Brett Whitefield's 2024 NFL Mock Draft 1.0


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Brett Whitefield's 2024 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

The 2023 NFL season is officially over, and we are diving head-first into the 2024 NFL Draft!

As the 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 first of three 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 normally require to finalize player grades. With that said, I have already spent endless hours evaluating this draft class. Let's get started!

The 2024 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

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

I realize this is going to come with some scrutiny and some lazy accusations of “seeking attention.” I got the same reaction last year when I was the first person in the entire industry to put Anthony Richardson in the top-5 of a mock. I ended up being vindicated. Again, I feel pretty strongly about this. There will be a lot more content on this subject to come, especially when my QB profiles drop in this year's Prospect Guide — but to make a long story short, consider the following:

McCarthy represents the perfect marriage between a high floor and a high ceiling. He is as “QB sound” as they come and is easily the safest quarterback in this class. From throwing with anticipation, mastering all of the processing elements of QB play, layering throws, running a pro-style offense, repeatable sound mechanics, pocket awareness, playing within structure, and playing mistake-free football, McCarthy does all the “little things” an insanely high level — all the things that make NFL quarterbacks good. But (and here is where this might be surprising), he also has all of the high upside traits that can take guys from being good, to being elite. He is hyper-mobile with a freaking cannon for an arm. He has some of the most impressive throws on the move I have ever seen and has the arm talent to fit the ball into the tightest windows — he is the total package, do not let a low pass volume college offense fool you. He is also a winner (29-1 as a starter), and while a lot of people might lose sight of that being valuable, the NFL absolutely cares about it.

2) Washington Commanders: Caleb Williams, QB, USC (Big Board: N/A)

The immediate reaction to the above is that if I love JJ, I am “overthinking” Caleb or dislike Caleb. That isn’t true — I actually really like him. I also have a ton of concerns (again, we will get into that in future content), but ultimately think a team should bet on the high-end traits. And let elite. For me, he is on the Baker Mayfield/Zach Wilson spectrum of prospect. It will take a lot of coaching and development but there is definitely an elite QB in there somewhere.

Here, he’ll also get to continue working with OC Kliff Kingsbury, who was on USC’s staff last year.

3) New England Patriots: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU (Big Board: N/A)

It is pretty rare for me to love three QBs in the same class, but this class is awesome. I adore Daniels, and it's rare for a team to get a player of his caliber at pick #3 of a draft. 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. He has everything you need to be great and the Patriots should be elated to go into the new era this way if this is indeed what happens.

4) Arizona Cardinals: Marvin Harrison Jr, WR, Ohio State (Big Board: N/A)

I think the Cardinals need to invest into getting the most out of Kyler Murray and there is no better way to do it than giving him an elite “do-it-all” WR. Harrison’s presence alone will make the other pass catchers around him better.

5) Atlanta Falcons (VIA LAC): Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina (Big Board: N/A)


Falcons get: 2024 1st-round pick (#5 via LAC), 2024 4th-round pick (#106 via LAC)

Chargers get: 2024 1st-round pick (#8 via ATL), 2024 2nd-round pick (#43 via TEN)

My preferred route for the Falcons is for them to actually go out and sign Kirk Cousins to run the offense. The roster is in a unique spot where they are actually pretty ready to compete and just need a capable QB to do so. We have not seen the results of free agency, however, and there is a very legitimate chance Mr. Cousins doesn’t leave Minnesota. So in this mock, the Falcons put their best foot forward and grab a long term answer at QB who has some pretty exciting traits of his own.

6) New York Giants: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State (Big Board: N/A)

The Giants have had a terrible situation on the offensive line for some time. Adding a player with Fuaga’s versatility will allow them to get the best 5 on the field and consider moving Evan Neal to the inside.

7) Tennessee Titans: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame (Big Board: N/A)

My top OL in the draft for the second straight year ends up with the Titans — talk about a quick way to rebuild a unit that has really let them down the past few seasons. Current starter at LT Nicholas Petit-Frere was a right tackle for three years in college and could feasibly move back to the right side, strengthening two positions with Alt manning the LT spot. Slam dunk.

8) Los Angeles Chargers (VIA ATL): Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama (Big Board: N/A)

This is a hard team to draft for in this spot. I also considered both Rome Odunze and Brock Bowers in this spot but ultimately opted to get new coach Jim Harbaugh the type of physical corner he covets on his defense. CB was easily one the Charges weakest position groups last year.

9) Chicago Bears: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington (Big Board: N/A)

The theme here is not making the same mistake with the new QB that Chicago did with both Justin Fields and Mitch Tribusky. Start this the right way and give McCarthy an elite WR prospect to pair 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.

10) New York Jets: Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State (Big Board: N/A)

It’s hard not to fall in love with the traits here, and a year ago, it was almost unfathomable to suggest he would be the third OL off the board in this class. Unfortunately, that is what happens when you put a season of inconsistent tape out. He was much better in 2022, but Fashanu’s 2022 tape, combined with his outstanding raw ability, still lands him on an OL-needy team in the top 10. Jets fans should be ecstatic if the board actually played out like this.

11) Minnesota Vikings: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State (Big Board: N/A)

Talent and need meet here for the Vikings. With Danielle Hunter set to become a free agent, the Vikings need to replace 1000 snaps a year on the EDGE. Pat Jones and DJ Wonnum just weren’t good enough in expanded roles to count on to make an impact. Verse brings elite athleticism and attitude to the table. The Vikings could honestly use an interior pass-rusher as well and, in this scenario, they get their pick of the litter in terms of defensive linemen.

12) Denver Broncos: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo (Big Board: N/A)

Mitchell has the most impressive tape and analytical profile among all the DBs in this draft. The only real knock against him is the level of competition in college. His performance during Senior Bowl week goes a long way in answering those questions, though, and he was easily the best defensive player there. Mitchell and Patrick Surtain combine to make an incredible CB duo.

13) Los Vegas Raiders: Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois (Big Board: N/A)

Newton has some of the most impressive tape in the class. It's rare to see an interior defender with the developed pass-rush chops that Newton has. His pass-rush move-set and plan are elite and make him my top interior rusher of the class. Often lined up at 4i, he has the ability to win the outside shoulder of opposing guards or cross face and beat them inside. He is explosive and cat-like quick for a big man with legitimately good bend and flexibility. Newton brings another disruptive force to the Raiders to put next to Maxx Crosby.

14) New Orleans Saints: Byron Murphy, DT, Texas (Big Board: N/A)

The Saints just aren’t good enough on the DL and need to address it multiple ways this offseason. I could easily see them opting for an EDGE defender here but going with another disruptive force to put next to last year's 1st-round pick, Bryan Bresee.

15) Indianapolis Colts: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU (Big Board: N/A)

This is the dream scenario here for the Colts, with Nabers falling to 15. Obviously, with Michael Pittman Jr. a pending free agent, this alleviates a potential problem, but I would even like it if they re-sign him. If you have read or listened to any of my work the past decade you know I am a huge proponent of selling out to maximize your QB’s effectiveness. It is the easiest way to win in today’s NFL. Giving youngster Anthony Richardson a WR core of Pittman Jr, Josh Downs, and Nabers is what I call giving your guy the best chance possible to succeed. While I think Nabers can play on the outside, it is worth noting an overwhelming amount of his production came from the slot in college. The staff would have to be comfortable with their ability to use Nabers and Downs together.

16) Seattle Seahawks: Jackson Powers-Johnson, IOL, Oregon (Big Board: N/A)

JPJ gives Seattle the answers they need on the interior of their OL. He would be a massive upgrade at center, but can play all three interior spots giving the Seahawks some flexibility. Mocking the Seahawks a defensive lineman has been a common sentiment, but it is my belief they need to bank on the continued development of high draft picks Boye Mafe and Derick Hall. They also have significant financial commitments to Dre’Mont Jones, Uchenna Nwosu, and presumably Leonard Williams, for whom they traded a big package and likely will want to re-sign.

17) Jacksonville Jaguars: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama (Big Board: N/A)

The Jaguars have holes all over the place, but with pending free agent EDGE defender Josh Allen I like the idea of them using their money elsewhere and replacing Allen with Turner who is likely a top-10 player for me in this class.

18) Cincinnati Bengals: JC Latham, OT, Alabama (Big Board: N/A)

Need and talent meet again, as the best pure right tackle in the Draft falls perfectly to the Bengals. The Bengals have needed upgrades on the OL for basically the entirety of Joe Burrow’s career and I will not stop mocking them OL until they actually commit to fixing it.

19) Los Angeles Rams: Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA (Big Board: N/A)

Latu gives the Rams a much-needed upgrade on the EDGE, and while he has some medical red flags pushing him down the board a bit, the Rams — in a win-now window — should be willing to look past them to land a player of this caliber with their first 1st-round pick since 2016 (Jared Goff).

20) Pittsburgh Steelers: Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona (Big Board: N/A)

Pittsburgh is another team that has needed major talent upgrades across the board for several years. Last year they brought on Broderick Jones and stuck him at RT, and here they grab their LT of the future to form a very promising young tackle duo.

21) Miami Dolphins: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson (Big Board: N/A)

This might be a head-scratcher for some, considering the Dolphins have Xavien Howard and Jalen Ramsey already, plus #51 overall from last year's Draft, Cam Smith. But it is worth noting Howard is 31 years old, Ramsey is entering his age 30 season, and Smith played fewer than 50 snaps as a rookie. Good teams plan/draft for the future, and having solutions in-house for an aging CB room seems like a great idea to me. Wiggins gives the Dolphins length and speed and a good combo of press man/off-zone experience.

22) Philadelphia Eagles: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa (Big Board: N/A)

The Eagles need secondary help across the board so landing the most versatile DB in the draft with the best ball skills in the draft seems like an easy pick.

23) Houston Texans (VIA CLE): Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia (Big Board: N/A)

Bowers is easily the hardest player to slot in a mock draft. I can’t get arguments of positional value out of my head, but that shouldn’t completely overshadow the fact that Bowers is truly an excellent prospect. He is a phenomenal athlete with both explosiveness and fluid change of direction skills. He plays violently, especially after the catch, and can be a tone-setter. I am comfortable with him here in the early 20s while also realizing on actual Draft Day, he likely goes much higher. The idea of pairing him with star-in-the-making CJ Stroud gets me giddy.

24) Dallas Cowboys: Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington (Big Board: N/A)

Dak Prescott is a QB you can win with if he has near perfect circumstances around him. Continuing to invest in that notion is absolutely paramount. Tyron Smith is near the end of his career and is often injured. I love bringing in a fantastic athlete in Fautanu on the OL, as he can either play on the outside at tackle or kick inside at guard if they see Tyler Smith as the heir apparent to Tyron.

25) Green Bay Packers: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma (Big Board: N/A)

Good offensive line play is the true identity of the Green Bay Packers and has been for quite some time. Similar to the Cowboys' situation with Tyron Smith, I am planning to move on from David Bakhtiari at some point soon. Now is not the time to stop loading up for Jordan Love.

26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Graham Barton, IOL, Duke (Big Board: N/A)

What the Bucs got out of their OL in terms of pass protection last year was remarkable. With a lot of moving parts and three new starters, they definitely exceeded expectations. With that said, this OL was miserable in the run game, and I am parking Barton at either C or LG to try to kick-start the run game.

27) Arizona Cardinals (VIA HOU): Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington (Big Board: N/A)

The Cardinals desperately need an injection of pass rush, and grabbing one of Trice’s caliber at the back end of Round 1 is incredible value. Trice offers a diverse and developed array of pass-rush moves along with the ability to bend the corner. He pairs all that with a burning hot motor.

28) Buffalo Bills: Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon (Big Board: N/A)

The Bills have neglected adding playmakers at WR to this offense long enough. I mocked them a WR in every mock I did last year, and I am not stopping until they commit to adding a significant piece. Franklin gives them insane speed that can be weaponized both downfield and with YAC opportunities. He upgrades the whole offense.

29) Detroit Lions: Ennis Rakestraw, CB, Missouri (Big Board: N/A)

I went back and forth here between Chris Braswell and a Rakestraw (both guys scream Lions to me). I went with Rakestraw because I think the Lions are far more likely to spend a little money in FA on a defensive lineman than another corner. Here we get Rakestraw, who might be the most Dan Campbell/Aaron Glenn player in this Draft. On top of landing a great cover man they get a cornerback who is relentlessly tough in the run game, something the Lions value a ton.

30) Baltimore Ravens: Chris Braswell, EDGE, Alabama (Big Board: N/A)

Not a ton of analysis here other than Braswell just fits what the Ravens have looked for in EDGE players for two decades. I think Braswell’s tape is a lot better than he is getting credit for. Playing in the shadow of Will Anderson and Dallas Turner will do that, I suppose.

31) New York Giants (VIA SF): Bo Nix, QB, Oregon (Big Board: N/A)


Giants get: 2024 1st-round pick (#31 via SF), 2024 6th-round pick (#215 via SF)

49ers get: 2024 2nd-round pick (#39 via NYG), 2024 3rd-round pick (#70 via NYG)

If you don’t force a trade back into the first round for a QB did you even do a mock? I am not in love with Nix’s game by any means, but the value of the position is so extreme I am pretty convinced of the need for the Giants to do something like this. Getting a potential solution on the roster to move on from Daniel Jones as soon as possible is paramount.

32) Kansas City Chiefs: Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan (Big Board: N/A)

Who needs good skill players? Apparently not Patrick Mahomes, as he just won yet another Super Bowl with a bare cupboard. This won’t stop me from mocking this fun pairing, though. Wilson would give Mahomes an excellent route technician with top-end speed and the ability to beat man coverage consistently.

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.