Brett Whitefield's 2024 NFL Mock Draft 2.0


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Brett Whitefield's 2024 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

The “Underwear Olympics” are over, which is the perfect time to drop another 2024 NFL mock draft. While many in the industry are scrambling to make wild, sweeping adjustments to their ranks, I can rest comfortably knowing that none of my 25 first-round grades were negatively affected by the player’s Combine performance.

That is a perfect segue to talk about this class as a whole. I have 25 first-round grades (as of now), which is a personal record in my nine years of scoring prospects. While watching each prospect, my gut all along was that this class was very top-heavy, and then falls off a cliff somewhere in the 2nd round (minus extremely deep classes like WR and IOL). I think, more than ever, top-50 picks in this class are uber valuable — I believe, say, the 27th-best player in the class is pretty similar to the 48th-best player in the class.

Before we begin, a refresher into my mock process.

As the 2024 NFL Draft approaches, speculation is rife among football fans about who will go where and how the picks will play out. Some mock drafters have inside info, others don’t.

So while many mock drafts aim to predict what will happen, this mock draft takes a different approach.

Rather than trying to guess what each team will do, I have put myself in the shoes of each team's general manager and made the picks based on what I would do if I were in charge.

To make these selections, I have carefully considered each team's needs, evaluated the positional value of available prospects, and weighed the talent of each player against the specific fit for each team. With these factors in mind, I have compiled a mock draft that reflects my personal evaluation and vision for the 2024 NFL Draft.

This will be the second of four mock drafts as the evaluation process evolves. A small caveat I will throw in is that I have not yet scored every prospect in this year’s draft, nor do I have all the information I usually require to finalize player grades. With that said, I have already spent endless hours evaluating this draft class and feel pretty good about where my board currently stands. Minor adjustments from this point out based on new information are really all there's left to do. Let's get started!

The 2024 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

1) Chicago Bears (VIA CAR): JJ McCarthy, QB, Michigan (Big Board: 1)

I have had McCarthy as my QB1 in the class since the Super Bowl. My conviction has only gotten stronger, and the rest of the industry is catching up. I was told by many after Mock Draft 1.0 dropped that JJ was a second-round pick — now the consensus groupthink is his floor is #12, with many in the know believing he will go top-5 and possibly will be QB2 off the board. In this scenario the Bears are trading Justin Fields and replacing him with their new QB of the future. In McCarthy, the Bears are getting a high-ceiling and high-floor player. He brings stability at the quarterback position with how sound he is in the minutia of playing QB. He has the ability to get his team into the right play, call the right protection, play in structure, throw in rhythm (accurately), and simply run an offense the way it's supposed to be run. He has great pocket awareness and gets the most out of his pass protection by using slides and steps. Essentially, all of the QB-centric details that set the baseline for a great QB, McCarthy does at the highest level in this class — and frankly, it's not even close for me. He does the types of things most onlookers undervalue. He also has high-upside traits with his creativity, his legs, and exceptional arm talent.

2) Washington Commanders: Caleb Williams, QB, USC (Big Board: 3)

Washington takes the swing on the super-high ceiling of Williams. Williams brings nearly unparalleled creativity and exceptional arm talent to the table. There are many question marks across the board, though, with some of the details of the position lagging behind. It will take excellent coaching and a sound development plan for Williams to get on a pathway leading him towards his ceiling, but given how valuable the position is and how great the top-end traits are, taking the swing is 100% worth it.

3) Las Vegas Raiders: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU (Big Board: 7)


Raiders get: 2024 1st-round pick (#3 via NE)

Patriots get: 2024 1st-round pick (#13 via LVR), 2024 3rd-round pick (#77 via LVR), 2025 1st-round pick (via LVR)

The Antonio Pierce/Jayden Daniels reunion happens in this mock! Daniels is a great example of what development can do for a player. When he was McCarthy and Williams’ age, nobody thought this dude was a top-5 prospect. While he still has a little work to do, the developmental track record is a positive, in my opinion. In Daniels, the Raiders are getting a fantastic athlete who immediately steps in as one of the most dangerous runners at the QB position in the league. Daniels is also one of the best (if not the best) downfield throwers in the class and excels at getting those go-balls out on time and in rhythm. Davante Adams gets a huge bump with this move, as does the entire organization, as the new regime looks to make its mark.

4) Arizona Cardinals: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State (Big Board: 2)

The Cardinals give quarterback Kyler Murray a premium pass catcher and pick up some value, landing the top non-QB in the draft at pick #4. Harrison is a super clean evaluation at WR, despite not participating in the Combine. He is a do-all, plug-and-play WR1 for this team, and his presence will elevate the play of youngsters Michael Wilson and Trey McBride.

5) Los Angeles Chargers: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame (Big Board: 5)

This could be a prime trade-out spot come April, especially if the board plays out as it does here in this scenario. However, part of me just thinks new HC Jim Harbaugh is going to want to — and should — do this his way. Building an elite offensive line will definitely be at the top of his priority. Alt pairs with Rashawn Slater to give the Chargers a top tackle young duo in the NFL.

6) Minnesota Vikings: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina (Big Board: 13)


Vikings get: 2024 1st-round pick (#6 via NYG)

Giants get: 2024 1st-round pick (#11 via MIN), 2024 2nd-round pick (#42 via LVR), 2025 2nd-round pick (via MIN)

The Vikings fight off other QB-needy teams in Atlanta, Denver, and Seattle to ensure they get a quarterback before a stark tier drop. Maye is a toolsy prospect used to putting an entire offense on his back week in and week out. His vertical passing ability should complement studs Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison very well.

7) Tennessee Titans: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State (Big Board: 6)

The Titans have to get better on the offensive line. Giving the Callahans a player like Fuaga would just be too much fun. Fuaga could play either tackle spot and bring tremendous size and power to the position.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama(Big Board: 8)

Let’s give new head coach Raheem Morris some young talent on defense to join some of his established veterans and begin building an identity. Turner brings explosiveness and length to a defensive line that desperately needs some juice. My top-scored defensive player in the draft off the board at pick 8 seems like a good value to me.

9) Chicago Bears: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington (Big Board: 4)

A holdover from my first mock, and I am not moving off it. It's imperative the Bears don’t make the same mistake with the new QB that Chicago did with both Justin Fields and Mitch Trubisky. Start this right and give McCarthy an elite WR prospect to group with pass catchers DJ Moore and Cole Kmet. The Bears have a ton of needs, though, and could opt to go defense or even OL. Also, getting #4 on my board at pick 9 is excellent value.

10) New York Jets: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State (Big Board: 14)

The Jets seem unwilling to back down from their win-now approach, so in a “what I would do mock,” it's pretty easy to identify protecting their 40+ year-old QB as a top priority. As we saw in 2023, the Jets’ season starts and ends with Aaron Rodgers. Fashanu is the prototype LT and while he didn’t have the best 2023 on tape, his track record and physical traits give me a lot of confidence in the pick.

11) New York Giants: JC Latham, OT, Alabama (Big Board: 10)


Giants get: 2024 1st-round pick (#11 via MIN), 2024 2nd-round pick (#42 via LVR), 2025 2nd-round pick (via MIN)

Vikings get: 2024 1st-round pick (#6 via NYG)

With the Giants still owing Daniel Jones quite a bit of money, in this scenario, they opt to cash in on their draft position and pick some extra assets with the goal of improving the situation around him. With the extra 2nd round pick acquired, they could throw a dart at a replacement in Michael Penix Jr. or Spencer Rattler.

Latham slides in at RT, giving the Giants options with Evan Neal, who has really underwhelmed expectations since being drafted. Latham is a massive human being with tremendous power.

12) Denver Broncos: Bo Nix, QB, Oregon (Big Board: 19)

Whether the Broncos officially cut Russell Wilson or not, I am locked in on the Broncos investing in QB. Nix is a very capable quarterback with a ton of experience. He excels at keeping his offense on schedule and has some creative playmaking ability of his own. He would thrive with Sean Payton’s quick-hitting, rhythm-based pass game.

13) New England Patriots: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU (Big Board: 12)


Patriots get: 2024 1st-round pick (#13 via LVR), 2024 3rd-round pick (#77 via LVR), 2025 1st-round pick (via LVR)

Raiders get: 2024 1st-round pick (#3 via NE)

Low and slow is the way to go here for the Patriots. The new regime has some time to build the roster up a bit before they fully commit to adding a quarterback. In this scenario, they passed on QB and Marvin Harrison Jr., but the payoff of adding extra picks and landing Nabers anyway is huge. The rebuild is off to a great start.

14) New Orleans Saints: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State (Big Board: 11)

The Saints are in some serious need of playmaking on their defensive line. They could easily opt for one of the premium defensive tackles here, but with the first-round investment into Bryan Bresee last year, I expect they will bank on a big step forward for him in year two. Therefore, they opt to add to their EDGE group. It’s also worth noting Cam Jordan might be the ideal mentor for Verse’s skill set, which is centered around power and violence.

15) Indianapolis Colts: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo (Big Board: 15)

The Colts land the premier CB in the draft to form a really nice trio with Kenny Moore (nickel) and 2023 2nd-round pick JuJu Brents. Mitchell’s length, physicality, and ability to play off-man and off-match coverage is perfect for defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s system, in which he will be asked to do that a ton.

16) Seattle Seahawks: Johnny Newton, DI, Illinois (Big Board: 9)

Newton has easily been my favorite study on the defensive side of the ball this year. I can’t remember an interior defensive lineman prospect with a more polished arsenal of pass-rush moves than Newton. He is ready to hit the ground running in the NFL.

17) Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU (Big Board: 21)

With Calvin Ridley set to hit free agency, it is absolutely paramount that we get Trevor Lawrence a bonafide DUDE on the outside. To paint a picture of just how much I like Thomas, he would have been in consideration for WR1 a year ago, but in an absolutely stacked class this year, he slides in as WR4 off the board. Either way, Thomas Jr. adds a vertical, big-play element to the offense that will really help the Jaguars and Lawrence get the most out of their short-area, mismatch weapons Evan Engram and Christian Kirk. I also did consider a cornerback here but ultimately, the investment in Lawrence dictates making the situation around him as comfy as possible.

18) Cincinnati Bengals: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia (Big Board: 16)

I succumbed to some online groupthink here. Last draft cycle, I often mocked them Dalton Kincaid, and the same line of thinking leads me down the same path here with Bowers. Of course, they could use an injection of talent on defense or the offensive line, but the idea of giving Burrow another premium weapon to work with makes me cackle.

19) Los Angeles Rams: Jackson Powers-Johnson, IOL, Oregon (Big Board: t26)

I don’t have a first-round grade on JPJ (it’s close), mostly because of positional value, but we are near the point in the draft where a lot of the players being selected won’t have first-round grades. So in this scenario, the Rams land the top interior offensive lineman and bank on upgrading their offensive line dramatically as a way to side-step “positional value.” JPJ’s quickness at the point of attack makes him picture-perfect for Sean McVay’s offense.

20) Pittsburgh Steelers: Amarius Mims OT, Georgia (Big Board: t26)

Mims might not have first-round tape — or at least not much of it — but he has first-round traits. He might be the most impressive physical specimen in this year’s draft. With this pick, Broderick Jones slides back over to the LT spot and then Mims slides into the RT spot. This is sort of low-hanging fruit as these two were running mates at Georgia. In this scenario, the Steelers stay fully committed to re-discovering their identity on offense.

21) Miami Dolphins: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama (Big Board: 20)

In my first mock of the cycle I also had the Dolphins taking a CB. Since then, they have released All-Pro CB Xavien Howard, which invokes a double-down response from me. Arnold offers position versatility (slot or outside) and incredible ball skills.

22) Philadelphia Eagles: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa (Big Board: 29)

The Eagles have serious needs across their entire secondary. DeJean’s positional versatility would allow the Eagles to get their best five defensive backs on the field. I believe DeJean can play anywhere in the secondary. Regarding the real draft in April, I could see Howie Roseman pulling this off with a small trade back.

23) Houston Texans (VIA CLE): Ricky Pearsall, WR, Florida (Big Board: 24)

Pearsall is one of “my guys” in this draft cycle. I had a first-round grade on him long before his incredible combine workout. Pearsall brings excellent separation skills via polished route running, “arrogant” hands, and playmaking ability to an offense that already has Nico Collins and Tank Dell. Having such a wide variety of skill sets at WR would give defensive coordinators nightmares. Give CJ Stroud all the playmakers.

24) Dallas Cowboys: Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington (Big Board: 22)

With Tyron Smith potentially playing for a new team next season, it only makes sense to replace him through the draft. This doesn’t necessarily mean Fautanu will play LT in Dallas, but he could play there, LG, or even RT if the Cowboys want young stud Tyler Smith to play LT.

25) Green Bay Packers: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson (Big Board: 33)

Wiggins would give the Packers arguably the fastest trio of CBs in the NFL, joining Eric Stokes and Jaire Alexander. Offensive and defensive lines are also possible here, but their DL pantry is still pretty fully stocked, and they missed a tier drop at OL.

26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Laitu Latu, EDGE, UCLA (Big Board: 16)

This is the best value pick of the first round. Laitu can seamlessly replace Shaquil Barrett, and perhaps even improve that position with some much-needed youth.

27) Arizona Cardinals (VIA HOU): Byron Murphy II, DI, Texas (Big Board: 18)

I don’t always like forcing need, but we will take the easy route when need and the board match up perfectly. The Cardinals have arguably the least talented interior DL in the league, and adding a disruptive monster in Murphy to that goes a long way in getting it back on the right track. Jonathan Gannon’s best moments as a defensive playcaller were when he had a stacked defensive line.

28) Buffalo Bills: Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan (Big Board: 25)

The Bills are long overdue to make a big investment in their WR corps. With Gabriel Davis set to hit free agency and Stefon Diggs clearly slowing down a bit, the Bills add a do-it-all speedster in Wilson. Wilson’s game, in many ways, resembles that of a young Diggs, so the fit is ideal.

29) Detroit Lions: Darius Robinson, EDGE, Missouri (Big Board: 22)

The Lions are getting more GRIT with this pick. They take the hometown kid in Robinson to give Aidan Hutchinson a competent running mate on the other side of the DL. Robinson is a big and powerful edge-setter with some untapped pass-rush potential. With his size and length, he also brings some versatility in obvious passing situations and can reduce down to 3-technique, an Aaron Glenn staple.

30) Baltimore Ravens: Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State (Big Board: 28)

Whenever I have no idea what to do with the Ravens in a mock, I usually give them a DL/LB hybrid who is an explosive freak. Robinson can win with his hand in the dirt or from a two-point stance. He is excellent in space and has the quickness to be effective on stunts. He’s a perfect fit for the Ravens defense.

31) San Francisco 49ers: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama (Big Board: 36)

The 49ers need secondary help, and Kool-Aid is easily the best fit remaining. He is a smooth, fluid athlete with a high football IQ. I am assuming Brandon Staley has some influence on how this defense is deployed next year, and McKinstry is perfect for what Staley likes to do. I also considered going with Graham Barton, who could really help the interior of the 49ers offensive line.

32) Kansas City Chiefs: Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia (Big Board: 32)

McConkey is a ready-made separatist whom the Chiefs should be longing for. His ability to be successful against both man and zone coverages brings a ton of value to an offense that is in big-time need of playmaking at the intermediate level. His precision as a route runner and reliability catching the football means less developmental runway needed, something recent Chiefs WR draft picks have required a lot of. He also brings inside-out versatility and can be deployed at all three WR spots. He and Rashee Rice form an exciting young WR duo for Patrick Mahomes to grow with as Travis Kelce slows down.

Brett Whitefield is an experienced professional in football analytics, with more than a decade in the business. He has held several key positions with some of the top companies in the industry, including as a process manager at Pro Football Focus (PFF), where he spent more than seven years. Brett has also worked with and consulted for multiple NFL teams and Power-5 NCAA football programs.