We simulated the first round of the 2024 NFL draft and the Green Bay Packers pick caught us off guard

Can we admit a little secret? We have no idea who the Green Bay Packers are going to take in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft. The good news is that nobody else does, either, although that's not going to stop us from recapping a number of mock drafts that can make some educated guesses. Or making our own guesses. Kind of.

Using the ESPN mock-draft simulator won't offer a more exact science, but it gives us at least one possible universe, albeit one devoid of the draft-day trades that you know are going to shake up the order of events in the first round Thursday.

We ran a first-round simulation and tried to find some mock drafts from around the internet to address those selections to present a 1-32 first-round mock draft. We didn't make picks for any first rounders, so we swear the Packers pick below isn't designed to make you go crazy. But perhaps it will prepare you for the unpredictability that is right around the corner.

1. Chicago Bears: Caleb Williams, quarterback, USC

Duh. From Eric Edholm of "Nothing has changed on this front. If the Bears are indeed rejecting every overture for the pick, it only reinforces the belief that Williams is the future of the franchise."

2. Washington Commanders: Drake Maye, quarterback, North Carolina

Already at No. 2, however, we have the first interesting call of the draft. With Maye, Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels and Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy available at this spot, what will Washington do?

"Washington has been looking for its franchise quarterback for decades now, and the new regime takes its next swing with Drake Maye," wrote Nick Akridge of Pro Football Focus. "Maye has all the tools to become an NFL franchise quarterback. He was elite over the middle of the field in 2023, earning a 94.8 passing grade on throws in between the college hashes, the best in the FBS."

3. New England Patriots: Jayden Daniels, quarterback, LSU

From Rhett Lewis of "One of the most anemic offenses in football the last two years gets an immediate adrenaline injection with the multi-talented Daniels. The 2023 Heisman Trophy winner was an excellent distributor to his high-level Tiger targets and has the elite athleticism to fill a playmaking void if his initial surrounding cast in New England remains a work in progress."

4. Arizona Cardinals: Malik Nabers, wide receiver, LSU

The whole point of trying one simulation is that you're bound to get some chaos, and let's get started on that front (because trust me, more will follow). Nabers going before fellow receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. is sure to be a controversial choice. It's a scenario Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports envisioned. "I've had Malik Nabers and Marvin Harrison Jr. closely graded throughout the draft process, but after Nabers' impressive pro-day numbers, I'm giving him the slightest of edges here. Both receivers are special."

Notre Dame tackle Joe Alt likely will be the first offensive lineman taken.
Notre Dame tackle Joe Alt likely will be the first offensive lineman taken.

5. Los Angeles Chargers: Joe Alt, tackle, Notre Dame

From Jordan Reid of ESPN: "'The offensive line has always been the hub of the offense with (new coach Jim) Harbaugh,' an AFC director of college scouting said while discussing the Chargers a few weeks ago. 'He didn't even have that many highly recruited wideouts at Michigan, and now that thought process is supposed to change?' Wide receiver is a reasonable way to go here ... but Harbaugh likes to build up the trenches, and he could pair Alt with Rashawn Slater to do just that. Alt is versatile as a blocker and really difficult to get around."

6. New York Giants: Marvin Harrison Jr., wide receiver, Ohio State

One would presume this would already be looked upon as the steal of the draft. Wilson of CBS sports, having given Nabers to the Cardinals, has this as the natural next progression. "Best-case scenario for the Giants, who stand pat and have Marvin Harrison Jr. fall in their laps," he wrote.

Washington's Rome Odunze is one of the top wide receivers in the draft.
Washington's Rome Odunze is one of the top wide receivers in the draft.

7. Tennessee Titans: Rome Odunze, wide receiver, Washington

Many mock drafts see Alt as the pick here, but he's already off the board, and the Titans could shift gears to take Odunze. It's a scenario floated by Reid of ESPN. "Offensive tackle has been a common projection at this spot, and it's without question the weakest position on the Titans roster," Reid wrote. "But Alt is off the board, and taking the best player available instead of reaching for a need makes sense. Tennessee signed Calvin Ridley to a four-year, $92 million deal, but DeAndre Hopkins is entering the final year of his contract. Odunze could make an immediate impact for QB Will Levis, making plays on vertical routes or over the middle."

8. Atlanta Falcons: Dallas Turner, edge rusher, Alabama

You can find a boatload of drafts that have Turner going to Atlanta with the eighth pick, marking the first defensive player off the board. From Dane Brugler of The Athletic: "There is a good chance we see something this year that has happened just once (2021) in the Super Bowl era: no defensive players selected in the first seven picks of the draft. If that comes to fruition, the Falcons will have their choice of the top defensive player on their board at No. 8 − and I don’t think many people will be surprised if that is Turner."

9. Chicago Bears: Brock Bowers, tight end, Georgia

This isn't a popular connection in mock drafts; there's plenty of speculation that the Bears would trade this pick to bulk up a draft class that comes in with only four selections, fewest of all NFL teams. And, after all, the Bears already have a No. 1 pick in their pocket. But as Dalton Wasserman of Pro Football Focus writes, "He is arguably the greatest college tight end of all time, providing elite ability after the catch." It's fair to say Bowers is one of the wild cards among the first 15 picks of the draft.

Alabama offensive lineman JC Latham is an Oak Creek native.
Alabama offensive lineman JC Latham is an Oak Creek native.

10. New York Jets: JC Latham, tackle, Alabama

It would be the second straight year the Jets have chosen a Milwaukee-area native in the first round. Last year, Iowa State's Will McDonald (a native of Waukesha) went in the first round, and this year, it's the Oak Creek native Latham, who spent his first two years of high school at Catholic Memorial before transferring to a school in Florida.

"Yes, the Jets signed veteran left tackle Tyron Smith and traded for right tackle Morgan Moses this offseason,"'s Chad Reuter wrote. "But both are 33 years old, coming off injuries and only under contract through next season. Latham's ability to get movement in the run game, and widen his base against edge rushers in pass pro, could make him the top lineman from this class three years down the line."

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy could end up the NFC North Division.
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy could end up the NFC North Division.

11. Minnesota Vikings: J.J. McCarthy, quarterback, Michigan

While many drafts suspect Minnesota will work to trade up for a quarterback, it would have to be considered a major win for the Vikings to stand pat and still come away with McCarthy. "Kevin O'Connell gets his quarterback without climbing the board through a blockbuster trade,"'s Bucky Brooks wrote. "McCarthy flourished in a managerial role at Michigan, but he possesses the talent to evolve into a playmaker as a pro."

12. Denver Broncos: Troy Fautanu, tackle, Washington

Perhaps this is where the run on offensive linemen really starts. "Sean Payton has his eyes on another quarterback later in the draft and instead looks to tighten up the blocking unit with the selection of Troy Fautanu," Chris Trepasso of CBS Sports wrote.

13. Las Vegas Raiders: Taliese Fuaga, tackle, Oregon State

From R.J. White of CBS Sports: "The betting market is projecting Fuaga to go right around this pick, and he seems like the perfect fit for the Raiders at right tackle, so I'll make a rare obvious pick with quarterback no longer a realistic option for the Raiders. Fuaga should stick at tackle, but he also has the ability to be a Pro Bowl guard if he has to kick inside."

Texas defensive lineman Byron Murphy celebrates a sack against Iowa State.
Texas defensive lineman Byron Murphy celebrates a sack against Iowa State.

14. New Orleans Saints: Byron Murphy, defensive tackle, Texas

From Danny Kelly at The Ringer: "The Saints love to build in the trenches in the early rounds and follow that tack again here, grabbing an explosive and versatile interior pass rusher in Murphy. The former Longhorns star plays with immense power and twitchy movement skills, giving the team another disruptive force on the defensive line. He’ll pair well with last year’s first-round pick, Bryan Bresee, giving New Orleans a dynamic duo on the interior."

15. Indianapolis Colts: Jared Verse, edge rusher, Florida State

Far more mock drafts love a different defensive player here, like Quinyon Mitchell of Toledo, but Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic visualized this pick … although that's because his mock draft had Terrion Arnold and Quinyon Mitchell off the board. "Corner is a more pressing need for the Colts − but if the top two are gone, the second-best edge would be a fine consolation prize," he wrote. "The Colts are still deciding on Kwity Paye’s fifth-year option, and Verse’s traits will definitely intrigue Chris Ballard. Wide receiver is another possibility here."

16. Seattle Seahawks: Quinyon Mitchell, cornerback, Toledo

Most mock drafts love the idea of Fautanu here, but he's already gone in this simulation. Mitchell, meanwhile, is still out there.

"Especially in Dallas and Seattle over the past two years, the addition of an aggressive, turnover-hawk cornerback changes the entire complexion of a defense and can immediately chokeslam a high-powered offense," Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr wrote. "Mitchell breaks up passes, forces hesitation on behalf of opposing quarterbacks, and, with the right defensive coordinator, he can be a Day 1 difference-maker."

UCLA defensive lineman Laiatu Latu battles against San Diego State.
UCLA defensive lineman Laiatu Latu battles against San Diego State.

17, Jacksonville Jaguars: Laiatu Latu, edge rusher, UCLA

Here's another wild card in the first round, a player getting mocked in the top 10 (often at No. 8 to Atlanta) all the way down to picks in the mid-20s. Terrion Arnold is also a popular selection here in mock drafts where he isn't already off the board. Nate Davis of USA Today summarized why he's polarizing.

"The Pac-12’s defensive player of the year in 2023 – when he also earned the Lombardi Award and Ted Hendricks Award for being the country’s best collegiate defensive end while posting an FBS-best 1.8 tackles for loss per game – Latu racked up 35 TFLs, 23½ sacks, five forced fumbles and a pair of interceptions in two seasons with the Bruins," Davis wrote. "A neck injury suffered while he attended the University of Washington temporarily relegated him to medical retirement, but Latu said at the scouting combine that his current medical reports suggest he's no longer at high risk."

18. Cincinnati Bengals: Olumuyiwa Fashanu, tackle, Penn State

"The buzz around Fashanu has seemingly died, but I will gladly stand on the table for him as a top 10 pick …" Connor Rogers of NBC Sports said in picking Fashanu to go much higher. "He’s a really gifted pass protector and will plug in at left tackle next to Peter Skoronski."

19. Los Angeles Rams: Chop Robinson, edge rusher, Penn State

From Danny Kelly at The Ringer: "With Aaron Donald riding off into retirement, the Rams look to add more pass-rushing talent to the defensive line here. Robinson’s an explosive athlete with an absolutely elite first step, and if he can add a few moves to his arsenal, he may have Pro Bowl potential. L.A. struck gold last year with a super athletic rusher in Byron Young, and they look to do it again with Robinson."

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Terrion Arnold, cornerback, Alabama

We've reached the point in the draft where Packers fans are starting to get big eyes looking at the board and seeing which favorite player remains. "Terrion Arnold to the Steelers would be tremendous," wrote Trepasso of CBS Sports. "He feels like a Steelers defender: he does everything well and plays with authority as a tackler."

21. Miami Dolphins: Adonai Mitchell, wide receiver, Texas

Davis of USA Today: "Mitchell has Velcro hands, postseason bona fides, size (6-2, 205) and exceptional speed (4.34 40 time) ... A Georgia transfer, Mitchell found the end zone 11 times during his only season with the Longhorns."

Georgia offensive lineman Amarius Mims celebrates a touchdown at the Peach Bowl.
Georgia offensive lineman Amarius Mims celebrates a touchdown at the Peach Bowl.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Amarius Mims, tackle, Georgia

From Jim Wyman of Pro Football Focus: "Lane Johnson, 34, isn't getting any younger and has dealt with injuries in three of the past five seasons. At 6-foot-7 and 340 pounds, Mims is raw but an impressive pass blocker, allowing just one pressure on 168 such snaps last year. A season of him developing behind Johnson should set up the Eagles offensive line nicely for the next several years."

23. Minnesota Vikings: Jer'Zhan Newton, defensive tackle, Illinois

From Vinnie Iyer of The Sporting News: "The Vikings will be focused on their QB first, and with no pressing offensive concerns, they can continue to revamp their defense for DC Brian Flores after landing Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Blake Cashman in free agency. Newton can give them additional pass-rush pop up front."

24. Dallas Cowboys: Xavier Worthy, wide receiver, Texas

From Peter Schrager of "Officially the fastest man in combine history, Worthy would be a wonderful addition as a deep threat for Dak Prescott. With contract issues looming over Prescott and CeeDee Lamb, the selection of Worthy would show both a commitment to adding pieces on offense without sacrificing major cap space in free agency."

In a surprise, a draft simulator has LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. going the Packers at No. 25.
In a surprise, a draft simulator has LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. going the Packers at No. 25.

25. Green Bay Packers: Brian Thomas Jr., wide receiver, LSU

A receiver? In the first round for the first time in 22 years? For a team that seems to be positively stacked with receiving options? With Cooper DeJean and multiple quality offensive linemen still on the board? How does this make sense? We're going to take the easy way out and simply ask you to blame the simulation.

You won't find many mock drafts that expect this to happen (if any?), but Thomas is a high-level prospect and interesting in another way; several teams picking below the Packers in the first round (Bills, Ravens, Chiefs, 49ers) have a need at receiver, and you could easily envision one of those teams as a trade partner with the Packers with Thomas one of the last great standouts on the board at the position. And hey, the NFL draft always gives you something you don't anticipate. Plenty of mock drafts think Thomas is a talent worth a much higher spot than No. 25.

"Thomas is an outstanding size/speed athlete with better route-running skill than given he’s credit for," wrote Brugler of The Athletic.

"I've maintained that Thomas rates closer to the top three receivers than he does the next tier down, and he'd immediately be a top option," Eric Edholm of wrote.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Marshawn Kneeland, edge rusher, Western Michigan

We've started to get some players that aren't consensus first-round picks.

"Kneeland has boosted his stock during the pre-draft process through solid agility drill testing and an impressive Senior Bowl," wrote Ben Cooper of Pro Football Focus, while Reuter called him a productive, athletic edge defender to chase the top AFC quarterbacks." Reuter selected Kneeland for the Bills.

27. Arizona Cardinals: Graham Barton, offensive lineman, Duke

Kelly of The Ringer called him an "unsexy but smart pick" in choosing Barton for Tampa Bay, one pick earlier.

"Barton played primarily at left tackle for the Blue Devils but has the body type and demeanor to thrive at any of the three interior spots," Kelly wrote. "The former Duke standout provides a nice boost in the form of clean pockets …"

28. Buffalo Bills: Keon Coleman, wide receiver, Florida State

Finding a mock draft giving a wide receiver to Buffalo? Those are easy to find. Finding one with this specific pick is more of a challenge. Most drafts believed one of Brian Thomas, Adonai Mitchell or Xavier Worthy would be available here, and Coleman isn't mentioned in many first rounds.

Rob Rang of FOX Sports picks Coleman to the Lions with the next pick, however. "The Lions are coming off their first division crown in 30 seasons, which they earned by playing with the same aggressive mentality that their general manager Brad Holmes showed with several bold picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. Detroit already boasts a dynamic receiving corps, but adding Coleman's size and physicality could make it the league's best …"

29. Detroit Lions: Nate Wiggins, cornerback, Clemson

Many mock drafts put Alabama cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry here, but the simulation latched onto a different defensive back. NBC Sports was among the sites that already had Wiggins off the board. "There is risk here in taking Wiggins over both Alabama cornerbacks (Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid McKinstry), but neither of those players move or run like Wiggins can," Rogers wrote. "He needs to fill out his frame, but keep in mind he won’t turn 21 until the end of his first NFL training camp."

Missouri defensive lineman Darius Robinson reacts after a sack against Kentucky.
Missouri defensive lineman Darius Robinson reacts after a sack against Kentucky.

30. Baltimore Ravens: Darius Robinson, edge rusher, Missouri

From FOX Sports' Rob Rang: "The Ravens boasted arguably the most physical defense in the NFL a year ago, but given that the club is replacing several key players and its defensive coordinator, reinforcements will be a priority. Robinson looks and plays like a Raven, boasting a rare package of size, physicality and positional versatility."

31. San Francisco 49ers: Tyler Guyton, offensive lineman, Oklahoma

From Chris Trepasso of CBS Sports: "Tyler Guyton looks like an oversized tight end, and with quality coaching, can be one of the better blockers from this class."

From Rogers of NBC Sports: "Guyton is built like a small forward and moves like a tight end. He only started one year (at right tackle) for Oklahoma and his hand placement needs work, but he’s the type of athlete and body type you bet on at the position."

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Kool-Aid McKinstry, cornerback, Alabama

From Rogers of NBC Sports: "The Chiefs surprised many with their trade of star cornerback L'Jarius Sneed, but tough decisions come annually for a cap-tight club competing for the title every year. With several quality starting-caliber corners expected to come off the board before the end of the first round, GM Brett Veach gambles (and wins) on a good one falling to him."

Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean reacts after the Hawkeyes score on a safety against South Dakota State.
Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean reacts after the Hawkeyes score on a safety against South Dakota State.

No Cooper DeJean?

It's true, Cooper DeJean doesn't appear in this simulation's first round, nor does Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson, West Virginia center Zach Frazier, Michigan linebacker Junior Colson, Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr., Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr., Oregon quarterback Bo Nix and many others who appear in some first-round drafts.

That's the name of the game, and don't forget, the Packers also have pick No. 41 in the second round as a fruit of the Aaron Rodgers trade. Maybe they'll take another receiver.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: 2024 NFL draft first-round simulation surprise Green Bay Packers pick