Race for the No. 1 Pick of the 2024 NFL Draft:
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 1-8 on the season after losing to the Bears on Thursday Night Football. The Bears are 3-7 so they are in the running from their pick as well, but they are more likely to land No. 1 via Carolina.
New England Patriots:
The Patriots are one of the worst teams in the NFL and were dropped to 2-8 by the Colts on Sunday. New England’s roster is devoid of talent thanks to years of terrible drafts by Bill Belichick. Arizona, Carolina and Chicago each have young talent on their rosters, so those teams might games down the stretch, which could lead to New England landing the No. 1-overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft.
New York Giants:
The Giants were blown out on the road by the Cowboys. At 2-8, the Giants are the hunt for the No. 1 pick. If they land the top pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, they should select a quarterback and look to trade Daniel Jones.
Arizona is 2-7 after getting a win over the Falcons with Kyler Murray returning to the field. The Cardinals are currently in position to get the No. 1 pick from their win-loss record, but their hopes to get it with the Texans’ first-round pick are dead now that the Texans are sitting at 5-4.
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
- Carolina Panthers: Frank Reich
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.
Arizon Cardinals: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
The Cardinals got their second win of the season off a Kyler Murray-led comeback late in the fourth quarter to beat Atlanta. Arizona got a monster game from tight end Trey McBride (8-131), but none of the team’s other receivers had six catches or even 44 yards. With Murray back, Arizona could easily win enough games to not pick high enough to do a trade down with a quarterback-needy team during the 2024 NFL Draft. The Cardinals might end up picking just outside the top few picks, but that could put them in position to land Murray an elite playmaker.
In 2023, Harrison has 59 catches for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns. He broke out last year, recording 77 receptions for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns. The sophomore was a dynamic mismatch weapon for C.J. Stroud. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Harrison has excellent height and length with speed to get downfield. He runs routes like a smaller receiver, and he obviously learned a lot from his Hall of Fame father. However, the younger Harrison is much bigger than his father and is more like an A.J. Green-type receiver for the next level. Harrison would be a fabulous pick for the Cardinals high in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Detroit Lions: Johnny Dixon, CB, Penn State
The Lions won a shootout against the Chargers. Detroit’s offense was incredible with its lethal running back tandem and Jared Goff making clutch passes to get a win on the final play of the game. While the Lions were phenomenal on offense, their defense was terrible, allowing Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen to dominate. Detroit really missed some injured starters like C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley. Next April, the franchise needs to add more young coverage talent.
History is repeating itself in Happy Valley. A year ago, Joey Porter Jr. had an underwhelming season that caused him to slide from being a consensus first-rounder to ending up as a second-day pick in the draft. Across from Porter, Kalen King had a tremendous 2023 season to establish himself as a top corner prospect for the 2024 NFL Draft.
However, King has really struggled this year, giving up a lot of plays, while his teammate Dixon (6-0, 191) has impressed team evaluators. Dixon is gritty, quick, instinctive, and can run the route to prevent separation. This season, he has 21 tackles, three sacks, an interception and three passes broken up. In 2022, he recorded 23 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and eight passes defended. Dixon would make a lot of sense for the Lions in the early rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft.
Indianapolis Colts: Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia
The Colts won in Germany, improving to 5-5 and dropping the inept Patriots to 2-8 on the season. Indianapolis won despite only scoring 10 points. Dayo Odeyingbo was a beast for the Colts, recording three sacks to lead their suffocation of the New England offense. The Patriots did get 84 yards on six receptions to Demario Douglas, and Indianapolis could use an outside cornerback to go with Kenny Moore.
Lassiter (6-0, 180) was behind some more experienced players before, but he has a good skill set and has established himself as the top cover corner for the Bulldogs in 2023. Lassiter is very instinctive and has impressed with his ability to sustain coverage. He has 33 tackles and seven passes broken up so far this year. He recorded 38 tackles and four passes batted in 2022. He would make a lot of sense for Indianapolis’ first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Layden Robinson, G, Texas A&M
The Tampa Bay defense was torched by C.J. Stroud a week ago, but the unit rebounded against the Titans with a superb day, shutting down Derrick Henry (11-24) and DeAndre Hopkins (3-27). Once again, the Buccaneers’ rushing offense was horrible, as they averaged 2.7 yards per carry and Rachaad White put up only 51 yards on 20 carries. Clearly, the Bucs need more interior line help beef to help open holes for their backs.
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 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 and would be a nice value and fit for the Buccaneers there.
San Francisco 49ers: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma
The 49ers busted their slump with a dominating win in Jacksonville. The San Francisco defense smothered Trevor Lawrence, and the offense was back in sync with the return of Trent Williams. The future Hall of Fame tackle won’t be able to play forever, but the 2024 NFL Draft should be very strong at offensive tackle. The 2024 NFL Draft might be a good time to select a future left tackle who could start out at guard or right tackle and eventually replace Williams.
The 6-foot-7, 328-pound Guyton is said to be an athletic freak with a special combination of size, speed and length. He started five games in 2022 for the Sooners after starting out his career at TCU. In 2021, he played offensive tackle and h-back with the Horned Frogs. Team sources say Guyton has all the ability but needs to get more consistent. Considering he has not started a full season yet, Guyton has a lot of upside to grow as he gains experience. Multiple team sources say he has first-round potential and think he could be a riser for the 2024 NFL Draft. Guyton would be a great understudy for Trent Williams.
Minnesota Vikings: TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State
The Vikings stayed hot with a home win over the Saints. Minnesota’s defense shut down the Saints in the first half while the Vikings put together a big lead. T.J. Hockenson (11-134-1) had a monster game and picked up the slack for a struggling rush offense. Ty Chandler (15-44) and Alexander Mattison (8-27) were stifled, and the Minnesota rushing offense is clearly nowhere near what it was a couple years ago with Dalvin Cook. The Vikings need to improve their backfield talent in the offseason.
Thus far this year, Henderson has averaged 6.3 yards per carry for 648 yards and eight touchdowns. He has 14 receptions for 184 yards as well. Henderson put together an impressive freshman year in 2021 and was too talented to keep on the bench behind more experienced upperclassmen. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry that season for 1,248 yards and 15 touchdowns on only 183 carries. Henderson also was an impressive receiving back, snatching 27 passes for 312 yards and four scores. In 2022, he averaged 5.3 yards per carry for 571 yards and six touchdowns before getting injured. With his quality skill set, Henderson (5-10, 214) has the potential to be a second-day pick in the 2024 NFL Draft who turns into a solid pro.
Chicago Bears: Caleb Williams, QB, USC
Chicago got a win on Thursday Night Football thanks to its defense getting the better of rookie quarterback Bryce Young and the anemic Carolina offense. The Bears won, but their offense was not good even though the Panthers were playing without star defensive end Brian Burns. The Bears only scored 16 points with rookie Tyson Bagent, and this season has given further proof of Justin Fields’ passing limitations and the health risks that come with a quarterback whose most dangerous attribute is his running ability. If Chicago lands a top-two pick in the 2024 NFL Draft – thanks to having both Carolina’s selection along with its own -, the franchise should take a signal-caller and trade Fields to a quarterback-needy team.
Williams has completed 69 percent of his passes this season for 2,958 yards, 28 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also has 10 rushing touchdowns. Williams (6-1, 218) has an excellent skill set to be a pro starter because he is an accurate passer with a strong arm. On the ground, Williams is slippery and dangerous runner who possesses surprising speed and toughness. His greatest strength is his ability to ad lib his team into a big play. Williams is tremendous at scrambling and throwing on the run to make something out of nothing.
However, Williams has a huge problem with holding the ball too long. He puts a lot of pressure on his offensive line, leading to him taking a lot of hits. Williams has a lot of talent, but he needs development for the NFL. Still, his passing ability would be an upgrade for Chicago.
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.
Los Angeles Chargers:
If the Chargers were in the NFC, they would be among the top teams in the conference. But in the loaded AFC, they are going to have scratch and claw their way into the playoffs. On top of seeing tough competition, the Chargers are prone to squandering some games and have suffered from a plethora of terrible coaching decisions by Brandon Staley. General manager Tom Telesco has done a good job of drafting a talented roster, and the organization has an elite quarterback in Justin Herbert. This offseason, the Chargers need to get a better head coach and continue to build the roster to hopefully get them in position to contend for a Lombardi Trophy while they have Herbert in the prime of his career.
If the Chargers were smart, they would pull out all the stops to hire Jon Gruden. The quarterback guru and offensive genius would be a great coach to work with Herbert. That is unlikely to happen, however, because Chargers owner Dean Spanos is known to not pay for premium coaches. Instead, he looks for young, inexperienced, cheap hires. Given Spanos’ reluctance to pay, it seems unlikely the Chargers would win a likely bidding war for Detroit offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. Regardless, the Chargers need to hire a new head coach.
In my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft, I have the Chargers taking Georgia tight end Brock Bowers. He was the best player available, plus could be too good to pass up. Giving Herbert a mismatch weapon like Bowers to go with Quentin Johnston should have the Chargers’ passing attack among the elite in the NFL for years to come. Eventually, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams could decline and/or be too expensive. Hence, it could make sense for the long-term to draft a weapon like Bowers.
While Bowers would be fantastic for the Chargers, he’d be a bit of a luxury pick as Gerald Everett has been serviceable. Los Angeles really needs help on the defensive side of the ball, especially at cornerback. J.C. Jackson was a bust free agency signing, so the team has a big void for a tough outside corner role, which Jackson was expected to fill. In the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Chargers could consider options like Clemson’s Nate Wiggins, Georgia’s Kamari Lassiter and Alabama’s Terrion Arnold. There also should be good cornerback prospects to consider on Day 2 in this draft.
The Chargers could use help at linebacker too. Veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks is not a long-term starter at this point of his career. In early rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft, they could consider players like Notre Dame linebacker Marist Liufau, Oklahoma’s Danny Stutsman, North Carolina’s Cedric Gray, Georgia’s Jamon Dumas-Johnson and Ohio State’s Tommy Eichenberg.
With Herbert in-house along with a phenomenal group of edge rushers, the Chargers have the potential to be among the elite teams in the NFL. An improvement in the coaching and another good draft could make the Chargers a true Super Bowl contender as soon as next season.
Halfway through the 2023 season, it has become crystal clear that the Panthers are the worst team in the NFL. A series of bad decisions by owner David Tepper, such as hiring Matt Rhule and giving him full control over the organization have come to roost. It looks like taking Bryce Young over C.J. Stroud was another mistake by Tepper and the organization, but Young is only a rookie and plenty of excellent NFL quarterbacks struggled early in their careers. What’s done is done; now Carolina has to move forward and build up the roster around Young to hopefully help him turn the corner.
However, the Panthers are in a challenging spot regarding building up their roster. They gave up their 2024 first-round pick and No. 1 wide receiver D.J. Moore to move up for Young. That is a very painful cost because they are badly missing Moore and Young is not getting adequate help from his receivers. Carolina’s first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft also looks like it could be No. 1 overall, so that hurts because USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye are better prospects than Young was last year. The Panthers could have some money to spend in free agency, but they also are going to have to pay Brian Burns a mega contract extension to keep him. Defensive tackle Derrick Brown is also nearing a huge contract. Thus, Carolina will have to be discerning in how to augment roster while retaining the two best players on the team.
Clearly, the Panthers need more wide receiver talent, and in my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft I have them taking Washington’s Rome Odunze at the top of the second round. Odunze is a big wideout who might have issues separating from NFL cornerbacks, hence he could slip to Round 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft. Another good receiver might slip to the second round as well, such as possibly South Carolina’s Xavier Legette or Texas’ Xavier Worthy. I don’t think Texas’ Adonai Mitchell or LSU’s Malik Nabers will get to Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft.
Elsewhere on offense, Carolina could use more help on the offensive line. The Panthers have used a first-round pick on Icky Ekwonu, signed free agents, and have drafted linemen in the mid-rounds, yet the offensive line continues to be a huge weakness. The 2024 NFL Draft looks to have an excellent class of offensive tackles. Perhaps through the draft process, a good tackle prospect will slide and give Carolina a steal at the top of the second round. Even if that doesn’t happen, there could be quality second-round offensive tackles who the organization could target. Players like Illinois’ Julian Pearl, Pittsburgh’s Matt Goncalves and Houston’s Patrick Paul could be options, as well as perhaps Duke tackle/guard Graham Barton, who might slip to Round 2.
After extending Burns and Brown, the top priorities for the Panthers in free agency and the draft have to be upgrading their receivers and offensive line. Everything is riding on Bryce Young turning around his play in 2024. Carolina must help him by improving his supporting cast. The NFC South looks to be wide open and might be the worst division in the NFL, so if Young makes a big jump in the second year of his career, Carolina could quickly become a playoff contender. This is a critical offseason for the Panthers, and Tepper staying out of decisions in free agency and the draft would be a great start to improving the thought process in Carolina.