NFL Mocks will be bringing you the NFL Draft Notebook every Friday. In this article, we will be emptying our notebook with all the latest NFL Draft news and notes. In this week’s column, we take a look at what direction the Chicago Bears may move in with the first overall pick, why Bucky Irving is the top running back in the 2024 NFL Draft, and much more.
NFL Draft news and notes
Chicago Bears go with Caleb Williams: This week, the Chicago Bears appointed Shane Waldron as their new offensive coordinator. While this doesn't guarantee the selection of Caleb Williams, it does enhance the likelihood. The rationale behind this is Waldron's greater familiarity with quarterbacks like Williams compared to Fields, having worked with Geno Smith and Jared Goff. The primary factor favoring Williams over Justin Fields though is his significantly higher potential.
Justin Fields trade: If the Chicago Bears trade Justin Fields, the question will be what type of compensation can they get for him. From the sounds of it, the team should be able to get a late first-round or ealy second-round pick for Fields. One team that could make sense is the Pittsburgh Steelers who have the 20th pick. If the team does get this type of return on Fields the team could look to add a center with this pick. One center that will likely be at the top of their board is Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson who offensive line coach Jim Dray will get a chance to coach at the Senior Bowl next week.
New number one running back: Now that TreVeyon Henderson has returned to Ohio State, my new number-one running back in the 2024 NFL is Oregon’s Bucky Irving. One of the main reasons I have him rated so high is that he is a complete running back. As a runner, he shows excellent vision, the elusiveness to avoid tacklers in the open field, and surprising contact balance for a 5-foot-10 195-pound back. He also is one of the better receivers in this year’s running back class, having caught 87 passes over the past two seasons. In addition to these traits, he also has experience returning kicks.
Joe Milton should impress at the Senior Bowl: Look for Tennesse’s Joe Milton to get plenty of hype during Senior Bowl week. He will likely wow scouts with his impressive arm strength that can throw the ball close to 90 yards. Teams will also like his 6-foot-3 235-pound size, and how well he can move for someone that size. However, he is still more of a project than a polished passer. To make it in the NFL he will need to improve his processing speed, accuercey, and be able to throw more on rhythm.
Scouting Taulia Tagovailoa: A quarterback who entered the draft after my quarterback profiles came out is Taulia Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa who originally entered the transfer portal, decided to join the 2024 NFL Draft quarterback class after a waiver for an additional year of eligibility had been denied. He also decided to participate in the East-West Shrine which takes place this week. As a pro prospect, he will likely be a late-round draft pick due to his lack of size, and only average arm strength. However, he could be a good fit in a west coast system due to his impressive accuercey and overall craftiness in the pocket.
""He's always been a dynamic player. He creates offense. He has a really strong arm. He hurt us with some plays last year. I think he's a great player, but he's also making good decisions.""- Jim Knowles on Taulia Tagovailoa
Returning to school: One player who is returning to school after people thought he would initially enter the 2024 NFL Draft is UCLA wide receiver J. Michael Sturdivant. This is a good move for Sturdivant who saw a drop in production this season after leading all freshmen in receptions, receiving yards, and finished second in touchdown receptions. However, if he can keep playing like he did in the LA Bowl when he had 142 receiving yards on four receptions he should be able to improve on his late-round grade.
Seeing Plenty of Interest: One player who has already met with several NFL teams is Memphis running back Blake Watson. Watson who was the Hula Bowl Offensive MVP for team Aina is coming off an impressive season for the Tigers having rushed for 1,152 yards and catching 53 passes. This type of production has caught the NFL's attention as he has already met with at least ten teams. If he can have a strong showing at the East-West Shrine game look for his draft stock to keep improving.
QB to watch: A quarterback to watch for the 2025 NFL Draft is Ohio State’s Will Howard. Howard transferred to Ohio State after spending his first four seasons at Kansas State where he went 12-5 as a starter. His best season for the Wildcats was this year which was also his first full season starting. Overall, he threw for 2,643 yards and 24 touchdowns. According to Howard, he received anywhere from second to fourth-round grades from the NFL after this past season.
Bo Nix has the intelligence to play in the NFL: While there are some questions about how Bo Nix will talents will transfer to the NFL one thing is for sure and that is he has the intelligence to operate any offense in the NFL. This year he was named the Pac-12 Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was a first-team Academic All-American. He also finished his post-graduate degree with a 3.91 GPA. His ability to excel in the classroom should not be overlooked as it shows he picks up material quickly and will put in the time to understand the game.
Biggest hit: The Athletic came out with their All-Rookie team this week, and to no one's surprise wide receiver Puka Nacua made the list. This season Nacua set a rookie record with 1,486 receiving yards, and 105 receptions. He also set a single-game rookie record for receiving yards in a playoff game with 182 yards against Detroit. I also have to consider Nacua my biggest hit of the 2024 NFL Draft, as he was a member of the All-Underrated team.
"Three things stand out when watching Puka Nacua which are his size, his ability to make plays down the field, and his strong hands which allow him to catch in traffic. Coming in at 6-foot-2 he has the size to be an outside receiver and his 18.7 average yards per catch in 2021 show he can also stretch a defense."- My predraft report on Puka Nacua
Biggest Miss: While I hit on Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua one player I missed on was fellow Rams rookie Kobie Turner. I had a late fifth-round grade on the defensive tackle and saw him more as a backup. However, Turner this year proved to be one of the more feared pass rushers in the NFL. He finished the season with nine sacks which was the top mark among all rookies.
Coverage of the East-West Shrine Game: This weekend NFL Mocks will be covering the East-West Shrine game in-depth. We will have a practice report from both the East and West practices on both Saturday and Sunday. We will also have plenty of notes in next week’s NFL Draft Notebook about the game and week of practice.