Monday Morning Draft – Week 14

Caleb Williams

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

Chicago Bears:

The Bears tightened their grip on the No. 1 pick in Week 14 thanks to the Patriots winning and the Panthers losing to the Saints and falling to 1-12 on the season. That gives Chicago a two-game lead with only four games remaining. It seems next to impossible for the Bears to not have the No. 1 pick in 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. Carolina has the worst record in the NFL, and the team may not win again the rest of the season. The Panthers definitely are the worst team in the league.

The Bears are going to have a big decision to make whether to stick with Justin Fields, or look to trade Fields while drafting USC quarterback Caleb Williams. Fields has accuracy issues, and his pocket passing is inconsistent. Chicago could look to trade Fields and recover an early-round pick, which they traded away for Montez Sweat.

New England Patriots:

This Patriots are among the two worst teams in the NFL, and they improved to 3-10 after getting a road win over the Steelers on Thursday night. The victory really hurts New England’s chances of landing the No. 1-overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, as the team would need to lose out, have the Panthers to win two games, which is a tall order, and own the tie break over Carolina. Still, New England will be picking early in Round 1 and should be able to land a quarterback prospect like North Carolina’s Drake Maye or LSU’s Jayden Daniels, assuming the organization misses out USC’s Caleb Williams. New England’s roster is devoid of talent thanks to years of terrible drafts by Bill Belichick. The Patriots need a huge roster overhaul along with having to find a franchise quarterback.

Arizona Cardinals:

Arizona had a bye this week. The Cardinals are 3-10 after getting a road win over the Steelers. This win was a critical blow to any hopes of landing the No. 1 pick. The Cardinals need Carolina and New England to get a few wins while also lossing out to land the top 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
  • 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
  • Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn
  • Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn
  • 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.

Minnesota Vikings: Blake Corum, RB, Michigan

The Vikings won an epic game of terrible offensive play with a 3-0 victory over the Raiders. Minnesota remains in a wild-card spot, but its offense is not the same without Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson. Assuming both come back next year, the offense will be much better. The team could use more of a running game to help them. Alexander Mattison is a solid back, but the offense is not as diverse as it was when Dalvin Cook was running well for the Vikings.

So far in 2023, Corum has averaged 4.7 yards per carry for 1,028 yards and 24 touchdowns. He has 14 receptions for 82 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. Corum would make sense for the Vikings as a second-day pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Cleveland Browns: Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

The Browns enjoyed an efficient performance from Joe Flacco, who carried them to 31 points for a home win over the first-place Jaguars. Tight end David Njoku had a huge day with six receptions for 91 yards and two touchdowns to lead Cleveland. The 2024 NFL Draft is strong at the receiver position, so some good players will slip to the second round.

Mitchell has 51 catches this season for 813 yards and 10 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. Mitchell shows some straight-line speed, but lacks quick explosion and change-of-direction juice. He also needs to get stronger for the NFL. One can see why Mitchell was a top recruit at Georgia, and he was wise to transfer to Texas as he is finally in an offense that features a passing attack and gets the receivers more involved. Mitchell looks like a potential first- or second-round pick for the 2024 NFL Draft, and he would be a good value for the Browns if he slips to Friday night.

New York Jets: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

The Jets’ offense struggled in the first half before producing 30 points in the final two quarters. It was shocking to see Zach Wilson throw for 300 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson produced through the air and showed what they are capable of when they get some help from their trigger man. Aaron Rodgers will be back in 2024, and the Jets have to improve their protection. Houston notched four sacks on Sunday, and improving the protection for Rodgers will be vital for 2024.

Alt (6-7, 317) broke into the starting lineup at left tackle as a freshman in 2021 and has remained on the blind side ever since. He started out his career playing some tight end for Notre Dame before settling in at left tackle. Alt is big with long arms, has good strength in the upper body, uses his hands well, and has good technique. He has been consistent and productive.

However, Alt has issues with his anchor because he is stiff and doesn’t bend well. That lack of bend will be challenging to fix given how tall Alt is. While Alt isn’t perfect, he is a safe pick to be a good NFL starter. Alt would make a lot of sense for a plug-and-play contributor for the Jets and would be just about an ideal first-round pick.

Cincinnati Bengals: Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

The Bengals cruised over the Colts, pitching a shutout in the second half. Gardner Minshew had some yardage, and the Cincinnati defense did not have to deal with the injured Jonathan Taylor. With the passing attacks in the AFC and in the division, it would make sense for Cincinnati to add some cornerback talent. That will be a big need for the Bengals if Chidobe Awuzie leaves in free agency.

Lassiter (6-0, 180) 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 37 tackles and eight passes broken up so far this year while providing steadily blanketing the opposing team’s top receiver. Lassiter recorded 38 tackles and four passes batted in 2022. Lassiter could make a lot of sense for the Bengals’ first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

New Orleans Saints: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

The Saints cruised over the awful Panthers behind Derek Carr throwing two touchdowns. New Orleans also scored a touchdown off of a blocked punt. The New Orleans receivers once again struggled. Chris Olave (4-28-1) scored, but no receiver had five catches or even 45 yards through the air. The Saints badly needs some playmakers at receiver. Olave is inconsistent, Michael Thomas is washed up, and Rashid Shaheed is good role player. The Saints need a consistent No. 1 wide receiver.

Nabers has 86 catches for 1,546 yards and 14 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. Nabers caught 72 passes for 1,017 yards and three touchdowns that season. He has decent size at 6-foot, 195 pounds as well as quickness and athleticism. In the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, Nabers would be a good pick for the Saints.

Chicago Bears: Kris Jenkins, DT, Michigan

The Bears got a home win over the Lions thanks to Justin Fields providing some big plays, Montez Sweat dominating Taylor Decker, and Jared Goff struggling with turnovers. Chicago’s defense pitched a shutout in the second half, and the Bears were fortunate the game evolved away from Detroit’s ground game because the Lions were having success on the ground with their potent running back tandem. With Sweat on the edge, Chicago could use more talent on the interior of the defensive line.

Jenkins has 33 tackles, 1.5 sacks and an interception in 2023. After spending a couple of seasons as a backup, Jenkins (6-3, 305) earned a starting spot in 2022 and had a strong debut with 54 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and two hurries. While Jenkins does not have big pass-rush production, he is consistent about producing pressure from the inside. He is the son of former Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, so he has good NFL bloodlines. If the Bears trade down from their second first-round pick to a team that needs a quarterback, Jenkins could be a great fit for Chicago.

New England Patriots: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

The New England offense had perhaps its best performance of the season against Pittsburgh when you consider the opponent. Bailey Zappe had three touchdown passes to help New England pull off the road upset. While Zappe is a solid backup, he is not a long-term starter, but neither is Mac Jones. New England needs a true starter and franchise quarterback.

In 2023, Maye completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,608 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also had eight rushing touchdowns. Maye exploded onto the college-football scene as a redshirt freshman, showing serious arm talent. On the year, Maye completed 66 percent of his passes for 4,321 yards, 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder has good size and easy arm strength to go vertical. He lofts balls well, showing touch and throwing his receivers open. On top of his passing ability, Maye can make some things happen with his feet and he has mobile athleticism. He would be a nice selection for the Patriots in the first round 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.

Indianapolis Colts:

Even if the Colts fall short of the playoffs this year, this season has been a positive for them. Shane Steichen has done a superb job in his first season. Challenging for the playoffs without their starting quarterback is phenomenal, and Gardner Minshew deserves praise for his gritty play in helping lead them to playing meaningful games in December. This offseason, the Colts need to continue to build their roster to help Anthony Richardson in his second year and make progress toward being a true competitor in the AFC.

It looked like left tackle might be a huge need this offseason, but Bernhard Raimann has shown significant improvement in his second season and Blake Freeland is solid depth behind him. However, Indianapolis still need to provide more help for Richardson. Michael Pittman Jr. is a free agent after this season, and there has not been a lot of buzz about extension talks happening. In my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft, I have the Colts taking Florida State wide receiver Keon Coleman, and Coleman is very similar to Pittman. Both are big, strong, physical, dangerous after the catch, and good athletes for their size. Some other receiver options who could be nice options for the Colts in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft include LSU’s Malik Nabers, LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr., Washington’s Rome Odunze, Florida State’s Keon Coleman, Texas’ Xavier Worthy and Texas’ Adonai Mitchell. If Pittman is re-signed, the Colts could probably use their first-round pick elsewhere.

The cornerback position could warrant consideration. Kenny Moore II is a superb nickel, while JuJu Brents could be a starter on the outside for many years to come. Indianapolis could use a cover corner to complete the trio, and Clemson’s Nate Wiggins could be a nice fit. He has serious speed and athleticism to run the route and prevent separation. Other first-round options could include Georgia’s Kamari Lassiter and Alabama’s Terrion Arnold.

Elsewhere on defense, the Colts could use help at edge rusher after losing Yannick Ngakoue. They could consider some edge options like Florida State defensive end Jared Verse, Washington’s Bralen Trice, and Penn State’s Chop Robinson.

With Anthony Richardson being on a cheap rookie contract, Indianapolis should have money to spend in free agency. If Pittman is re-signed, it would make sense for the team to spend a lot of draft picks on building up the defense. The Colts have an excellent front office with general manager Chris Ballard and chief personnel executive Morocco Brown. Indianapolis will continue to draft well with them at the helm, and before long the team could be challenging to make a run at the Super Bowl in the competitive AFC.

Jacksonville Jaguars:

While the Colts and Texans have been better than expected, the Jaguars have been in control of the AFC South this season. If Trevor Lawrence were to miss multiple games over the final month that could change the equation, but if Lawrence is able to play at, or close to, his normal level, Jacksonville should end up winning the South. This offseason, the franchise can continue to build up its roster to support Lawrence with hopes of winning its first Super Bowl.

Sources have said Jacksonville’s approach to the 2023 NFL Draft was targeting the best available lineman on the defensive or offensive side of the ball. They ended up making a nice selection in Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison. That leaves the defensive line as a potential target in the 2024 NFL Draft. If Josh Allen isn’t re-signed, then getting an edge rusher will be important. Late in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, Jacksonville could have options to consider like Florida State’s Jared Verse, Washington’s Bralen Trice and Penn State’s Chop Robinson.

The Jaguars also could consider adding defensive tackle talent. They could use more interior pass rush, and there could be some good options late in the first round, including Ohio State’s Michael Hall Jr., Michigan’s Kris Jenkins and Illinois’ Johnny Newton. The Jaguars also could consider tackle options on the second day of the 2024 NFL Draft in the form of Clemson’s Ruke Orhorhoro, Oregon’s Brandon Dorlus, Texas’ T’Vondre Sweat and Texas’ Byron Murphy.

Cornerback is another position where the Jaguars could use an injection of young talent to go with Tyson Campbell. Some late first-round corners who could be good targets for Jacksonville include Georgia’s Kamari Lassiter, Alabama’s Terrion Arnold and Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry. There should be some nice cornerback values on the second day of the draft as well, so the Jaguars could target another position on Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft while looking to draw on that corner depth on Friday night of the draft.

Jacksonville could see a really good wide receiver fall into its lap during the 2024 NFL Draft. The wide receiver class looks like it will offer some very good values late in Round 1. In my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft I have the Jaguars taking South Carolina wideout Xavier Legette, and he would give Lawrence a big outside receiver with vertical speed. Some other receiver options who could be nice picks late in the first round for Jacksonville include LSU’s Malik Nabers, LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr, Washington’s Rome Odunze, Florida State’s Keon Coleman, Texas’ Xavier Worthy and Texas’ Adonai Mitchell. The Jaguars already have some speed receivers, so they could use some size and physicality. In that group, Legette, Coleman, Mitchell and Odunze would fit as big outside receivers to help Lawrence.

Aside from some help for their defensive line, the Jaguars have a strong roster, so they are in a great position to select the best player available in the 2024 NFL Draft and build up the depth on their roster. It would not be surprising if the Jaguars are a top Super Bowl contender in the AFC this January, but if they don’t push for a championship this year, they definitely could make jump into that caliber with another good draft.