Monday Morning Draft – Week 4

Joe Burrow

Race for the No. 1 Pick of the 2024 NFL Draft:

Chicago Bears:

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 Bears and Panthers are off to 0-4 starts and both teams look terrible. Chicago looks like it is poised to have two top-five picks in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Denver Broncos:

A week after the Dolphins scored a shocking 70 points on Denver, the Broncos put up 17 fourth-quarter points to pull out a 31-28 win in Chicago. While Denver enjoyed this win, the Bears are terrible and one of the worst teams in the NFL.

The Broncos have a very difficult schedule in the loaded AFC, and they could be in the hunt for the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Denver lost a close game to the Raiders and then blew a huge lead to Washington before the 70-point debacle. It could be a long year for the Broncos after losing some winnable games in the opening two contests.

Arizona Cardinals:

The Cardinals are 1-3 after getting rolled by the 49ers. Arizona still could get the No. 1 pick from its win-loss record, but the franchise’s hope to get it with Houston’s first-round pick is looking unlikely given that Houston improved to 2-2.

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
  • 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
  • Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn
  • 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
  • Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley
  • Green Bay Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia
  • USC head coach Lincoln Riley

Head Coach Hot-Seat Tracker:

  • Los Angeles Chargers Brandon Staley
  • Washington Commanders Ron Rivera
  • Chicago Bears Matt Eberflus
  • Las Vegas Raiders Josh McDaniels
  • New Orleans Saints Dennis Allen
  • Atlanta Falcons Arthur Smith
  • New England Patriots Bill Belichick

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.

Denver Broncos: Laiatu Latu, DE, UCLA

The Broncos put up 17 points in the fourth quarter to come back and win in Chicago. It was a huge achievement for Denver after giving up 70 points a week earlier to Miami, but the Bears’ struggling offense managed to 28 points with big games from Justin Fields and D.J. Moore. In order to improve their porous defense, the Broncos really need a difference-maker in their front seven. They need an impactful defensive lineman to get after quarterbacks and cause havoc. That player would be a critical building block for Denver.

Latu has 13 tackles, four sacks, one interception and one forced fumble in 2023. After recording 10.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2022, Latu is proving to be a dangerous quarterback hunter. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder is quick off the edge with athleticism and a strong build.

With Washington, Latu had injury issues that cost him the 2020 and 2021 seasons. A serious neck injury caused former Huskies coach Jimmy Lake to say that Latu’s career was over, but he transferred to UCLA after Lake and his staff were let go. Latu then received medical clearance from UCLA before resuming his career.

Latu would make a lot of sense for the Broncos in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Buffalo Bills: Cedric Gray, LB, North Carolina

Buffalo did a superb job of limiting Miami’s high-powered passing offense. Tyreek Hill had only three receptions for 58 yards, while Jaylen Waddle accounted for 46 yards on four catches. The Bills, however, did have some issues with rookie Devon Achane, who ran for 101 yards and two scores on only eight carries. In the early rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft, Buffalo could consider adding some linebacker talent to go with Matt Milano.

Gray has 34 tackles and 1.5 sacks so far this season. He was one of the best linebackers in college football in 2022 and super productive for the Tar Heels. Gray recorded 144 tackles, three forced fumbles, two interceptions, six passes broken up and one sack that season. In 2021, he totaled 99 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble and three pass breakups.

The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder has a good build with instincts. He would be a nice fit for the Buffalo defense.

Philadelphia Eagles: Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

The Eagles allowed Sam Howell to throw a game-tying touchdown on the final play of the fourth quarter that forced overtime, and Philadelphia was fortunate to come away with the win over the Commanders. Howell went after rookie Josh Jobe, and the Eagles have to account for the age of their veteran starters. Philadelphia’s defensive line really bailed out the secondary on a number of plays on Sunday. It would make sense for the Eagles to target some cornerback help late in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Lassiter (6-0, 180) was behind some more experienced players before, but he has a good skill set and could be a breakout cover corner for the Bulldogs in 2023. Lassiter is off to a good start and has impressed with his ability to sustain coverage this season. He has 12 tackles and two passes broken up so far this year. He recorded 38 tackles and four passes batted in 2022.

With his skill set and upside, Lassiter would be a great fit for the Eagles. He would also keep the Georgia talent train running to Philadelphia.

Tennessee Titans: Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State

The Titans had an impressive home win against the Bengals, holding their talented offense to only three points. Derrick Henry ran over the Cincinnati defense, and Tennessee got enough from the passing attack to support its defense and ground offense. DeAndre Hopkins is aging and not as dynamic as he used to be. Unless Treylon Burks breaks out this season, it would make sense for the Titans to target a long-term No. 1 receiver in the 2024 NFL Draft.

In 2023, Egbuka has 19 catches for 263 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder turned in 74 receptions for 1,151 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2022. He emerged as a potential No. 1 receiver or really good No. 2 wideout. At other schools, Egbuka would have had an even bigger year, but he was the No. 2 receiver for Ohio State across from Marvin Harrison Jr.

Egbuka has quality size and some serious speed with the ability to separate and challenge defenses vertically. The Titans probably won’t be picking high enough in the 2024 NFL Draft for Marvin Harrison Jr., but they could have a shot at adding Egbuka, who would provide a speed threat with No. 1 receiver potential.

Los Angeles Rams: Chop Robinson, DE, Penn State

The Rams built a huge lead before the Colts came storming all the way back to force overtime. Los Angeles managed to have Aaron Donald sack Anthony Richardson, but the team need more pass rushers around the future Hall of Famer. The Super Bowl Rams had Von Miller and Leonard Floyd helping Donald, and the current Rams must find more edge-rush talent to help them protect leads.

Robinson (6-3, 250) plays defensive end for Penn State, but for the NFL, he may have to move to outside linebacker given his size. If Robinson is any smaller than his listed numbers, he definitely will be too small to play end on an every-down basis. In 2023, Robinson has seven tackles, one sack, a forced fumble, and a pass batted. He recorded 5.5 sacks, 10 tackles for a loss, two passes batted, one forced fumble and 26 tackle in 2022. Playing for Maryland in 2021, he had 19 tackles and two sacks.

Robinson is lightning fast off the edge and is a dangerous quarterback hunter. He would be a good value for the Rams in the first or second round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Jacksonville Jaguars: T’Vondre Sweat, DT, Texas

The Jaguars went to London, where they cruised over the Falcons. The Jacksonville defense dominated Desmond Ridder. The only problem the Jaguars really had with the Atlanta offense was stopping star rookie runner Bijan Robinson. In a division that has running threats like Derrick Henry, Dameon Pierce, and Anthony Richardson, Jacksonville could use a tough interior run stuffer to clog up the middle of the line.

Sweat is a massive nose tackle who is a beast at the point of attack in the ground game. The 6-foot-4, 340-pounder had his best statistical year so far in 2022, totaling 29 tackles, four passes broken up. He recorded 22 stops total in each of the two seasons before. Thus far in 2023, he has 15 tackles, a sack and a pass broken up.

Sweat is a big, powerful, strong man who can cause disruption at the point of attack and also generate a push in the pass rush. Off the field, team sources say Sweat is a good kid but also has some issues with lethargy and likes to party. He has a big-time skill set and potential to develop. Sweat would be a nice pick for the Jaguars in the first or second round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Detroit Lions: Graham Barton, OT/G, Duke

The Lions dominated in the Packers in the first half on Thursday night, rolling up a 27-3 lead by halftime. Detroit enjoyed David Montgomery coming back on the field, and he pounded the Green Bay defense, running for three touchdowns and 121 yards. Detroit was missing right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai but the rest of the team’s offensive line was superb. This offseason, the Lions could consider adding a hard-nosed guard because both Vaitai and Pro Bowl left guard Jonah Jackson are entering free agency.

Some pro sources say their teams are projecting Barton, to move inside to guard in the NFL. They noted Barton has short arms and that his body type could fit better on the inside. Pro evaluators like how Barton is physical, nasty and strong in the ground game. While playing left tackle for Duke, Barton is a consistent run blocker and pass protector.

The 6-foot-5, 314 pounder could a superb guard in the NFL. Barton could end up being a first- or second-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. He would be a great addition to Detroit and maintain the strength of the team.

Team Draft Report:

In this section, we take a deeper look at specific teams and where they stand in regards to the 2024 NFL Draft.

New England Patriots:

The Patriots continue to see that life without Tom Brady is extremely difficult, and the NFL is a tough league to win in with a weak offense. Entering this season, Bill Belichick had a .763 winning percentage as well as 30 playoff wins with Brady. Without Brady, however, Belichick only had a .452 winning percentage with one playoff win without Brady.

Bill O’Brien was brought in to help the offense, but O’Brien could not win a Super Bowl with Brady in his previous time as New England’s offensive coordinator and Alabama did not win a National Championship with O’Brien even though the program had perhaps the greatest quarterback in the history of the school with Bryce Young. Week by week, the NFL is showing that you can make an argument that without Tom Brady, Belichick and O’Brien are very overrated coaches.

Mac Jones does not look like the answer as the long-term starter, so if the Patriots have a shot at USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye or Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders in the 2024 NFL Draft, they should jump at one of them to replace Jones. However with some winnable games on their schedule and a good defense overall, I think the Patriots won’t be picking high enough to land one of those signal-callers. New England would have to trade up, and give up a lot, to go to the top of the first round for one of those quarterbacks.

The Patriots must improve their offensive talent this offseason. Bill Belichick has done a terrible job of evaluating wide receiver draft prospects in recent years. In 2019, Belichick took a flawed prospect in N’Keal Harry when it was obvious from his college tape that Harry was going to struggle to separate from NFL cornerbacks. When Belichick took Harry, he passed on stud receivers like A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel, D.K. Metcalf and Terry McLaurin. There have been other mistaken evaluations at wideout as well. That must change for New England to start competing in the hellacious AFC. With the Dolphins and Bills in the division, much less competing versus other teams in the playoffs, the Patriots have to field a more potent offense.

In my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft, I have the Patriots addressing the wide receiver position with Emeka Egbuka. New England probably won’t be picking high enough to land Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., but Egbuka is an extremely fast game-breaker who stretches defenses vertically. Aside from the Ohio State tandem, some other options the Patriots might be able to consider include Florida State’s Keon Coleman, Texas’ Xavier Worthy and LSU’s Malik Nabers. Anyone from that group would be a big upgrade for New England because of its dearth of playmakers.

The Patriots also could use help at offensive tackle because they do not have a long-term starter at the position. This is a deep and talented offensive line class, with the likes of BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia, Georgia’s Amarius Mims, Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton, Alabama’s J.C. Latham and Notre Dame’s Joe Alt, so it could make sense for the Patriots to take a receiver with their first pick and then select a tackle in the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Potentially, New England could do a short trade-up in Round 2 or trade back into the first round to land a tackle who slipped but is a very good value pick.

The Patriots were blessed to have Tom Brady for as long as they did. The GOAT covered up for a lot of bad draft picks by Belichick. If New England is going to get back to being a playoff contender again, upgrading the scoring attack has to happen. Last April, the Patriots neglected the offense and drafted for the defense in the early rounds. Getting some offensive weapons has to be the highest priority of the 2024 offseason for the Patriots.

Green Bay Packers:

The Packers were on their way to getting blown out on Thursday Night Football after the Lions dominated them in the first half. Green Bay made it a two-score game in the second half before Detroit put Green Bay away. Jordan Love has had a very mixed track recorded through four starts this year, and helping Love by surrounding him with better talent has to be the focus for the Packers this offseason.

The big problem on Thursday night was the Detroit defensive line dominating Green Bay’s blocking front. The Packers couldn’t run the ball, and Love was under constant pressure. Being without David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins definitely hurt the Packers, but Bakhtiari is aging and will be in the final year of his contract in 2024. Thus, the Packers have to consider adding a long-term left tackle to protect Love. Luckily for the Packers, the 2024 NFL Draft has an excellent offensive line class.

In my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft, I have the Packers selecting BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia, who could be a long-term protector for Love. The cousin of Lions stud tackle Penei Sewell, Suamataia is an excellent pass blocker with a great skill set and upside. He would be a superb first-round pick for the Packers in the 2024 NFL Draft. Other offensive tackles who could be good additions the Packers with their first-round pick include Georgia’s Amarius Mims, Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton, Alabama’s J.C. Latham and Notre Dame’s Joe Alt. If Green Bay wanted to get a guard upgrade, the organization could consider Duke’s Graham Barton.

If a No. 1 receiver is available in the first round, Green Bay should definitely give that prospect serious consideration. However, general manager Brian Gutekunst has followed Ted Thompson’s philosophy of waiting until Day 2 of drafts to take a receiver. While the Packers have some talented young receivers, none of them have proven they are an elite dynamic wideout. Perhaps Christian Watson will emerge as that kind of wide receiver during this season. But if the Packers have a shot at Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State’s Emeka Egbuka or Florida State’s Keon Coleman, it would be very foolish to pass on them.

Defensively, the Packers could use help at the safety position. Even if they stick with Darnell Savage at one safety spot, they could use an upgrade next to him. Green Bay could consider first-round options like Minnesota’s Tyler Nubin or Miami’s Kamren Kinchens, but there will be nice players on Day 2 like Georgia’s Javon Bullard, Miami’s James Williams or USC’s Calen Bullock. A good plan could be to take an offensive tackle like Suamataia in Round 1 and a safety like Williams in Round 2.

Green Bay’s regime of Gutekunst and head coach Matt LeFleur have bet their jobs on Love panning out. If Love is a bust, they will likely get fired, so it will be vital to help Love show big improvement in his second season as a starter. Adding to the offensive line and improving his protection has to be the top priority for Green Bay during the 2024 offseason.