Mock draft has Fields headed to Patriots in blockbuster Bears trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The thing about mock drafts is that even when the regular season is over, any change, however slight, may alter the direction an organization moves toward. Movements within teams’ coaching staffs could indicate which positions or, more specifically, what players become prioritized.
The Titans released former head coach Mike Vrabel and replaced him with former Bengals’ offensive coordinator Brian Callahan. So, will Tennessee shift its focus toward an offensive draft prospect, possibly reflecting Callahan’s vision for the team?
Check out this week’s mock, and consider for yourselves if these current alterations best reflect where your favorite team(s) draft interests are focused.
1. Chicago Bears (via Carolina): QB - Caleb Williams, USC
Chicago’s recent hire of offensive coordinator Shane Waldron might be an indication that incumbent quarterback Justin Fields could be throwing passes for another organization next season. Speculatively speaking, Waldron may favor having an opportunity to coach and mold a player less exposed to other NFL coaching systems.
Waldron is an experienced offensive coordinator who was highly sought after by several teams. It’s possible his main stipulation for taking the job might be a desire to coach an unblemished talent, as opposed to veteran quarterbacks like he dealt with in Seattle.
As the draft draws nearer, more critical observations of players begin to affect perceptions and understandings of prospects’ strengths and weaknesses. Daniels's ascension from a possible third-round selection at the beginning of the 2023 college football campaign to a top-five consideration exemplifies how far a player can rise. Winning the Heisman and finishing his college career on the highest of notes may be just enough to slot him as the second pick behind 2022’s Heisman Trophy winner, Caleb Williams.
Taking a page from the Houston Texans draft playbook, Bears general manager Ryan Poles potentially devises a trade package that could position Chicago into the third overall spot. New England is last in a competitive AFC Eastern Division dominated by pro bowl caliber quarterbacks (Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers and Tua Tagovailoa). The Patriots’ new head coach (Jarod Mayo) has a veteran unit with 19 unrestricted free agents this year and 20 slated for 2025.
It’s possible Poles sense New England’s need to win now and trades quarterback Justin Fields, Chicago’s ninth pick in the first round and its sixth-round pick in 2025. In return, the Bears receive New England’s third overall pick, its 103rd pick (4th), and 2025’s third and fifth-round spots. When the dust settles, Chicago triumphantly selects Marvin Harrison Jr., envisioning an offense with him receiving passes from Caleb Williams.
A possible trade between Chicago and New England might open up an opportunity to acquire a potential franchise quarterback for the Falcons. So, Atlanta may decide to offer Arizona its eighth overall pick, 74th pick (third round), and 2025 second and third-round spots. In return, the Cardinals surrender their fourth overall pick to the Falcons, providing them the means to select Maye as their featured passer. Arguably, Maye is considered by some pundits to be the “safest” and most reliable quarterback prospect in this draft class.
Historically, the Chargers have drafted and developed some of the best tight ends over the last half century (Kellen Winslow - HOF, Antonio Gates team’s all-time leading receiver). Bowers possesses the ability and tenacity to be better than them should Los Angeles pair him with franchise quarterback Justin Herbert.
Fashanu’s athleticism and consistent ability to attack in space beyond the line of scrimmage make him an intriguing prospect. The Giants allowed 85 sacks this season, by far the worst in the NFL, superseding the next two teams (Commanders / Panthers) by 20 more quarterback takedowns.
Even though the Titans recently hired former Bengals’ offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, the need to prioritize a defensive position still resonates. Tennessee’s secondary struggled to make plays in 2023, finishing last in interceptions (6) and passes defended (55). McKinstry displays top-tier coverage skills and competes with the tenacity needed at the professional level.
In a potential “sure-why-not” decision-making move, Arizona might greedily accept Atlanta’s eighth overall pick, along with its 74th pick (3rd) and 2025’s second and third-round positions. Currently, the Cardinals possess 13 draft picks, so exchanging their fourth overall pick for what Atlanta may offer could increase their haul and draft maneuverability. If the Bears bargained their way ahead of the Cardinals to select Harrison, then acquiring additional picks and still possibly drafting Odunze would be an advantageous move for a rebuilding squad like Arizona.
The Patriots might exchange its third pick with Chicago’s ninth overall selection, a sixth-round pick in 2025, and quarterback Justin Fields to challenge their divisional rivals better. New England would receive an immediate upgrade at quarterback, acquiring a dynamic playmaker to compete with the other spectacular signal-callers in the Patriots’ division. In the potential trade with Chicago, New England would move down several spots and possibly select Nabers to enhance a moribund receiving corps.
The Jets' embattled offensive line has led to seasons of inconsistent pass protection and possibly indirectly contributed to four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers' Achilles injury. There’s a strong likelihood that New York will target a strong pass blocker in the upcoming draft. According to PFF, the massive Alt (6-8, 322 lbs) earned a pass-blocking grade of 90.7 and an overall blocking metric of 91.2 by the end of the 2023 campaign.
An athletic force multiplier, Latu is a tremendous pass rusher with good acceleration and closing speed. More quickly than fast, Latu creatively sheds blocks and possesses an innate ability to maneuver between offensive linemen efficiently, creating havoc behind the line of scrimmage.
An inconsistent performer at Auburn, this former Tiger changed his stripes of underperformance once he transferred to Oregon. Perseverance, patience, and a humble dedication toward weekly improvements are intangibles head coach Sean Payton may be looking to acquire for his offense. It doesn’t hurt that Nix led the nation with an accurate 77.4 completion percentage and passed for 45 touchdowns to three interceptions.
13. Las Vegas Raiders: CB - Terrion Arnold, Alabama
Arnold logged a productive season, registering 61 tackles with 11 passes defended and five interceptions for the Crimson Tide. Having learned under Nick Saban, arguably the best college coach of all time and defensive specialist, Arnold is NFL-ready and a potential day-one starter.
14. New Orleans Saints: OL - Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State
According to PFF metrics, Fuaga is the second-highest-ranked offensive tackle, combining run and pass blocking for an 88.2 rating. In over 1500 plus snaps, Fuaga has never surrendered a sack and provides immediate impact as a run-blocking mauler. In addition, Saints’ interior offensive lineman James Hurst is a 32-year-old free agent.
15. Indianapolis Colts: Edge - Dallas Turner, Alabama
Turner is a quick-twitch athlete with excellent length and bendability off the edge when rushing the passer. He is decidedly more explosive from a two-point stance, but his athleticism allows for some schemed alignment versatility. He also performs satisfactorily at the point of attack when establishing the edge on running plays.
16. Seattle Seahawks: QB - Michael Penix Jr., Washington
Currently, Seattle is without a head coach and searching for ways to redirect the team’s mediocre results. Drafting a quarterback could be a fresh approach to revitalizing a vibrant football community in Seattle. Targeting a local collegiate talent like Penix, who successfully competed at Washington, could excite a dissatisfied fan base.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars: DL - Jer’Zahn Newton, Illinois
Technique and tenacity are apt descriptions of how Newton consistently wins against opposing linemen. Extremely quick and purposeful with his movements, Newton sheds blocks with efficiency and flows toward ball carriers on running plays. The Big Ten’s Defensive Rookie of the Year is an indefatigable defender whose relentlessness on the field should translate well at the NFL level.
Cincinnati wideouts Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins are unrestricted free agents, and it’s possible a money-conscious team like the Bengals may only re-sign one of the two. Coleman’s ability to create separation and leverage his wide catching radius against defenders projects favorably at the next level.
19. Los Angeles Rams: Edge - Jared Verse, Florida State
Since transferring from a Canadian college to Florida State, Verse has proved to be a consistent playmaker at a Power Five competitive level. Over the past two seasons, Verse registered 29.5 tackles for loss and 18 sacks.
Wiggins is an ideal cover corner with excellent change of direction and field awareness. His ability to anticipate plus click-and-close when breaking in on a pass is NFL caliber. Pittsburgh needs some youthful talent in its secondary and Wiggins exhibits day one starting pedigree.
21. Miami Dolphins: OL - Troy Fautanu, Washington
Fautanu possesses the requisite NFL height (6’4”) and weight (317 lbs), but what sets him apart from his contemporaries is his explosiveness (32-inch vertical). His burst, agility, and overall quickness allow him to move rapidly into the second level of defense. Fautanu’s rugged physicality and relentless motor make him ideal in most pro schemes.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Edge - Demeioun “Chop” Robinson, Penn State
Robinson is an explosive talent whose quick, violent hands and pliable strength make him difficult to contain off the edge. According to several NFL pundits, Robinson has been clocked running in the 4.4s regarding his timed 40-yard sprints. If so, he may be positioned higher on draft boards after an official time is recorded.
Head coach DeMeco Ryans is a former inside linebacker (Texans) and coached within a 49ers system that believed in rotational depth along its defensive front line. Taylor is a disruptive, thick-bodied interior defender with a good initial burst off the snap of the ball. His ability to shed blocks and penetrate behind the offensive line is evident by his career with 22.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.
24. Dallas Cowboys: OT - J.C. Latham, Alabama
Offensive tackle Tyron Smith is a 32-year-old unrestricted free agent making 12.2 million dollars a year. Latham will be a 21-year-old draft prospect with day-one starting potential and a far less heavy price tag attached to a rookie contract.
Four of Green Bay’s five free-agent defensive backs play safety for the Packers. Due to DeJean’s innate ability to man any defensive backfield position, targeting him makes a lot of sense economically speaking. DeJean flashes cornerback coverage skills with the surveying vision and physicality of free safety.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR - Brian Thomas Jr., LSU
Should the Bucs move on from perennial Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans, targeting an explosive downfield threat like Thomas may be a solid option. Based on Thomas’ exemplary 2023 season (68 receptions / 1177 receiving yards / 17 touchdowns), he is an amazing talent with unlimited upside.
27. Arizona Cardinals (via Houston): CB - Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo
Mitchell, a six-foot, 196-pound corner from Toledo, is one of the best defensive backs and most anonymous defenders in the country. He effectively dominated the MAC Conference these past two seasons, having posted 82 tackles, 37 pass deflections, and six interceptions (two returned for scores).
Trice’s ability to shed blocks and penetrate behind the offensive line is evident by his 23.5 tackles for loss over the course of his final 28 collegiate games. There are four defensive ends plus a pass-rushing outside linebacker who will be unrestricted free agents in 2024. Plus, future Hall-of-Fame edge rusher Von Miller is in his mid-30s, so there are solid reasons to target a player like Trice.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: OT - Jordan Morgan, Arizona
Morgan plays like an experienced veteran and is rarely fooled or taken unaware by stunts and blitzes. An above-average athlete, he possesses the requisite height (6’5”), weight (325 lbs), and length to effectively stymie pass rushers. A quick puncher, Morgan tends to set an aggressive tone when pass-blocking and opening running lanes.
One of the more physical defensive backs in this draft class, Tampa delivers forceful hits against receivers that invariably impact games. A big corner (6’2” - 190 lbs), Tampa is a committed tackler with 107 career tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 19 defended passes. Temperament and energy-wise he fits the Lions' current culture perfectly.
Kitchens provides an immediate injection of athleticism and explosive game-breaking coverage skills. His ability to intercept passes and flip field position (averages 18.1 yards on interception returns) makes him a threat across the gridiron. He is exactly the type of versatile safety needed in the 49ers’ defensive schemes.
32. Baltimore Ravens: WR - Troy Franklin, Oregon
Baltimore should pursue drafting more difference-making receivers and continue evolving from being just an elite running team. However, more than just a deep threat (17.1 yards per reception in 2023), Franklin is also a dependable target, averaging approximately five (5.4) receptions a contest over the past two seasons.