Race for the No. 1 Pick of the 2024 NFL Draft:
The Cardinals have two routes to landing the No. 1-overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft. Arizona looks like the worst team in the league with the least amount of talent on its 53-man roster after years of poor drafts from former general manager Steve Keim. The Cardinals easily could get the No. 1 pick from their win-loss record, but they also could get it with the Texans’ first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft because the Texans could be another one of the worst teams in the league. Entering the 2023 season, Arizona is the favorite to land the No. 1 pick.
Chicago had the No. 1-overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft prior to trading down with the Panthers. As part of that trade, the Bears have Carolina’s first-rounder in the 2024 NFL Draft, so the Bears could have two avenues by which they might obtain the top pick for the second straight year.
The Broncos have a very difficult schedule in the loaded AFC. If Russell Wilson does not get turned around, Denver could be in the hunt for the No. 1 pick of the 2024 NFL Draft.
Top General Manager Candidates:
- Detroit Lions director of scouting development Mike Martin
- Atlanta Falcons vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith
- Indianapolis Colts chief personnel executive Morocco Brown
- Buffalo Bills director of player personnel Terrance Gray
- Tennessee Titans director of pro scouting Brian Gardner
- San Francisco 49ers director of pro personnel Ran Carthon
- Philadelphia Eagles director of scouting Brandon Hunt
- Miami Dolphins assistant general manager Marvin Allen
- Washington director of pro scouting Eric Stokes
- Miami Hurricanes general manager Alonzo Highsmith
Top Head Coach Candidates:
- Super Bowl-winning head coach Jon Gruden
- Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson
- Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach Greg Olson
- Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris
- Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy
- Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn
- Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman
- Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Vance Joseph
- Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley
- Green Bay Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia
- USC head coach Lincoln Riley
Let’s Play Matchmaker:
This section will look at some of the top talent in college football and match those prospects up with teams that have a dire need at the position.
Washington Commanders: J.C. Latham, OT, Alabama
The Commanders were surprisingly down against the Cardinals before Sam Howell led Washington to the comeback win. A big reason for the Commanders falling behind was losing at the point of attack. The ground game could not get going, and Howell was sacked six times. Adding offensive line help would make sense for Washington early in the 2024 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-6, 326-pound Latham has a good skill set and upside. He could start at guard or tackle in the NFL, and he has been rock solid to open the 2023 season. Latham did not give up a sack in 2022 and allowed very few pressures. He could be a riser during the 2024 NFL Draft process and would be a nice first-round pick for Washington.
Cleveland Browns: Johnny Wilson, WR, Florida State
The Browns had one of the shocking results of Week 1, with their defense completely shutting down Cincinnati’s high-powered scoring attack. Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass and ran in a score, but he still only completed 55 percent of his passes for 154 yards through the air. Cleveland needs to add more receiving weapons and mismatch wideouts to help Watson.
Wilson displayed mismatch size and big-play ability in 2022, hauling in 897 yards and five touchdowns on only 43 receptions – a 20.9-yard average. The 6-foot-7, 235-pounder presents an obvious size disparity, but he runs and moves well for a receiver that big. Wilson is able to sink his weight and get in and out of his breaks extremely well for his size. However, Wilson has a problem with dropped passes, and that is especially problematic for the role that big receivers are expected to play. In 2023, Wilson has seven receptions for 104 yards. He could be an intriguing addition to the Cleveland offense.
San Francisco 49ers: Kingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU
The 49ers absolutely dominated the Steelers in Pittsburgh for an impressive Week 1 win. The one flaw in San Francisco’s afternoon was T.J. Watt recording three sacks for the Steelers. With the history of Kyle Shanahan quarterbacks getting injured, the 49ers need to add more offensive line talent to protect Brock Purdy. Late in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, San Francisco could find a potential right tackle to replace Mike McGlinchey.
Suamataia was a top recruit who landed at Oregon and redshirted. In 2022, Suamataia transferred to BYU and broke out, including not allowing a sack all season. The 6-foot-6, 315-pounder has shocking speed and athleticism for an edge blocker of his size. The cousin of Lions star right tackle Penei Sewell, another big season could make Suamataia a first-rounder for the 2024 NFL Draft.
Atlanta Falcons: Shedeur Sanders, QB, Colorado
The Falcons got a win over Carolina despite Drake London having zero catches and Kyle Pitts only getting two receptions. Jessie Bates had a monster game of two interceptions and a forced fumble that compensated for a pathetic Atlanta passing attack with Desmond Ridder struggling. If Ridder can’t improve drastically, the Falcons will need to take a quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft. Atlanta won’t be picking high enough for Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, but the franchise could take advantage of a deep quarterback class and land another talent later in the first round.
Sanders showed he has special ability in his debut with Colorado, completing 38-of-47 passes for 510 yards and four touchdowns against TCU. In 2023, he has completed 78 percent of his passes for 903 yards and six touchdowns. Sanders has shown a quality arm, accuracy, mobility, and playmaking ability. He previously dominated at Jackson State over two seasons before transferring to Colorado to continue to play for his father. In 2021, Sanders completed 66 percent of his passes for 3,231 yards, 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions. In 2022, he completed 71 percent of his passes for 3,732 yards, 40 touchdowns and six interceptions. Sanders could end up skyrocketing in the months to come.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
The Bucs pulled off an impressive road win at Minnesota. After a slow start, Baker Mayfield heated up and made enough throws to get Tampa Bay 20 points. The Buccaneers defense produced key turnovers from Kirk Cousins to keep the Vikings offense in check. Last season and in the season opener, Tampa Bay’s offensive line had some struggles. Adding a tackle to pair with Tristan Wirfs would make sense for the Bucs.
Alt (6-7, 317) broke into the starting lineup at left tackle as a freshman in 2021 and has started 24 straight contests on the blind side. He started out his career playing some tight end for Notre Dame before settling in at left tackle. Alt has good size and length to block on the edge. He looks like a potential franchise left tackle in the NFL. Adding Alt would give Tampa Bay a pair of talented bookends.
Baltimore Ravens: Caelen Carson, CB, Wake Forest
The Ravens eventually pulled away from Houston, but it was surprising that the Texans were able to keep the game close for as long as they did. C.J. Stroud had a respectable performance in his first NFL game, and he illustrated that Baltimore could use more young talent at the cornerback position.
In 2023, Carson has 11 tackles and a pass broken up. The 6-foot, 195-pounder was a solid defensive back for the Demon Deacons over the previous two years. In 2022, he notched 21 tackles and seven passes defended. He recorded 31 tackles, two interceptions and seven breakups in 2021. Carson has good size, speed, and movement skills. He could be a good option for Baltimore late in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.
Detroit Lions: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State
As the great Ric Flair has said, “to be the man, you have to beat the man,” and the young, upstart Lions beat the man with an impressive road win over the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. While a lot was made about the Chiefs being without Travis Kelce and Chris Jones, the Lions were also without their most explosive wide receiver Jameson Williams and a starting corner in Emmanuel Moseley. Injuries are a part of the game, and the bottom-line truth is Detroit outplayed Kansas City. It wasn’t a flawless performance for the Lions, as they offensively managed to produce two touchdowns. Even if Williams comes back and plays well this season, Detroit could use a big wideout to team with Williams and St. Brown.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Coleman has good size with enough quickness and excellent ball skills. In 2022, he recorded 58 receptions for 798 yards and seven touchdowns while playing for Michigan State. Coleman had a monster 2023 opener with Florida State, turning nine catches into 122 yards and three scores. So far this year, he has recorded 12 receptions for 170 yards and four scores.
Coleman uses his size well to wall off defenders and make contested catches, but he also has enough speed to get downfield and get open. He would be an intriguing addition for Detroit’s first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Team Draft Report:
In this section, we take a deeper look at specific teams and where they stand in regards to the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Bears have the potential to be a team on the rise, and if they draft well, they could become one of the top young teams in the NFC. Things all depends on Justin Fields developing as a passer for the NFL. While he is a dynamic runner and playmaker, Fields needs to be a more consistently accurate pocket passer capable of executing as a passing signal-caller. This season is going to be a critical year in determining if Fields can develop into a complete NFL quarterback. The Bears will probably have two picks in the top-20 during the 2024 NFL Draft thanks to the trade down last year with the Panthers, so this is a huge opportunity for GM Ryan Poles to land two difference makers for the Chicago roster.
The top priority will probably be adding help on the defensive line, and Chicago badly needs a difference-maker up front. The Bears have a defensive line filled with journeymen and need some young building blocks. Doubling up on defensive linemen would have to be a consideration as Chicago’s unit really lacks talent. The Bears could target top edge rushers like Florida State’s Jared Verse or Washington’s Bralen Trice with one of those picks. There also could be good defensive tackle prospects to consider like LSU’s Maason Smith, Ohio State’s Michael Hall Jr., Illinois’ Johnny Newton or Clemson’s Ruke Orhorhoro. It will be interesting to see how this defensive line class develops over the course of the 2023 season, but adding talent up front is the top need for Chicago’s roster. The Bears should have plenty of cap space, so perhaps they can fix their defensive line in free agency by signing some veterans like Brian Burns, Chase Young or Montez Sweat.
In my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft, I did not have Verse or Trice getting to Chicago’s first pick, so an alternate route to consider would be adding a No. 1 corner like Penn State’s Kalen King. Jaylon Johnson is a free agent after this season, while Tyrique Stevenson and Kyler Gordon could be better as No. 2 and nickel corners.
Chicago also might want to consider adding more receiver talent for Fields. Chase Claypool has been a disappointment and is entering free agency, while Darnell Mooney has been shopped by the franchise’s front office. The Bears could consider receiver talent to go with D.J. Moore and give Fields a pair of mismatch playmakers. In the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, they could have a shot at an elite player like Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. There could be other dynamic playmakers like Ohio State’s Emeka Egbuka, Florida State’s Keon Coleman, Florida State’s Johnny Wilson, Texas’ Xavier Worthy or LSU’s Malik Nabers. As other teams like the Bengals, Chiefs, Chargers and Dolphins have illustrated, surrounding a young quarterback with dynamic playmakers really helps that signal-caller develop at the pro level.
With two likely picks in the top-20 and free agency dollars, this will be a huge offseason for the Bears to add talent that could turn them around. Poles has a great opportunity, and if he drafts well, the Bears could be back as legit playoff contenders in the NFC.
Kansas City Chiefs:
The Chiefs lost to a good Lions team to open the 2023 season. Kansas City will bounce back in the weeks to come, and as long as Pat Mahomes stays healthy, the franchise should be among the elite teams in the AFC. However, the game on Thursday night illustrated some weaknesses that are issues for the Chiefs to address in the 2024 NFL Draft.
The wide receiver position was a weakness on Thursday night and has been an issue since the Chiefs traded away Tyreek Hill. Perhaps young wideouts like Skyy Moore and Rashee Rice will emerge as the 2023 season progresses, but the position looked like a problem versus the Lions. In the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Chiefs could consider some big receivers like the monsters at Florida State in Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson. Or some smaller speedy wideout in LSU’s Malik Nabers and Xavier Worthy.
Perhaps Kansas City will trade for a receiver this season or add one in free agency. If the Chiefs do that, they could look to help their defense some more and add more coverage talent. The Lions got a good performance out of Josh Reynolds, with some huge clutch catches coming from him and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Trent McDuffie should be a good starter, but it would make sense to add more corner talent given the passing attacks in the AFC that the Chiefs will have to contend with to win another Super Bowl.
In my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft, I have the Chiefs taking Georgia cornerback Kamari Lassiter, who could form a nice trio with McDuffie and L’Jarius Sneed. That would also move Joshua Williams into a rotational fourth cornerback spot, and that would yield solid depth for Kansas City. Given the passing attacks of the Bengals, Dolphins, Bills, Ravens and Chargers, the Chiefs could use a lot of secondary talent. They’ve drafted edge rushers in the first round of back-to-back drafts, and continuing to stock the secondary with talent would make sense if the Chiefs are able to fix the receiver position.
Unless Moore and Rice really start playing well, getting wide receiver talent should be the priority for the Chiefs in the 2024 NFL Draft. They are asking too much out of Pat Mahomes to compensate for the lack of mismatch playmakers. Travis Kelce is incredible and a future Hall of Famer, but he’s in his mid-30s and can’t play forever. Adding a legit No. 1 receiver should be the priority for Kansas City in the 2024 offseason.