Monday Morning Draft – Week 16

Caleb Williams

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

Chicago Bears:

Carolina almost beat the Packers in Week 16, but lost on a late field goal and fell to 2-13 on the season. For the Bears to not end up with the top pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Panthers would have to win one of their final two games while the Cardinals manage to lose out and get the tie-breaker over Carolina. New England has an outside shot – see below. 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’ 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 a quarterback like USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye or LSU’s Jayden Daniels. 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.

Arizona Cardinals:

The Cardinals are 3-12 after losing to the Bears. Arizona needs help to get the No. 1 pick. In order for the Cardinals to get that selection, they need Carolina to win one of its final two games while losing out themselves and having the tie-breaker go their way.

New England Patriots:

New England improved to 4-12 after winning in Denver on Sunday night. The Patriots’ Week 14 win over the Steelers really hurt the Patriots’ chances of landing the No. 1-overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft. They need to lose out, have the Panthers win both games – a tall order -, have the Cardinals win a game, and have the tie break over both teams. Still, New England 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 the franchise 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 that includes finding a franchise quarterback.

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 Commanders 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
  • Atlanta Falcons: Arthur Smith
  • New England Patriots: Bill Belichick
  • Chicago Bears: Matt Eberflus
  • New Orleans Saints: Dennis Allen

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.

New York Jets: Ricky Pearsall, WR, Florida

The Jets put up a big lead before Jacoby Brissett led the Commanders back for a near-upset. New York was led in receiving by Breece Hall, and Garrett Wilson was the only wide receiver who had more than two catches or even nine yards through the air. Clearly, the Jets need more receiving talent to go with Wilson and to help Aaron Rodgers in 2024.

Pearsall played well for the Gators, showing route-running, quickness, and the ability to add yards after the catch. If Florida had seen more consistent play out of its offensive line, Pearsall could have had a huge year. Instead, he recorded 65 receptions for 965 yards and four touchdowns in 2023.

Pearsall could be a nice weapon as a slot receiver in the NFL but also has enough size to line up on the outside. In the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft, he could be a good value for the Jets.

Green Bay Packers: Kamren Kinchens, S, Miami

Even though the Packers won on a late field goal, they should be embarrassed that the inept Panthers hung 30 points on them. Bryce Young ripped up the Green Bay defense, and Carolina saw quality production from D.J. Chark, Adam Thielen and Tommy Tremble. The Packers’ issues at safety were visible, so they could target an upgrade at the position in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Despite missing time with an injury, Kinchens was incredible in 2023, showing he is an elite ball-hawking safety with amazing instincts and playmaking ability. On the year, Kinchens 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.

Kinchens has a great skill set and serious ball skills. The 5-foot-11, 202-pounder is athletic and rangy, so he could play single-high deep free safety as a pro Sources also say Kinchens is great off the field. He would be a fabulous first-round pick for Green Bay in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Detroit Lions: Johnny Dixon, CB, Penn State

The Detroit Lions clinched their first division title since 1993 with a road win at Minnesota. Detroit’s defense intercepted Nick Mullens four times and came close to other turnovers, including a dropped interception and not diving on a Mullens fumble. Justin Jefferson (6-141-1) had a huge game, while both T.J. Hockenson (4-58) and Jordan Addison (1-2) left the field with injuries. Lions safeties Kerby Joseph – nine tackles and two interceptions -, Brian Branch – six tackles and one interception -, and Ifeatu Melifonwu – six tackles, two sacks and a pick – were phenomenal in helping the team’s corners downfield. Detroit could use more cornerback talent to go with Cam Sutton, and the team could address that in the 2024 NFL Draft.

A year ago, Joey Porter Jr. had an underwhelming season that caused him to slide from being a consensus first-rounder to a second-day pick in the draft. Across from Porter, Kalen King had a tremendous 2022 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 NFL evaluators. Dixon is gritty, quick, instinctive, and can run the route to prevent separation. This season, he has 26 tackles, 4.5 sacks, an interception and three passes broken up. In 2022, he recorded 23 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and eight passes defended. Dixon would be a nice second-round pick for Detroit.

Seattle Seahawks: Layden Robinson, G, Texas A&M

After an incredible comeback win on Monday Night Football, the Seahawks were in a tough spot with an early start time on the road at Tennessee. Seattle came back again with 14 points in the fourth quarter to get a critical win in the team’s hopes of securing a wild-card spot in the NFC. The Titans did a nice job of limiting the Seattle offense to only 58 yards rushing on 20 carries. The Seahawks have some young talent at the tackles, but they could use more road graders on the inside to keep open holes for Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet. On Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Seahawks could target a run-game engine with an upgrade for guard.

Team sources said they were impressed with the play of Robinson in 2023. They stated Robinson (6-4, 315) looks like a potential starting right guard in the NFL. They noted 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, and he would be an excellent addition for Seattle in the third round.

Buffalo Bills: Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

The Bills got a last-minute field goal from Tyler Bass to avoid disaster with a loss to the reeling Chargers. Los Angeles’ backup quarterback Easton Stick almost led his team to comeback win despite Buffalo being in must-win territory to make the playoffs in the competitive AFC. Gabe Davis (4-130-1) had a big game, while Stefon Diggs (5-29) was not a big factor despite going against a weak secondary. In the 2024 NFL Draft, Buffalo could use a young explosive speed receiver because Diggs is aging and could end up being pushed out before long.

Worthy has 73 receptions this year for 969 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 163-pounder is a quick, shifty, undersized playmaker who can get open vertically and is a threat to score on any reception. Worthy had an impressive debut in 2021 with 62 catches for 981 yards and 12 touchdowns. In 2022, he turned 60 receptions for 760 yards and nine scores. Worthy would be a nice pick for the Bills in the back half of Round 1 during the 2024 NFL Draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Cam Hart, CB, Notre Dame

The Steelers cruised over the Bengals, with their offense playing their best game of the season. Cincinnati was without Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, and the Pittsburgh defense brought Jake Browning down to Earth. Rookie Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr. has had a very good rookie season and has been following No. 1 receivers in recent weeks. While he followed Bengals big receiver Tee Higgins, he hauled in five passes for 140 yards and a touchdown, including an 80-yard completion. In the 2024 NFL Draft, the Steelers could target a corner to go with Porter and allow them some flexibility with how they match up against the opposition.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder Hart is a big corner who will enter the next level with good development and experience. In 2023, Hart totaled 21 tackles, four passes broken up and three forced fumbles, but the numbers don’t illustrate how very good Hart was as a senior. He had a superb game against Marvin Harrison Jr., leading the way to limit the star receiver to three catches for 32 yards. Hart moves well for a big cornerback and can play man or zone coverage. With his skill set and experience, Hart could be a starter early in his NFL career. Hart could be a good second-round pick for the Steelers and allow them to add a playmaker in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Los Angeles Rams: Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

The Rams were in control before late points from the Saints made the final score closer than it appeared for the majority of Thursday Night Football. Derek Carr threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns, and the Saints got quality outings from Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed. This offseason, the Rams could stand to find a true replacement for Jalen Ramsey and a No. 1 corner for their defense.

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 steady blanket coverage on the opposing team’s top receiver. He recorded 38 tackles and four passes batted in 2022. In the back half of the first round, Lassiter would be a nice selection for the Rams.

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.

Arizona Cardinals:

Two years ago, the Detroit Lions were among the worst teams in the NFL and landed the No. 2-overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Now, the Lions are going to the playoffs thanks to astute drafting, good coaching, a capable veteran quarterback, and being armed with extra draft picks thanks to the Matthew Stafford trade. The Arizona Cardinals have the same opportunity as they have a talented veteran quarterback, a promising young coaching staff, and are armed with extra draft picks. New Arizona general manager Monti Ossenfort has a great opportunity to build the Cardinals into a top contender in the NFC.

The Cardinals are slated to have a top-five pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and a pick in the back half of the first round from the Houston Texans. High in Round 1, Arizona could have the opportunity to move down with a team that wants one of the top quarterback prospects. That would be a wise move as it would probably result in Arizona having multiple first-round picks in the 2025 NFL Draft as well. Adding five first-round picks to the roster over three-draft span is what Lions general manager Brad Holmes did, and that could be an avenue for Ossenfort to rapidly add talent to the Arizona roster.

If the Cardinals opt not to move down or don’t find a quality offer that makes it worth their while, there will be some excellent prospects available to them high in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. In my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft, I have Arizona taking Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. While the Cardinals have some talent at receiver, they do not have an elite No. 1 receiver like Harrison. He could be a huge asset for Kyler Murray and make the Arizona offense much more dangerous. Having Harrison on the outside would open things up for Hollywood Brown, Trey McBride, and the rushing offense. Harrison would be a tremendous addition to the team’s scoring attack.

If Arizona were to trade down in the first round with a team that is looking for a quarterback, that would probably eliminate drafting Harrison, but the organization could have some 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. Any of that group would be a candidate for the Cardinals’ second selection in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

If the Cardinals don’t trade down and some team takes Harrison ahead of them, they could consider adding a defensive player like Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner. Arizona needs more difference-makers in their front seven, and Turner would be a dangerous quarterback hunter to pair with Zaven Collins. With the pick Arizona has from the Texans, the franchise could consider other edge rushers like UCLA’s Laiatu Latu or Florida State’s Jared Verse. The Cardinals also could target some interior defensive line help with candidates like Ohio State’s Michael Hall Jr. and Michigan’s Kris Jenkins Jr.

Cornerback is another position worth the Cardinals considering with their pick from Houston. Adding a No. 1 corner is going to be necessary in the next year or two, and Arizona could address it via the 2024 or 2025 NFL Draft. Two candidates who the Cardinals could target next April would be Clemson’s Nate Wiggins or Georgia’s Kamari Lassiter.

Arizona has a lot of needs, but with two first-round picks and a high second-round pick, the franchise has flexibility with how to build the roster. If Ossenfort drafts well in 2024 and 2025, the Cardinals are fully capable of producing a quick around and being in playoff contention a couple of years from now.

Atlanta Falcons:

This has been a frustrating year to follow the Atlanta Falcons. Over the past three years, the Falcons have drafted well, stocking the offense with some elite young playmakers and building the defense into a solid unit. The roster is playoff worthy and is the most talented in the NFC South. However, the coaching decisions made by Arthur Smith and the quarterback play of Desmond Ridder have ruined what should have been a playoff season for Atlanta. This offseason, Smith needs to be replaced and Ridder need to move into a backup spot.

It will be interesting to see where the Falcons end up in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, but entering Week 16, they had the 10th-overall pick. Landing a first-round quarterback would be ideal for Atlanta, but the 10th spot could be too low to land one of the top three quarterbacks in USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye and LSU’s Jayden Daniels. In my latest mock 2024 NFL Draft I have the Falcons taking Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, and it will be interesting to see if teams feel McCarthy is worthy of going that high. If I were running Atlanta, I would explore trading up for one of the top three signal-callers. Of that trio, I would especially target Maye because he is an accurate passer who could be the best at getting the ball to Kyle Pitts, Drake London and Bijan Robinson.

If the Falcons miss out on the first-round quarterbacks, they could target some options on Day 2 like Oregon’s Bo Nix, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. or South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler. Nix could be the best option and fit for Atlanta of those three.

If the Falcons sign or trade for a veteran starting quarterback, they could target defensive help in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Atlanta could use a cornerback upgrade across from A.J. Terrell, so the team could consider options like Clemson’s Nate Wiggins or Georgia’s Kamari Lassiter. Another corner would give the Falcons a good starting tandem, with Terrell probably getting signed to a large contract extension next year.

Atlanta could also use more young talent on the defensive line. The team could target an edge rusher like Alabama’s Dallas Turner, UCLA’s Laiatu Latu or Florida State’s Jared Verse. The interior defensive line is also a need for the organization, so the franchise could look at spending first-round pick on a prospect like Ohio State’s Michael Hall Jr. or Michigan’s Kris Jenkins Jr.

This going to be a critical offseason for the Falcons in order to take the next step and become a real contender in the NFC. Fortunately for Atlanta, general manager Terry Fontenot has drafted well. Now, he must find a starting quarterback and a head coach who are capable of maximizing the great weapons on the roster. If Fontenot gets these decisions correct, Atlanta could be among the top teams in the NFC and challenging for the Super Bowl in the near future.