2024 NFL Draft

Bears load up on offense with QB, receiver help

The Bears have locked in the No. 1 pick in the draft thanks to the Carolina Panthers

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The holiday season is over, yet, amazingly, the Carolina Panthers are still operating with a giving spirit.

Apparently, Carolina regifted the number one overall pick back to the Chicago Bears by losing enough games to be the worst team slated to choose first.

Chicago traded last year’s initial pick to Carolina and, in the exchange, received the Panthers’ 2024 first-round spot.

Fortuitously for the Bears, they’ve inherited Carolina’s top spot and are positioned to dramatically alter their organization’s destiny while greatly affecting the upcoming NFL Draft. Let the speculation and fun begin!

NOTE: For the draft order, we used tankathon.com's projected draft order.

1. Chicago Bears (via Carolina): QB - Caleb Williams, USC

What will the Bears do with the first overall pick? Chicago could reset its financial clock by taking 2022 Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams at the quarterback position. Utilizing Williams’ cost-controlled rookie contract increases Chicago’s fiscal flexibility to acquire better veteran talent. On the other hand, incumbent signal caller Justin Fields’ six game improvement since returning from injury (60.4 completion rate / averaging 267 total yards from scrimmage / four wins in last six contests), creates an optimal opportunity to trade down and acquire draft capital for this year and the next. Whatever Chicago's final decision becomes, Williams is a virtual lock to be the first name called on draft night.

2. Washington Commanders: QB - Jayden Daniels, LSU

Daniels is an electric, multi-talented play-caller whose dual-threat skill set led to him winning the 2023 Heisman Trophy. His final season at LSU entailed 3,812 passing yards with 40 touchdown passes to four interceptions while running for 1,134 rushing yards and 10 rushing scores. If Washington’s new ownership cleans house, imagine what an ambitious head coach and gifted offensive coordinator could devise using Daniels’ talents.

3. New England Patriots: QB - Drake Maye, North Carolina

Taking a talented signal caller with franchise potential might be the direction New England ownership chooses to pursue. Drake Maye is a big, strong-armed, six-foot-four, 220-pound quarterback with good accuracy (64.9 percent career completion rate) and NFL-level instincts. In addition, the athletic triggerman also rushed for a career 1209 yards while compiling 16 rushing scores. Arguably, Maye is considered by some pundits to be the “safest” and most reliable quarterback prospect in this draft class.

4. Arizona Cardinals: WR - Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

It’s not hyperbole to comment on Harrison being a “generational talent,” especially considering he’s the son of Hall-of-Fame wideout Marvin Harrison Sr. The All-American is a phenomenal talent with stratospheric potential and little if any, downside to his game. A tremendous downfield weapon, Harrison averaged 16.9 yards per catch on 155 career receptions with 31 receiving scores. Targeting Marvin Harrison, an elite ca n’t-miss prospect, and pairing him with Murray could expedite Arizona’s designs to be Super Bowl-worthy.

5. New York Giants: OT - Joe Alt, Notre Dame

During the 2023 campaign, Alt’s monstrous six-foot-eight, 322-pound frame has successfully mauled opponents in the run game (185.7 yards per game) and in pass protection, allowing only one sack and five pressures.

6. Los Angeles Chargers: TE - Brock Bowers, Georgia

Bower is the first tight end to win the coveted Mackey Award (top tight end in college) in back-to-back seasons and is also a two-time National Champion. His ability to block in-line and then release down the seam of a defense compromises many defensive coverages. An athletic pass catcher, he can also align anywhere on the field, leveraging his size against smaller pass defenders.

7. Tennessee Titans: CB - Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

Unfortunately, Caleb Farley, a former 2021 first-round pick at cornerback, has been derailed by injuries in his brief pro career (12 games/ 2 starts). If the Titans decline to pick up the option year on his rookie contract, Tennessee may draft defensive secondary standout McKinstry, who also possesses punt return skills (11.9 career average per return).

8. New York Jets: OT - Olu Fashanu, Penn State

Fashanu finished the 2023 campaign as one of the nation’s top five pass blockers according to PFF (Pro Football Focus) metrics with an 88.4 rating. Fashanu is surprisingly athletic for his size (6 '6, 319 lbs), exhibiting a fluid agility and ability to effortlessly flip his hips when blocking speed rushers. He is an intelligent player who plays with a sneaky mean streak.

9. Atlanta Falcons: Edge - Laiatu Latu, UCLA

An athletic force multiplier, the six-foot-four, 265-pound Latu is a tremendous pass rusher with good acceleration and closing speed. He finished the 2023 campaign as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, having generated 21.5 tackles for loss along with 13 sacks.

10. Chicago Bears: WR - Rome Odunze, Washington

Outside of productive primary wideout DJ Moore, the Bears are desperate for another receiver to step up and be a consistent receiving threat. Chicago is positioned to draft Odunze, a versatile receiver with size (6-3, 215 lbs}, speed (4.3 40-time). In addition, his route running efficiency (87 receptions / 1553 receiving yards / 17.9 per reception / 13 TDs) is comparable to many number-one receivers currently in the NFL.

11. Las Vegas Raiders: QB - Bo Nix, Oregon

There’s something to be said for potentially drafting quarterback prospects with an accumulation of experience that matches their talent. Nix is quite literally the most experienced collegian to enter the draft. Throughout his 61 career college games played, Nix produced 16,965 yards from scrimmage and a total of 152 touchdowns.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Edge - Dallas Turner, Alabama

The Vikings chose not to renew 35-year-old veteran signal-caller Kirk Cousins, an injured player recovering from a torn Achilles. Ironically, Minnesota’s decision-makers may have to negotiate with Cousins because there seems to be no plan in place to upgrade the quarterback position. Subsequently, unrestricted free agents at other positions may be replaced with younger, more affordable players. Turner, an uber athletic game-changer, is talented enough to become a fixture as an edge rusher for the Vikings.

13. New Orleans Saints: DL - Jer’Zhan Newton, Illinois

Newton clearly stood apart from his peers within the conference by being named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year. Newton displays some alignment versatility but is better suited as a 3-technique defensive lineman whose quickness and leveraged strength win consistently at the point of attack. A tireless defender, Newton’s relentlessness on the field should translate well at the NFL level.

14. Denver Broncos: QB - Michael Penix Jr., Washington

Penix is a winner and a player possessed with an indefatigable willpower to overcome adverse situations. An excellent deep ball passer, Penix anticipates with decisiveness and consistently throws with professional touch and velocity. Penix’s injury history prior to arriving at Washington (two torn ACLs in 2018, 2020) could be the main reason he’s not considered a top-five draft prospect.

15. Seattle Seahawks: Edge - Jared Verse, Florida State

A speed-to-power pass rusher, Verse attacks with improving counter moves and purposefulness that make him difficult to block and less predictable. He competes with a tenacity that matches his production over the past 25 games. His 29.5 tackles for loss and 18 sacks illustrate how effective and impactful he can be for a defense.

16. Cincinnati Bengals: WR - Malik Nabers, LSU

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. Naber's ability to exploit defensive backs, combined with executing precise angled cuts, makes him a reliable option for third-down conversions. He is arguably the most efficient route-runner in this extremely deep and talented draft class.

17. Arizona Cardinals (via Houston): CB - Nate Wiggins, Clemson

The Cardinals play hard defensively, yet are ineffective when forcing interceptions (10 picks in 15 games) and struggle to make impact plays (58 passes defended / fifth worst) to close out games. Both of Wiggins’ career interceptions resulted in defensive returns for scores. His length, sinewy strength, and football IQ make him a viable target for Arizona’s future defensive designs.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT - Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State

One of the fastest risers on many draft boards is offensive lineman Taliese Fuaga. According to PFF metrics, Fuaga is the second-highest-ranked offensive tackle, combining run and pass blocking for an 88.9 rating. In over 1500 plus snaps, Fuaga has never surrendered a sack and provides immediate impact as a run-blocking mauler.

19. Green Bay Packers: OT - J.C. Latham, Alabama

Latham is a limber 326-pound pass protector whose knee-bending flexibility allows him to stay leveraged behind his pad level. He is an experienced lineman, having already logged over 1,500 snaps. Throughout the season, Latham improved overall as a blocker, helped stabilize an inexperienced offensive line, and significantly decreased the amount of penalties called against him.

20. 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. Coleman’s ability to create separation and leverage his wide catching radius against defenders projects favorably at the next level.

21. Indianapolis Colts: DL - Leonard Taylor III, Miami (FL)

Taylor is a disruptive, thick-bodied interior defender with a good initial burst off the snap of the ball. His ability to shed blocks and penetrate behind the offensive line is evident in his career, with 22.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. The Colts need interior defensive line help, especially against the run, where they’ve surrendered 2,045 rushing yards (27th in NFL) and 21 ground scores (fourth worst).

22. Jacksonville Jaguars: Edge - J.T. Tuimoloau, Ohio State

The Jaguars are tied for 24th in the league, having generated only 38 sacks in 16 games played this season. Furthermore, with four pass-rushing defenders becoming unrestricted free agents at season’s end, Jacksonville may strongly consider drafting an edge rusher like Tuimoloau. Impressively, Tuimoloau registered 21 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and seven passes defended over 36 collegiate games played. 

23. Los Angeles Rams: 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’s lined up. DeJean flashes cornerback coverage skills with the surveying vision and physicality of free safety.

24. Buffalo Bills: Edge - Demeioun “Chop” Robinson, Penn State

“Chop” Robinson is a scheme versatile edge rushing talent who showcases an above-average ability to drop effectively into coverage areas. He is a three-down defender with uncommon alignment versatility that should keep him on the field a majority of the time.

25. Kansas City Chiefs: OT - Amarius Mims, Georgia

The Chiefs have been exchanging offensive tackles almost yearly since franchise quarterback Patrick Maholmes won his first Super Bowl. 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 by powerful arms and a balanced base.

26. Philadelphia Eagles: WR - Troy Franklin, Oregon

Franklin accelerates rapidly to top speed, leveraging against defenders unaccustomed to how quickly he moves. However, Franklin is more than just a deep threat; he is also a dependable target when the games mean the most. In the final month of the regular season, Franklin caught 25 passes to average 19.3 yards per reception while hauling in five scores.

27. Detroit Lions: CB - Terrion Arnold, Alabama

Some pundits believe Arnold is the better pro prospect at cornerback than his teammate Kool-Aid McKinstry. Arnold definitely logged a more productive season than McKinstry, registering 61 tackles with 11 passes defended and five interceptions.

28. Houston Texans: WR - Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State

If Egbuka is available for the Texans, they should pounce on the opportunity to draft and pair him with former teammate, quarterback C.J. Stroud. Last year at Ohio State, the combination of Stroud and Egbuka produced 74 receptions for 1157 yards and 10 aerial scores. 

29. Miami Dolphins: OL - Troy Fautanu, Washington

Fautanu possesses requisite NFL height (6’4”) and weight (317 lbs), but what sets him apart from his contemporaries is his explosiveness (32-inch vertical). His burst, agility, and overall quickness allow him to move rapidly into the second level of defense. Fautanu’s rugged physicality and relentless motor make him ideal in most pro schemes.

30. Dallas Cowboys: CB - Denzel Burke, Ohio State

Effective and efficient, Burke flashes classic cover cornerback skills, having tallied 22 passes defended in just 27 career games. Burke’s coverage skills mix well in man-to-man or zone schemes. His long arms and active hands allow him to stymie receivers in press coverage, while his length and speed provide enough athleticism to stick closely with pass catchers downfield.

31. San Francisco 49ers: S - Kamren Kinchens, Miami (FL)

Kinchens is the type of versatile defensive back San Francisco covets. An intelligent surveyor of the field, his instincts and preparation are integral to his success. In the last 22 games played, Kinchens tabulated 118 total tackles with 11 interceptions and 11 defended passes. 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. 

32. Baltimore Ravens: WR - Xavier Legette, South Carolina

There have been durability concerns with Baltimore’s receivers over the past several seasons. Should the Ravens target Legette, they’ll be acquiring a physical six-foot-three, 227-pound boundary wideout with a playing style comparable to the Eagles’ primary receiver, A.J. Brown. An exceptional athlete, Legette set the school record for kick-off return yards averaging 29.4 per return last season.

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