2024 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Vikings move up for J.J. McCarthy

1. Chicago Bears

Caleb Williams, QB, USC

No surprises here. Williams can make every throw imaginable, is an underrated athlete, and posted elite numbers in his three-year collegiate career. Even his flaws—like his desire to work out of structure—are impressive because he’s incredible out of structure. You can put this one in stone.

2. Washington Commanders

Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Not much has changed here. Daniels remains the favorite to go second overall, though it’s far from a done deal. Daniels put up video game numbers through the air in his final season and has absurd rushing potential. For better and for worse, RGIII is a common comparison for him. Adam Schefter still has Daniels going to Washington as well.

Barring a last-minute change, Daniels looks to be a Commander.

3. New England Patriots

Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

For now, I won’t try to predict the unpredictable and instead have New England holding firm and taking Drake Maye. They could trade out of this spot or surprise us by nabbing J.J. McCarthy, but Maye’s body of work at UNC is hard to pass on. He threw 62 touchdowns and came up just shy of 8,000 yards in his two seasons as a starter. Maye is also a great athlete who rushed for 16 touchdowns in those two seasons.

4. Minnesota Vikings (trade with Arizona Cardinals)

J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah went to Princeton for an economics degree and Stanford for his master's before working on Wall Street. He’s not in the business of losing trades for no reason.

The value loss here is part of the game Minnesota has to play to move up the board. I don’t see any way they can stand still at No. 11. It’s possible they move up even higher or swap with the Chargers and then again with the Cardinals. Either way, they are moving into the top five for a quarterback.

5. Los Angeles Chargers

Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

Is this fantasy wish-casting? You better believe it. But it’s also realistic. Rumors of the Raiders, Broncos, and Giants all being interested in a first-round rookie should force the Vikings to make it all the way to the fourth overall pick to ensure they get their guy. If the Chargers aren’t the ones making a deal with Minnesota, they will happily sit tight and turn around their receiver room overnight with one of the best wideout prospects of the past decade. For good measure, Harrison cooked Michigan for 12 catches, 238 yards, and two scores in his two meetings with Jim Harbaugh’s squad.

6. New York Giants

Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

Nabers starts a run of three picks that remain unchanged from my last mock draft. The Giants have one of the worst receiving rooms in the league and Nabers would be the top receiver in many other draft classes. If the board falls this way, I don’t see any outcome other than them taking Nabers.

7. Tennessee Titans

Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

The Titans have a poor offensive line and haven’t done much to address that issue this offseason. They have, however, made it clear they want to surround Will Levis with more talent than they did in his rookie season. With receiver already taken care of via Calvin Ridley, the chalk pick of Alt makes a ton of sense for Tennessee.

8. Atlanta Falcons

Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

Another chalk pick, but the chalk is the chalk for a reason (he told himself). The Falcons haven’t had a player record 10 sacks in a season since 2016. There were 22 players to reach that number in 2023 alone. Turner is the consensus top EDGE in the draft and is the favorite to be the first defender off the board.

9. Las Vegas Raiders (trade with Chicago Bears)

Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez recently reported Raiders owner Mark Davis has given his blessing to GM Tom Telesco and HC Antonio Pierce to “make a move…any move” for a quarterback. The Raiders will struggle to out-bid Minnesota for an elite quarterback but can easily leap the Broncos to secure Nix. Pierce has even hinted at trading already, saying, “Everything is on the table,” when asked about moving up. Nix is an imperfect prospect, but Pierce doesn’t want to start his tenure as the Raiders’ head coach by slogging through a season with Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell at the helm.

10. New York Jets

Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

This pick is a layup for New York. Even after signing Mike Williams, the Jets still need to upgrade Aaron Rodgers’ weapons after failing to do so with his buddies last year. Odunze has an elite production profile and crushed the combine. Many teams will have him as a top-five player on their board, but the positional value at quarterback is allowing him to fall a few spots to the Jets.

11. Arizona Cardinals (trade with Minnesota Vikings)

Brian Thomas, WR, LSU

The Cardinals have a lot of needs to fill and, in this scenario, three first-round picks to make it happen. Barring a trade, they won’t take the podium again until pick No. 23—which they would have received from Minnesota in the Vikings’ move to get McCarthy—and Thomas is unlikely to make it another dozen picks. Though his profile is volatile, Thomas’s ceiling is up there with the three receivers taken ahead of him.

He is an absurd athlete who made good on those traits with 17 touchdowns in his junior season. With a clear drop-off at the position after Thomas comes off the board, I don’t see the Cardinals waiting until the 20s to get a receiver.

12. Denver Broncos

Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

The Broncos desperately need a quarterback, but I see a big drop-off between Bo Nix and Michael Penix. There appears to be a similar sentiment in draft circles as well.

Passing on Penix here doesn’t rule out Denver from getting him later in the draft either. For now, Sean Payton gets the best tight end prospect of all time. He also gets a position that was a staple of his offenses in New Orleans back in the days of Jimmy Graham.

13. Chicago Bears

Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Chicago only has picks No. 75 and 122 after the first round. That’s it. They will be eager to add more firepower in the middle of the draft by trading back a few spots while still landing a top-notch pass-rusher. The Bears are even a candidate to trade down multiple times given how little capital they have after the first night of the draft.

14. New Orleans Saints

Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Things look bleak for Saints RT Ryan Ramczyk. Speaking at the NFL’s league meeting in March, head coach Dennis Allen said, "He just isn't quite where I was probably hoping he'd be, and really quite frankly, where he was hoping he'd be.” Ramczyk has dealt with knee issues for years and contemplated retirement last season. On the other side of the line, Trevor Penning struggled at left tackle in 2023 after not playing much in his rookie season. Tackle feels like a lock for the Saints early and they get their choice of the non-Joe Alt options if things break this way.

15. Indianapolis Colts

Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

As I said in my first mock draft, the Colts value athleticism more than most teams.

They also need a starting outside cornerback. The top corner in this class ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine. I could see Mitchell going as high as No. 8 to Atlanta, so if he makes it here, there’s little chance he has to wait any longer to hear his name called.

16. Seattle Seahawks

JC Latham, OT, Alabama

Yahoo’s Nate Nice—who was just on the Rotoworld Football Show to break down some of the top prospects—described Latham as “a globe with legs” in his Top 100 Big Board. That was after ranking him as the No. 9 overall player in the draft. I don’t have any analysis to add on Latham, that’s simply an incredible description. The Seahawks have their left tackle spot secured with Charles Cross. Their right side is less certain. Former third-round pick Abraham Lucas struggled in 2023 and missed 11 games due to injury. A career right tackle, Latham could step into a starting role ahead of Lucas by Week 1.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars

Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

The Jags have undergone a lot of turnover in their secondary this offseason, replacing starters Rayshawn Jenkins and Darious Williams with free agent additions. Though they aren’t in desperate need of more help, they could use extra firepower at corner and safety. Why not kill two birds with one stone by drafting the most versatile defensive back in the draft?

18. Cincinnati Bengals

Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

The Bengals let right tackle Jonah Williams walk in free agency and currently have former Patriots tackle Trent Brown slotted to replace him. Brown has been at his best as a left tackle and the Patriots got far more out of him than the Raiders or 49ers. Cincinnati shouldn’t view him as a locked-in starter at right tackle. Even if they do, he is only with the team on a one-year deal. Fuaga played right tackle throughout his career and was one of the best in the country in that role in 2023.

19. Los Angeles Rams

Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

The Rams need to replace Aaron Donald, but you also can’t replace Aaron Donald. Another player like him doesn’t exist. Instead, they can bolster their pass defense by taking Arnold, who is likely the top corner on most team’s boards once Mitchell is drafted.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers

Adonai Mitchell, WR Texas

The Steelers sent Diontae Johnson to Carolina for a bag of footballs and understandably cut Allen Robinson after one failed season. A franchise looking to revive the career of Russell Wilson or Justin Fields can’t expect to do so with only George Pickens to throw to. Mitchell is an elite athlete with a true breakout season while playing alongside fellow first-round pick (at least in this mock) Xavier Worthy.

21. Miami Dolphins

Graham Barton, C, Duke

Per usual, protecting Tua Tagovailoa has to be a top priority for the Dolphins this offseason. Tua posted elite efficiency numbers in 2023 but still didn’t look comfortable out of structure. The best way to avoid that is to bolster his line, preventing the structure from breaking down in the first place. Barton started his collegiate career as a center but quickly moved to and found success at tackle. If the draft breaks this way, the Dolphins could draft Barton as a center and deploy free agent addition Aaron Brewer at either guard spot.

22. Philadelphia Eagles

Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

This doesn’t require much explanation. If you’ve followed the draft over the past decade, you’ll know that the Eagles build through the trenches.

They also love their athletes, even more than the Colts. Laiatu Latu is an elite athlete with a 9.3 RAS who can immediately make an impact for a pass-rush unit that fell off a cliff in 2023.

23. Arizona Cardinals (trade with Minnesota Vikings)

CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

As things currently stand, the Cardinals have one of the weakest cornerback rooms in the league. Their big addition at the position so far has been free agent acquisition Sean Murphy-Bunting, who is coming off a year in which he ranked as Pro Football Focus’s No. 89 corner in 2023.

24. Dallas Cowboys

Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington

The Cowboys have a few options here. Left guard Tyler Smith seems destined to replace Tyron Smith, now with the Jets, at left tackle. While that’s a possibility, Tyler has excelled at guard and Fautanu is a tremendous value this late in the first round. Never a team to shy away from adding to their offensive line, this is a best-player-available pick at a high-value position.

25. Green Bay Packers

Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

The Packers currently have former first-round pick Eric Stokes penciled in for a starting role opposite Jaire Alexander. Injuries have limited Stokes to 12 games over the past two seasons and he has struggled when able to suit up. Wiggins played almost exclusively on the outside at Clemson and would likely take over for Stokes right away.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jackson Powers-Johnson, G, Oregon

As of the beginning of April, Pro Football Focus has all of the Bucs’ options for guard and center ranked in the bottom third of their respective positions. They could wind up starting three players ranked bottom-five if nothing changes. Luckily for them, the draft gives Tampa Bay the perfect opportunity to correct that by taking Powers-Johnson. The Oregon alum can play anywhere along the interior and will help the Bucs protect their now-franchise quarterback Baker Mayfield.

27. Arizona Cardinals

Jer'Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

The Cardinals’ third and final pick of the first round is dedicated to helping their defensive line. Arizona needs help at EDGE and defensive tackle and will likely address both spots in this draft at some point. Newton generated a stellar 7.5 sacks as an interior pass-rusher and is also strong against the run.

28. Buffalo Bills

Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

The Bills desperately need an outside receiver after signing Curtis Samuel to man the slot before trading Stefon Diggs and watching Gabe Davis walk in free agency. While McConkey isn’t the alpha that Stefon Diggs was, he did play primarily on the outside in college and was absurdly efficient when called upon. He averaged 3.26 yards per route run in his final season and then posted a 9.33 RAS at the combine. He won’t replace Diggs right away, but it’s a start.

29. Detroit Lions

Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State

The Lions have very few holes on either side of the ball and it can never hurt to double down on a strength at a premier position. Like every Penn State alum, Robinson is an elite athlete with untapped upside. Allowing him to develop while Aidan Hutchinson draws the focus of defenses would be an ideal outcome for both Robinson and the Lions.

30. Baltimore Ravens

Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB, Missouri

Former third-round pick Brandon Stephens is coming off a strong season and Marlon Humphrey remains a top-notch corner. However, Stephens is entering a contract year and the Ravens are at their best when they can limit opponents with their defense and wear them down on the other side of the ball via the ground game.

31. San Francisco 49ers

Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

Mims should not make it to the end of the first round, but this is an absurdly deep class at tackle. Mims also played right tackle in college and will likely do so in the NFL, limiting the number of teams who may be interested. That’s not an issue for the 49ers as they have Trent Williams on the left side and a weakness on the right.

32. Kansas City Chiefs

Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

With Rashee Rice facing legal trouble and Marquise Brown only on a one-year deal, receiver remains a glaring need for the Chiefs. Lacking a true deep threat since trading Tyreek Hill, Worthy’s record-setting speed would finally return that element to Patrick Mahomes’ arsenal.