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2024 NFL mock draft: With combine looming, QBs go 1-2-3 and Michigan's J.J. McCarthy goes to the Shanahan tree

We're a couple of weeks away from the NFL scouting combine, when our 2024 draft silly season kicks into a higher gear. Here's the latest mock draft between Nate Tice and Charles McDonald.

In this edition, Tice makes the selection of the odd numbered draft picks while McDonald selects the even.

1. Chicago Bears (from Panthers) — Drake Maye, QB, UNC

I think Maye or Caleb Williams are top-notch prizes for this draft, but Maye has been my pick for the Bears for months now. He has a great combination of size, athleticism and arm talent worthy of the No. 1 pick, with the Bears in a prime position to bolster the talent around him and hit the ground running. — Nate Tice

2. Washington Commanders — Caleb Williams, QB, USC

The Commanders need a quarterback and seem, at this point, slated to take whoever doesn’t go first overall. In this scenario, it’s Williams who gets to come home to the D.C. area and see if he can turn around his hometown franchise with the upside he brings as a passer. — Charles McDonald

Caleb Williams is looking like he'll be the NFL Draft's homecoming king in April if the Commanders select him at No. 2. (Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images)
Caleb Williams is looking like he'll be the NFL Draft's homecoming king in April if the Commanders select him at No. 2. (Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images)

3. New England Patriots — Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

The Patriots are the pivot point of this draft, as they could go with their (new) quarterback of the future or one of the premium talents at a premium position like Marvin Harrison Jr. or one of the talented offensive tackles. I have the Patriots going the quarterback route with the dynamic Daniels, a player who is going to provide instant excitement with his explosive and chaotic play, both with his legs and arm.

4. Arizona Cardinals — Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

Harrison is arguably the best player in the draft and fills a position of need for the Cardinals. Harrison lucks out by landing with a team that already has its quarterback in place with Kyler Murray.

5. Los Angeles Chargers — Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Jim Harbaugh is going to build through the trenches and nabs Fashanu, the talented tackle from the Big Ten. Fashanu already shows advanced eyes and awareness as a player, which is the cherry on top to his incredible package of size, length and foot quickness. Fashanu has a high ceiling as a two-way tackle the Chargers could start on the right side or flip Rashawn Slater over (Slater has RT experience from college). The concerns about Fashanu's run blocking are overblown.

6. New York Giants — Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

This would be a tough decision to pull the trigger on with Evan Neal still on an expensive rookie deal, but the Giants desperately need offensive tackle help across from Andrew Thomas. Maybe Neal can find a home at guard, but his presence shouldn’t stop the Giants from considering a player as complete as Alt.

7. Tennessee Titans — Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

I’m sure the Titans would have loved to grab one of the elite tackle prospects, especially with Bill Callahan now in town as offensive line coach. Instead, let's pivot to one of the elite wide receiver prospects in Nabers. He is a walking, talking firework factory, and his explosive play ability would immediately lift the ceiling of this Titans offense. Just think of a Will Levis moon ball to Nabers.

8. Atlanta Falcons — Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

A fourth straight top-10 offensive player for the Falcons. Drake London needs a legitimate running mate at WR and Odunze would be a complement. No excuses for whoever is under center for the Falcons in this scenario.

9. Chicago Bears — Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Nabers and Odunze are off the board so the Bears instead go with perhaps the best offensive weapon in this draft. Bowers can line up all over the field and provide an interesting queen on the chess board to deploy for creative offensive coordinator Shane Waldron. The Bears have just extended Cole Kmet, but their skills would not clash as Bowers can simply align as a slot option. With DJ Moore out there and perhaps a couple of interior offensive linemen sprinkled in, Maye will have a strong situation to step into in Chicago.

10. New York Jets — JC Latham, OT, Alabama

The Jets still have a long way to go in terms of personnel if they want to make it to the Super Bowl. Keeping a 40-year-old Aaron Rodgers upright is a good start. Latham should make that easier while blasting holes open in the run game.

(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)
(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)

11. Minnesota Vikings — J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

Coaches from the Shanahan tree are going to love McCarthy’s skills (hello, Kevin O’Connell). He’s a good athlete and thrower on the move, and he’s willing to stand in the pocket and fire the pigskin over the middle of the field. McCarthy has below-average size and will need to bulk up at the next level. Whatever happens with Kirk Cousins this offseason, McCarthy will give the Vikings some shape of bridge into the future at the signal-caller spot.

12. Denver Broncos — Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

Denver ends up in a tough spot here with the favored quarterbacks off the board, but it can bolster another premium position that needs an infusion of talent. Turner is potentially the best edge rusher in the class and fills a need for the rebuilding Broncos.

13. Las Vegas Raiders — Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

The Raiders' defense played some very good ball as the season went along under coordinator Patrick Graham, but they could still use an answer at cornerback for the future. Enter Arnold, a feisty converted safety who can play inside or out, and constantly makes plays on the ball. His competitive style feels like a Raider.

14. New Orleans Saints — Brian Thomas, WR, LSU

If the Saints are going to double down on having Derek Carr as their quarterback, they’re going to need weapons to make that happen. Thomas is another explosive, downfield threat who should fit well next to Chris Olave.

Iowa's Cooper DeJean is one of the standout defensive backs in the 2024 NFL Draft class.  (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
Iowa's Cooper DeJean is one of the standout defensive backs in the 2024 NFL Draft class. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

15. Indianapolis Colts — Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

Julian Blackmon and Kenny Moore are free agents, and the Colts sure wouldn’t mind having another outside cornerback option opposite of JuJu Brents. DeJean has Pro Bowl upside at any spot in the defensive backfield, be it outside cornerback, slot or safety. He’s über-athletic and über-skilled and will let defensive coordinator Gus Bradley put his best group out there no matter what.

16. Seattle Seahawks — Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

Mike Macdonald will be able to cover up a lot with his knowledge and play-calling, but the Seahawks could still use a boost of talent on the interior of their defense. Newton is one of the few premier interior defensive line talents in this class and would fit well.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars — Jackson Powers-Johnson, C/OG, Oregon

The Jaguars stop messing around and give Trevor Lawrence a difference-making battery mate for the next decade. Powers-Johnson is built like a strongman from a Dust Bowl carnival but he can be a needle-mover at the pivot spot in Jacksonville. He is still developing his hand technique and is relatively new to the center position, but Powers-Johnson has great size and athleticism and plays with a competitive and infectious style for a team desperately needing good vibes.

18. Cincinnati Bengals — Taliese Fuaga, OL, Oregon State

Fuaga projects as a versatile lineman who can play guard or tackle at the next level, which would fit well with what the Bengals need up front. Steady offensive line play would take this offense to a new level and keep Burrow upright, which is crucial for the Bengals' championship hopes.

19. Los Angeles Rams — Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Les Snead and Sean McVay are doing backflips that Mitchell has trickled down to them. Yes, a MAC player is worthy of such jubilation. Mitchell has very good size and athleticism at the cornerback position, with excellent burst to close and make plays on the football. His awareness from off-corner spots and ball skills allow Mitchell to consistently make plays on the ball, and he showed at the Senior Bowl that he can hang (and thrive) when having to play in press man situations. Mitchell might not be here for the Rams come April.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers — Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

The Steelers have a lot of needs on their defense, but there might not be a bigger one than cornerback. They hit a home run with Joey Porter Jr. in the draft last year, but don’t have many quality bodies at cornerback outside of him. McKinstry isn’t projected to go as highly as he was prior to the season, but he’s still a high-upside man cover corner that the Steelers don’t have many of.

21. Miami Dolphins — Troy Fautanu, OL, Washington

Guard? Tackle? That’s a "yes" for what the Dolphins need and also for what Fautanu could play. Fautanu has a good frame but not overwhelming length, but his hands, balance and foot speed might allow him to stick outside at right tackle. At worst, Fautanu could instantly provide plus play for a Dolphins offensive line that desperately needs a talent injection.

22. Philadelphia Eagles — Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

The Eagles need to get younger at cornerback and Wiggins would add a nice blend of size, length and speed to a defense that’s a little old on the backend. Darius Slay would be a nice person to develop with and learn from and if Kelee Ringo can figure it out, the Eagles may be OK at cornerback soon.

23. Houston Texans (from Cleveland Browns) — Byron Murphy, DL, Texas

Murphy stays in Texas and heads on over to DeMeco Ryans’ defense in Houston. Murphy is a gap-shooting defensive tackle who can provide explosive plays. He lacks ideal size and length, but his quick-trigger style will be a perfect fit for Ryans, who loves a “shoot the gap, ask questions later” attitude with his defensive linemen. Murphy, Jonathan Greenard and Will Anderson Jr. would terrorize the weaker offensive lines in the AFC South.

24. Dallas Cowboys — Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

Tyron Smith may not be around in Dallas for that much longer, which would leave a massive hole at a position that hasn’t had much turnover for the Cowboys in the past decade. Come on down, Amarius Mims. He has all the tools in the world to be a dominant tackle but struggled with injuries last season at Georgia. He’s a “walk off the bus” superstar with real skills behind him.

25. Green Bay Packers — Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

The Packers are going to always target traits for their draft picks, especially in the first round. Guyton is more a bundle of tools than a finished product, but his size and athleticism are hard to find and hard to teach. Guyton would be plopped into the offensive line factory that is the Packers, with his talent giving Green Bay a potential long-term tackle once it decides to move on from David Bakhtiari.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Coleman is more of a dice roll than he seemed during the Seminoles’ early season run. Yet he still has all the talent in the world to be a dynamite NFL receiver. If the Buccaneers are really going to do this Baker Mayfield time, and it seems like they are, they’ll need to provide him with weapons — especially if Mike Evans is playing for a new team next season.

27. Arizona Cardinals (from Texans) — Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Verse falls a bit because he might lack elite pass rushing ability, but his competitive and power-first play fits the Cardinals, who continue to add to their trenches on both side of the ball under their new regime. Dropping Verse in to help set edges against the run and provide pocket-pushing on passing downs will give the smoke-and-mirrors Cardinals defense a hammerhead.

28. Buffalo Bills — Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

Buffalo may be preparing for the departure of star wide receiver Stefon Diggs and the Bills might need to draft a wideout early. Franklin is tall, albeit skinny, has a whole lot of speed and does a lot of things well outside of being a burner. He could end up projecting as a low-end WR1 in the right offense, but he’s a high-floor player who can help right away for a team with a franchise quarterback.

29. Detroit Lions — Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

The drop stops for Latu, whose medicals will give concerns to quite a few teams, but the Lions get more pass rushing help to combine with Aidan Hutchinson and Alim McNeill. Latu lacks ideal length and he’s just OK against the run, but his pass rushing chops are worth the trade-off. He constantly creates pressure and chaos in the backfield. Putting him on the other side of Hutchinson could create a whirlwind for quarterbacks to navigate.

30. Baltimore Ravens — Graham Barton, OL, Duke

Offensive line is one of the few holes the Ravens have and they could plug a few of them by selecting Barton. He played left tackle at a high level, but his size may have teams trying to put him at guard — where he still projects to play well at the next level. He could very quickly become their Kevin Zeitler replacement and solidify the line for years to come.

31. San Francisco 49ers — Kingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU

Did you watch the Super Bowl? The 49ers saw it, too. They get the fairly raw but traits-laden Suamataia as their starting right tackle and potential blindside protector whenever they have to navigate a post-Trent Williams world. Suamataia will sometimes get too far over his skis in the run game and his hand placing is inconsistent overall, but his size and talent are obvious. He has the potential to be a plus player in the run and pass games.

32. Kansas City Chiefs — Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

The Chiefs need to get back into the speed game on offense. Well, they need to get refined speed. Kadarius Toney, Mecole Hardman and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are plenty fast, but they aren’t the most polished players in the world. Worthy gets the Chiefs back into the game of having speedy players who are also useful football players instead of being track stars. But it probably doesn’t matter all too much since the Chiefs just won the Super Bowl with their weakest supporting cast of the Mahomes era. Eat Arby’s.