NFL Mock Draft 2024: Cowboys bolster O-line after shocking exit; Steelers, Eagles, Dolphins find help for defenses

The 2024 NFL Draft is closer to having a complete first-round draft order. After our non-playoff edition of projections featured picks 1-18 last week, we know where five more teams will be selecting.

The Rams, Steelers, Dolphins, Eagles and Cowboys were all eliminated in the wild-card round, along with the Browns. Unfortunately for Cleveland, after losing to Houston, it also forfeits its pick to the Texans because of the Deshaun Watson trade. So the Texans know their lone first-rounder, as their own belongs to the Cardinals, who also pick No. 4.

Here’s a look at Sporting News’ latest projections, with five more defensive players coming off the board with the 2024 mock extending to an apt 24 picks:

NFL DRAFT: Big board of top 100 players overall, rankings by position

NFL Mock Draft 2024

1. Chicago Bears (from Panthers)

  • Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State (6-3, 202 pounds)

The Bears might think about moving on from Justin Fields as their franchise QB despite his strong play down the stretch. They also could look to trade this pick for the second consecutive offseason to get a haul in return. But if they stand pat, it would be awesome to pair Fields with Harrison, after seeing the huge impact of getting D.J. Moore.

2. Washington Commanders (4-13)

  • Caleb Williams, QB, USC (6-1, 218 pounds)

The Commanders can bring the Washington, D.C., native home now that he’s officially declared nd get a desired franchise QB option for their looming new coaching staff after they hit the wall with overwhelmed Sam Howell. Williams, despite some disappointment to end his Trojans career, remains the complete dual-threat dynamo and worthy team leader.

3. New England Patriots (4-13)

  • Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina (6-5, 220 pounds)

The Patriots have already waved the white flag on Mac Jones, who didn’t work out at all as a pocket passer. Here they can go for the much bigger arm and athletic upside of Maye, who is a better version of Sam Howell, his Tar Heels predecessor.

4. Arizona Cardinals (4-13)

  • Rome Odunze, WR, Washington (6-3, 201 pounds)

The Cardinals won’t be re-signing Marquise Brown and need a true No. 1 target as they don’t have another such option to complement go-tight end Trey McBride for Kyler Murray. Odunze is the ideal replacement as an explosive size-speed vertical threat.

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5. Los Angeles Chargers (5-12)

  • Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama (6-4, 240 pounds)

The Chargers need to be concerned that Khalil Mack will be 33 in February and Joey Bosa, who’s 28, simply cannot stay healthy to provide the needed impact. Going for Turner as a developing cornerstone makes sense as he has lot of former teammate Will Anderson Jr.’s game in him.

6. New York Giants (6-11)

  • Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame (6-7, 316 pounds)

The Giants know how valuable Andrew Thomas is as their stalwart starting left tackle but now should be aware that 2022 first-rounder Evan Neal is a bust. They can’t afford to maintain that shaky blocking especially when Alt, a big, nimble, powerful anchor is sitting right there for them.

7. Tennessee Titans (6-11)

  • Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State (6-6, 321 pounds)

The Titans need to address offensive tackle badly after pass protection was a mess outside, for the sake of Will Levis’ bright future. After they chose to take left guard Peter Skoronski in last year’s draft. they go for a potential long-term left-tackle answer in the well-rounded and physical Fashanu.

8. Atlanta Falcons (7-10)

  • J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan (6-3, 202 pounds)

The Falcons are screaming for an athletic, hard-nosed playmaking QB who can maximize their offensive first-round skill trio of Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts and Drake London. McCarthy’s own running skills, arm and accuracy would fit well right away as the team moves on from the Desmond Ridder-Taylor Heinicke mess.

Jayden Daniels

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9. Chicago Bears (7-10)

  • Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU (6-4, 210 pounds)

The Bears could think about just taking Williams at No. 1 if they lean more toward replacing Fields vs. giving him a lucrative long-term deal. But this would be the shrewder move, given the sudden high-end depth of first-round QBs. Daniels is a more explosive and faster rushing threat than Fields and the reigning Heisman winner also has proved to have a dynamic deep arm. Daniels would allow them to use some of the same schemes with Fields for greater overall potential.

10. New York Jets (7-10)

  • Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia (6-4, 240 pounds)

The Jets could also think about offensive line help given that was a major issue for their non-Aaron Rodgers quarterbacks. Then again, Rodgers seems to have some control of what they do and should see Bowers is a special mismatch-creating weapon who would play perfectly off Garrett Wilson downfield and Breece Hall out of the backfield.

11. Minnesota Vikings (7-10)

  • Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington (6-3, 214 pounds)

The Vikings can move on from Kirk Cousins and they learned quickly that neither Josh Dobbs nor Nick Mullens nor Jaren Hall could be any kind of real answer beyond short-term injury fill-in. The Kevin O’Connell Rams-like system calls for more of a strong pocket passer first, and the downfield arm and accuracy of Penix should be welcome to get for Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison.

12. Denver Broncos (8-9)

  • Bo Nix, QB, Oregon (6-2, 217 pounds)

The Broncos will work to get out of the Russell Wilson contract in the offseason given Sean Payton benched him late in the season and should be looking for his own QB solution going forward. Nix is an ideal prospect for Payton’s system with his arm, athleticism and accurate execution based on his experience.

Bo Nix

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13. Las Vegas Raiders (8-9)

  • Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson (6-2, 185 pounds)

The Raiders have a pass rush fueled well by Maxx Crosby but they need to improve their secondary with a big versatile cover man vs. wide receivers and Wiggins has some shutdown potential.

14. New Orleans Saints (9-8)

  • Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State (6-4, 248 pounds)

The Saints need to address their pass-rush issues with Cameron Jordan now 34. Carl Granderson was productive but they need to develop a dynamic bookend for Dennis Allen. He’s the all-around producer they need to be a smooth successor to Jordan.

15. Indianapolis Colts (9-8)

  •  Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama (6-1, 195 pounds)

McKinstry has a fluid shutdown game to go with his strong frame and fun name. The Colts desperately need a coverage and playmaking boost outside in their secondary.

16. Seattle Seahawks (9-8)

  •  Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington (6-4, 256 pounds)

The Seahawks can look down the road in their town for some much-needed four-four pass-rush help. Trice is strong and relentless as the classic end for their scheme even without Pete Carroll, especially if they hire former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)

  • J.C. Latham, OT, Alabama (6-7, 340 pounds)

The Jaguars need a strong, athletic rock to put opposite fellow former Crimson Tide star Cam Robinson. Latham can be a dominant right-side force for them to replace Anton Harrison, who might be better suited to play well at guard.

Malik Nabers

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18. Cincinnati Bengals (9-8)

  • Malik Nabers, WR, LSU (6-0, 200 pounds)

The Bengals are bound to pass on re-signing wide receivers Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd based on salary concerns so even with some intriguing youth on the depth chart, they can use this pick to go back to the Bayou to quickly support Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. Nabers’ smooth route-running and work after the catch make him the ideal complement to Chase.

19. Los Angeles Rams (10-7)

  • Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State (6-3, 250 pounds)

The Rams did well with their front seven defensive draft picks in 2023 with nose tackle Kobie Turner and outside linebacker Byron Young. But they need to continue to rebuild their defense with more edge pressure, and Robinson can have immediate situational impact with his pure speed and quickness before rounding out his game.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-7)

  • Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa (6-1, 209 pounds)

The Steelers need to keep working on their secondary after nabbing Joey Porter Jr. in the first round last year. DeJean would be the ideal Big Ten follow-up pick with his physical coverage and ability to make big plays in multiple capacities.

Laiatu Latu

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21. Miami Dolphins (11-6)

  • Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA (6-5, 265 pounds)

The Dolphins’ defensive front was depleted by outside injuries late in the season and has some upcoming free-agent issues inside with Christian Wilkins and Raekwon Davis. Latu has some versatile pop across the line after his breakout season with 13 sacks from end.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (11-6)

  • Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama (6-0, 196 pounds)

The Eagles’ secondary got long in the tooth outside and was running out of reliable bodies inside, leading to an atrocious season in pass coverage  They need a smooth playmaking corner with nice size. Arnold obliges after his breakout five-INT final season with the Crimson Tide.

23. Houston Texans (from Browns)

  • Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois (6-2, 295 pounds)

Newton will be a candidate to come off the board a little earlier but the Texans should make him a target if available with his natural run-stopping ability and pass-rushing upside for DeMeco Ryans.

24. Dallas Cowboys (12-5)

  • Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia (6-7, 340 pounds)

The Cowboys know Tyron Smith is an aging pending free agent and they need to get a replacement smooth pass-protector for Dak Prescott. They also could use to boost their perimeter run blocking and the powerful, athletic Mims can be a behemoth with that skill in short time.

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