2024 NFL Mock Draft: Rams take J.J. McCarthy to learn behind Matt Stafford; QBs, WRs comprise first six picks

USC

• Jr

• 6’1″

/ 215 lbs

Projected Team

Chicago

PROSPECT RNK

2nd

POSITION RNK

1st

While some have argued the case for the Bears to stick with Justin Fields and trade out of the first overall pick for the second year in a row, that just doesn’t make sense for Chicago’s salary cap. Plus, there are still some questions about who Fields is as a player and what he could do. Williams isn’t flawless. He could be better at staying on schedule and executing the plays that are called, but his cool and ingenuity when plays do break down make him a special quarterback prospect.

North Carolina

• Soph

• 6’4″

/ 230 lbs

Projected Team

Washington

PROSPECT RNK

14th

POSITION RNK

3rd

It’s new regime in Washington. General manager Adam Peters and head coach Dan Quinn look to kick off their franchise-altering draft class that includes six of the first 102 picks with their face-of-the-franchise QB. Maye was the only FBS player with 7,000-plus passing yards and 1,000-plus rushing yards in the past two seasons.

LSU

• Sr

• 6’4″

/ 210 lbs

Projected Team

New England

PROSPECT RNK

1st

POSITION RNK

1st

The 2023 Heisman Trophy winner enters the pros with 55 games of experience as a starter (29 at Arizona State, 26 at LSU), and he parlayed that experience into becoming the only player in FBS history with 12,000-plus career passing yards and 3,000-plus career rushing yards. He also became the only FBS player since the turn of the 21st Century to average over 300 passing yards per game and 75 or more rushing yards per game in a season this past year. Plenty of teams may try to trade up to snag Daniels, the last of the three-upper tier QB prospects in this class.

Ohio State

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team

Arizona

PROSPECT RNK

7th

POSITION RNK

2nd

College football’s receiving touchdowns leader across the past two seasons (28) enters this draft as the clear-cut WR1. Marvin Harrison Jr. has drawn comparisons to Larry Fitzgerald and Justin Jefferson early in the draft process. His talent will give Kyler Murray a much needed top target.

LSU

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 200 lbs

The Chargers will need another pass-catcher after likely needing to make tough salary cap decisions with wideouts Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. Los Angeles selected TCU’s Quentin Johnston (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) in the first round last year, and this time they select a receiver with a different build in LSU’s Malik Nabers (6-0, 200). He was the most electrifying receiver in the nation last year, and Justin Herbert has one of the most live arms in the entire league. Nabers will allow him to let it rip.

Washington

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 215 lbs

Projected Team

N.Y. Giants

PROSPECT RNK

6th

POSITION RNK

2nd

College football’s receiving yards leader (1,640) lands with the G-Men, a team starved for receiver production. The last time the Giants had a player total 1,000 receiving yards was Odell Beckham Jr.’s final year in the Big Apple with 1,052 yards back in 2018. Standing at 6-3 and weighing 215 pounds, Odunze can be an immediate help to whoever New York has under center in 2024.

Notre Dame

• Jr

• 6’7″

/ 322 lbs

Projected Team

Tennessee

PROSPECT RNK

20th

POSITION RNK

4th

Alt was a unanimous 2023 All-American as Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded offensive lineman last season (90.7). He has been impenetrable as a pass-blocker the last two seasons allowing just one sack and only 11 quarterback pressures since 2022. Given the litany of injuries Titans quarterbacks have suffered the last two seasons, Tennessee selects the best offensive line prospect in the 2024 class.

Alabama

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 252 lbs

Projected Team

Atlanta

PROSPECT RNK

12th

POSITION RNK

3rd

The Falcons could potentially trade up to No. 3 for Jayden Daniels, but this early in the offseason, aka draft season, I will have them staying put for now. They could also be in on the Justin Fields sweepstakes. However, Atlanta needs help along the edge with 37-year-old Calais Campbell hitting free agency, and no player on the team totaling at least seven sacks. The only pass rusher who totaled more sacks (22.5), tackles for loss (32.5) and quarterback pressures (117) than Turner from 2021-2023 was former teammate Will Anderson Jr. Turner isn’t as polished entering the league as Anderson Jr. was, but the physical tools are there. Atlanta snags arguably the most pro-ready edge rusher prospect in the 2024 class.

Florida State

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 260 lbs

Projected Team

Chicago

PROSPECT RNK

10th

POSITION RNK

3rd

The trade and extension of Montez Sweat last season was critical, but Chicago still needs plenty of pass rush help. Their 30 sacks were the second-fewest in the NFL last season while their 31.2% quarterback pressure rate ranked as the third-worst in the league. Verse is arguably this class’ best when it comes to bull-rushing opposing offensive tackles into their quarterbacks to blow up plays before they can even get going. He is also sturdy against the run. Verse and Sweat could end up as a strong pass-rush tandem in the Windy City for years to come.

Penn State

• Jr

• 6’6″

/ 317 lbs

Projected Team

N.Y. Jets

PROSPECT RNK

5th

POSITION RNK

2nd

The Jets’ most pressing need is simple: find help to protect Aaron Rodgers. Their quarterback is now 40 years old and coming off a major leg injury. The last thing New York needs is for him to be running for his life on the MetLife Stadium turf. The Jets cycled through an NFL-most 13 starting offensive linemen, a metric they need to see go way down in 2024. Fashanu didn’t allow a sack at all during his 697 pass-blocking snaps in college. He could improve as run-blocker, but this is the kind of anchor at left tackle Rodgers needs.

Alabama

• Soph

• 6’0″

/ 196 lbs

Projected Team

Minnesota

PROSPECT RNK

34th

POSITION RNK

5th

Terrion Arnold is the hands-down top defensive back in this class, and he goes to a team in desperate need of a true CB1 to anchor the back end of Brian Flores’ blitz-heavy defense (50.7% blitz rate, highest in the NFL). At 6-0 and weighing 196 pounds, Arnold won consistently in the SEC. The First-Team All-American co-led the conference with five interceptions and lead the entire SEC in targets ending with an incompletion (43). Arnold also didn’t allow a touchdown on 445 coverage snaps last season.

Texas

• Jr

• 6’1″

/ 308 lbs

Projected Team

Denver

PROSPECT RNK

36th

POSITION RNK

6th

Byron Murphy II is exactly what the Broncos need up front. They were the third-worst run defense in football in 2023, and the 6-1, 308-pound mountain of a man to plug up the interior could go a long way toward getting back on track. He had the highest quarterback pressure rate (17.0%) by an FBS defensive tackle last season (minimum 250 pass rushes) as well as the highest Pro Football Focus pass rush grade (91.5) by an FBS defensive tackle in 2023.

Alabama

• Jr

• 6’6″

/ 360 lbs

Projected Team

Las Vegas

PROSPECT RNK

17th

POSITION RNK

1st

The Raiders’ starting center (Andre James), right guard (Greg Van Roten) and right tackle (Jermaine Eluemunor) are set to be unrestricted free agents this offseason. Latham is a plug-and-play guy at tackle or guard. The Second-Team All-American allowed just three sacks in 970 career pass-blocking snaps. Latham started every Alabama game (27) at right tackle the last two seasons.

UCLA

• Sr

• 6’5″

/ 265 lbs

Projected Team

New Orleans

PROSPECT RNK

3rd

POSITION RNK

1st

Laiatu Latu racked up the hardware at UCLA last season: he was named a unanimous All-American and the 2023 Ted Hendricks Award winner (the best defensive end in college football). He led the FBS in quarterback pressure rate (21.4%) in 2023, and his 23.5 sacks across the last two seasons are also the most in college football. His 96.3 Pro Football Focus defensive grade is the highest by an FBS in the past 10 seasons. The big question with Latu is how his medical testing goes. He missed two seasons with a neck injury in 2020 and 2021. New Orleans would be a great spot for him to learn and develop alongside Cameron Jordan.

Georgia

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 240 lbs

Projected Team

Indianapolis

PROSPECT RNK

18th

POSITION RNK

2nd

The Colts need another big-bodied target over the middle, and Brock Bowers falls into their laps as a one of the best tight end prospects in years. He is the SEC’s all-time leader for tight ends in catches (175), receiving yards (2,538) and receiving touchdowns (26) — and all those figures were also the most among TEs from 2021-2023. He is also the first college football player with 25 or more receiving touchdowns and five or more rushing touchdowns in a career since Tavon Austin did so at West Virginia from 2009-2012. Dynamic to say the least.

Oregon

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 320 lbs

Projected Team

Seattle

PROSPECT RNK

4th

POSITION RNK

1st

One of the darlings of the Senior Bowl, Powers-Johnson is perhaps the best interior blocker in the entire draft. At 6-3, 320, he could play guard or center for a Seahawks team that is filled with youth up front. New offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, formerly at Washington, is certainly familiar with Powers-Johnson’s handiwork.

LSU

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team

Jacksonville

PROSPECT RNK

8th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Thomas is massive, standing 6-4 and weighing 205 pounds, and he used that frame well in 2023, leading the nation in receiving touchdowns with 17. The Jaguars offense took a nosedive when Christian Kirk got hurt, and Thomas can line up inside or outside. Adding another weapon for Trevor Lawrence, especially with Calvin Ridley hitting free agency, is a solid move at this spot.

Georgia

• Jr

• 6’7″

/ 340 lbs

Projected Team

Cincinnati

PROSPECT RNK

22nd

POSITION RNK

5th

Mims is somewhat of a question mark with only eight career starts in 30 college games. He didn’t allow a sack in 377 pass-blocking snaps in college. Mims did start in both of Georgia’s playoff games en route to a 2022 CFP national title. The Bengals need to protect Joe Burrow long-term after making him the highest paid player in the league on a per-year basis ($55 million average per year), and Mims and his 6-7, 340-pound frame would be an affordable and helpful add to achieve that goal.

Michigan

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 202 lbs

Projected Team

L.A. Rams

PROSPECT RNK

32nd

POSITION RNK

1st

Rams head coach Sean McVay takes a page out of former assistant and Packers head coach Matt LaFleur’s playbook by taking a first-round quarterback to cook on the bench for a year or two. It certainly paid dividends in Green Bay’s move from Aaron Rodgers to Jordan Love. The Rams hit it out of the park with their 2023 draft selections of Kobie Turner and Byron Young up front, providing them some wiggle room to go best player available with their first Round 1 selection in years. Learning from Matthew Stafford could be exactly what McCarthy needs to have a solid NFL career after playing predominantly in a run-first offense at Michigan.

Clemson

• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 185 lbs

Projected Team

Pittsburgh

PROSPECT RNK

29th

POSITION RNK

7th

The Steelers could use another young corner to pair with Joey Porter Jr., with Patrick Peterson getting older and both Levi Wallace and Chandon Sullivan hitting free agency. The First-Team All-ACC will fit right into to the Pittsburgh mold at corner, standing 6-2 and weighing 185 pounds. Wiggins is a long, athletic cornerback with high-end speed. Mike Tomlin will have fun with this pick.

Toledo

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 196 lbs

Projected Team

Miami

PROSPECT RNK

196th

POSITION RNK

16th

The Dolphins are allocating a ton of money to their cornerback position between Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard. Miami may have to make a cap decision on Howard this offseason. Selecting Mitchell, a 6-0, 196-pound cornerback who is equipped with speed that will likely test in the 4.3 range in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, could help out their defense tremendously both now and later.

Oregon State

• Jr

• 6’6″

/ 334 lbs

Projected Team

Philadelphia

PROSPECT RNK

17th

POSITION RNK

1st

Taliese Fuaga attended Mount Tahoma High School in Washington state, which makes sense because he is a mountain of man, standing at 6-6, 334 pounds. He is a menace as a run blocker, and he has plenty of upside as a pass blocker. Fuaga could be the long-term Lane Johnson replacement at right tackle. He also has the versatility to play inside at guard.

Iowa

• Jr

• 6’1″

/ 207 lbs

Projected Team

Houston

PROSPECT RNK

22nd

POSITION RNK

4th

Cooper DeJean is one of the top athletes in the entire draft, not just at his position. Iowa moved him around a ton, utilizing his skillset at outside corner, inside corner and at both safety spots. His high school basketball tape is filled with dunks. The 2023 unanimous All-American didn’t allow a touchdown on 374 coverage snaps last season, and he also led the Big Ten in punt return yards (406) the last two seasons. DeJean could be a nice complement across from Derek Stingley in Houston.

Oklahoma

• Jr

• 6’7″

/ 328 lbs

Projected Team

Dallas

PROSPECT RNK

44th

POSITION RNK

3rd

The Cowboys are unclear on what Tyron Smith’s future is in Dallas as the 33-year-old is set to enter free agency in March. They could use a long-term answer at that spot with a number of other contracts needing to be addressed soon. Guyton (6-7, 328 pounds) is the anchor they need at left tackle, especially if the long-term plan is to keep Pro Bowler Tyler Smith at left guard.

Washington

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 317 lbs

Projected Team

Green Bay

PROSPECT RNK

27th

POSITION RNK

6th

The 2023 Morris Trophy winner (the best offensive lineman in the Pac-12, RIP) is the type of lineman the Packers crave: a versatile player who can line up at tackle and guard. Head coach Matt LaFleur loves to use the term “best five” when talking about deciding which linemen will start in Green Bay, focusing less on specific position placement than other staffs. Fautanu was a college left tackle, and he could fill in there for David Bakhtiari, who has struggled mightily to stay healthy of late. He could also slide inside to guard, and either Rasheed Walker or Zach Tom could be the long-term blindside protector of Jordan Love.

Missouri

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 188 lbs

Projected Team

Tampa Bay

PROSPECT RNK

9th

POSITION RNK

1st

Ennis Rakestraw Jr. locked down his coverage assignment game in and game out in the SEC, not allowing a touchdown in 1,017 career coverage snaps. The only knock on him is his medical history. He suffered a torn ACL that cut his sophomore season short. Rakestraw Jr. also played through much of the 2023 season with a groin injury, and he had core muscle surgery that prevented him from participating at the Senior Bowl. His medical testing at the NFL Scouting Combine will be critical.

Duke

• Sr

• 6’5″

/ 314 lbs

Projected Team

Arizona

PROSPECT RNK

11th

POSITION RNK

2nd

Kyler Murray’s health is of the upmost importance in Arizona, and the selection of Duke’s Graham Barton is a great way to ensure Murray stays upright. He was a left tackle in college, but he profiles as more of a guard or center in the pros. Barton has quick reflexes, an unrelenting base and a physical finish to his blocks.

Illinois

• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 295 lbs

Projected Team

Buffalo

PROSPECT RNK

48th

POSITION RNK

9th

Newton, a 2023 consensus All-American and the 2021 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, racked up 77 quarterback pressures the last two seasons, the most by an FBS defensive tackle in that span by 35 pressures. Buffalo will always have Kansas City in mind when building out their roster, and having a stout defensive tackle next to Ed Oliver who also has pass rush chops is critical for the Bills when they face Patrick Mahomes again.

Alabama

• Jr

• 6’1″

/ 195 lbs

Projected Team

Detroit

PROSPECT RNK

138th

POSITION RNK

13th

McKinstry, a 2023 First-Team All-American, has great size at 6-1, 195 pounds. He was also reliable in coverage, not allowing a touchdown on 1,206 career coverage snaps. However, his hand technique in press man coverage could be more assertive, and some scouts have questions about his speed downfield as well as his agility in the quick passing game. A solid 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine could rocket him up draft boards. The Lions could use another strong corner opposite Cameron Sutton.

Florida State

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 215 lbs

Projected Team

Baltimore

PROSPECT RNK

16th

POSITION RNK

2nd

Keon Coleman is the bigger-bodied target (6-4, 215) at wide receiver that Lamar Jackson needs. Coleman can line up anywhere, and he is a slick route runner with phenomenal knowledge of how to best utilize his body to maintain leverage against defenders. Coleman has an argument for being the best contested catcher in this class. He’s a great athlete, and he will be a red zone monster in the NFL.

Arizona

• Sr

• 6’5″

/ 325 lbs

Chiefs All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones had way too many unblocked runs at Brock Purdy in the Super Bowl. The 49ers offensive line needs an upgrade, and Jordan Morgan can help out at tackle or guard. He was a pure left tackle at Arizona, but the 6-5, 325-pound lineman could also play guard in the NFL. San Francisco desperately needs help inside if they are going to get over the hump in the Super Bowl.

Texas

• Sr

• 6’4″

/ 362 lbs

Projected Team

Kansas City

PROSPECT RNK

37th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Speaking of Chris Jones, he is set to become an unrestricted free agent. He turns 30 in July, and he and the Chiefs had contract talks that lasted into the season, causing him to miss the opener against the Lions. Whether or not he is a Chief in 2024, Sweat would be a nice addition. He is a monster, standing 6-4 and weighing 362 pounds. Sweat is dominator against the run as his primary value is stuffing the middle of the line of scrimmage. Sweat is far from the class of pass rusher Jones is in, but there is some developmental room for growth in that area.

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