Post-Free Agency 2024 NFL Mock Draft Gets Shakeup With Vikings Trade & An Arms Race For Top QBs

Drake Maye NFL Draft
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With the Minnesota Vikings acquiring an extra first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and a slew of moves in free agency blowing up the transaction wire, it’s worth diving into another mock draft to see how all these personnel moves have altered teams’ priorities and needs.

Part of the reason the Vikings traded up with Houston is because Kirk Cousins signed a $180 million deal to play for the Falcons. With Atlanta picking eighth overall, they’re not longer in the market for one of the top QBs. Can Minnesota put together a good-enough package to trade up again with, say, New England at No. 3? Or will they spend both first-rounders on a perceived second-tier QB and let the board fall to them? Let’s get into it, and for reference, here’s a link to my 2024 NFL Mock Draft 1.0.

1. Chicago Bears (via Panthers) — Caleb Williams, QB, USC

No difference at the top from last time. The only issue for Chicago is that Justin Fields is still on the roster. Fields’ trade market hasn’t been as robust as expected. However, that’s a minor speed bump. Pittsburgh just traded Kenny Pickett to Philly, so it should be a mere matter of time before Fields is Russell Wilson’s backup on the Steelers. As for the Bears’ side of this, plugging in Caleb Williams with DJ Moore and Keenan Allen as his top two weapons is a recipe for a raging success of a rookie campaign.

2. Washington Commanders — Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Given that the Commanders acquired Marcus Mariota to be their presumptive QB2 and traded away Sam Howell to Seattle, there’s a zero point zero percent chance they’re drafting any position other than QB at No. 2 overall. Mariota’s skill set is very similar to reigning LSU Heisman winner Jayden Daniels. You’ve got an ideal mentor situation, an offensive coordinator in Kliff Kingsbury who’s worked with a slew of elite signal-callers in his career, and a wide-open NFC East to attack. Daniels will spearhead an electrifying post-Dan Snyder era for Washington.

3. TRADE: Minnesota Vikings (via New England) — Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

The Vikings’ new quarterbacks coach Josh McCown actually coached Maye in high school. McCown had to have some say in Minnesota bringing aboard his former teammate, Sam Darnold, as a bridge starter of sorts. Darnold can still serve that role until Maye is ready to roll. I like other QB prospects better than Maye, but whomever lands with the Vikings and Kevin O’Connell will have arguably the best chance to succeed among any of the top guys. Total dream scenario for Maye even when you disregard the McCown connection.

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

With Hollywood Brown joining the Chiefs and Rondale Moore traded to Atlanta, the Cardinals had better get Kyler Murray a viable wide receiver at some point in the draft. Thankfully, the early run on QBs allows them to grab Harrison, the consensus WR1 in a class where, in other years, you could argue at least two other prospects would be the first wideouts off the board. That’s how special the son of Peyton Manning’s first favorite target in Indy is.

5. Los Angeles Chargers — Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

From my last mock on this pick I remain steadfast about: “It’d be borderline organizational malpractice if Malik Nabers is on the board and they don’t let Justin Herbert have him.” That’s even truer now that Keenan Allen is in Chicago and Mike Williams is off the roster to save cap space. When NFL dot com is comparing you to Justin Jefferson, um, that probably bodes well for your NFL future. And it’s probably wise for Jim Harbaugh to make Nabers his first pick at the helm of the Bolts.

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

The G-Men got as many as three new starters on the offensive line in free agency. Since they’ve already paid Daniel Jones handsomely, they might as well give him a legit shot with such improved protection. Jones probably won’t be the QB in New York beyond 2025. Whether it’s him or not, picking Odunze here is a forward-looking move. I’d rather have Odunze on a rookie deal over paying Darius Slayton next offseason when he hits the open market.

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

Had Joe Alt here in Mock 1.0. Zero reason to switch up. In fact, Tennessee cut loose incumbent left tackle Andre Dillard. That’d pave the way for Alt to be the Titans’ Week 1 blindside protector for young QB Will Levis. Few teams were as proactive in free agency as Tennessee. Putting Alt next to 2023 first-rounder Peter Skoronski is a great combo to the left of new Titans center Lloyd Cushenberry.

8. Atlanta Falcons — Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Although Atlanta’s pass rush could use some work, those guys up front should be helped out by the exotic defense new head coach Raheem Morris is bringing with him. You plug in a sticky cover corner like Mitchell on the Falcons’ back end with stud safety Jessie Bates playing center field and A.J. Terrell on the opposite side? That’s a hell of a trio in the secondary.

9. Chicago Bears — Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

I love the idea of Montez Sweat and Jared Verse as bookends for the Bears’ d-line. The combined power that duo would pack in pursuit of opposing QBs would be devastating. To me, the Bears could either trade up from here to grab one of those top three receivers, bolster their tight end room with Brock Bowers, or trade down and get Verse or UCLA’s Laiatu Latu a little later in Round 1. In any event, they’re in such a great spot at No. 9.

10. New York Jets — Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Trading for Morgan Moses and signing Tyron Smith seemingly takes care of both starting tackle positions for Gang Green. So now what? How about a matchup nightmare of a weapon who can flex out to the slot, inline block and open up so much space for Garrett Wilson? That sounds good to me. Aaron Rodgers would be most pleased with this selection of the best tight end prospect since Kyle Pitts.

11. New England Patriots (mock trade) — Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Despite Bill Belichick being out of the picture, old habits die hard in New England. I have a feeling they’ll talk themselves into Jacoby Brissett as their short-term starting QB, recognize that they’re not a mere quarterback away from being an AFC contender, and accept the Vikings’ haul to trade down. In this scenario, they still get a franchise cornerstone at a premium position in Fashanu, who’d slot in right away at left tackle.

12. Denver Broncos — JJ McCarthy, QB, Michigan

Could easily see the Broncos moving up to Chicago’s pick at nine to ensure they get a quarterback. They need someone better than Jarrett Stidham, who’s fine as a short-term starter, but is by no means a long-term answer at the position. McCarthy was a game manager at Michigan and excelled in that role. His experience in a pro-style offense should appeal to Sean Payton. It’d also be neat to see McCarthy compete in the AFC West against Jim Harbaugh and the Andy Reid-Patrick Mahomes combo.

13. Las Vegas Raiders — Byron Murphy II, DL, Texas

A quarterback is very possible here, yet Antonio Pierce is keen on building a defensive identity in Vegas. The chance to draft Murphy here is too good to pass up. If the Raiders want to keep up in their division, they can help themselves by filling their trenches with the likes of Murphy to go with a ridiculous Maxx Crosby-Christian Wilkins duo.

14. New Orleans Saints — Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington

Some view Fautanu as an interior lineman at the next level. He has a little experience at left guard from college. If I’m the Saints, either way Fautanu is a sound selection at this spot. New Orleans needs a left tackle, and their guard play last season left much to be desired. Fautanu is a probable fix for either problem.

15. Indianapolis Colts — Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

What a great fit Arnold would be in Gus Bradley’s base Cover 3 scheme. You can tell that Arnold has great character by the way he endeared himself to everyone at the Combine with a shout out to his mom. Make no mistake, though — Arnold has that dog in him on the gridiron. He’d form a promising CB tandem in Indy with last year’s second-round pick, JuJu Brents.

16. Seattle Seahawks — Jackson Powers-Johnson, C, Oregon

No change from Version 1.0 on this choice, either. JPJ fills an obvious need for Seattle and fits what they’ll want to do offensively. That is to say, Powers-Johnson can get downhill in the running game like a bullet. He’d pave the way for the Seahawks’ backfield tandem of Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet. Geno Smith would certainly welcome Powers-Johnson’s arrival.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars —Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

Left tackle incumbents Cam Robinson and Walker Little are hitting free agency in 2025. Mims’ upside is greater than either of theirs, and while at Georgia, he practiced at left tackle often despite playing right tackle on Saturdays. The physical tool set Mims has is absurd. He represents a cost-controlled option to protect Trevor Lawrence. The former No. 1 overall pick’s mega contract extension will leave the Jaguars cash-strapped next offseason, making it all the more logical to pick Mims at No. 17.

18. Cincinnati Bengals — JC Latham, OT, Alabama

Cincinnati just lost starting right tackle Jonah Williams to Arizona. They don’t have a clear-cut answer at that spot as of today. Latham is a “sprint the card to the podium” type of pick if he’s on the board here for the Bengals. If ex-Jet Mekhi Becton ends up signing (he visited the team recently), I’d rather put him at left guard next to Orlando Brown Jr. and get Latham in the starting five.

19. Los Angeles Rams — Johnny Newton, DL, Illinois

Aaron Donald’s retirement was among the most surprising twists of the entire offseason. It also makes the Rams’ draft strategy on Day 1 a lot easier if the board falls something like this. Whether it’s Newton or Byron Murphy II, LA should do all it can to secure either prospect. In this scenario, pairing Newton with breakout rookie Kobie Turner on the inside makes all the sense in the world.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers — Payton Wilson, LB, NC State

If this was a team other than the Steelers or Baltimore, I’d wonder WTF was going on. When it comes to Pittsburgh, they have a proud tradition of vicious linebackers in their history. They signed ex-Raven Patrick Queen to a sensible three-year, $41 million deal. Plugging in Wilson next to Queen would make the Steelers’ front seven more multiple, versatile and dynamic. It’d sure help the cause of stopping Baltimore’s exotic rushing attack, led by Lamar Jackson and Derrick Henry.

21. Miami Dolphins — Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

Here’s Miami’s outlook on the edge: Lost free agent Andrew Van Ginkel to the Vikings. Jaelan Phillips is coming off a torn Achilles. Bradley Chubb is off a torn ACL. Dallas Turner is too good of a player to still be on the board at this point, so the Dolphins would gladly scoop him up to pair with Shaq Barrett on a one-year deal to start the 2024 season.

22. Philadelphia Eagles — Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

Another excellent prospect who’s fallen too far in this mock, Fuaga is the ideal long-term replacement for right tackle Lane Johnson (he turns 34 in May). This would more or less mirror the approach Eagles GM Howie Roseman took to ensuring there’d be depth behind Jason Kelce once he retired.

23. New England Patriots (mock trade) — Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

I’m more of a Michael Penix Jr. stan than a Bo Nix advocate. This is more about what the Patriots traditionally like. Nix is a quick-game merchant with a plus arm and the athleticism to extend plays with his legs, just not on the level of, say, Caleb Williams or Jayden Daniels. I think New England would be feeling themselves if they walked out of the first round with a potential left tackle-quarterback tandem of the future while still collecting a haul of draft assets. That’s how you can expedite a rebuild right there.

24. Dallas Cowboys — Graham Barton, OL, Duke

Lots of folks bugging out about the Cowboys not doing a lot of free-agent spending. Where’s their glaring hole other than running back? Not too much to be worried about. They should be able to find a new starting ball-carrier on Day 2 or 3 of the draft. As for Round 1, look for America’s Team to take a swing at a versatile offensive lineman like Barton who can play just about anywhere.

25. Green Bay Packers — Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa

Put him in the slot, at safety, or on the outside to play cornerback. Take your pick, Green Bay. DeJean can do it all. In my opinion, he’d be a brilliant second safety next to Xavier McKinney, an upgrade at slot corner over Keisean Nixon, or a better boundary CB2 than anyone on the Packers’ roster.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

Thanks to the run on QBs, tackles and receivers, we could see yet another premier prospect like Latu fall almost out of the first round. He might be the most technically advanced pass-rusher in the draft. The only concern is a checkered medical history that forced him to retire from football for a period of time. Thankfully, Latu was cleared to return and has made the most of it, with 34 tackles for loss and 23.5 sacks in two seasons at UCLA. I think he’d start immediately over Joe Tryon-Shoyinka or YaYa Diaby. Talk about an all-world name team.

27. TRADE: Las Vegas Raiders (via Cardinals) — Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

This pick is originally what Arizona got in last year’s draft day trade with Houston, when the Texans moved from 12th to third overall and selected Will Anderson Jr. out of Alabama. Motivated by the Broncos nabbing a first-round passer and the outlook for the rest of the division, Las Vegas moves back into Round 1 for Penix. Gardner Minshew could start for the Raiders for a while, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Penix’s superior arm talent helped him beat out Minshew in training camp.

28. Buffalo Bills — Tyler Nubin, S, Minnesota

For the longest time, Buffalo had arguably the best set of safeties in the NFL in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. They’re both no longer around. Nubin is a logical, immediate fill-in. He won’t be there by the time the Bills are on the clock again in Round 2, so best to lock him up at Pick 28.

29. Detroit Lions — Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

A “why the f*ck not?” pick here by an in-his-bag GM Brad Holmes. Think about how impossible it’d be for opposing secondaries to account for Amon-Ra St. Brown, Sam LaPorta, Jameson Williams and Brian Thomas Jr. — not to mention sophomore halfback Jahmyr Gibbs as a pass-catching threat. Jared Goff would be in absolute football heaven. Thomas would almost guarantee that Detroit has the best all-around offense in the NFC.

30. Baltimore Ravens — Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

No self-notes from last time. Ladd McConkey to Baltimore. Book it a second time. Think about this: Two elite separators in McConkey and Zay Flowers for Lamar Jackson to work with. A healthy Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely at tight end causing headaches for defensive coordinators. Derrick Henry as RB1. Good luck to anyone stopping that Ravens offense this year.

31. San Francisco 49ers — Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

Another underachieving year by Deebo Samuel could mean he’s a salary cap casualty in 2025. Meanwhile, Brandon Aiyuk is still being floated in trade rumors. Were I the Niners, I’d make sure another wideout was on the way to help prop up Brock Purdy. When it comes to Mitchell, his raw ability and size-speed blend is superior to that of Aiyuk and Samuel. As a football purist, it’d be a lot of fun to see the uber-gifted Mitchell marinate in Kyle Shanahan’s system.

32. Kansas City Chiefs — Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

The aforementioned addition of Hollywood Brown takes care of wide receiver as a pressing need in KC. Re-signing Chris Jones was huge, and the top d-tackles are off the board anyway. Given that L’Jarius Sneed is on the franchise tag and is a real candidate to be traded, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chiefs flipped him for an early Day 2 pick and drafted his replacement in Wiggins or another top corner at 32nd overall.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock