Monday Morning Draft – Week 6

A.J. Brown

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 got back to their losing ways to fall to 1-5, but the Panthers are off to an 0-6 start after getting rolled by the Dolphins. Both Chicago and Carolina look like top candidates to finish last in the league, which would give Chicago the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. If the Bears get the top pick, they should draft USC quarterback Caleb Williams or North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye and trade away Justin Fields to acquire additional picks for a rebuild.

Denver Broncos:

The Broncos lost to the Chiefs and remain looking like one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Broncos have a very difficult schedule in the loaded AFC and could be in the hunt for the No. 1 pick. Denver lost a close game to the Raiders and then blew a huge lead to Washington before the 70-point debacle against Miami. It could be a long year for the Broncos after losing some winnable games in the opening two contests.

New England Patriots:

While the Patriots didn’t get blown out this week, they still lost to a bad Raiders team. A week after getting humiliated by the Cowboys, New England was dominated by the Saints 34-0 in Week 5. New England has a terrible offense thanks to awful play calling by Bill O’Brien on top of horrible wide receiver evaluations by Bill Belichick. If the Patriots land the top pick – or even the second pick – of the 2024 NFL Draft, they should select either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye because either of them would be an obvious upgrade over Mac Jones.

Arizona Cardinals:

Arizona is 1-5 after losing to the Rams. The Cardinals still could get the No. 1 pick from their win-loss record, but their hopes to get it with the Texans’ first-round pick are looking unlikely now that Houston has won three games and looks likely to win more.

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
  • Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn
  • 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
  • Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley
  • Green Bay Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia

Head Coach Hot-Seat Tracker:

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

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.

Minnesota Vikings: Blake Corum, RB, Michigan

The Vikings were able to get a win even though their offense had a poor performance while going against a vulnerable Bears defense. Obviously, it hurt Minnesota that it was without Justin Jefferson, but this season, the team has clearly not had the rushing attack it enjoyed in recent years with Dalvin Cook. Alexander Mattison looks more like a No. 2 back in the NFL, and that was displayed on Sunday in Chicago when he had only 44 yards on 18 carries – a 2.4-yard average. The Vikings could target an upgrade next April in the 2024 NFL Draft.

So far in 2023, Corum has averaged 5.7 yards per carry for 546 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has six receptions for 43 yards as well. The 5-foot-8, 210-pounder was a tough back and point producer for the Wolverines in 2022. On the year, he averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,463 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also recorded five receptions for 73 yards. As a downhill runner, Corum shows good strength to break tackles alongside contact balance and an ability to pick up yards after a hit. He could be a solid second-day pick for Minnesota in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Cleveland Browns: Johnny Wilson, WR, Florida State

Even though the 49ers missed a short last-second field goal, it was impressive that the Browns got a win over an undefeated San Francisco team when they were starting backup quarterback P.J. Walker. Cleveland also ran the ball well without Nick Chubb, but the defense really stepped up to keep the 49ers to only 17 points. Amari Cooper (4-108) turned in a big game, but no other wideout had five receptions or even 20 yards. The Browns will be without their first-round pick again from the Deshaun Watson trade, but they could land some receiver help on Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

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 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. Thi season, he has 20 receptions for 357 yards and two touchdowns. In the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft, Wilson could be a nice candidate for the Browns.

Houston Texans: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

The Texans pulled off an impressive home win over the Saints while the Houston defense held New Orleans to only 13 points. C.J. Stroud completed under half of his passes and threw an interception, yet Houston still won. Nico Collins has emerged as a good receiver, and Tank Dell has played well as a rookie, but clearly the Texans could use another playmaker to go with them. Houston could look to add another top prospect via the 2024 NFL Draft to create a talented trio to help Stroud grow into a true franchise quarterback.

In 2023, Coleman has 29 catches of 418 yards and seven touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder has good size alongside enough quickness and excellent ball skills. In 2022 for Michigan State, he recorded 58 receptions for 798 yards and seven touchdowns while playing. Coleman opened the 2023 season, and his career as a Seminole, with a monster game of nine catches for 122 yards and three touchdowns versus LSU. Coleman would be a big impactful player for the Texans from their first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Cincinnati Bengals: Layden Robinson, G, Texas A&M

The Bengals got a big win over Seattle despite the Cincinnati offense only scoring 17 points. This season, the team’s offense has not been the point machine it was in the past few years, and a reason for that is a lack of ground game to set up easier down-and-distance situations. Joe Mixon had only 38 yards on 12 carries, and the Cincinnati offensive line has struggled in both phases this year. The Bengals could use more beef, power, and athleticism on the inside of the line.

Team sources from around the NFL have been impressed with the play of Robinson this season. They have said Robinson (6-4, 315) looks like a potential starting right guard for the NFL. They note that while he has some athletic limitations, he is strong and is a people mover at the point of attack. Robinson is a tough, nasty, and power right guard at the next level. He could be limited on some of the wide zone-run plays in the NFL because he lacks foot quickness and overall athletic ability. Still, he has a violent play style and demeanor. Robinson could be a second-day prospect for the 2024 NFL Draft who would be a nice value and fit for the Bengals.

Washington Commanders: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

With Desmond Ridder throwing three interceptions, Commanders quarterback Sam Howell had an easy game, tossing three touchdowns but only collecting 151 yards over 23 attempts. Brian Robinson had only 31 yards on 10 carries on the ground, as Washington’s offensive line really struggled with the Atlanta defensive front. Throughout this season, the Washington’s offensive line has given up a lot of sacks and pressure. Clearly, the Commanders need offensive line upgrades from the 2024 NFL Draft.

For the next level, Fashanu (6-6, 321) has the size and length to make it tough for defenders to get by him. He is not, however, an elite athlete on the edge who possesses rare movement skills or quickness. Fashanu can move defenders up front in the ground game, but he is not particularly nasty in his style of play. Fashanu looks like an NFL starter at left tackle, but not an elite one. He does not seem like a top-10 prospect like a Penei Sewell. As a pro, Fashanu might be more similar to an adequate starting tackle like Russell Okung over an elite tackle like Sewell, but in the middle of the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, Fashanu could be a solid pick for the Commanders.

Baltimore Ravens: Cedric Gray, LB, North Carolina

The Ravens were able to get a win in England because their defense was able to cruise over Ryan Tannehill and Malik Willis. Tennessee got back into the game thanks to a long run by Derrick Henry, and after this season, Baltimore could consider adding a linebacker to go with Roquan Smith. Patrick Queen could leave in free agency, and the Ravens probably won’t pay Queen a big contract after the mega-deal Smith got. Here’s an early-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft to go with Smith.

In 2023, Gray has 52 tackles, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble receivers, one interception and three passes defended. 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 could make sense for Baltimore in the first or second round next April in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Kansas City Chiefs: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

The Chiefs came away a surprisingly close win on Thursday Night Football versus a terrible Broncos team. Travis Kelce (9-124) had a big game, and Rashee Rice (4-7) contributed, but none of the other other Kansas City receivers had four catches or even 23 yards through the air. Clearly, the Chiefs need more receiving weapons for Pat Mahomes, and they could find a good weapon late in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Nabers has 52 catches for 860 yards and seven touchdowns so far this year. While Kayshon Boutte was supposed to be LSU’s No. 1 wide receiver in 2022, Nabers outplayed him and was a steady contributor for Jayden Daniels, catching 72 passes for 1,017 yards and three touchdowns. Nabers has decent size at 6-foot, 195 pounds as well as quickness and athleticism. He has excellent route-running and ability to create separation that would make him a great fit for the Kansas City offense.

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.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Tampa Bay has been one of the surprise teams in the NFL this season after the media prematurely wrote the franchise’s 2023 obituary after the retirement of Tom Brady. The Bucs are led by a good defense, but they also have some playmakers at wide receiver to help a veteran quarterback in Baker Mayfield. After this season, the Buccaneers could upgrade the roster at a few spots to be even more competitive in the wide-open NFC next year. Some of the weaknesses were given clear evidence in Tampa Bay’s loss to the Lions on Sunday when, once again, the Buccaneers fielded a pathetic ground offense.

There is no doubt that the biggest weakness of the Bucs roster is an inability to run the football. The offensive line was a huge weakness in the final season with Brady, and while right tackle Luke Goedeke has been improved this year, Tampa Bay still really struggles to move the ball on the ground. The Buccaneers probably won’t be picking high enough in the 2024 NFL Draft for Georgia’s Amarius Mims or BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia. In the middle to back half of the first round, the organization could consider players like Penn State’s Olu Fashanu, Notre Dame’s Joe Alt, Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton and Alabama’s J.C. Latham. Given the amount of good tackles, one of those mid first-round talents might slip to the Bucs in the 20s of the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. If the Bucs take a tackle in Round 1, they could kick Goedeke inside to guard and upgrade the line at two spots.

Tampa Bay could consider guard help in the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft, and some options to consider would include Duke’s Graham Barton, Texas A&M’s Layden Robinson or Kansas State’s Cooper Beebe. If the Bucs can help the offensive line in free agency and/or on Day 2, that would allow them to address another need in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

In my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft, I have the Bucs taking South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette, and he would make sense if Mike Evans is not re-signed. The fans want Evans to be extended, but it seems as if Tampa Bay does not want to pay an aging Evans’ market value. Perhaps the Bucs will get him back, but they might look to find his replacement in the 2024 NFL Draft. A player like Legette would be provide a skill set to Evans, and another great option would be Florida State’s Keon Coleman – if he fell within striking distance. Some other receivers for Tampa Bay to consider would include LSU’s Malik Nabers and Texas’ Xavier Worthy.

Defensively, the Buccaneers could consider help at linebacker if Devin White is not re-signed. White wants to be among the top-paid linebackers in the NFL, and it would not be surprising if Tampa Bay is unwilling to lay out the capital. White has been inconsistent, but he does make big plays and was a top-five draft pick of general manager Jason Licht. So perhaps the Buccaneers will pay what it takes to keep White for the long haul. With Lavonte David aging, if White is not re-signed, Tampa Bay should look at taking a linebacker in the 2024 NFL Draft. Some quality options include North Carolina’s Cedric Gray, Clemson’s Barrett Carter or Clemson’s Jeremiah Trotter Jr.

Tampa Bay is going to have a challenging offseason in terms of re-signing veterans. The Bucs will have to make big decisions on Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans and Devin White. How those work out could alter the franchise’s draft plans significantly. For instance, if they lose Mayfield in free agency, they could be forced to select a quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft. However, the Buccaneers have a talented defense coming back for 2024, so with a strong offseason they could remain in the thick of the NFC playoff picture.

Denver Broncos:

During the summer months leading up to the 2023 season, I had the Denver Broncos picking high in the first round of my 2024 NFL Mock Draft. Some suggested to me that I had the Broncos picking too high and they wouldn’t be that bad. I was skeptical of that projection because Denver has an aging and declining quarterback along with a lack of talent on both the offensive and defensive lines. That combination is a recipe to be one of the worst teams in the NFL, and that has been proven true in the early going of 2023, as the Broncos have had an ugly season thus far. Clearly, new head coach Sean Payton has a huge rebuilding project on his hands.

After this season, the Broncos are able to move on from Russell Wilson, and if they have a shot at a young franchise quarterback, taking their quarterback of the future is a no-brainer decision. There are two top quarterback prospects for the 2024 NFL Draft in USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye. In my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft I have the Broncos taking Maye, who would be a dream come true pick for Denver. In a division with Pat Mahomes and Justin Herbert, Denver needs an elite quarterback to compete. Maye is a dangerous pocket passer with a strong arm, accuracy, and some mobility. Maye would be a great fit for Payton’s offense, and the Broncos would be very lucky to land either Maye or Williams.

If the Broncos win a few games and end up not picking high enough in the 2024 NFL Draft for Maye or Williams, they could consider sticking with Wilson for another season and looking to add a quarterback prospect on Day 2. Some options for the Broncos to consider could include Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler, LSU’s Jayden Daniels or Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke. McCarthy might not get to the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft, but the others could be options in Round 3.

In that scenario, Denver could look to add help on the defensive line with a player like UCLA’s Laiatu Latu or Florida State’s Jared Verse. The Broncos also could consider Georgia’s Amarius Mims or BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia to upgrade their offensive line. However, Denver was without a first-round pick last April and lacks a second-round pick in 2024 because of the Payton trade, so trading down to get more picks would be desirable because they have a lot of needs.

It will be a fascinating offseason in Denver to see how Payton rebuilds the roster and whether the organization moves on from Wilson. If the Broncos are able to come away from the 2024 NFL Draft with Williams or Maye, a miserable 2023 season will be worth it in the long run.