There is an almost desperate, obsessive need for teams to draft quarterbacks with franchise potential. Aside from replacing inadequate production by quarterback incumbents, there is the fiscal relief a four-year rookie salary provides organizations. Several teams (Vikings, Patriots, Raiders) appear headed toward an organizational restart with the prospect of drafting a first-round signal-caller.
Ironically, a quarterbacking renaissance across the nation is occurring throughout college football.
This upcoming Saturday may decide which Heisman candidate becomes the decided front-runner when Oregon’s Bo Nix squares off against Wahington’s Michael Penix Jr.
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Other potential first-round quarterbacks like Caleb Williams (USC) and Drake Maye (North Carolina) will be tested by top-25 teams this weekend, too. Expectations are heating up in both the professional and collegiate ranks, so enjoy the fireworks.
NOTE: For the draft order, we used tankathon.com's projected draft order.
1. Chicago Bears (via Carolina): WR - Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State
The reports of Bears’ quarterback Justin Fields’ departure from Chicago may have been premature. Chicago finally secured a victory (after almost a calendar year), and Fields produced multiple touchdown passes for the second week in a row. In addition, the Bears unloaded deadbeat receiver Chase Claypool, thereby paving the way for an elite receiving talent like Harrison to join Fields.
2. Chicago Bears: OT - Olu Fashanu - Penn State
At the end of the season, if the Bears possess the top two spots, they’ll probably trade the first overall position for a substantial amount of picks. However, for argument's sake and mock draft purposes, let’s say Chicago keeps the second pick; the best option would be to consider taking Fashanu at number two. Fashanu’s athleticism and consistent ability to attack in space beyond the line of scrimmage makes him an intriguing prospect.
3. Denver Broncos: QB - Caleb Williams, USC
Over the past two years, the amount of draft capital and money Denver spent on acquiring QB Russell Wilson and head coach Sean Payton has been considerable. If the Broncos happen to be “fortunate” enough to draft this high and have 2022 Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams fall into their lap, they would be foolish not to take him. Williams is statistically outpacing last year’s production and may be the first repeat Heisman winner since Archie Griffin (1974-75).
4. Minnesota Vikings: QB - Bo Nix, Oregon
Many pundits list North Carolina’s Drake Maye as the second quarterback off the board in next year’s pro draft. However, it’s increasingly hard to ignore the consistent production Nix provides on a weekly basis. He leads the nation in pass completion percentage (80.4) and has thrown 15 touchdowns with just one interception on the season. Whereas Maye is barely above half as many passing scores (8) and four times as many interceptions (4).
5. New England Patriots: QB - Drake Maye, North Carolina
The Patriots may have to make several hard choices sooner than later, revolving around its head coach/general manager and third-year starting quarterback. Head coach Bill Belichick is a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, however, his time as the team’s general manager may cost him his job. Conversely, Belichick’s selection of quarterback Mac Jones could be the main contributing factor in Belichick’s possible release. Taking Maye may save Belichick and the Patriots from absorbing Jones’ fifth-year option.
6. New York Giants: CB - Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama
In three consecutive losing weeks, the Giants scored a total of 31 points while surrendering the same amount in one game last weekend to the Dolphins. New York ranks 31st in points scored (12.4 per game) and 29th in points allowed (30.6 per contest). McKinstry averaged 15.8 yards on punt returns last season and is arguably the best cornerback pro prospect for the 2024 class.
7. Arizona Cardinals: TE - Brock Bowers, Georgia
Incumbent tight end Zach Ertz is an exceptional pass catcher and talented blocker. However, he will be an unrestricted free agent in 2025 and is currently 33 years old. Bowers is an explosive playmaker who can run past linebackers and plow through defensive backs’ arm tackles. He is considered by many to be the best non-quarterback collegian in the country.
8. Green Bay Packers: OT - Joe Alt, Notre Dame
As talented and effective as David Bakhtiari is, the two-time All-Pro (left tackle) has missed 25 regular-season games since tearing his ACL in 2020. Alt possesses uncommon athleticism and agility for a man his size (6’8”, 315 lbs). Impressive lateral quickness helps Alt gain leverage at the point of attack, while his balance and grip strength allow him to manipulate pass rushers away from the quarterback.
9. Las Vegas Raiders: QB - Michael Penix Jr., Washington
Since he arrived in Washington, Penix has been a model of efficiency and production. In just 18 games played as a Husky, he’s completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 6,640 yards and 47 touchdowns. Penix’s injury history prior to arriving at Washington (two torn ACLs in 2018 and 2020) could be the main reason he’s not considered a top-five draft prospect.
10. Arizona Cardinals (via Houston): Edge - Dallas Turner, Alabama
Turner is a quick-twitch athlete with excellent length and bendability off the edge when rushing the passer. He is decidedly more explosive from a two-point stance, but his athleticism allows for some schemed alignment versatility. Turner has already exceeded last season’s totals in tackles for loss (9) and sacks (6.5) in half as many games played (6).
11. New York Jets: OT - J.C. Latham, Alabama
Over the past two years, New York’s offensive line depicted a M.A.S.H. unit. Currently, the team is losing a war of attrition, resulting in seasonal losses from torn Achilles tendons to Aijiah Vera-Tucker (OL) and Aaron Rodgers (QB). Latham’s 83.4 rating as a pass blocker indicates his ability to thrive in less-than-ideal scenarios. Sounds as though the Jets could use a resolute player like Latham to protect their quarterbacks’ blindside.
12. Washington Commanders: CB - Kalen King, Penn State
To date, the Commanders surrendered 1193 passing yards (11th worst) and 10 aerial scores (4th worst) to the tune of 32 points per game scored against them. Targeting an aggressive cover corner like King could help shore up a defensive unit that doesn’t create impact plays. King led the Big Ten Conference in passes defended (18) last season.
13. Tennessee Titans: DL - Jer’Zhan Newton, Illinois
Technique and tenacity are apt descriptions of how Newton consistently wins against opposing linemen. Extremely quick and purposeful with his movements, Newton sheds blocks with efficiency and flows toward ball carriers on running plays. He is equally effective in applying pressure on quarterbacks trying to run from option-style plays or complete downfield passes.
14. Cincinnati Bengals: WR - Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State
Egbuka is a strong route-runner and pass catcher, and over the past 18 games, he’s tallied 13 receiving scores with a career average of 15.7 yards a reception. Cincinnati wideouts Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins are unrestricted free agents, and it’s possible the frugal Bengals may only re-sign one of the two.
15. Los Angeles Rams: Edge - Jared Verse, Florida State
The first-team All-ACC defender hasn’t produced near the level he did last season (9 sacks / 17 tackles for loss), and his perceived top-10 draft status may have diminished. However, The Rams are fifth worst in the league at tallying sacks (8) and could use the surge in pressure Verse generates off the edge.
16. Los Angeles Chargers: DL - Maason Smith, LSU
Defensively, the Chargers are eighth worst in the league at generating quarterback pressures. Statistically speaking, quarterback pressures consist of all plays that create hurries, knockdowns and sacks. When completely healthy, there may be no one currently in the college game equally stout against the run and troublesome to passing schemes as Smith.
17. Houston Texans (via Cleveland): DL - Leonard Taylor III, Miami (FL)
Head coach DeMeco Ryans is a former inside linebacker (Texans) and coached within a 49ers system that believed in rotational depth along its defensive front line. Taylor is a disruptive, thick-bodied interior defender with good initial burst off the snap of the ball. His ability to shed blocks and penetrate behind the offensive line is evident by his 20 tackles for loss over the course of 23 collegiate games.
18. New Orleans Saints: WR - Malik Nabers, LSU
Over the past several seasons, drafting a receiver from LSU has proven to be a prudent decision. Nabers offers alignment versatility and an elite route-running element any NFL team could utilize. His ability to exploit defensive backs, combined with executing precise angled cuts, makes Nabers a reliable option for third-down conversions.
19. Atlanta Falcons: Edge - J.T. Tuimoloau, Ohio State
Tuimoloau is a game-wrecking edge rusher who is just grazing the tip of his potential and may yet develop exponentially over the course of the season. His ability to diagnose screen-plays is advanced, as is his knack for penetrating behind offensive lines. Impressively, Tuimoloau registered 17.5 tackles for loss and eight and a half sacks in just 29 games played.
20. Indianapolis Colts: Edge - Laiatu Latu, UCLA
Last week’s Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Week, Latu led UCLA’s defensive attack, generating one sack, a forced fumble and three tackles versus Washington State. An athletic force multiplier, Latu is a tremendous pass rusher with good acceleration and closing speed.
21. Buffalo Bills: S - Tyler Nubin, Minnesota
Experienced (46 games to date), highly motivated, and accountable, Nubin exudes leadership and sound football decisiveness, comporting himself like a coach on the field. An astute player, Nubin is keenly aware of his surroundings and rarely, if ever, is out of position. A solid NFL physique (6-2, 210 lbs) and above-average athleticism have Nubin firmly situated on many draft boards.
22. Dallas Cowboys: DB - Cooper DeJean, Iowa
Extremely versatile and skilled, DeJean is an athletic defensive back who could literally play any secondary position and be a difference-maker wherever he lined up. Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn loves to blitz and vary areas to pressure offenses. DeJean is the type of multifaceted talent that could be effectively weaponized by a guru like Quinn.
23. Baltimore Ravens: WR - Rome Odunze, Washington
Considering the amount of dropped passes (8) that led to a frustrating loss last weekend, the Ravens still need quality receiving talent to progress as viable Super Bowl contenders. Odunze possesses excellent size (6-3, 201 lbs) and speed (4.35 40-time) to challenge NFL defensive backs. His ability to track long passes over either shoulder makes him a deep threat defenses shouldn’t underestimate.
24. Seattle Seahawks: LB - Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson
Venerable linebacking legend Bobby Wagner is an unrestricted free agent, who at 33 years of age, might be a luxury Seattle may no longer be able to afford. Trotter has strong NFL bloodlines (father played for the Eagles) and understands the nuances of his position better than most of his peers.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT - Amarius Mims, Georgia
Mims is a massive six-foot-seven, 330-pound behemoth of a man whose physical traits are attention-getting. He plays to his size, showcasing an unapologetic mean streak backed with powerful arms and a balanced base. Pittsburgh’s offense needs immediate help, especially with its anemic rushing attack. Currently, the Steelers are fourth worst at running the ball, gaining just 3.4 yards per carry five games into the 2023 campaign.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars: DL - Michael Hall Jr., Ohio State
Although the Jaguars’ 52 pressures rank eighth in the NFL, their blitzing 32.8 percent of the time has only led to nine sacks (27th ranking). Potentially, choosing an interior defensive lineman like Hall could help create up-the-middle pressure without blitzing more players. Over his last 17 games, Hall registered nine tackles for loss with six sacks from the defensive interior.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR - Keon Coleman, Florida State
The Bucs are mired in salary cap restructuring mode and may not be able to afford perennial 1,000-yard receiver Mike Evans. It’s possible Tampa Bay may choose a more affordable version of a younger Mike Evans-like pass catcher. Currently, Coleman is securing passes at a rate of 1.9 yards per reception while having caught six touchdown tosses in just five games.
28. Detroit Lions: CB - Nate Wiggins, Clemson
Detroit may be one standout secondary component away from fielding a multifaceted defense that could handle any varied or nuanced NFL offense. In today’s pass-happy NFL, Wiggins’ length, sinewy strength, and football IQ make him a viable target for Detroit’s defensive designs.
29. Miami Dolphins: TE - Ja’Tavion Sanders, BYU
The Dolphins’ passing attack is already lethal by NFL standards, but adding a pass-catching threat like Sanders could make it the deadliest in the league. Sanders is a quality route-runner who is surprisingly elusive after the catch. His size and speed demand attention, especially with his ability to threaten the seams of a defense.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: OT - Kingsley Suamataia, BYU
Considering the amount of money allocated to its franchise quarterback, Philadelphia may have to depend more on young and affordable talent to replenish any players lost to fiscal attrition.. A huge part of Philly’s sustained success revolves around the front office’s ability to create talented depth before it becomes depleted. Suamataia is an agile, long-armed athlete whose lateral quickness and well-timed balanced feet make him ideal for offenses that use RPO (read/pass/option) schemes.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: OT - Patrick Paul, Houston
Paul attained first-team All-American Conference status last season, starting 13 games and competing in over 900 plus snaps. According to PFF, Paul’s 94.8 pass-blocking grade is the best in the country, while his overall rating of 84.6 ranks seventh in the nation. As a two-time team captain, Paul has proven to be disciplined, dependable and accountable, imbuing traits required at the next level.
32. San Francisco 49ers: S - Kamren Kinchens, Miami (FL)
Kinchens provides an immediate injection of athleticism and explosive game-breaking coverage skills. His ability to intercept passes and flip field position (averages 18.1 yards on interception returns) makes him a threat across the gridiron. An intelligent surveyor of the field, Kinchens’ instincts and preparation are integral to his success.