2024 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Drake Maye’s Slide & Big Run On Wide Receivers Dominate 1st Round

JJ McCarthy

All we really know with almost 100% certainty three weeks out from the 2024 NFL Draft is that Caleb Williams will hear his name called first on draft night, April 25, to play for the Chicago Bears. Every single indication in the world is pointing that way.

Latest reports only seem to confirm the inevitable.

What happens from there is anyone’s guess, especially when it comes to quarterbacks. Drake Maye is the consensus QB2, but in my opinion, he’s the fifth-best prospect at the position. Maye’s stock seems to be sinking a bit in recent weeks. Jayden Daniels and JJ McCarthy seem likelier to go to the Commanders at No. 2 than Maye at this point.

In this latest 2024 NFL Mock Draft, we have a wild run on wide receivers and an exploration of the trickle-down effect if Maye falls out of the top three. You can read my previous mock iterations at the links below.

Mock Draft 1.o | Mock Draft 2.0

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

It’s over. Williams is headed to the Windy City. No more Justin Fields. I doubt Bears GM Ryan Poles will lose much sleep over Merril Hoge’s doubts about Williams. What a trade Poles pulled off for last year’s No. 1 overall pick. Now, he gets to cash it in courtesy of Carolina.

2. Washington Commanders — JJ McCarthy, QB, Michigan

Nobody’s stock has skyrocketed more than McCarthy’s during the pre-draft process. Jim Harbaugh has gassed up his ex-Wolverines quarterback, which has helped, but this doesn’t seem like the classic smoke screen. McCarthy is a very real talent with a big arm, excellent mobility, and a thicker frame than he’s given credit for. If he can just work on touch throws, he should flourish in a Commanders offense featuring dynamic pass-catchers like Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Zach Ertz, Austin Ekeler and Dyami Brown.

3. TRADE: Las Vegas Raiders (via Patriots) — Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Antonio Pierce was with Daniels back in the Arizona State days. The Vikings have more ammunition to trade up, but I think Las Vegas will be willing to do whatever it takes to get a new superstar QB with whom Pierce already jells. A recent rumor suggests Patriots exec Eliot Wolf is “pushing hard” for McCarthy, so if he’s off the board, I could see New England being open to moving back to acquire more picks.

4. Arizona Cardinals — Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

Surprise! Nabers has made the rounds on the pre-draft circuit, whereas fellow top wide receiver prospect Marvin Harrison Jr. hasn’t. I don’t think that’s a red flag necessarily. I also think it’s a little odd. Nabers has more of the “dawg” in him to me than Harrison does. I could see Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon being a little turned off by Harrison’s standoffish, seeming superiority complex toward everything leading up to draft day. Plus, Nabers is a more explosive athlete who can separate better downfield. Kyler Murray would love to have him.

5. Los Angeles Chargers — Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

Jim Harbaugh got to see Harrison a lot on the biggest stage in the biggest rivalry in college football. Many are suggesting that Harbaugh could go in for an offensive lineman at this spot, or trade out. With Keenan Allen and Mike Williams off the roster, I don’t know how Harbaugh could pass up the shot to draft Harrison and give Justin Herbert a legit WR1. Something about the combined weirdness of Harrison and Harbaugh appeals to me.

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

Another potential QB destination, but if I were the Giants, I’d give Daniel Jones one more shot. The G-Men haven’t served him very well at all during his tenure. Brian Daboll got enough out of him to get to the playoffs in his first year at the helm. Why not give Jones a legit top-flight wideout for the first time? Odunze is comparing favorably to Davante Adams in terms of winning at the line of scrimmage, separating and winning at the catch point, and being able to run every route in the route tree with exemplary proficiency.

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

There’s not any more of a no-brainer pick in the entire draft than Tennessee turning the card in for Alt at No. 7 if he’s still on the board. Unless Harbaugh and the Bolts snatch him up at the fifth spot, Alt has “Titans” written all over him. Especially after trading for Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, I don’t see another glaring need for Tennessee here that’d justify passing on Alt for.

8. Atlanta Falcons — Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

Going cornerback here makes some sense for Atlanta. Had Quinyon Mitchell to the Falcons in my last mock. For variety’s sake, the only other position I see GM Terry Fontenot targeting is on the defensive edge. Turner recorded 14.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks at Alabama this past season. It seems like Atlanta never has a quality pass rush, so why not finally rectify that by drafting Turner here?

9. Chicago Bears — Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Stick with me here, Chicago. Y’all might think you’re set at tight end with Cole Kmet and Gerald Everett. The addition of Keenan Allen — who’s lined up more in the slot than not since 2018 – would seem to knock Bowers out, since part of his appeal is aligning in the slot or even out wide. Here’s my thing: Bowers averaged 8.7 yards after the catch per reception this last year, per PFF. Kmet and Everett average 10 yards per catch for their NFL careers. Allen is a savvy route-runner, but has averaged less than four YAC per catch over the past half-decade. See what I’m saying?

10. New York Jets — Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

Oh baby. The raw athleticism of a Gang Green wide receiver duo between BTJ and Garrett Wilson would be off the charts. I’m sure Aaron Rodgers would be a happy man if this is where the Jets went with the 10th pick. They’ve really shored up their porous offensive line through free agency. They can afford to splurge here and hope Thomas unlocks new levels to their passing attack.

11. Minnesota Vikings — Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

Drake Maye was mentored by NFL journeyman and Vikings QB coach Josh McCown in high school. With McCarthy and Daniels going 2-3 in this scenario, we could see a game of chicken between the three QB-needy teams at Nos. 11, 12 and 13 to see if any of them want to jump up for a field general. Minnesota would be thrilled if Maye fell to them at No. 11. Then, they could use their second first-rounder on another premium player.

12. Denver Broncos — Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

I hear a lot of folks comparing Nix to Drew Brees. That’s ridiculous, frankly. There is something to Nix’s predominant reliance on short, precise passing that would work well in Sean Payton’s offense, however. Nix is also a better athlete than he’s given credit for, with the ability to create out of structure when he needs to. Landing with Payton would certainly enhance Nix’s chances of realizing his potential and becoming a reliable NFL starter. Not sure he could do that at any other spot outside of Minnesota with how things stand now.

13. New England Patriots — Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

It’s going to be a long, brutal rebuild in New England. The good news is, the defense looks pretty good, and Jacoby Brissett is in place as a bridge starter/perfect mentor for an incoming rookie at the most important position on the field. I’m rather confident Penix would beat Brissett out in a training camp competition if there was one. Penix has the intangibles, pocket prowess and winning pedigree that I think the Patriots would be attracted to.

14. New Orleans Saints — Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Honestly, the Saints should trade down in perpetuity given the salary cap hell they’re in. If they stick here, they should pull the plug on Trevor Penning as their left tackle of the future. Fashanu is a superior prospect by miles. Don’t play games in what should be a make-or-break season for Derek Carr. Give him better protection on his blind side, and see if he can cook his way to an NFC South title in New Orleans.

15. Indianapolis Colts — Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Colts GM Chris Ballard loves prospects with high-end athletic traits. When that matches up with a team need, and a prospect like Mitchell who could easily go in the top 10 falls to No. 15 overall, all the better. Indy would have to feel good with Mitchell and 2023 second-rounder JuJu Brents as their young outside cornerback tandem of the future.

16. Seattle Seahawks — Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

Being able to deploy Arnold on the outside, with physical freak show Riq Woolen opposite him, and living in the nickel with Devon Witherspoon in the slot should sound like an appealing proposition for Seattle. With that secondary, I don’t know how the Seahawks wouldn’t have one of the best defenses in the NFC. They can bolster the interior of their offensive line in later rounds. There really aren’t many obvious holes on this roster, so Arnold is a bit of a luxury pick at a position of immense importance.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars — Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

Wow! What better way to get Trevor Lawrence’s morale up than by nabbing McConkey in Round 1, who creates separation as well as anyone still left on the board? Ex-Bills wideout Gabe Davis is gifted. Alas, his inconsistency worries me and should worry Jacksonville to some degree. Christian Kirk is fine. Zay Jones? Meh. I just think the Jags need another weapon. McConkey is a great fit.

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

A product of the run on receivers is the fall of many high-quality offensive linemen. While I’d be a little stunned if the draft plays out like this IRL, a man can dream, can’t he? Fuaga to the Bengals, as a fan of the team, would be such a steal. Cincinnati has tended not to fill obvious needs in Round 1, and in Fuaga’s case, he could be the right tackle of the future with Trent Brown on a one-year deal. If Brown stays beyond this season, Fuaga could kick inside to either guard spot and dominate.

19. Los Angeles Rams — Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

Aaron Donald’s retirement doesn’t necessarily mean the Rams go interior defensive line here, even if it makes a ton of sense. Kobie Turner can hold the fort down for that unit. I’d be intrigued to add Latu if I were the Rams. He has the most pass-rushing moves in his arsenal of any prospect in this class. Also, Latu tested way better than most expected, so it’s not like he can’t win by blending speed and power. I’m sure the Rams have seen a lot of Latu since he’s in the local area, too.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers — Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington

Fautanu doesn’t feel like a guard to me. More than athletic enough to hold his own on the edge at tackle. The Steelers need a left tackle, since they put 2023 first-round pick Broderick Jones on the right side. I credit Michael Penix Jr. a great deal for his low sack rate. I also credit the man who was protecting the front side for him who yielded only three sacks on 1,332 pass blocking snaps over the last three years.

21. Miami Dolphins — Byron Murphy, DL, Texas

Christian Wilkins is a Raider. Brutal loss for the Dolphins. Luckily for them, they’d luck into Murphy falling to No. 21 here as a viable, immediate replacement. Since Miami retained Isaiah Wynn and signed Aaron Brewer in free agency, I don’t see interior o-line as such a pressing need for them. They should get stud center Connor Williams back at some point as well. Meanwhile, Murphy is a monster who’d really make an impact for the Fins’ defense in the trenches. Exceptional as a pass-rusher and a run stopper.

22. Philadelphia Eagles — Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

GM Howie Roseman already planned ahead for Jason Kelce’s successor at center. In this mock, Roseman charts a path forward for the Eagles’ aging, thin cornerback corps by choosing McKinstry. Wouldn’t shock me at all to see the Alabama product beat out veteran James Bradberry for the starting gig on the other side of Darius Slay — provided he’s healthy enough from that foot fracture discovered during Combine medical testing.

23. Minnesota Vikings (via Texans) — Braden Fiske, DL, Florida State

You won’t see many mocks with Fiske in the first round. Just so happens that the Vikings have a decent amount of beef but not a lot of explosive athleticism on their defensive line rotation. Fiske would change that in a hurry with his lateral quickness, and uncanny pass-rushing ability. Sure sounds better than counting on Jerry Tillery to start for you.

24. Dallas Cowboys — Jackson Powers—Johnson, C, Oregon

If America’s Team wants to do right by Dak Prescott and establish a solid rushing attack to complement him, they could do far worse than Powers-Johnson at No. 24. JPJ is a mauler who has experience at both guard spots in addition to center. Jerry Jones once took Travis Frederick in the first round and saw him develop into a perennial Pro Bowl center. History may very well repeat itself in Dallas.

25. Green Bay Packers — Graham Barton, OL, Duke

Another draft, another “meh but smart” pick by the Packers. They’re so good at nabbing offensive linemen anywhere in the draft. Barton projects to play any position, not dissimilar to Green Bay’s Elgton Jenkins. In this case, I’d like to see Barton either upgrade the center spot for Jordan Love, or be the clear-cut solution at left tackle with David Bakhtiari no longer in the fold. The Cheeseheads could go really any direction here since they have four more picks in the top 100 after this.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Love me some Jared Verse. Believe I’ve had him as high as No. 9 to Chicago. This is what happens when so many wide receivers and QBs come off the board early. Excellent prospects fall. The reigning NFC South champion Bucs would love to add an in-state collegian like Verse to the mix. The raw athleticism of Tampa’s EDGE rotation between Verse, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Yaya Diaby and Randy Gregory is tantalizing to ponder about.

27. Arizona Cardinals (via Texans) — Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

The Cardinals have the 35th pick early in Round 2, so why not take a flier on Worthy and his one-of-one speed? Kyler Murray could be throwing to Malik Nabers and have Worthy at his disposal to stretch defenses vertically. Get whatever else you pressingly need at No. 35, and capitalize on those three third-round picks to fill out what should be an exciting draft class. With multiple contenders sitting behind Arizona, praying their elite downfield throwers could target Worthy for years to come, Cards GM Monti Ossenfort spoils their potential parties with this selection.

28. Buffalo Bills — Ricky Pearsall, WR, Florida

Another receiver! This is absolutely necessary for Buffalo, who should double-dip at the position in my opinion. Trading Stefon Diggs was a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for them. It could pay off if they get a route-running dynamo like Pearsall, whose sure hands and seeming lack of prima donna syndrome would be indubitably attractive to superstar QB Josh Allen. I feel like Pearsall has shades of Diggs to his game, no?

29. Detroit Lions — Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

Not convinced that trading for Carlton Davis solves the Lions’ shortcomings at cornerback. DeJean has an X-factor element to him as well, because he can contribute as a return man. Dan Campbell loves to get tricky on special teams. I’m sure he’d like to have DeJean back deep with the new kickoff rules. Oh yeah, and DeJean is a phenomenal, versatile chess piece who I think could flourish in defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s scheme on the boundary across from Davis.

30. Baltimore Ravens — Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

Mims has only played 801 snaps in the last three years at Georgia. Among those were 402 pass blocking opportunities. He surrendered zero sacks, zero QB hits and six hurries on those. I’m 99.9% sure that I saw a stat that Mims committed just one penalty. Raw? Maybe. Inexperienced? For sure. Upside for days, months, years? You bet. Amarius Mims could be a top-five player in this class who doesn’t get drafted until the late teens at earliest. Here, he falls to Baltimore in a classic Ravens draft situation where they somehow get a galactic talent late in Round 1.

31. San Francisco 49ers — JC Latham, OT, Alabama

Speaking of penalties, PFF tells me that Latham has gotten flagged 18 times over the last two seasons. For how dominant he’s perceived to be, with a painstakingly detailed coach like Nick Saban, that number seems like a red flag. Whether he’s a guard or tackle at the next level, Latham is a physically imposing big man who can move plenty well at 6-foot-6, 342 pounds. If Kyle Shanahan and his zone blocking rushing attack get a hold of Latham, good luck if you’re trying to get in his way. Latham would make San Francisco’s o-line — suspect outside of Trent Williams — far more intimidating no matter where he’d line up.

32. Kansas City Chiefs — Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

Now that the Rashee Rice controversy is afoot, the likelihood of the Chiefs drafting a first-round wideout goes way up. You could easily flip-flop Ladd McConkey and Mitchell in this mock and I wouldn’t bat an eye. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder at wide receiver. It just depends what teams are looking for and how certain prospects’ skill sets match up with their incumbents. Mitchell is a legit vertical threat who could open up more deep shots for Patrick Mahomes, and make Travis Kelce’s life easier as his career winds down. Kelce wouldn’t be the only taller, go-to red zone target for Mahomes, and could more easily work underneath with speedsters like Adonai Mitchell and newcomer Marquise “Hollywood” Brown on the field.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock