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Rhett Lewis 2024 NFL mock draft 1.0: Two teams trade up for QBs; Bears pick WR at No. 9

On the cusp of a potentially historic NFL draft, one that could feature quarterbacks being selected with the first four overall picks and a record number of offensive tackles going within the first 32, I'd like to offer some food for thought: What if the Vikings didn't acquire the 23rd overall pick with the plan to package it with No. 11 for a bid at breaking into the top five for a QB? Many of us assume that was the case, but what if the asking price to make a play for Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels is simply too high? What if Minnesota isn't enamored enough with J.J. McCarthy to surrender a trove of assets to move up the board for him? But what if the Vikings are intrigued by one of the other passers in this class, say a guy like Michael Penix Jr. or Bo Nix, who could still be available later in Round 1? Just a handful of the questions I attempt to unpack below as we prepare for what should be a dramatic, QB-driven 2024 NFL Draft.

Chicago Bears
(via CAR)
Caleb Williams
USC · QB · Junior

We’ve been talking about Williams as the presumptive No. 1 overall pick for some time now, and his talent level is worthy of that distinction. Chicago has already made plenty of moves to put Caleb in a position to succeed -- trading Justin Fields, finding a new play-caller in Shane Waldron, adding playmakers like Keenan Allen and D'Andre Swift -- and will have yet another opportunity to do so when it's back on the clock at No. 9.

Drake Maye
North Carolina · QB · Sophomore (RS)

The Commanders have been associated or connected to almost every QB worthy of consideration with this pick since the start of the draft process, but I keep coming back to Maye. If you look past the production drop-off in 2023, a year in which you could still see the elite traits, Drake has all the makings of a culture-changing franchise QB.

Jayden Daniels
LSU · QB · Senior

One of the most anemic offenses in football the last two years gets an immediate adrenaline injection with the multi-talented Daniels. The 2023 Heisman Trophy winner was an excellent distributor to his high-level Tiger targets and has the elite athleticism to fill a playmaking void if his initial surrounding cast in New England remains a work in progress.

Marvin Harrison Jr.
Ohio State · WR · Junior

The Cardinals moved up and down the draft board last year with tact and vision for the future. This year, it’s about the player, not the picks. Harrison Jr. is a player worth staying put for -- even in the face of potential trade offers. The former Buckeye offers a similar franchise impact as another receiver Arizona once drafted in the top five: Larry Fitzgerald.

Joe Alt
Notre Dame · OT · Junior

Going with anything other than Alt with this choice would feel like we’re overthinking Jim Harbaugh’s formula for success: build a formidable front, commit to running the football and allow the franchise QB to use his elite skill set from an upright position, as opposed to on his back.

Malik Nabers
LSU · WR · Junior

Need plus best player available aligns here in a way that's perfect for the Giants. New York has been searching for a No. 1 receiver since sending Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland during the 2019 offseason. It just so happens that they finally find another explosive Tiger talent to fill the role.

Olumuyiwa Fashanu
Penn State · OT · Junior (RS)

I thought Fashanu could’ve been a top-10 pick last year, but he chose to return to Penn State. And while his tape this season didn’t match the perceived talent, he has huge upside and would still be an instant upgrade for Tennessee's O-line.

Dallas Turner
Alabama · Edge · Junior

The Falcons have spent the last three years upgrading their offensive skill positions and now have the QB in Kirk Cousins to bring it all together. So, in Raheem Morris’ first draft as Atlanta's head coach, he lands the best edge rusher in the draft.

Rome Odunze
Washington · WR · Senior

Support your young franchise QB! Just look at what the Texans have done for C.J. Stroud. Chicago follows a similar strategy, bringing in a third high-level WR to assist Caleb Williams. Odunze is on the same tier as Harrison and Nabers. The Bears might just "win" the draft with this tandem of top-10 picks.

J.J. McCarthy
Michigan · QB · Junior


This trade presents a more palatable scenario for the Broncos since they don’t have a ton of draft resources to throw at their QB problem. The move up two spots doesn't cost them any future first-round picks and nets Sean Payton a QB who is a proven winner with a savvy football IQ. The assets that would've otherwise been dealt in a move higher up the board can now be invested in building around McCarthy for the future.

Terrion Arnold
Alabama · CB

If you read the intro to this mock, then you understand the rationale here for Minnesota. I tend to side with Daniel Jeremiah’s assessment of J.J. McCarthy -- that the former Wolverine has a grade closer to Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr. than to the top three QBs. If the Vikings have a similar evaluation of the position group, perhaps they choose not to make a splash move into the top five, but rather let the draft come to them and take and the best corner in this year's class. Arnold is ready to handle the pressure of playing in Brian Flores' aggressive scheme.

Taliese Fuaga
Oregon State · OT · Senior


The Jets get the best of both worlds in this deal: some extra draft capital and a top-tier OT to support the aging tackles they signed in free agency. They will find a way to get Fuaga on the field.

Michael Penix Jr.
Washington · QB · Senior

I love this fit. If not for the injuries, I believe we’d be talking about Penix in the same breath as the top three QBs. I think his pure arm talent is second to none in this class, and he has more athleticism than people give him credit for. He immediately becomes the best passer on the roster.

JC Latham
Alabama · OT · Junior

Ryan Ramczyk's knee injury brings the offensive line issues into sharper focus this offseason. Latham is an experienced and talented tackle with the ability to maul in the run game while providing a steady hand in pass protection. He starts on Day 1.

Brock Bowers
Georgia · TE · Junior

Please refer back to Pick No. 9, Sentence 1. Anthony Richardson has just four starts under his belt, and the Colts must remain committed to surrounding him with high-end talent. Re-signing Michael Pittman was Step 1. Continuing to develop Josh Downs is Step 2. Drafting the best TE in this year's class, who boasts incredible run-after-the-catch skills, is a monster Step 3.

Seattle Seahawks
(via CLE through HOU)
Troy Fautanu
Washington · OT · Senior

Staying in Seattle, the former Washington Husky upgrades the athleticism along the Seahawks' offensive line while also providing the versatility to step in at guard right away.  

Quinyon Mitchell
Toledo · CB · Senior

Like the Giants at Pick No. 6, I think the Jags' selection of Mitchell, who has been one of the biggest winners of the pre-draft process, merges need with value.

Bo Nix
Oregon · QB · Senior


Concerned that the Rams might have an eye toward the future beyond Matthew Stafford, Minnesota jumps five spots to snag Nix, whose accuracy and operation within Oregon’s offense was impeccable over the last two seasons. He's the consummate competitor with the added appeal of immense collegiate experience (NCAA record 61 starts).

Jared Verse
Florida State · Edge · Senior

Admittedly, this feels late for a player like Verse at a premier position, but the run on QBs and OTs could easily push talented defenders like Verse down. The Rams are more than happy to pair a fierce edge presence with burgeoning talent Kobie Turner on the inside.

Graham Barton
Duke · IOL · Senior

I considered an interior defensive lineman like Byron Murphy II here, but given the Steelers' QB situation (both Russell Wilson and Justin Fields would greatly benefit from a strong running game), continuing to build the offensive line seemed like the more prudent decision. Barton gives Pittsburgh five-position flexibility, as a guy who played left tackle at Duke but is also arguably the top center candidate in this draft.

Laiatu Latu
UCLA · Edge · Senior

If the medicals check out, this seems like a no-brainer. Latu is a straight-up technician off the edge. And with the uncertainty around when Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips will be fully healthy following their season-ending injuries, the former Bruin fills a need, as well.

Nate Wiggins
Clemson · CB · Junior

Philly has to improve its pass defense, and Wiggins has the speed and tools to provide an instant upgrade on the perimeter.

Tyler Guyton
Oklahoma · OT · Junior (RS)


Cincinnati accumulates even more picks after allowing the Vikings to move up and still lands one of the best offensive linemen in this class. Guyton has the raw tools to be a Pro Bowl player, and the current veteran presence at the Bengals' tackle spots could give the rookie the time to refine those skills.

Powers-Johnson is one of the best centers and overall offensive linemen in this class. Tyler Biadasz’s departure to D.C. amplifies the Cowboys' urgency to fortify the front five.

Amarius Mims
Georgia · OT · Junior

The Packers have a compelling collection of young skill-position talent surrounding QB Jordan Love, so this year, they opt to find a long-term replacement for David Bakhtiari at LT.

Brian Thomas Jr.
LSU · WR · Junior

Even with Chris Godwin entering a contract year, Mike Evans' re-signing makes WR more of a luxury than a pressing need. Still, Thomas' talent might be too much for Tampa to pass up. What a weapon he would be in a Bucs offense that looks to build off Baker Mayfield's career campaign.

Arizona Cardinals
(via HOU)
Byron Murphy II
Texas · DT · Junior

A major interior disruptor, Murphy could be the kind of impact player up front the likes of which the Cardinals haven’t seen since Calais Campbell left years ago -- albeit in a much smaller package.

Cooper DeJean
Iowa · CB · Junior

Could the Bills try and trade up to secure Brian Thomas Jr.? Sure, but there will be plenty of WR talent available in the second round. Here, at No. 28, Buffalo fills another huge need by selecting DeJean, the best corner the Big Ten had to offer this season. He also possesses top-end return ability.

Kool-Aid McKinstry
Alabama · CB · Junior

This feels like such a franchise fit. There’s a toughness the Lions have embraced under head coach Dan Campbell that wouldn't be a problem for McKinstry, who enters the league with a highly respected résumé, having started 33 games for Nick Saban at Alabama.

Jer'Zhan Newton
Illinois · DT · Senior

A foot injury has sidelined Newton during this path to the draft, but make no mistake, his game-wrecking ability was present and accounted for on tape. He provides Baltimore's formidable front with another rotational piece.

Chop Robinson
Penn State · Edge · Junior

Robinson is another athletic freak of a pass rusher out of Penn State. He had limited production in his two seasons for the Nittany Lions, but the Niners have one of the best D-line coaches in the league in Kris Kocurek, who can help pull the production out of Chop’s potential.

Ennis Rakestraw Jr.
Missouri · CB · Junior (RS)

Wide receiver is a popular pick for the Chiefs in Round 1, but didn’t their Super Bowl run teach us anything about Patrick Mahomes' ability to thrive despite a lack of top-tier talent on the outside? The trade of L’Jarius Sneed opens up a hole at one of the corner spots, where Rakestraw, who's smooth in the pass game and physical against the run, would slot in well.

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