Chicago Bears Score Big in 2024 NFL Draft: Caleb Williams and Brock Bowers Headline First Round Picks

• A one-two punch for Chicago: The Bears select Caleb Williams at No. 1 overall and snag “generational” tight end prospect Brock Bowers at No. 9.

• The Patriots select Jayden Daniels: Daniels took a sack on 24.5% of his pressured dropbacks in college, which is a scarily high number. He got better every season, though, and his Heisman-winning campaign in 2023 showcased just how good he can be.

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The Bears reset at the quarterback position with one of the top prospects of the past few years. Williams earned PFF grades of 90.0 or better in each of the past three seasons and recorded a 6.2% big-time throw rate over his college career.

Maye has been one of the best quarterbacks in college football over the past two seasons, producing 80 big-time throws and just 26 turnover-worthy plays since the start of the 2022 season.

The Commanders did the right thing by seeing what they had in Sam Howell, but Drake Maye gives them a better chance at finding a franchise signal-caller.

Daniels took a sack on 24.5% of his pressured dropbacks in college, which is a scarily high number. He got better every season, though, and his Heisman-winning campaign in 2023 showcased just how good he can be.

The LSU product earned passing and rushing grades above 90.0 and had a big-time throw rate of 8.4% this past season.

The Cardinals will look to build around Kyler Murray in 2024, and that starts with adding the best non-quarterback in the draft.

Harrison averaged over 3.00 yards per route run in each of the past two seasons, with his 2023 mark of 3.44 trailing only Malik Nabers among players in this draft class.

This feels like the first point where the draft could go in multiple directions, but adding one of the top receivers in the draft feels like the best way for the Chargers to build around quarterback Justin Herbert.

Nabers averaged 3.64 yards per route run last season, the best mark among all wide receivers in this draft class, and he forced 30 missed tackles on 89 receptions.

Odunze rounds out a three-quarterback, three-receiver start to this mock draft, giving the Giants a potential true No. 1 wide receiver.

Odunze dropped just 3.2% of the catchable passes thrown his way this past season, while his 2.93 yards per route run average ranked eighth among his classmates.

The Titans need help on the offensive line, so Joe Alt falling to Pick 7 would be the ideal scenario.

Alt’s 90.7 PFF grade ranked first among all offensive tackles in this draft class. He allowed just five pressures on 368 pass-blocking snaps this past season.

Verse has improved as a pass-rusher every season in college and is coming off a season that saw him earn a career-high 90.8 pass-rushing grade that tied for seventh among edge defenders in this draft class.

This feels like a luxury pick, given that the Bears already have Cole Kmet at tight end, but an elite prospect like Bowers would give Caleb Williams a pair of targets who can win in the middle of the field.

Bowers’ 2.65 yards per route run led all tight ends in this draft class, as did his 18 missed tackles forced on just 56 receptions.

An elite pass-blocker since the moment he took the field at Penn State, Fashanu allowed just 17 total pressures — including just one hit and no sacks — on 733 pass-blocking snaps in college.

He wasn’t as dominant as a run-blocker, but he had his best season in that regard this past season, so it’s not difficult to see the projection in the NFL.

Arnold has all the tools to be a top cornerback in the NFL and still has plenty of room to grow, given that he will be just 21 when the 2024 NFL season begins.

Targeted 79 times in coverage in 2023, he allowed just 51.9% of those to be caught and recorded a combined 18 interceptions and pass breakups.

I can see the case for this being a quarterback, but I just don’t love any of the remaining prospects enough to pass on one of the few remaining elite talents in this draft.

Medicals will be key for Latu, but he racked up 62 total pressures — including 26 combined sacks and hits — from 304 pass-rushing snaps last season.

On the field for 388 coverage snaps in 2023, DeJean allowed just 20 receptions for 194 yards and no touchdowns. There is debate on where he best fits at the NFL level, but he is still an elite prospect as a defensive back.

Turner is coming off his best season in college, having set career highs in total pressures, sacks and pass-rush grade. The Saints will hope to get more from 2023 second-round draft pick Isaiah Foskey in 2024, but I don’t think they should pass up one of the best edge defenders in this class just for that hope behind an average pass-rusher in Carl Granderson and an aging Cameron Jordan.

Wiggins will likely compete with Arnold and DeJean to be the top cornerback drafted, and the Colts should be happy to land any of the three with the 15th pick in this draft. Wiggins allowed just 18 receptions across 293 coverage snaps in 2023.

Evan Brown is an unrestricted free agent and ranked 27th among starting centers in PFF grade in 2023, while 2023 fifth-round draft pick Olusegun Oluwatimi didn’t show enough to make passing on Powers-Johnson an option.

Impressive as both a run- and pass-blocker, he allowed just four total pressures on 758 pass-blocking snaps in college.

No Jaguars interior defender earned a PFF pass-rushing grade above 60.0 in 2023, so adding a player like Murphy could help their defense take steps forward.

The Texas standout enjoyed his best year in college football in 2023, racking up 45 total pressures on 273 pass-rushing snaps.

Pick No. 18 seems like a great spot for the Bengals in this draft — either an immediate impact player like Brock Bowers slides into a position where they can move up, or they sit where they are and take a player in the trenches.

Fuaga would be a plug-and-play replacement for Jonah Williams at right tackle. The Oregon State product earned an 80.0 pass-blocking grade and a 90.9 run-blocking grade in 2023.

I ultimately think Nix — or whoever the fourth quarterback in this class winds up being — comes off the board earlier than this, but the fit here makes so much sense to me.

Nix earned the second-highest PFF grade among quarterbacks in this class. Drafting him (and the highs he brings) and letting him learn behind Matthew Stafford for a year would give him the best chance of success at the next level.

Center will be a popular pick in most mock drafts for the Steelers, but they really don’t have much at cornerback outside of Joey Porter Jr. and a 34-year-old Patrick Peterson who struggled in 2023.

Mitchell earned the second-best PFF coverage grade among cornerbacks in this draft class in 2023 and recorded 14 pass breakups on the season.

The Dolphins are top-heavy at the wide receiver position, with little to get excited about beyond Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

Adding a third option like Franklin could help keep this offense ticking. The Oregon standout averaged 3.32 yards per route run last season, trailing only Nabers and Harrison in this class.

The Eagles could go several ways with how the board has fallen, but McKinstry is likely the best player left on the board at this point. His 88.8 grade ranked fourth among cornerbacks in this class last season, as he gave up just 19 receptions from 482 snaps in coverage.

The Texans added an elite edge defender in Will Anderson Jr. in last year’s NFL draft and now add a star on the interior in Newton. He was on the field for 402 pass-rushing snaps in 2023. He earned an 84.0 PFF pass-rushing grade and racked up 43 total pressures, including a combined 15 sacks and hits, all while playing through injury.

The Cowboys need to prepare for life after Tyron Smith at left tackle. Tyler Smith spent all his rookie season at left tackle before kicking inside to guard this past season. While Fautanu has the potential to be a tackle at the next level, he should also be a good prospect at guard should the Cowboys want to move Smith back outside.

Like the Cowboys right before them, the Packers need to prepare for the end of David Bakhtiari’s tenure in Green Bay. Like a few of the college tackles who will go around this spot, Morgan might wind up at guard long-term in the NFL, but he’s good enough to get a shot at tackle first. He earned an 87.3 pass-blocking grade in 2023, allowing 14 total pressures from 477 pass-blocking snaps.

A tackle for the past three years in college, Barton is expected to move back to center — a position he played as a freshman — when he gets to the NFL. Barton earned run-blocking and pass-blocking grades above 70.0 in each of the past two seasons, so he can solidify the center of the Buccaneers’ offensive line for years to come.

The Cardinals have plenty of needs and plenty of draft picks to address them. Having added the best receiver in the class with the fourth overall pick, they use the 27th pick here to add a long-term starter in the middle of the offensive line. Frazier has earned a PFF grade of 74.0 or better in each of the past three seasons at center for West Virginia.

Latham could come off the board earlier than this but would be a great value pick for the Bills this late in the first round. He allowed 14 total pressures on 443 pass-blocking snaps for Alabama in 2023, earning an 81.7 pass-blocking grade in the process, and he has earned PFF run-blocking grades above 70.0 in every season of his college career.

With Ben Johnson returning as offensive coordinator in 2024, it’s clear that the Lions need to focus on the defensive side of the ball this offseason. Rakestraw is coming off a season where he allowed just 18 receptions from 277 snaps in coverage and has earned a PFF coverage grade of 78.0 or better in each of the past two seasons.

Ravens receive: A 2024 second-round pick (No. 43), a 2024 third-round pick (No. 79), a 2024 fourth-round pick (No. 110), a 2024 fifth-round pick (No. 142)

Falcons receive: A 2024 first-round pick (No. 30), a 2024 third-round pick (No. 93)

Moving back into the first round to lock in a fifth-year option for a quarterback and only really giving up a fourth and fifth-round pick feels like a win for Atlanta. McCarthy earned a 90.6 PFF grade this past season, fifth among all quarterbacks in this draft class.

For the Ravens, picking up an extra fourth- and fifth-round pick in a year where they could lose 10 starter-level players in free agency is a good way to retool this roster.

With a class deep into the middle rounds on the offensive line, edge defender, wide receiver and cornerback, those extra two picks could allow them to get a steal at a high-value position.

Mims has all the talent to go well before this, but his lack of experience — he has played just 803 snaps in his college career — pushes him a little further down the board for me. He earned PFF grades above 70.0 in all three seasons of his career and moves way better than you would expect for a player who weighs in at 340 pounds.

Rashee Rice performed well as a rookie — especially in the playoffs — but wide receiver is still a huge need for the Chiefs. McConkey averaged 3.26 yards per route run and dropped just 6.3% of the catchable passes thrown his way last season. He would give Patrick Mahomes another legitimate weapon in the passing game.

33. WR Carolina Panthers: Xavier Worthy, Texas

43. CB Baltimore Ravens: Mike Sainristil, Michigan

55. WR Cleveland Browns: Xavier Legette, South Carolina

2024-03-04 10:01:26
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