The college football regular season came to a close over Thanksgiving weekend. That makes it a great time to update the projections for the 2024 NFL draft.
We’re still a long way from doing anything more than speculation and guesswork, but the data points to evaluate from both the prospects and the NFL teams are stronger after so much football has been played. These ideas do not represent draft rankings; that big board is here.
The draft order is based on the current NFL standings after Week 12.
1. Chicago Bears (from Carolina): Drake Maye, QB North Carolina
Much like 2023, different teams will prefer different QBs at the top of the draft. If the current regime remains in place in Chicago, it’s easy to see them wanting to get away from the more unconventional style of Justin Fields and preferring Maye to USC’s Caleb Williams. If there’s a regime change, all bets are off. Heck, they could keep Fields too and get him Marvin Harrison Jr.
2. Arizona Cardinals: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
Harrison is already the consensus best overall player in the draft. And last year’s draft. And the one before that, too. He happens to play a position in dire need in Arizona. Try not to overthink it…
3. New England Patriots: Caleb Williams, QB, USC
Williams has his flaws, but it’s pretty easy to overlook them when he is capable of doing very rare, very incredible feats like he’s shown at USC. He’s kind of the anti-Mac Jones, which sure seems to be what everyone in New England desires at this point.
4. Chicago Bears: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU
No matter who is playing quarterback in Chicago, the Bears need another playmaking weapon to pair with D.J. Moore. In this hypothetical draft, Nabers gets the nod for his high upside and unparalleled big-play production for LSU.
5. Washington Commanders: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
Much like QB, the NFL is likely to split on the top offensive tackle. Some teams figure to prefer Penn State’s Olu Fashanu, but Alt is going to be atop others. Alt’s length and more aggressive style look like good fits for OC Eric Bieniemy and OL coach Travelle Wharton in Washington.
6. New York Giants: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State
The Giants need top-shelf talent more than they need any one position. Coleman has ascended into potential top-10 status for his playmaking and his growth as an all-around player in his one year at Florida State. I had Brock Bowers here in pencil for a long time…
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU
Daniels has been the best player in college football in 2023 and has looked more consistently like the best QB prospect than either Maye or Williams, too. Can envision him being very difficult to pass on for a Buccaneers team searching for a permanent solution at the game’s most important position.
8. New York Jets: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State
Fashanu has a very high ceiling as an athletic pass protector with great hands and shoulders. Much of the time, he comes near that ceiling and dominates. If the Jets can iron out the lesser moments, they’ve got a potential Pro Bowl bookend tackle.
9. L.A. Chargers: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia
Mims is massive and understands how to play as a 340-pound edge protector. Not every 6-7 giant appreciates his own girth; Mims embraces being the big bully on the block. The Chargers can use more of that kind of useful violence on the OL.
10. Tennessee Titans: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama
The Titans are one of the NFL’s worst defenses in both coverage and tackling. Arnold has stepped up his coverage grit and aptitude over the course of the Crimson Tide’s season, and he’s also a very good and willing tackler.
11. Las Vegas Raiders: Bo Nix, QB, Oregon
This projection might come as a surprise to some, but that’s often true of the Raiders in the draft. Nix has thrived as a pocket passer and anticipatory thrower while also having enough athleticism to protect himself. Very hard to know what they’ll do given the head coaching vacancy, but Nix would make a nice starting point.
12. New Orleans Saints: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia
Slotting Bowers is difficult because he’s not a typical tight end. He’s more of a weapon in the mold of Kyle Pitts coming out, and all that athletic promise and collegiate accomplishment hasn’t yet paid first-round dividends on the No. 4 pick of the 2021 NFL draft. Bowers has a chance to go much higher than this, and the Saints can surely use a versatile, game-breaking target.
13. Green Bay Packers: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa
DeJean stepped up in 2023 as perhaps the most NFL-ready DBs to hit the draft this year. His size, tackling and athleticism give DeJean the potential to play multiple spots in the Packers secondary, a la Brian Branch in the 2023 draft.
14. L.A. Rams: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama
For the Rams’ first first-round pick since taking Jared Goff No. 1 overall in 2016, L.A. turns to defense. Turner can bring the heat on the opposing QB and he improved his countermoves and tactical work in 2023 after being more of a one-note rusher earlier in his Alabama career.
15. Cincinnati Bengals: Jordan Morgan, OL, Arizona
The Bengals OL isn’t as dire as it’s been earlier in Joe Burrow’s career, but there is still a pressing need for more high-end talent. Enter Morgan, who has the technical pedigree and movement skills to play either OT spot or slide inside to guard.
16. Buffalo Bills: Jer'Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois
Every DT on the Bills roster other than Ed Oliver will be a free agent after the season. It’s time to put some stability on the D-line, and Newton is a great place to look. He’s a little undersized but you’d never know from watching Newton dominate blockers and finish plays with power.
17. Arizona Cardinals (from Houston): Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson
Pop quiz for non-Cardinals fans: Without looking it up, name one of Arizona’s starting CBs in Week 13. Yeah, I didn’t think so…
A smart, physical playmaker with big-game experience and a very high floor of a prospect, Wiggins has a lot going for him.
18. Denver Broncos: J.C. Latham, OT, Alabama
Latham is another player with a lot of potential who is difficult to predict where he comes off the board. Denver’s lack of depth and need for more consistent pass protection is a savvy landing spot for the Crimson Tide strongman.
19. Atlanta Falcons: Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State
The Falcons can stand to add some sizzle to the pass rush, and that’s what Robinson offers. He needs to develop more of an all-around game, but there might not be a better edge-turner in this class.
20. Minnesota Vikings: Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA
If his medical evaluations continue to check out, Latu figures to be long gone by this point. With Danielle Hunter and Jonathan Bullard both headed for free agency, taking a shot at the best pressure generator in the draft class makes a ton of sense.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Patrick Paul, OT, Houston
Paul has some technical development to pull off, but the incredible athleticism for a tackle of his length is tough to ignore. The Colts would surely like a protector for Anthony Richardson who allowed exactly one QB hit and no sacks all season like Paul accomplished for the Cougars.
22. Seattle Seahawks: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan
The Wolverines QB is fixing to be one of the most polarizing prospects in 2023. The talent and potential are there, but McCarthy has struggled with consistency. The Seahawks are in position to roll the risk/reward dice on a long-term quarterback solution to take over for the inconsistent Geno Smith.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
McKinstry entered the season as the presumptive top CB prospect. He’s been pretty impressive too, even if it feels like his stock has slid. He’d look mighty fine in Pittsburgh opposite 2023 second-rounder Joey Porter Jr. on the outside of the Steelers secondary.
24. Houston Texans (from Cleveland): Rome Odunze, WR, Washington
The up-and-coming Texans need to keep building around C.J. Stroud, and a reliable, big target with YAC potential like Odunze is a great place to start. It’s going to be very interesting to see how the insanely deep WR class shakes out come April.
25. Miami Dolphins: Graham Barton, OL, Duke
The Dolphins have weapons galore in Mike McDaniel’s offense, but they need a more reliable line to make it run even better. Barton is a high-floor, NFL-ready prospect who is capable of starting right away at any spot.
26. Dallas Cowboys: Tyler Nubin, S, Minnesota
Perhaps the best coverage safety in the draft, Nubin allowed just five receptions on 19 targets in the pass game per PFF. He also continued to grow as a run defender and all-around physical presence. I had OL here for Dallas but I think the relative scarcity at safety would play in Nubin’s favor for the Cowboys here.
27. Detroit Lions: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State
Another player who ranked much higher in preseason, Verse had a hit-and-miss campaign for the Seminoles. The bend and closing burst remain fantastic, and that’s exactly what Detroit needs opposite Aidan Hutchinson. The Lions would have to live with his astronomical missed tackle rate (over 25 percent in two years) and spotty run defense.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Taylor, DT, Miami FL
The above picture is a perfect representation of Taylor’s game as an interior pass rusher. His outstanding game against Clemson should be very appealing to the Jaguars for what they would want to add to bolster the D-line.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas
Mitchell’s size and ability to win with the ball in the air would make nice additions to the Chiefs offense, which must revamp the receiving corps quickly.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Troy Fautanu, OL, Washington
Fautanu is a lineman who offers strong long-term potential at any spot but center. For a 49ers offensive line with an unhealthy reliance on Trent Williams and anonymous depth everywhere, that versatility and NFL readiness make a good fit.
31. Baltimore Ravens: T'Vondre Sweat, DT, Texas
Knowing the Ravens, they’ll probably trade back and secure extra picks. But since we’re not projecting trades, slotting the fast-rising Sweat into the middle of the defensive line sure seems to make sense.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina
As with the Ravens, it feels almost certain that this pick would get traded by the Eagles. Inserting physical YAC-machine Legette into the offensive lineup would keep the blade sharp for the Philadephia offense.
An early stab at the next 10 players to come off the board:
Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington
Brian Thomas, WR, LSU
Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State
Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo
Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington
J.T. Tuimoloao, EDGE, Ohio State
T.J. Tampa, CB, Iowa State
Kamren Kinchens, S, Miami FL
Denzel Burke, CB, Ohio State
Ja’Tavion Sanders, TE, Texas