The NFL season is nearing its quarter mark point, and it appears as though the quarterback position will dominate the top five spots just as it did in the 2023 draft. Currently, the first three teams picking (Bears, Broncos, Vikings) have serious quarterback dilemmas.
Will the Bears pick up Justin Fields’ fifth-year option? Is Russell Wilson’s contract an albatross the Broncos and head coach Sean Payton refuse to support going forward?
Do the Vikings re-sign a consistent but underachieving 35-year-old Kirk Cousins? This week’s mock attempts to provide soluble options for these three embattled winless teams.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Chicago sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
NOTE: For the draft order, we used tankathon.com's projected draft order.
1. Chicago Bears: QB - Caleb Williams, USC
The Bears are currently on a 13-game losing streak dating back to last season. So far, Fields' 30-game career quarterbacking the Bears includes a 5-23 win/loss record as a starter; an anemic 154 yards per game average; and a sack rate of 13.3 percent, culminating in 104 total sacks. These are disturbing facts that can no longer be explained away as growing pains. Should this display of inefficient ineffectiveness continue, the allure of drafting 2022 Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams may be too hard to ignore.
2. Denver Broncos: QB - Drake Maye, North Carolina
The additions of quarterback Russell Wilson and head coach Sean Payton were supposed to be quick fixes for a Broncos team most believed should be playoff caliber. Unfortunately, since their arrival in Denver, the team has spiraled to a 5-15 record. It’s possible the flailing Broncos select quarterback Drake Maye, in hopes that his four-to-one passing ratio (44 TDs/11 Ints) can translate into future wins in Denver.
3. Minnesota Vikings: QB - Michael Penix Jr., Washington
Try as many might, it is becoming increasingly hard to ignore what Penix Jr. is accomplishing in the great northwest region of the country. Last year he completed 65 percent of his passes for 4,641 yards and 31 touchdowns to only eight interceptions. After four games this season, his 1,636 passing yards and 16 aerial scores lead all FBS schools. He is playing NFL franchise-worthy football and may be exactly what the Vikings need to replace unrestricted veteran, Kirk Cousins.
4. Chicago Bears (via Carolina): WR - Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State
Arguably, the best two collegiate players regardless of position, may very well be the aforementioned Caleb Williams and wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. Chicago’s general manager, Ryan Poles may decide to change the trajectory of the Bears' offense by acquiring the dynamic receiver to pair with veteran pass catcher, DJ Moore. Harrison is a receiving threat at all levels of the field and is virtually unguardable with single coverage.
5. Los Angeles Chargers: Edge - Jared Verse, Florida State
Historically, the Chargers are an extremely frugal organization, and looking ahead to their fiscal cap situation in 2025, they may elect to make sound investments sooner rather than later. Veteran pass rusher Khalil Mack will be 34 at the end of the 2024 season and an unrestricted free agent. Selecting an elite-level talent like Verse in the 2024 NFL Draft could ease the transition both competitively and fiscally for Los Angeles.
6. Las Vegas Raiders: CB - Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama
The Raiders have yet to develop a franchise-capable cover corner to defend against opposing teams’ primary receiving targets. McKinstry displays top-tier coverage skills and competes with the tenacity needed at the professional level. In addition, McKinstry also provides punt return skills, having averaged 15.8 yards a return last season.
7. Arizona Cardinals (via Houston): TE - Brock Bowers, Georgia
Bowers is a matchup conundrum for most defensive coordinators attempting to curtail his effectiveness on the field. 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.
8. 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.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: CB - Denzel Burke, Ohio State
Burke is a classic Ohio State defensive back whose 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.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars: OT - Olu Fashanu, Penn State
An extremely athletic lineman with an impressive six-foot-six, 321-pound frame, Fashanu moves lithely but powerfully when engaging defenders. His rugged grip and long arms decisively maneuver pass rushers away from their intended targets. When attacking downfield, Fashanu’s agility allows him to maintain blocks onto the second level of defense.
11. New York Jets: OT - Joe Alt, Notre Dame
The Jets' embattled offensive line has led to seasons of inconsistent pass protection and possibly indirectly contributed to four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers' Achilles injury. There’s a strong likelihood that New York will target a strong pass blocker in the upcoming draft. According to PFF, the massive Alt (6-8, 322 lbs) has a pass-blocking grade of 90.4 throughout five games this season.
12. New England Patriots: WR - Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State
Many pundits consider Egbuka to be the second-best receiver on his team; ironically, he may very well be the number two wideout in all of college football. A strong route-runner and pass catcher, over the past 17 games played he’s tallied 13 receiving scores and a career average of 15.7 yards a reception.
13. Arizona Cardinals: CB - Kalen King, Penn State
Three games into the 2023 NFL campaign, the Cardinals' pass defense ranks 12th worst in passing yards allowed (699), passing yards per game (233.0), and yards per completion (11.0). 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.
14. New York Giants: DL - Leonard Taylor III, Miami (FL)
Veteran defensive lineman Leonard Williams has proven to be a durable and reliable interior presence throughout his pro career (127 games played out of a possible 133). However, as an unrestricted free agent, his 21 million dollar salary may influence the Giants to draft Taylor as a younger, more affordable option. To date, Taylor has proven to be a productive disruptor, registering 20 tackles for loss in 22 appearances.
15. Los Angeles Rams: Edge - Dallas Turner, Alabama
Turner is an exceptional athlete with next-level acceleration and playmaking skills most teams covet in the professional ranks. So far this season, he’s accumulated 17 total tackles with four and a half sacks and two forced fumbles. In the 28 games he’s played, Turner generated 24.5 tackles for loss and a total of 17 sacks.
16. New Orleans Saints: WR - Keon Coleman, Florida State
Against talented secondaries from LSU and ACC rival Clemson, Coleman posted 208 receiving yards on 14 receptions resulting in five aerial scores. Coleman’s ability to create separation and leverage his wide catching radius against defenders projects favorably at the next level.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB - Shedeur Sanders, Colorado
Perception-wise, Sanders endured a setback last week with a humbling loss (6 to 42) to the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Despite the meager points scored (6) and pedestrian passing yards (159), Sanders statistically is still among the best quarterbacks in the nation. His mechanics are impeccable, and his ability to complete passes at a 77 percent clip intrigues many NFL scouts.
18. Dallas Cowboys: OT - J.C. Latham, Alabama
Despite the lackluster play from the Crimson Tide’s cadre of quarterbacks, Latham remains consistent in deterring pass rushers. Latham hasn’t allowed any sacks or hurries this season and is performing at an above-average rate (76.6) according to PFF. Veteran offensive tackle Tyron Smith’s salary (12 million) may have outpriced his production, possibly opening the door for a talented prospect like Latham to provide an economical solution.
19. Green Bay Packers: S - Tyler Nubin, Minnesota
Nubin is an experienced playmaking safety, who possesses a knack for creating impactful turnovers in crucial moments. 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 ascending draft boards.
20. Houston Texans [via - Cleveland]: 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 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks in just 28 games played.
21. Buffalo Bills: WR - Malik Nabers, LSU
Over the past several seasons, drafting a receiver from LSU has proven to be a prudent decision. Nabers offers position 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.
22. Washington Commanders: Edge - Laiatu Latu, UCLA
Roughly 27 percent of the team’s positional spending (62 million dollars annually) resides within its defensive line, so there is a strong possibility the organization targets younger options. Latu is a tremendous pass rusher with good acceleration and closing speed. Over the course of the Bruins 2022 campaign, Latu generated 52 total pressures along with 35 quarterback hurries and 11 sacks.
23. Seattle Seahawks: DL - Maason Smith, LSU
Injuries have stalled the development and ascension of this former five-star recruit. Smith is an athletic mix of quickness, power, and explosion when healthy. He can dominate single blocking and disrupt running plays schemed to attack various defensive alignment gaps. Smith plays with an inner motivation and sense of urgency that NFL scouts prioritize when assessing interior defensive linemen.
24. Baltimore Ravens: WR - Rome Odunze, Washington
The Ravens still need quality receiving talent and depth for their franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson to truly advance them to a Super Bowl. 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.
25. Detroit Lions: CB - Nate Wiggins, Clemson
The Lions are a burgeoning squad with talented players elevating team productivity and escalating fans' expectations toward Super Bowl relevance. Detroit may be a cover corner away from comprising a coverage unit capable of shutting down receivers in today’s pass-happy NFL. Wiggins’ length, sinewy strength, and football IQ make him a viable target for Detroit’s defensive designs.
26. Kansas City Chiefs: OT - Amarius Mims, Georgia
The Chiefs are the NFL standard for consistency and efficient production, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Maintaining that efficient edge requires timely fiscal sacrifices and astute player assessment. 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.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Edge - Bralen Trice, Washington
Trice competes with an edge that mirrors his production over the past 17 games. His 13 tackles for loss and 11 sacks illustrate how effective and impactful he can be for a defense. Atlanta has 23 unrestricted free agents on its current roster, so drafting and developing talent provides fiscal and roster stability.
28. Indianapolis Colts: S - Calen Bullock, USC
Bullock confidently assesses scenarios on the field, allowing him to act decisively and aggressively without hesitation. A versatile athlete, he can facilitate safety duties seamlessly and is competent operating in space or closer to the line of scrimmage. Schematically, he would fit perfectly into what the Colts do defensively, making him a potential plug-and-play consideration.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers: WR - Xavier Worthy, Texas
The Steelers need to open up their offense by acquiring a downfield threat that can challenge opposing secondaries. Worthy’s hyper-electric quickness and long-range speed are difficult for teams to neutralize. His presence could open a Steelers running game that has recently become stagnant and predictable.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: S - Kamren Kinchens, Miami (FL)
The Eagles are proving to be extremely effective at replacing players and replenishing their ranks before positions are compromised due to attrition. Kinchens is the type of versatile defensive back Philadelphia covets. An intelligent surveyor of the field, Kinchens’ instincts and preparation are integral to his success. In his last 14 games played, Kinchens has tabulated seven interceptions and six defended passes.
31. Miami Dolphins: LB - Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson
Trotter may be the only non-pass-rushing linebacker selected in next year’s draft. Although more off-the-ball linebackers are chosen in the later rounds, Trotter’s ubiquitous play on the gridiron is too hard to ignore. At the end of the 2022 college campaign, he amassed 89 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, six and a half sacks, with five passes defended and one defensive score.
32. San Francisco 49ers: DB - Cooper DeJean, Iowa
DeJean flashes cornerback coverage skills with the surveying vision and physicality of a free safety. The 49ers are comfortable scheming positionless athletes like DeJean, having drafted and developed former San Francisco defensive back Jimmie Ward. Should DeJean last until the last pick in the draft, the 49ers may be sufficiently intrigued with the ball-hawking Hawkeye.