Race for the No. 1 Pick of the 2024 NFL Draft:
In Week 15, Carolina beat the Falcons to improving to 2-12 on the season, while the Patriots lost to the Chiefs to fall to 3-11. The Panthers would have to win one of their final three games and the Patriots would have to lose out for the latter to potentially steal the No. 1 pick from Chicago. The Bears 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 Carolina’s first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
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 for an early-round pick, as they gave up one for Montez Sweat.
New England Patriots:
New England is one of the two worst teams in the NFL and fell to 3-11 after losing at home to the Chiefs. The Patriots’ Week 14 win over the Steelers really hurt the organization’s chances of landing the No. 1-overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft. New England needs to lose out and have Carolina both win another game – a tall order – and lost the tie breaker. Still, the Patriots will be picking high in the 2024 NFL Draft and should be able to land a quarterback prospect like North Carolina’s Drake Maye or LSU’s Jayden Daniels – assuming they miss 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 that includes finding a franchise quarterback.
The Cardinals are 3-11 after losing to the 49ers. Arizona needs help from Carolina and New England by both of those squads winning games while losing out the season to land the No. 1 pick.
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
- 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.
Las Vegas Raiders: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson
After getting shut out by the Vikings four days earlier, the Raiders exploded against the Chargers for 63 points. It wasn’t surprising that Las Vegas won given that the Chargers were without starting quarterback Justin Herbert, but the point production was a shocker. The win might be painful next April during the 2024 NFL Draft though, as getting their sixth win might push the Raiders too low to land a quarterback like LSU’s Jayden Daniels or North Carolina’s Drake Maye. If the Raiders miss out on a first-round quarterback, they could target a trigger man on Day 2 and then add some cornerback help in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Wiggins has height to go along with serious speed and athleticism. He is fast and fluid to run the route and prevent separation. Wiggins could stand to add some strength to tackle in the NFL, but he is the most talented cover corner for the 2024 NFL Draft. In 2023, he recorded 28 tackles, six passes broken up, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a sack. Wiggins broke into the starting lineup in 2022 with 39 tackles, an interception and 11 passes defended. He would be an immediate upgrade as a corner to pair with Nate Hobbs.
Cincinnati Bengals: Kamren Kinchens, S, Miami
The Bengals pulled off a furious comeback to come away with an overtime win over the Vikings. It kept Cincinnati’s playoff hopes alive, as Jake Browning has done an admirable job of filling in for Joe Burrow. The comeback was necessary because the Cincinnati defense struggled with Minnesota’s receiving weapons and running back Ty Chandler (23-132-1). Jesse Bates has had a monster season for the Falcons, while Cincinnati is missing him. A safety upgrade would help the Bengals deal with backs like Chandler and receiving problems like Jordan Addison (6-111-2) and T.J. Hockenson (7-63).
Despite missing time with an injury, Kinchens has been incredible in 2023, showing he is an elite ball-hawking safety with amazing instincts and playmaking ability. This year, Kinchens has totaled 59 tackles, a sack, five passes batted and five interceptions. He broke out in 2022 with six interceptions, five passes defended, 59 tackles and a forced fumble. The 5-foot-11, 202-pounder has a great skill set and serious ball skills. Kinchens is athletic and rangy, so he could play single-high deep free safety for the NFL. Sources also say Kinchens is great off the field. He would be a fabulous first-round pick for Cincinnati.
Indianapolis Colts: Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina
The Colts had an impressive 17-point win over the Steelers behind Gardner Minshew throwing three touchdowns to take advantage of the Indianapolis defense dominating the Pittsburgh offense. While Minshew played well, his supporting cast was without Jonathan Taylor, plus Michael Pittman Jr. got banged up. Pittman is a free agent after this season, but even if he’s re-signed, the Colts could use another playmaker for their offense.
According to multiple team sources, they were impressed with Legette this season and he has risen into first-round contention. In 2023, he totaled 71 receptions for 1,255 yards and seven touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 227-pounder has mismatch size and has shown that he has good speed for a big wideout. If he works out and interviews well, Legette could continue to rise as the 2024 NFL Draft approaches. Legette would be a nice first-round pick for the Colts.
Lions: Chris Braswell, OLB, Alabama
The Lions got back on track by cruising over Denver. Detroit’s defense had its best day in many weeks, and a big part of that was being more aggressive with blitzes, which harassed Russell Wilson. The Lions have really missed speed rusher James Houston this season, and they need more edge-rush talent across from Aidan Hutchinson. Houston will be back next year, but Detroit needs a third rusher to rotate in to keep them fresh and maintain the pass rush if there is injury.
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Braswell has real edge-rush ability for the next level. He possesses a very good skill set with legit speed and strength in his frame. In 2023, Braswell has recorded 41 tackles, eight sacks, three forced fumbles, one interception and a pass batted. In 2022, he totaled three sacks and 22 tackles while rotating behind Will Anderson and Dallas Turner. Braswell has real upside for the NFL as he has a freaky skill set. In the early rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft, Braswell would be a good addition for Detroit.
New Orleans Saints: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU
The Saints got a big win over the Giants to improve to 7-7 on the season. Derek Carr played well, completing 23-of-28 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns. He spread the ball around, but clearly the Saints need more receiving talent to help Carr in 2024. Michael Thomas is washed up, and Chris Olave has not been reliable this year. New Orleans needs more playmakers at 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. Nabers would be a superb pick for the Saints in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: James Williams, S, Miami
Baker Mayfield dominated the Packers, putting together a phenomenal performance in Green Bay to lead the Bucs to a huge road win. Tampa Bay is in control to win the NFC South after the Falcons lost in Carolina. If the Buccaneers get a home win over the Saints later this month, it will be a done deal. The Tampa Bay defense allowed some yardage through the air, and this year, the team has needed a safety to pair with Antoine Winfield Jr. In the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Bucs could land a starting strong safety.
In 2023, Williams has 73 tackles, an interception and four passes broken up. He recorded 59 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble and six passes broken up in 2022. The 6-foot-5, 224-pounder is a big safety with the size of a linebacker, but he moves pretty well for his size. Williams is more of a strong safety than a free safety for the NFL. He is consistent in terms of his eye discipline, technique and tackling. His instincts aren’t bad either, and he has some coverage ability alongside flashes of physicality. Williams would be a nice value for Tampa Bay in the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft.
Carolina Panthers: Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas
The Panthers got their second win of the season thanks to a last-second field goal over the Falcons. Carolina’s offense struggled once again, but critical mistakes by Atlanta quarterback Desmond Ridder gifted the game to the Panthers. It has been apparent all year that the Panthers need more receiving weapons for Bryce Young. The 2024 NFL Draft will feature a good class of wide receivers, so a nice option could slide to Carolina at the top of Round 2.
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 has 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 has 51 catches this season for 813 yards and 10 touchdowns. He looks like a potential first- or second-round pick for the 2024 NFL Draft, and he would be a good value for the Panthers if he slips to Friday night.
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 York Jets:
The Jets’ season was dealt a death-blow in Week 1 with Aaron Rodgers’ Achilles injury. Rodgers was brought in after Zach Wilson struggled over two years, and Wilson has continued to be inconsistent this season in relief of Rodgers. Prior to the 2021 NFL Draft, I wrote how team sources said Wilson’s personality and skill set made him a risky pick. That got a lot of hate, but has been proven true. The 2024 offseason has to be about helping Rodgers to hopefully keep him healthy so he can lead the Jets to playoff contention next year.
In my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft, I have the Jets taking Alabama offensive tackle J.C. Latham. Latham has been dominant in 2023 and looks like a player who could be a plug-and-play starter at the pro level. While he is rock solid in pass protection, Latham is a people mover in the ground game. He would be a great addition to the offensive line in New York. Aside from Latham there are other very good offensive line options for the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, including Notre Dame’s Joe Alt, BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia, Penn State’s Olu Fashanu, Georgia’s Amarius Mims and Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton. The Jets are fortunate this draft is strong at their biggest need.
If the Jets were to fix the line in free agency, they could consider adding a wide receiver to go with Garrett Wilson. The organization probably won’t have a shot at Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., but there could be other good options like 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 Jets don’t have a second-round pick because of the trade for Rodgers, so they must get a player who can help them immediately. New York is in win-now mode with a very good defense, some skill position talent, and an aging quarterback. This 2024 first-round pick must be a home run to help the Jets validate the hype they were getting prior to the 2023 season.
The Dolphins have been among the elite teams in the AFC this season, led by a big-play offense. Miami can be streaky team that will dominate a good team one week and then drop a game to another team it shouldn’t – see the Titans. With their strong roster, the Dolphins are built to be right back into the Super Bowl mix next season, and a good 2024 NFL Draft could put them over the top.
In my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft I have the Dolphins taking Notre Dame linebacker Marist Liufau, as they could use more talent for the middle of their defense. Picking late in the first round, the Dolphins could have a shot at the top linebacker in the 2024 NFL Draft. Liufau is fast, physical, and also is a dangerous edge rusher. He would give Miami some good edge-rush rotational depth given that Jaelen Phillips will be coming off a serious injury next season. The Dolphins also could wait to the second day of 2024 NFL Draft to take an option like Oklahoma’s Danny Stutsman, North Carolina’s Cedric Gray or Texas A&M’s Edgerrin Cooper.
The Miami offensive line looked like it could be a top need, but right tackle Austin Jackson has improved his play and just signed a 3-year contract extension. With Terron Armstead on the other side, the team is set on the edges. The Dolphins could consider adding some help at guard. In the early rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft, they could target guard options like Duke’s Graham Barton or Texas A&M’s Layden Robinson.
Miami has a strong roster of talent, so the franchise is in the fortunate situation where it could go with the best player available. Adding rotational talent and depth for the defensive line is always going to be a consideration. If Christian Wilkins were to leave in free agency, that would open up a huge hole on the Miami defensive line. He has turned into a dynamic defender at the point of attack, generating special pass-rush production that is hard to find from a defensive tackle. If Wilkins leaves, Miami would have to consider some players from a good group of defensive tackles. In the first round, the Dolphins could target Ohio State’s Michael Hall Jr., Michigan’s Kris Jenkins, Illinois’ Johnny Newton or Texas’ Byron Murphy. It would be shocking if Miami didn’t pay Wilkins a big extension or slap him with the franchise tag. Even if they do, the Dolphins could select the best player available and take a tackle to go with Wilkins.
Even if the Dolphins don’t win the Super Bowl this year, they should be right back into championship contention next season. One more good draft that beefs up their offensive line and defensive front seven could put them over the top come next season.