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2024 NFL Mock Draft: Jayden Daniels, J.J. McCarthy both land in top 20

Remember, the draft process is a marathon, not a sprint — and the finish line is not yet in sight.

But we are one step closer to Detroit and the 2024 NFL Draft now that we know which underclassmen have declared for this year’s draft class. We also have the official order for the first 24 picks, with the remaining eight to be decided by the playoffs.

For my second mock draft, I added a second round to examine some of the interesting names that might not make the top 32.

1. Chicago Bears (from CAR): Caleb Williams, QB, USC

The Bears’ quarterback situation will be a hot topic as we wait for general manager Ryan Poles to reveal his cards. I don’t know what he’ll do, but I can tell you what other NFL teams believe he’ll do: trade Justin Fields and draft a quarterback at No. 1. This is as much a financial decision as it is a football decision.

Williams isn’t a perfect prospect, by any means, but he is the favorite for No. 1 because of his playmaking instincts. He needs to be more consistent, but his poise and creativity are what make him special.

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

Recently hired Adam Peters has taken over all football decisions for Washington and has a chance to flip things quickly with three picks in the top 40.

Obviously, this selection will depend on what the Bears do. Will it be as simple as drafting whoever doesn’t go No. 1 between Williams and Maye? Very possible. Maye is a fantastic consolation prize and has the talent to develop into a top-10 NFL quarterback.

3. New England Patriots: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

The Patriots were cruising to the No. 2 pick until two wins in their final five games dropped them to No. 3. While that likely takes them out of contention for Williams or Maye, the Patriots still have several favorable options.

With Bill Belichick no longer with the organization, there is a level of unknown here, especially considering New England needs help in so many areas. Despite questions about who will throw him the ball, though, drafting a legitimate No. 1 target is the wise move.

4. Arizona Cardinals: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

The Cardinals miss out on Harrison, but the gap between Harrison and Nabers is very thin. Arizona needs to become more explosive on offense, especially through the air — 53 NFL players this season had at least 10 catches of 20-plus yards and none played for the Cardinals. Nobody in college football produced more catches of 20-plus yards than Nabers (34).

5. Los Angeles Chargers: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

The Chargers’ draft outlook will certainly change based on upcoming GM and head coach hires. Regardless, the offense needs more firepower.

Many will scoff at tight end this high, but with his movements and pass-catching skills, Bowers is more offensive weapon than true tight end. As long as the Chargers have a plan for how to use his talent, Bowers should thrive if paired with Justin Herbert.

#Georgia TE Brock Bowers has ridiculous speed for his size, but his competitiveness with the ball is almost as impressive.

His tape if full of “hidden” yards after the catch, breaking tackles and dragging defenders.

More in this week’s Film Room: https://t.co/AUkqYnkD7Y pic.twitter.com/SQdr4YWb2i

— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) September 20, 2023

6. New York Giants: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

With his size/speed profile and ability to play through contact, Odunze is a quarterback-friendly target with the tools to be a legitimate No. 1 option. The Giants haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2018, but Odunze might change that as a rookie.

I know there will be plenty of “Why not a quarterback?” questions. Though I think a player like Jayden Daniels is possible, drafting a quarterback in the top 10 is an ownership decision — and we know Giants ownership loves Daniel Jones. GM Joe Schoen has been on the road this fall to see all of the top quarterbacks, but I’ll go with the QB-friendly target as the answer to the team’s passing woes.

7. Tennessee Titans: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

Alt and Peter Skoronski kicking butt on the left side of the Titans’ offensive line for the next decade is an easy pitch to make. I have nothing else to add.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Arthur Smith is now the Falcons’ former head coach because he believed his scheme and (misuse of) weapons could elevate mediocre quarterback play. It is interesting to think about what Atlanta’s talented, ready-to-go roster would look like if you dropped in Daniels.

After producing a minus-12 turnover margin, you can bet that will be a point of emphasis for the Falcons. In 13 starts this season, Desmond Ridder had 12 interceptions and 12 fumbles; in 12 starts, Daniels accounted for only four interceptions and three fumbles.

9. Chicago Bears: Dallas Turner, Edge, Alabama

Half of the Bears’ fan base will be upset with me going Williams at No. 1, and the other half will be cussing me out for having three wide receivers off the board before this pick. But those are realistic scenarios.

Even with the in-season trade for Montez Sweat, Chicago will be in the market for another impact pass rusher. An ideal fit in Matt Eberflus’ scheme, Turner is a freak athlete who rushes the passer, stops the run and should continue to get better and better.

10. New York Jets: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Though his run blocking is a work in progress, Fashanu already offers pro-level pass protection because of his body control, light feet and ability to sit down versus power. His intelligence and A-plus character are the cherries on top.

11. Minnesota Vikings: Laiatu Latu, Edge, UCLA

Over his two seasons at UCLA, Latu accounted for 34 tackles for loss, 23.5 sacks and five forced fumbles. He has first-step quickness and bend, but his crafty handwork and ability to diversify his attack separate him as a pass rusher. His injury history could be an issue, but this Vikings regime has taken chances with those risks in the past.

UCLA Edge Laiatu Latu is such a nightmare to block.

Technician + explosive hands + red-hot motor. pic.twitter.com/ywbGvNiMkw

— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) October 18, 2023

12. Denver Broncos: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

There won’t be a consensus CB1, but Arnold has the best package of traits — and I know several NFL scouts who feel the same way. Though he’s not the most disciplined corner in the draft, Arnold is a top-tier athlete with outstanding competitiveness and ball production (17 passes defended and five interceptions in 2023).

13. Las Vegas Raiders: JC Latham, OT, Alabama

Especially with a regime change, quarterback is the Raiders’ main question mark. But is there one worth reaching for here?

Raiders fans scarred by the Alex Leatherwood pick might not want another Alabama offensive lineman in the first round, but Latham is probably the strongest player in the draft. He has the functional movement skills to play either tackle or guard at a high level.

14. New Orleans Saints: Jared Verse, Edge, Florida State

The quarterback situation will dominate draft talk, but the Saints must address the trenches (on both sides) this offseason. With his experience and traits, Verse is a plug-and-play pass rusher who fits the mold for what New Orleans likes to target in Round 1.

Jared Verse took over in the final minutes last night.

Well-timed (and disrespectful) speed-to-power! pic.twitter.com/iqRzCCV9XI

— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) November 26, 2023

15. Indianapolis Colts: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

I would love to see the Colts add LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. here, but they must also improve defensively on the back end — especially in a division with C.J. Stroud and Trevor Lawrence. With his length, short-area suddenness and 4.3 speed, Wiggins has the traits that fit what the organization targets.

16. Seattle Seahawks: Byron Murphy II, DT, Texas

Disruptive against both run and pass, Murphy had the best pass-rush win percentage (19.6) among all interior linemen in 2023 (no other DT was above 17.0 percent). He will get dinged by some for a lack of ideal length, but then he’ll run in the mid-4.7s at 300 pounds and provide a reminder that he is different.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

The Jaguars need long-term help at multiple positions, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if this pick addresses the defensive or offensive line. But adding another playmaker is as good a plan as any.

Thomas is an outstanding size/speed athlete with a basketball background and huge upside. By the time April rolls around, he might not be an option outside of the top 15.

18. Cincinnati Bengals: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

Mims could be drafted top 10 or fall out of the top 20, and neither outcome would be overly surprising. The former five-star recruit has only eight starts to his name, but his limited tape is intriguing. He has an unbelievable combination of size, strength and movement skills. Ideally, the Bengals would want a more established prospect, but Mims’ talent might be too good to pass up.

19. Los Angeles Rams: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

Going into Aaron Rodgers’ age-36 season, the Packers made a forward-thinking pick and drafted their quarterback of the future (Jordan Love) in the back half of Round 1. Going into Matthew Stafford’s age-36 season, the Rams might be in a position to follow the same approach. Who knows when Stafford will hang ’em up, but with his injury past, the Rams at least need to consider it.

There is a wide range of opinions on McCarthy’s projection and draft value. Michigan didn’t ask him to consistently push the ball downfield, but he was outstanding on money downs and will have the word “winner” bolded and highlighted in his scouting report (27-1 career record with a national title). Though I think he’ll have mostly second-round grades, McCarthy’s tools and intangibles could get him into the top 25.

McCarthy … pretty good pic.twitter.com/ftTesdMC2b

— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) January 9, 2024

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

One of the top athletes in the draft, DeJean has experience as an outside corner, inside corner and a box/middle-field defender. I’ll be sending a petition for the NFL to add a dunk contest at the combine so we can see DeJean go to work. And we already know he performs well wearing black and gold.

21. Miami Dolphins: Jackson Powers-Johnson, G/C, Oregon

If this happened, it would be one of my favorite team-player fits in the draft. The Dolphins have obvious needs at guard and center, and Powers-Johnson is arguably the best interior blocker in this class. With his size, strength and athleticism, it is hard to find bad tape on him from this past season.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

The MAC has produced several top-20 picks over the years (Khalil Mack, Ben Roethlisberger, Randy Moss). But the conference hasn’t had a top-25 cornerback since the ’70s. That might change in April with Mitchell, who is 6-foot-1, 200 pounds and will test in the 4.3s in the 40-yard dash.

23. Houston Texans (from CLE): Taliese Fuaga, OT/G, Oregon State

After averaging just 3.7 yards per rush this season, how will the Texans address a stagnant run game? Drafting the best run blocker in this year’s class would be a promising start. Fuaga was a right tackle at Oregon State, but a lot of scouts like him best as a guard.

24. Dallas Cowboys: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

After the loss to the Packers, I’m sure Cowboys fans were expecting to see a defensive player here. But Tyron Smith might leave in free agency, and if Dallas keeps Tyler Smith at left guard, left tackle shoots to the top of the needs list. Based on his raw traits, Guyton could go much earlier than this.

25. Green Bay Packers: Troy Fautanu, OT/G, Washington

The Packers haven’t drafted a first-round offensive lineman in more than a dozen years (2011), but I really like this fit. A college left tackle, Fautanu has the feet and length to stay outside, but a lot of scouts feel his skill set is ideally suited at guard.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

McKinstry has mostly second-round grades from scouts, but his tape and resume show a prospect with NFL-starting skills. According to one NFL scout, Nabers named McKinstry as the toughest cornerback he faced in college.

27. Arizona Cardinals (from HOU): Kingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU

The new Cardinals regime drafted offensive line in the first round last year and might do it again. A team captain at BYU, Suamataia started at right tackle in 2022 before moving to left tackle this past season. He displays the high-end tools to be a longtime NFL starter.

28. Kansas City Chiefs: Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

The Chiefs have gone defense with their first pick in each of the last three drafts, which has played a part in vast improvements on that side of the ball. Newton will be picked apart for his lack of elite length, but he is disruptive against both run and pass, and adding him to the line would give the Chiefs options.

Illinois DT Jer’Zhan Newton.

Hard to handle. (not sure why Penn State went at him twice like this down here😬) pic.twitter.com/HJnWNkMMt2

— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) September 16, 2023

29. Buffalo Bills: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Coleman (6-4, 215) isn’t a burner and doesn’t have elite start-stop skills to instantly separate at the top of routes. But he is athletic with impressive body control and catch-point skills to turn off-target throws into completions. With his crazy catch radius, Coleman would give Josh Allen a different type of weapon than he is used to.

30. Detroit Lions: T’Vondre Sweat, DT, Texas

After being labeled an underachiever by scouts as an underclassman, Sweat changed several habits and put dominant-level play on his senior tape. For a player north of 360 pounds, he is an impressive mover with the natural power to shut things down up front. The Lions took a major step with their run defense this season, and Sweat would continue that focus.

31. San Francisco 49ers: Graham Barton, G/C, Duke

A college left tackle, Barton will move inside in the NFL, and I’ll bet he finishes as the top center on several draft boards. He might not have ideal length, but he has quick feet, strong hands and a stubborn finish.

32. Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Morgan, OT/G, Arizona

The Ravens could use depth at tackle and guard, and Morgan would help both spots. He played exclusively left tackle at Arizona, but some scouts project his skill set best inside. Regardless, Morgan plays balanced and physical in all phases.

Round 2

33. Carolina Panthers: Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

Based on NFL scout grades, this is a little early for Mitchell due to his lack of polish — he is a loose athlete, but his technique is also much too loose. If the Panthers don’t land a big fish via trade or free agency (Tee Higgins?), they might feel pressured to target a high-upside pass catcher.

34. New England Patriots: Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

The NFL feedback on Nix is interesting. Some believe he can sneak his way into the top 25, while others see him as a third-rounder. The reality probably will fall somewhere in the middle.

Nix, who was born two months after the Patriots hired Belichick, understands where to go with the football, and his scrambling can give defenses fits.

35. Arizona Cardinals: Chop Robinson, Edge, Penn State

Robinson is a polarizing prospect — like Nix, some see him as a third-rounder, others think he’ll go much higher. But it is hard to see his explosive get-off falling out of the top 40, especially considering this mediocre group of pass-rush prospects.

Oh man, #PennState pass rusher Chop Robinson (#44) absolutely TOOK OVER midway through the Iowa game.

Your NFL team need explosiveness? These 4 plays came within an 8-play span. pic.twitter.com/JUR166FRlP

— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) September 25, 2023

36. Washington Commanders: Patrick Paul, OT, Houston

The Commanders landed their franchise quarterback in the first round and use this pick to help protect him. At 6-7, 310 with 36 1/2-inch arms, Paul is massive with functional movements ready to be coached. His older brother, Chris Paul, is already on the roster (seven starts at left guard in 2023), so the Commanders could roll out a brotherly tackle-guard combo.

37. Los Angeles Chargers: Kris Jenkins, DT, Michigan

The Chargers could use a little bit of everything, including depth on the defensive line. The son of a four-time Pro Bowler, Jenkins has an interchangeable skill set to play multiple spots at a starter-quality level.

38. Tennessee Titans: Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

The Titans’ defense ranked 30th in the percentage of targets that resulted in a reception (71.0). Lassiter is smart, smooth and very competitive — only 38.5 percent of his targets this season resulted in a catch.

39. New York Giants: Bralen Trice, Edge, Washington

The Giants finished bottom five in several pass-rushing metrics, including sacks. Although he isn’t expected to test off the charts, Trice is an easy player to like because of his skilled, powerful hands and athletic urgency to quickly deconstruct blocks.

40. Washington Commanders (from CHI): Tyler Nubin, S, Minnesota

Minnesota’s all-time leader in interceptions, Nubin is an alert, athletic safety who plays like a wide receiver when the ball is in the air. If the Commanders don’t re-sign Kamren Curl, Nubin would be a perfect replacement.

41. Green Bay Packers (from NYJ): Jaden Hicks, S, Washington State

Hicks (6-2, 215) is an intimidating presence with the way he fills or tunes up receivers crossing the middle. But his athletic profile is also a strong selling point and helps his versatility to play nickel, box or deep.

42. Minnesota Vikings: Ruke Orhorhoro, DT, Texas

The Vikings double up on the defensive line. Well-built at 6-4, 295 with 34-inch arms, Orhorhoro is an impressive mover and offers a high ceiling after he was late to the game of football.

43. Atlanta Falcons: Ja’Lynn Polk, WR, Washington

Falcons receivers accounted for a grand total of four touchdown grabs in 2023 — two each by Drake London and Scotty Miller. London has the talent to be a legitimate No. 1 option, but adding more competition at the No. 2 spot should be a priority.

Ja’Lynn Polk is so good (another 🚀from 9) pic.twitter.com/cNqLgcvSYw

— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) January 3, 2024

44. Las Vegas Raiders: Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

Probably the most polarizing quarterback in the draft, Penix was an outstanding college passer, but there are several areas of his game (and medical history) that complicate his projection. The Raiders shouldn’t be giving up on Aidan O’Connell, but they need to add new life to the quarterback room and see how it plays out.

45. New Orleans Saints (from DEN): Dominick Puni, OT/G, Kansas

The Saints aren’t ready to give up on Trevor Penning just yet, but they still need to address the offensive line in a major way. After playing with his older brothers at Central Missouri, Puni transferred to Kansas and put together back-to-back strong seasons, starting at both left tackle and left guard.

46. Indianapolis Colts: Chris Braswell, Edge, Alabama

GM Chris Ballard is always looking to build on the defensive line, and Braswell would be a promising piece. A member of Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List, Braswell had a breakout season in 2023 with an SEC-best 56 pressures (one more than Turner, his Alabama teammate).

47. New York Giants (from SEA): Javon Bullard, S, Georgia

With Xavier McKinney set to hit free agency, the Giants could be in the market for safety help. Bullard might not be a top tester, but he plays with range and made his presence known in the run game on every tape I studied.

48. Jacksonville Jaguars: Cooper Beebe, G, Kansas State

The Jaguars could upgrade several spots on their interior O-line. Beebe logged snaps at left guard and right guard in college and worked at center during practice, so he’d give Jacksonville options.

49. Cincinnati Bengals: Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

The Bengals go all-Georgia in the first two rounds. The trio of Ja’Marr Chase, Higgins and Tyler Boyd has likely played its final game together, but adding an inside-outside talent like McConkey would ease the transition.

50. Philadelphia Eagles (from NO): Junior Colson, LB, Michigan

The Eagles must add more talent to their linebacker room — and in this scenario, there hasn’t been an off-ball linebacker drafted yet. With his play style and mentality, Colson would check a lot of boxes.

51. Pittsburgh Steelers: Zach Frazier, G/C, West Virginia

Having grown up 90 miles south of Pittsburgh, Frazier embodies the toughness and physicality you expect from a Steelers offensive lineman. His late-season leg injury clouds his projection a tad, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he became a starting NFL center very early next season.

52. Los Angeles Rams: Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB, Missouri

One of the draft’s more physical corners, Rakestraw plays with the mentality and toughness to make plays against both pass and run. His injury feedback might directly impact where he is drafted, but the Rams could use a corner with his athleticism and compete skills.

53. Philadelphia Eagles: Calen Bullock, S, USC

All three Eagles picks have been back-seven defenders, and anyone who has watched that defense this season shouldn’t be surprised. Bullock is a true center-field safety. There are questions about his tackling, but he has outstanding range and budding instincts.

54. Cleveland Browns: Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

The Browns need to get more explosive at receiver. As a true junior in 2023, Franklin was one of only two FBS receivers with 1,300-plus receiving yards and 14-plus touchdowns (Nabers was the other). He also ranked top three with eight catches of 40-plus yards.

55. Miami Dolphins: Edgerrin Cooper, LB, Texas A&M

A long, rangy athlete, Cooper showed steady improvement throughout his time in College Station and capped it with a career year (led the Aggies in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks and forced fumbles). He can impact the game in a variety of ways.

56. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathon Brooks, RB, Texas

This pick makes too much sense. With Tony Pollard a pending free agent, running back could be a need for Dallas. And even though Brooks tore his ACL in November, the Cowboys have never shied from taking risks, especially in the second round. Brooks was expected to be RB1 before his injury and still has a chance to be the first back off the board.

There is another layer here, too. Renowned surgeon Dr. Dan Cooper, the Cowboys’ head physician, performed Brooks’ surgery. No other team will have better information on Brooks’ recovery. I’m also told Brooks will be present at the East-West Shrine Bowl for interviews with NFL teams.

57. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

With some looming decisions this offseason, wide receiver might move up Tampa’s priority list. At his size, Worthy won’t have a high success rate on contested catches, but his vertical speed and ability to make crisp, sudden route cuts make him a tough cover.

58. Green Bay Packers: Kalen King, CB, Penn State

The Packers’ secondary has been an adventure this season. It ranked bottom five in several coverage metrics, including opponents’ first downs-per-attempt rate (36.1) and touchdown passes allowed-to-interceptions ratio (3.0). Adding more cornerback help makes sense, especially if a promising (albeit inconsistent) prospect like King is available.

59. Houston Texans: Malachi Corley, WR, Western Kentucky

DeMeco Ryans and Bobby Slowik saw firsthand the impact of Deebo Samuel during their time in San Francisco. And if they want to add a stylistically similar weapon in Houston, Corley is the guy. With a 9.2 yards-after-catch average the past two seasons, he earned the nickname “YAC King.”

#WKU WR Malachi Corley is a man among boys after the catch. Speed and balance through contact. RB-like physicality and toughness.

A potential day 2 pick, Corley put on a show last night (8/207/3) 👇 pic.twitter.com/jYwYnamthr

— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) October 6, 2023

60. Kansas City Chiefs: Ja’Tavion Sanders, TE, Texas

I doubt Travis Kelce is going anywhere anytime soon, but Sanders is more of a complement than a replacement for the future Hall of Famer. The Texas tight end is a big, smooth athlete who could help as a rookie.

61. Buffalo Bills: Kamren Kinchens, S, Miami

It has been a while since the Bills had to seriously consider drafting a safety early, but that might change this offseason. Kinchens put up-and-down play on his tape, but he has a well-rounded skill set. A strong showing at the Senior Bowl can help get him into Round 2.

62. Detroit Lions: T.J. Tampa, CB, Iowa State

Cornerback is a need for the Lions, and Tampa would be an interesting fit. Coming from a basketball family, he has length and explosive ability to limit big plays — he allowed just three catches of 15-plus yards this season.

63. San Francisco 49ers: Kiran Amegadjie, OT, Yale

This might be early for a raw Ivy League prospect coming off a major injury, but Amegadjie would be a smart investment for a team that needs to start thinking about its future at offensive tackle. Amegadjie has outstanding arm length (36 3/4 inches), athletic gifts and the coachability that should help him get drafted higher than most expect.

64. Baltimore Ravens: Darius Robinson, DL, Missouri

At 6-5, 295 with 35-inch arms, Robinson is the epitome of “the first guy off the bus” type. He also raised his level of play this season (14 tackles for loss) and is the type of toolsy defensive lineman the Ravens like to target on Day 2.

(Illustration: John Bradford / The Athletic; Photos of Drake Maye, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Rome Odunze: G Fiume, Scott Taetsch, Steph Chambers / Getty Images)

“The Football 100,” the definitive ranking of the NFL’s best 100 players of all time, is on sale now. Order it here.

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