receives the 14th pick; New Orleans receives the 18th, 80th, and 147th pick. 

    With no clear pick on the board, the Saints could grab several picks while the Bengals can utilize their draft capital to get one of the best receivers in the draft. Rome Odunze compares favorably to Tee Higgins and would essentially let Cincinnati continue its offensive game plan while keeping its No. 2 receiver on a rookie contract.

    15) Indianapolis Colts: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

    Jared Verse to the Colts has been a popular pick in my mocks, and I think this is a good case of need meets opportunity. Verse is seen by most (myself included) as a top 15-20 prospect. If he falls to the Colts at 15, this should be a nice match, as the Colts have the run defense to afford a pure pass rusher who struggles some to stop the run.

    16) Seattle Seahawks: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

    It seems that I’m not such an outlier on Quinyon Mitchell — my top-rated corner and ninth-ranked player in the class — anymore.

    A huge Senior Bowl has put Mitchell squarely on the media’s first-round radar. Mitchell is strong in man coverage and would form a tremendous duo with Devon Witherspoon for years to come.

    17) Jacksonville Jaguars: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

    Cooper DeJean is my second-ranked corner in the 2024 NFL Draft class and is as physical as any top corner in the last five years. He immediately gives the Jacksonville defense more talent on the outside and more physicality overall, something the Jaguars lacked defensively in 2023.

    18) New Orleans Saints (From CIN): Jer’Zhan Newton, IDL, Illinois

    Jer’Zhan Newton is an ultra-athletic 3-technique who can slide out and play wider in bigger sets. New Orleans needs more interior push, and Newton is a guy that can provide that.

    I view the Saints as a team that needs several smaller pieces rather than one or two superstars to complete the puzzle, so shoring up the interior of the defensive line is a small step toward playoff contention.

    19) Los Angeles Rams: Chris Braswell, EDGE, Alabama

    Here’s where I start to differ with many people. I’m extremely high on Chris Braswell, who has one of the highest floors of any prospect in the draft. He’s a talented edge presence with an advanced pass-rushing repertoire. The Rams’ pass rush was non-existent down the stretch, and Braswell is a guy who can revamp their defensive line.

    20) Pittsburgh Steelers: Cooper Beebe, IOL, Kansas State

    Cooper Beebe is a top 10 prospect on my board and one of the best interior offensive line prospects in a long time. The Ravens and Tyler Linderbaum showed how adding one elite interior lineman can unlock an offense, and now the rival Steelers have the opportunity to follow suit.

    KEEP READING: Top iOL in the 2024 NFL Draft

    Beebe is a mauling run blocker with tackle experience who allowed only one sack as a guard in college.

    21) Miami Dolphins: JC Latham, OT, Alabama

    If the board falls this way and the Dolphins go with anyone other than JC Latham, I’d consider it a fireable offense. Latham is the third tackle on my board, but as a pure right tackle, a few of the other teams prioritized the left side of the line.

    Latham instantly becomes a starting blindside protector for Tua Tagovailoa in this scenario. Recently re-signed Austin Jackson slides over to the left as the long-term answer for the aging Terron Armstead.

    22) Philadelphia Eagles: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

    Kool-Aid McKinstry has experience playing both man and zone and brings a bit of attitude to a defense that lacked toughness at times a season ago.

    He’s an aggressive and sound tackler, something that couldn’t be said about the Philadelphia secondary, at least in its playoff loss to Tampa Bay. He’s technical and strong in coverage as well.

    23) Houston Texans: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

    While receiver and edge are popular choices here for the Texans, we’re too far down my list of edges to pull the trigger there, and I think there are bigger needs than receiver on this roster. Outside of Laremy Tunsil, the Houston offensive line was suspect last season and George Fant is an unrestricted free agent.

    Amarius Mims is so freakishly talented that his inexperience may be a non-factor. He played exclusively on the right side at Georgia, and the Texans are one of the few teams that wouldn’t have to worry about trying to flip him to the left side.

    24) Dallas Cowboys: T’Vondre Sweat, DT, Texas

    Dallas’ run defense was non-existent at times, so getting a massive, athletic run-stopper like T’Vondre Sweat would go a long way toward changing that narrative this offseason.

    Sweat is an enormous human whose ability against the run makes him an attractive option for the Cowboys. If some of his pass-rushing ability can translate, that’s just a bonus.

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

    Tyler Guyton was among a handful of prospects who helped their draft stock tremendously at the Senior Bowl. He has a massive frame and flashes the potential to bully players in the run game. He’s still fairly raw but should add to a young corps of offensive players in Green Bay as Jordan Love continues to develop.

    26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Troy Fautanu, OG, Washington

    An already thin line got even thinner last week with the retirement of center Ryan Jensen.

    All four qualifying interior linemen for the Bucs graded far below average as pass blockers in true pass sets, and the interior of the line allowed a pressure every six pass attempts (spoiler alert: that isn’t good). Troy Fautanu brings positional versatility and the ability to hold up in the passing game.

    27) Arizona Cardinals: Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina

    Was this entire exercise an excuse to get Spencer Rattler in the first round? Not really, but I’m substantially higher on the former No. 1 quarterback recruit than most pundits.

    Rattler fell down draft boards due to “lack of leadership” after being benched for Caleb Williams at Oklahoma (despite playing well that season). He then transferred to South Carolina and survived a very complicated system as a junior before breaking out as a senior behind one of the worst offensive lines in college football.

    KEEP READING: Top QBs in the 2024 NFL Draft

    His traits translate. There are zero issues with his character or leadership. His arm is one of the best in the draft, and his pocket movement as a senior was substantially better than in years past.

    He’s unlikely to go as high as I have him in this 2024 NFL Mock Draft, but he could have a long NFL career, even if he’s not drafted until Day 2. Who better to draft him here than the hometown team, unsure of its top option behind center?

    28) Buffalo Bills: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

    I’m a bit lower on Keon Coleman than others due to some of his inconsistency in college. That being said, when Coleman flashed, he flashed.

    The highlight reel for the 6’4″, 215-pounder was among the best you’ll see from a college receiver as he showed unreal catches, hurdles, and broken tackles all over his tape. He’s a guy that can be a high-end WR2 or even a top receiver for a contender.

    29) Detroit Lions: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

    The Detroit secondary struggled at times last year, especially down the stretch. In off-man coverage, Nate Wiggins is one of the best in the class, plus he’s able to play zone to a high level. I’m a bit higher on him than a guy like Terrion Arnold, and I think the former Clemson man can be a high-end starter at corner.

    30) Baltimore Ravens: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

    The aforementioned Arnold is one of the best zone corners in the draft. He struggles a bit when left on an island. Still, in Baltimore’s zone-heavy scheme, that deficiency is almost completely nullified (especially given the athleticism of the rest of the secondary).

    The temptation here may be for Baltimore to target an offensive playmaker, but in such a deep receiver class, the Ravens are better off taking Arnold as he falls and finding a No. 2 receiver later.

    31) Kansas City Chiefs: Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina

    Rashee Rice is winning differently in the NFL than he did in college, which is a credit to Kansas City’s offensive coaching. Xavier Legette and the Chiefs are a near-perfect match as the former Gamecock’s speed and contested catch ability pair well with Patrick Mahomes’ desire to trust his receivers.

    MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Reports

    A late-bloomer, Legette’s measurements at the Senior Bowl concerned some people (myself included), but at some point, we have to trust the tape and know that any route running hiccups are correctable while the speed, acceleration, and high-pointing abilities should all translate.

    32) San Francisco 49ers: Graham Barton, OG, Duke

    While I’m tempted to give the 49ers a versatile defensive back like Kamren Kinchens here, it’s Graham Barton who once again wins out due to scheme. I’ve mocked him here several times because of his versatility and high-level zone blocking.

    He can play any position on the line and can climb to the second level with ease, two key traits for guys in the 49ers offense.

    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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