Monday Morning Draft – Week 9

Caleb Williams

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

Arizona Cardinals:

The Cardinals are 1-8 after losing to the Browns. Arizona is currently in position to get the No. 1 pick of the 2024 NFL Draft from thanks to its win-loss record, but the organization’s hope to get it from first-round pick of the Texans are dead now that they are sitting at 4-4. The Cardinals traded away Josh Dobbs and have decided to start Clayton Tune over Kyler Murray, so they clearly seem to have landing the top pick in mind.

Chicago Bears:

Chicago had the No. 1-overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft prior to trading down with Carolina. As part of that trade, the Bears have the Panthers; 2024 first-round pick, so the Bears have two avenues where they might obtain the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. The pick from the Panthers is the most likely avenue to get back into the top spot because the Panthers are 1-7 after losing to the Colts. Carolina could easily be the worst team in the NFL. The Bears are 2-7 so they are close with their own pick as well.

New England Patriots:

The Patriots are one of the worst teams in the NFL and were dropped to 2-7 by the Commanders on Sunday. Washington is not a good football team, so losing was further proof that the Patriots are among the worst in the league.

New York Giants:

The Giants lost on the road to the Raiders. At 2-7, New York is in the hunt for the No. 1 pick of the 2024 NFL Draft. If they land the top pick, they should draft a quarterback and look to trade Daniel Jones.

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:

  • Washington Commanders: Ron Rivera
  • Los Angeles Chargers: Brandon Staley
  • New England Patriots: Bill Belichick
  • Chicago Bears: Matt Eberflus
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Todd Bowles
  • 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.

Green Bay Packers: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

The Packers improved to 3-5 against the Matthew Stafford-less Rams, who were forced to start Brett Rypien. Jordan Love was improved against the Rams and handled their pass rush that still produced four sacks. Green Bay could use more offensive line talent to protect Love and help him improve in his second season as a starter.

The 6-foot-7, 330-pound Mims was a backup and rotational player for Georgia previously, but he could become a star in 2023. Mims dominated Ohio State to close out the 2022 season and looked like he was toying with the highly touted Buckeye defensive ends. Manning right tackle for Georgia, Mims is a giant monster who has very little body fat and is a unique physical specimen with size, speed and athleticism. Team sources say Mims has 11.2-inch hands and 36-inch arms, as well as quickness. They noted his physical body is similar to that of Tyron Smith. NFL team evaluators say Mims is more physical and nasty in 2023, and he was playing dominant football before being sidelined by a lower leg injury. Mims has a great skill set and could be a star in the NFL. He would make a lot of sense as a first-round pick for the Packers.

Cleveland Browns: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

The Browns blew out the Cardinals, who seem as if they are beginning to intentionally tank after starting rookie Clayton Tune when they could have played Kyler Murray. While Amari Cooper (5-139-1) had some production including a tipped pass touchdown, none of the other Browns wide receivers had three catches or even 15 yards receiving. Clearly, Cleveland needs more playmakers at wideout.

Odunze has played well in 2023, making some clutch catches and using his size to be a weapon on the sideline. He has 56 catches for 989 yards and seven touchdowns on the year. With Michael Penix at quarterback in 2022, Odunze broke out for Washington, recording 75 receptions for 1,145 yards and seven touchdowns. Odunze (6-3, 215) has good size, but he could have problems separating from NFL defensive backs and will have to win on a lot of contested catches. Odunze could make sense for the Browns in the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Houston Texans: Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

The Texans pulled off an impressive home win over the Buccaneers, with C.J. Stroud producing a game-winning touchdown drive in the final seconds of the game. Stroud threw for 470 yards and five touchdowns in an epic performance. His heroics were necessary because Baker Mayfield threw a touchdown in the final minute to put Tampa Bay up 37-33. Houston was without Derek Stingley Jr., but the Texans could use a corner to pair with him and be a potential No. 1 corner because Stingley really struggles with durability and staying on the field.

Lassiter (6-0, 180) was behind some more experienced players before, but he has a good skill set. Lassiter has impressed with his ability to sustain coverage this year and has 28 tackles and six passes broken up so far. He recorded 38 tackles and four passes batted in 2022. Lassiter would make a lot of sense for Houston’s first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Layden Robinson, G, Texas A&M

The Steelers got a big win over the Titans despite the offense underwhelming. Pittsburgh has struggled on offense this season, and the defense has carried the team all year. Najee Harris has struggled to establish the ground game and has not run well in 2023. In the 2024 NFL Draft, the Steelers could consider a road-grading blocker like Robinson to help open holes at the point of attack.

Team sources have been impressed with the play of Robinson this season. They say Robinson (6-4, 315) looks like a potential starting right guard in 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 for 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 Steelers.

Washington Commanders: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Washington may have waved the white flag on the 2023 season by trading away Montez Sweat and Chase Young, but the team was still good enough to beat a pathetic Patriots team. Sam Howell threw for 325 yards against New England, but once again, the Commanders’ offensive line had issues, allowing three sacks. All year, Howell has been under constant pressure. Washington must improve its offensive line in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Fashanu (6-6, 321) has the size and length to make it tough for defenders to get by him at the next level. However, he is not an elite athlete on the edge with rare movement skills or quickness. Fashanu can move defenders up front in the ground game, but he is not all that nasty in his style of play. For the NFL, Fashanu looks like a starting left tackle, but not an elite one. He does not look 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. In the middle of the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, Fashanu could be a solid pick for Washington.

Baltimore Ravens: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

For the second time in three weeks, the Ravens blew out one of the better teams in the NFC, destroying Seattle. This win was even more of a blowout than their dismantling of the Lions two weeks ago. Seattle did hit a few plays to their receivers, and it will be interesting to see how the Baltimore cornerbacks perform in the playoffs when they have to take on teams like the Bengals, Chiefs, Jaguars and Bills. Adding a young corner to pair with Marlon Humphrey would make a lot of sense for the Ravens in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Arnold has 45 tackles, two interceptions and eight passes broken up so far this season. He played well for Alabama in 2022, recording 45 tackles, an interception and eight passes broken up. The 6-foot, 188-pounder has quality size to go along with instincts and good technique. His only real flaw is not being fast, which presents some limitations for the NFL. Still, Arnold looks like a good fit for a zone team and he looks likely to be a first- or second-round pick next April in the 2024 NFL Draft. He could be a really good No. 2 corner for the Ravens to pair with Humphrey.

Kansas City Chiefs: Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

The Chiefs got the win in Germany behind their defense playing a superb game to limit the point-machine offense of the Dolphins. While Kansas City got the win, the franchise’s offense did not play well again on the heels of an ugly outing in a loss to the Broncos. Clearly, the Chiefs could use more playmaking talent at wide receiver. Fortunately for them, the 2024 NFL Draft should have a strong wide receiver class.

Mitchell has 37 catches in 2023 for 576 yards and eight touchdowns. For the NFL, Mitchell has a big-time skill set and a ton of upside to develop. The 6-foot-4, 196-pounder has mismatch size and length, including a large catch radius. What makes Mitchell unique though is the speed he has in combination with that excellent height. Mitchell is fast in the straight line and can flat-out race past cornerbacks. It is obvious Mitchell was a top recruit at Georgia prior to transferring to Texas. Mitchell looks like a future first-round pick for the 2024 NFL Draft with No. 1 receiver potential. He would be an excellent pick for the Chiefs late in Round 1 of 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 2024 NFL Draft.

Tennessee Titans:

While the Titans lost to the Steelers on Thursday night, there is major reason for optimism in Tennessee with the play of rookie quarterback Will Levis. Levis had a superb first start and followed it up a competitive game taking on the Steelers, a team with one of the best defenses in the NFL. New Titans general manager Ran Carthon had a superb first offseason in Tennessee, and landing a potential young franchise quarterback in Levis with a second-round pick was a major steal. Levis has an elite cannon for an arm, plus he’s smart, competitive, athletic and hard working. He slid in the draft because his final season of tape wasn’t as good as the previous year’s, but Levis also dealt with a terrible offensive line and lost his only good receiver – Wan’Dale Robinson – to the previous draft. With Levis in the fold, Carthon has the most important task completed in roster building. Carthon is known to have a great eye for talent, so he will load up the Titans roster with talent. After a few good drafts, Carthon could have Tennessee competing with the elite of the AFC.

In my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft, I have the Titans taking Ohio State wide receiver Emeka Egbuka, who would be a great fit. He is lightning fast and can score on any catch. Levis has a cannon for an arm, and Egbuka would be a great receiver for him to work with. Aside from Egbuka, there are other good receiver prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft. It would make sense to get Levis a young weapon. DeAndre Hopkins was a good signing, but he is in the autumn of his career, and Treylon Burks has yet to establish himself as a good pro. Burks was a pick of the previous general manager and has been a disappointment thus far. The Titans won’t be picking high enough in the 2024 NFL Draft to land Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., but there will be other good options like Egbuka, Florida State’s Keon Coleman, LSU’s Malik Nabers, South Carolina’s Xavier Legette, Texas’ Adonai Mitchell and Texas’ Xavier Worthy.

Tennessee could also consider adding some talent to the secondary as the roster could use help at both cornerback and safety. The previous front office spent a lot of picks at corner, but it remains a position to address. Caleb Farley has been injured a lot, just like he was in college, and Kristian Fulton is going to be a free agent after this season. The Titans could consider options like Georgia’s Kamari Lassiter and Alabama’s Terrion Arnold in the 2024 NFL Draft. There should also be good cornerback prospects available on Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Tennessee traded away veteran Kevin Byard, and the team could consider adding a difference-maker at safety. There are some good options in the first round with Miami’s Kamren Kinchens and Minnesota’s Tyler Nubin. Some second-day safety options to consider include Miami’s James Williams and USC’s Calen Bullock.

A good plan for the Titans could be to add a receiver in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft and then hit the secondary on Day 2. While the Titans still need some good drafts to help build up the roster, it looks like they are headed in the right direction thanks to the hiring of Carthon and the selection of Levis. Before long, Tennessee could be back as one of the toughest teams in the AFC.

Detroit Lions:

Three years ago, the Lions were a dumpster fire under general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia. Fortunately, team ownership finally got things right when they hired general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell. Holmes quickly assembled an all-star front office, bringing in some of the best scouts and talent evaluators in the NFL. That has led to a string of superb drafts for the Lions. The hits include some Penei Sewell, one of the league’s top offensive linemen; Aidan Hutchinson, one of the best young defensive linemen; fourth-round pick Amon-Ra St. Brown, one of the top young wide receivers in the NFL; and a number of other superb second-day draft picks including Alim McNeill, Sam LaPorta, Brian Branch and Kerby Joseph. Other picks, such as Jameson Williams and Jahmyr Gibbs, are developing young players and could prove to be difference-makers in the years to come. There is no doubt that the Detroit coaching staff has resurrected Jared Goff and been among the best game-planners in the NFL. Campbell has emerged as one of the top head coaches in the league as a master motivator, culture builder, and superb in-game strategist. Clearly things are headed in the right direction, and Detroit is a legit Super Bowl contender right now.

There were some Lions fans pushing for the team to make a blockbuster trade for the likes of Maxx Crosby, Brian Burns or Patrick Surtain, but that is not in accordance with drafting well and building through the draft. Any trade for Crosby, Burns or Surtain would cost at least one first-round pick, if not two. The Lions also would make Burns or Surtain the highest-paid player in the NFL at their position with that kind of pick investment – or absorbing Crosby’s big contract -, and doing that would be problematic for keeping the team’s core together. The Lions are about to hit contract-extension time for St. Brown, Goff, Sewell and McNeil. All of them are critical players who are part of Detroit’s team culture, so losing a player like St. Brown or Sewell to acquire Crosby, Burns or Surtain would be a mistake, especially when you consider the picks it would cost to get them. With the Lions’ superb front office, those draft picks are likely to turn into cheap good starters, whihch will the staff improve their roster while retaining their young veterans entering their prime. Hence, the Lions were wise to stick with their plan to keep their own players and continue to draft well.

While the Lions are one of the top teams in the NFL, they still have needs to address in the 2024 NFL Draft. Thanks to Patricia and Quinn blowing a pick on Jeff Okudah, Detroit has a hole at cornerback that needs to be filled. Cam Sutton was a good free agent addition, while Jerry Jacobs was a phenomenal job of scouting to sign him as an undrafted free agent. The Lions still need more cornerback talent though, and in my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft I have the Lions taking South Carolina’s Marcellas Dial. He would be a good fit as both a zone- and man-cover corner in Detroit’s defense. The organization also could consider cornerback prospects like Clemson’s Nate Wiggins, Georgia’s Kamari Lassiter and Penn State’s Kalen King. There also are good cornerback options for the second day.

Aside from cornerback, Detroit could consider a defensive end to go with Aidan Hutchinson. The Lions have a bunch of edge rushers coming up on free agency, with Charles Harris, Romeo Okwara, and Julian Okwara all hitting the market. Josh Paschal has flashed, but been injured a lot, while James Houston is not big enough to be a base end and is a role player as a designated pass rusher. If the Lions don’t take a cornerback, they could look at edge rushers like Alabama’s Dallas Turner, Penn State’s Chop Robinson or Washington’s Bralen Trice. Turner would be a great complement to Hutchinson and form a nice platoon with Paschal.

If the Lions draft on the other side of the ball, they could target offensive line help. Both of their starting guards are hitting free agency. Considering they have to do extensions for Sewell, St. Brown, and Goff, it might hard to have the money to do a big extension for Pro Bowl guard Jonah Jackson. The Lions could draft a tackle like Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton, Penn State’s Olu Fashanu, Alabama’s J.C. Latham or Notre Dame’s Joe Alt. Georgia’s Amarius Mims and BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia could be long gone by the time Detroit picks, but either would be great options if available. If the Lions select one of these tackles in the 2024 NFL Draft, they could start out at guard and then move to tackle when Taylor Decker ages out. That would also provide great depth at tackle if the team suffers an injury.

The NFC North looks to be there for the Lions to be the lead dog for many years to come. Goff hasn’t even turned 30 yet, but he is in his prime and playing at an elite level. They have drafted so well and look far ahead of the Packers, Vikings and Bears. Another good draft or two could put the Lions over the top and finally bring a Super Bowl Championship to the Motor City.