The 2023-24 college football season is here!
With months of summer scouting in the books and pre-season rankings complete, this is where the fun begins.
While it might be way-too-early, it never gets old putting star prospect talent with actual NFL franchises.
With two star quarterbacks at the top, an all-world wide receiver and building blocks for the trenches, this class packs a punch. Let’s dive into my first 2024 NFL Mock Draft.
(Note: Draft order was determined based on betting odds)
Caleb Williams, QB, USC
If the Cardinals are bad enough to finish with the first pick, their new regime might hit the reset button at the most vital position. Williams has enough talent that he would force a lot of franchise’s into this spot, as crazy as a Kyler Murray trade might seem (he signed a mammoth five-year extension in 2022).
Williams plays a fearless brand of quarterback, showing off unique arm talent on the move. He threw 14 touchdowns and 0 interceptionsm while averaging 8.6 yards per attempt under pressure in 2022 (per PFF). When April rolls around, the hype around him could eclipse what was said about Trevor Lawrence in 2021.
2. Arizona Cardinals (via Texans)
Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
My top overall player from summer scouting, Harrison Jr. is the best wide receiver prospect since Ja’Marr Chase. What makes him potentially more dangerous is that he’s three inches taller and has room to add to his 205 pound frame.
While physically imposing, don’t lose sight of the polish in his game. He’s a great route runner with advanced ability to win off the line of scrimmage. He’ll dominate early at the next level, giving the Cardinals an unbelievable connection for their new era.
Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State
Fashanu would’ve been a lock to go in the top 10 if he declared last year, but in the end he opted to go back to school.
Not a lot of players his size have the explosiveness and agility he possesses. Putting a franchise tackle in front of Anthony Richardson should be a priority for Chris Ballard and the Colts.
Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
Baker Mayfield has won the "quarterback competition" in Tampa Bay, but the future under center for the Bucs should be in this draft class.
Maye is a big-bodied passer who can make plays in and out of the pocket. His ability to paint targets with touch throws at all three levels is his calling card. The Bucs would be in great hands for the long term if they were able to land him.
Jer’Zhan Newton, DL, Illinois
It’s not common for a college defensive lineman to be as technically advanced as Newton is. He’s got great hands, vision and awareness to erase the run game coming his way.
When Illinois lets him pin his ears back and rush, he shows off his explosiveness. He’s got extremely active hands and lateral agility (former high school running back).
Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia
After being named SEC freshman of the year in 2021 and taking home the Mackey Award in 2022, what does Brock Bowers have left to prove?
It’s hard to be a game-changing talent at the college level, but that’s exactly what he’s been. He hauls in everything, easily adjusting to throws or climbing the ladder to reel them in.
In the red area he’s been lethal, grabbing 20 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Georgia wisely got him involved in the screen game where defensive backs consistently struggled to bring him down.
This is a best player available on offense pick for Tennessee, but getting a young dynamic pass catcher is a smart play.
Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State
The Rams roster needs a lot of work. You can argue they should take a quarterback to develop behind Matthew Stafford (if he even plays in 2024), but Verse’s floor and ceiling at a premium spot on defense is too good to pass.
After transferring from Albany, he terrorized opposing tackles for Florida State. Much like Fashanu, he would’ve been a top 10 pick in 2023 but opted to return to school. He’ll be must see TV this entire season.
8. Chicago Bears (via Panthers)
Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State
Yannick Ngakoue was a smart bridge signing for the Bears pass rush, but they should look to the 2024 draft for a long-term solution.
I love Robinson’s blend of burst, twitch and power. He’s got thunder in his hands and plays with top tier leverage. Per PFF, he had an excellent 20.9% pass rush win rate in 2022.
Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
David Bakhtiari is under contract until the end of the 2024 season, but the Packers can restock their offensive line a year "early" here.
Alt is a skyscraper at 6’8 but he’s coordinated at that size in pass protection. He shows off push back, drive blocking strength in the run game too. After a tremendous 2022 for Notre Dame, he’s on his way to being a top 15 selection.
Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State
The Patriots simply need to put more receiving talent around Mac Jones. While Marvin Harrison Jr. understandably gets a majority of the spotlight, Egbuka is a tremendous talent on his own.
Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA
Latu could be the comeback story of the entire draft after medically retiring due to a neck injury in 2021 (at Washington). He got a fresh, healthy start at UCLA and couldn’t be blocked in the Pac 12 in 2022.
On his road to double digit sacks, Latu put on a masterclass of keeping blocker’s hands off of him to create favorable rush angles. He has a deep pass rush tool box showing off the ability to rip and dip, a spin move, bull rush and much more.
With Chase Young’s future up in the air, Latu could be in play here to join an extremely talented Commanders defensive line.
12. New York Giants
Malik Nabers, WR, LSU
13. Atlanta Falcons
Leonard Taylor, DL, Miami
A former five-star recruit, Leonard flashed significant pass rush potential on the interior for Miami last season. With more playing time and added strength, a jump into the top 15 is not out of the range of outcomes for him.
Kalen King, CB, Penn State
After landing Joey Porter Jr. in the second round of the 2023 draft, how fun would reuniting him with Kalen King be? This duo was dominant for the Nittany Lions last year.
While Porter won with strength and length, King is a smaller corner with excellent fluidity to stay sticky in coverage. I love the energy and intense demeanor he brings to the back end of a defense.
15. Chicago Bears
Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama
It might seem crazy to take two pass rushers with two top fifteen picks, but this could completely turn around Chicago’s defense.
The Bears have invested a lot of resources into their secondary recently (Jaquan Brisker, Kyler Gordon, Tyrique Stevenson). Landing a rush with power in Chop Robinson followed by one with speed in Turner gives them talent from front to back.
16. Denver Broncos
Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
The Broncos hit a home run by drafting Patrick Surtain II out of Alabama a few years ago. Pairing him with the next high-end Crimson Tide corner could create a shutdown tandem.
McKinstry is comfortable and confident in press, with length and excellent speed to run with vertical targets. He’s also a dynamic punt returner, averaging 15.8 yards on 21 attempts last season.
17. Houston Texans (via Browns)
Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas
The Texans are slowly building back up a roster that needed a lot of work, but they still need game changing speed for C.J. Stroud to throw to. Tank Dell will help, but he can’t do it all on his own.
Enter Worthy, who can flat out fly and has above average tracking down the field to make explosive plays.
Michael Penix, QB, Washington
If not for a long injury history, Penix would have no business being discussed outside the top 15. He has a howitzer of an arm that allows him to consistently drive the ball outside the numbers from the pocket. His overall timing and feel for pressure allows him to get in rhythm and rip apart secondaries in the intermediate range.
The Vikings will likely win too many games to land a "no-brainer" successor to Kirk Cousins, but taking a shot on Penix here is well worth the risk.
Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa
DeJean is a dynamic corner who lines up everywhere for the Hawkeyes on defense. His ball skills were on full display in 2022 where three of his interceptions went back for touchdowns.
20. Seattle Seahawks
Kris Jenkins, DL, Michigan
Jenkins is a vastly underrated, hard-nosed player who does so much dirty work to clear lanes for his teammates. If he taps into more of his raw pass rush ability this season, he’ll be a big riser.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars
Kamren Kinchens, SAF, Miami
Kinchens spent time in the box, the slot, free safety and on special teams last year, flashing brilliance from all areas. He’s got excellent range in coverage but has no problem throwing his weight around against the run.
22. Los Angeles Chargers
Maason Smith, DL, LSU
One of the wildcards of this draft, Smith showed flashes as a Freshman All-American in 2021, but lost almost all of his 2022 season to a torn ACL. The way he moves at 6’6, 310 pounds should create huge mismatches on the interior.
23. Miami Dolphins
Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona
If not for a torn ACL in November of 2022, Morgan was well on his way to being a projected Day 2 pick in last year’s draft. He brings a compact build that helps him gain leverage, along with quick feet and above average lateral agility. He’s also a weapon in the run game when asked to pull.
24. Detroit Lions
Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson
Wiggins broke out in 2022 as a First-Team All-ACC selection with 12 pass breakups and a 98-yard pick six. His length, leaping ability and smooth back pedal are all evident on his sophomore tape.
25. Baltimore Ravens
T.J. Tampa, CB, Iowa State
Tampa is another one of my picks to rise this season as a long limbed, explosive corner who can run like the wind. His reach allows him to make some pretty rare plays in coverage.
26. New York Jets
Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia
If Aaron Rodgers plays 65% of snaps this season, this pick will go to Green Bay. As it’s currently with the Jets, they need to get familiar with the high-upside tackles in this draft class. Not many have more potential than Mims, who simply needs more time on the field.
27. Dallas Cowboys
Patrick Paul, OT, Houston
Paul is a two-year starter at left tackle, taking home all-conference honors both seasons. He’s a tough human to get around at his size and held his own against Tyree Wilson, a top 10 pick in last year’s draft.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
Ja’Tavion Sanders, TE, Texas
Sanders in the Bengals pass game would be unfair. He’s a mismatch player with great size and speed, but more importantly he fights through contact at the catch point. It doesn’t hurt that he’ll pancake smaller defenders in the run game sometimes too.
29. San Francisco 49ers
JC Latham, OT, Alabama
A full season starter at right tackle in 2022, Latham had his fair share of highs and lows. He’s got incredible grip strength to match his mass, but needs to cut down on the penalties.
30. Buffalo Bills
Troy Fautanu, OL, Washington
Fautanu plays left tackle for Washington but also has experience at guard. He generates a ton of strength from a thick base and consistently moves defenders off the ball in the run game.
31. Philadelphia Eagles
Barrett Carter, LB, Clemson
While the Eagles' regime might not value off ball linebackers this early, Carter is a rare presence for the middle of the field. His play speed is jaw dropping and can be utilized as a legit weapon when asked to blitz or cover.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
Rome Odunze, WR, Washington
The 6’3 Odunze has long strides to build up speed and a big catch radius. He needs to haul in more contested catch targets this year (4 of 16 in 2022, per PFF), but his explosive play ability fits the Chiefs’ offense.