New Year Mock Draft: Seven QBs, several shocking trades, and a defensive drought

In NFLMocks’ first mock draft of 2024, quarterbacks fly off the board in a hurry. Who will Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels end up with? Can the Vikings and Seahawks find signal-callers of the future?
Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Kenny Dillingham congratulates USC Trojans quarterback Caleb
Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Kenny Dillingham congratulates USC Trojans quarterback Caleb / Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY
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Michael Penix Jr. Keeps His Purple And Gold Attire

No. 12: Minnesota Vikings — Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

The Vikings will likely be without Kirk Cousins in 2024, paving the way for a new leader in the locker room. Michael Penix Jr. has the experience and ability to step in immediately, giving Minnesota a high-upside gunslinger if the front office is comfortable with his medicals.

No. 13: New Orleans Saints — Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

Full disclosure: Malik Nabers should go earlier, but this mock draft featured a run on quarterbacks. The Saints benefit, adding a lethal running partner with Chris Olave, as Nabers brings unparalleled explosion to the offense.

No. 14: Denver Broncos — Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

Another player that should go higher, Laiatu Latu’s tape is as good as any in the class, but his medicals remain a cloud over his draft stock. The Broncos roll the dice, choosing to beef up a pass-rushing unit that is average at best.

Expect Cam Ward To Climb NFL Draft And Mock Draft Boards

No. 15: Seattle Seahawks — Cam Ward, QB, Washington State

Cam Ward is a late entry to the quarterback class, opting to place his name in the 2024 NFL Draft rather than transfer. The Seahawks will keep Ward in Washington as the ascending talent lands with a stable organization that won’t rush his development.

Ward has all the traits of a franchise player behind center; he just needs some seasoning.

No. 16: Cincinnati Bengals — Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending injury yet again, and it’s impossible not to blame the offensive line. The unit needs a tone-setter — Taliese Fuaga profiles as such. He is a bully ball blocker who dominates in the run game and anchors in well as a pass protector.

No. 17: Arizona Cardinals (via HOU) — Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

My top-rated cornerback drops right in the lap of the Arizona Cardinals. Kool-Aid McKinstry excels in press coverage and is more than a willing tackler. Coming away with Marvin Harrison Jr. and McKinstry is highway robbery.

No. 18: Pittsburgh Steelers — Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

If Joey Porter Jr. is a strong start to building up the cornerback room, Nate Wiggins would be the proverbial cherry on top. Wiggins is a smooth mover, possessing fluid hips and ball skills to frequently disrupt passing lanes.

Packers Use Best Player Available Strategy In Round 1 Of Mock Draft

No. 19: Green Bay Packers — Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

The cornerback run continues as Terrion Arnold goes No. 19 overall in this mock draft. The Packers employ Jaire Alexander, but injuries and inconsistency plague the rest of the depth chart. Arnold is a fiery competitor, using physicality to torment his assignments.