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2024 NFL Draft

Saunders: Three-Round Mock 2024 NFL Draft

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Steelers QB Caleb Williams 2024 NFL Draft
Caleb Williams, USC Athletics

The 2024 NFL Draft is just two days away, and it’s time for our annual Steelers Now mock NFL Draft.

Last year, I predicted six picks in the first round completely correctly, two players at the right slot to the wrong team and another three to the correct team at the wrong slot. That was good enough to be the fifth-best mock draft recorded by NFL Mock Draft Database last season. We’ll see if I can do better than that this year, but I’m not holding my breath.

There will be a couple trades involved in this mock 2024 NFL Draft, but probably not as many as real life.

Love it? Hate it? Did I totally screw up your team’s needs? Let me know in the comments.

1) Chicago Bears, QB Caleb Williams, USC

Chisel this one into granite.

2) Washington Commanders, QB Drake Maye, North Carolina

No one seems to know what new Washington general manager Adam Peters is going to do with this pick, and so in the absence of hard information, I’ll go with my own evaluation. Maye has far more NFL-projectable skills than any other remaining quarterback in this class, and it’s honestly weird to me that it’s even being talked about like it’s close.

3) New England Patriots, QB Jayden Daniels, LSU

It’s easy to envision New England trading out of this pick. Daniels just doesn’t feel like a fit for that franchise and a defensive head coach, but it’s hard to argue that he’s not BPA at this point.

4) TRADE: Minnesota Vikings trade No. 11, No. 23 to Arizona Cardinals for No. 4 

Minnesota Vikings, QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

Cue up the highlight package of Monti Ossenfort working the phones. The Arizona Cardinals had the very attractive option of staying at No. 4 and taking their pick of the top three wide receivers. But Minnesota offered an overpayment Ossenfort couldn’t refuse, sending picks No. 11 and 23 to the desert for the chance to land Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy.

That’s a heck of a gamble to take on a very unproven quarterback, but the presence of Sam Darnold means that the Vikings can afford to bring him along slowly. McCarthy is a solid bet to be an heir to Kirk Cousins. Whether this trade will work depends on how much of a good thing you think that might be.

5) Los Angeles Chargers, WR Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

The Chargers probably would have liked to trade down from this pick, but with no quarterbacks left, they don’t find a suitor and instead snag Maserati Marv, the top wide receiver in the class to pair with Justin Herbert.

6) New York Giants, WR Malik Nabers, LSU

The Giants have been looking for an elite wide receiver since Odell Beckham Jr. left. The search ends here. Daniel Jones will get one more shot to see if he can turn into something more than he’s been, with better weapons to work with.

7) Tennessee Titans, OT Joe Alt, Notre Dame

The only question here was whether or not Alt would make it to the Titans. He’s a perfect fit for the team and what they need.

8) TRADE: Arizona Cardinals trade No. 11, No. 90 to Atlanta Falcons for No. 8

Arizona Cardinals, WR Rome Odunze, Washington

The Minnesota trade was too good to pass up for Ossenfort, but it also took him a bit too far down the board to be sure of landing a top wide receiver. With Chicago coming up and eyeing Odunze, Ossenfort sends No. 11 and pick No. 90 to the Atlanta Falcons to get back to No. 8 and get their top receiver.

9) Chicago Bears, TE Brock Bowers, Georgia

The Bears need a playmaker to go with Caleb Williams, and with the top wide receivers picked over, Bowers is the next best thing.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Oregon State Tackle Taliese Fuaga

Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State athletics

10) New York Jets, OT Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State

The Jets might have been interested in another passing weapon, but Fuaga is the offensive linemen they’ve coveted the most throughout the process. They’ll try to keep Aaron Rodgers upright for more than one quarter this season, and maybe run the ball a bit more effectively, too.

11) Atlanta Falcons (from Arizona Cardinals), EDGE Dallas Turner, Alabama

The Falcons get the player they were probably going to take at No. 8 anyway, adding a third-round pick for what turned out to be no trouble at all.

12) TRADE: Philadelphia Eagles trade No. 22, 50 to Denver Broncos for No. 12

Philadelphia Eagles, CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo

Everyone knows the Eagles need help in their defensive backfield, and Howie Roseman is not one to sit around and let the board make his choices for him. He moves up to get the top defensive back in the draft. Denver needs a quarterback, but with Bo Nix and Michael Penix representing questionable value at No. 12, it’s not a bad risk to take.

13) Las Vegas Raiders, QB Michael Penix, Washington

I went back and forth between Penix and Bo Nix, but Penix just feels like more like a Raiders player. His high-risk, high-reward scramble game will go over well in Vegas, too.

14) New Orleans Saints, OT Olu Fashanu, Penn State

The Saints need a left tackle. Fashanu is probable the second-best left tackle prospect in the draft. That doesn’t fall to No. 14 very often.

15) Indianapolis Colts, DB Terrion Arnold, Alabama

The Colts have multifaceted needs in the secondary, and a multifaceted defensive back that could play corner, slot and safety falls into their lap.

16) Seattle Seahawks, OL Troy Fautanu, Washington

Fautanu has the length to stick at tackle, but the Seahawks really need a guard. The fact that they’re playing him inside, and the familiarity with offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, late of the Washington Huskies, eases any injury concerns.

17) Jacksonville Jaguars, DB Cooper DeJean, Iowa

The Jaguars have a fairly dire situation at cornerback, and DeJean is pretty close to the BPA here.

18) Cincinnati Bengals, OT JC Latham, Alabama

Defensive tackle is tempting here with the top two players on the board, but the Bengals have long memories about their offensive line struggles, and their veteran core could use some youth. Trent Brown is 31 and only signed a one-year deal, leaving plenty of space for Latham to take over.

19) Los Angeles Rams, DT Byron Murphy, Texas

Murphy will not replace Aaron Donald, but he’s the best defensive tackle this draft has to offer, and for now, that’s going to have to do.

Steelers

Georgia offensive lineman Amarius Mims uses crutches to leave the field after defeasting South Carolina an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, Ga. Mims wa injured in the firt half. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

20) Pittsburgh Steelers, OT Amarius Mims, Georgia

Mims is the best player on the board, at a position the Steelers need to address, with Dan Moore Jr. failing to develop beyond what he’s shown and entering the final year of his contract. Mims is a bit of a risk, with just six games of tape against top-quality competition, and an injury even in that small sample. But the Steelers took injury-sliding players from Georgia in each of the last two years in George Pickens and Darnell Washington, so they won’t be scared away by Mims’ short track record.

Others considered: OL Graham Barton, Duke; WR Brian Thomas Jr., LSU

21) Miami Dolphins, OL Graham Barton, Duke

The Dolphins need a guard, and while Barton can play all five positions, he is certainly a fit at that spot.

22) Denver Broncos (from Philadelphia Eagles), QB Bo Nix, Oregon

Nix has a low upside for a first-round pick at quarterback, but a relatively high floor, and with Jarrett Stidham and Zach Wilson representing the best of the Broncos quarterback room, that’s probably a good thing. This is a player Denver would have considered at No. 12, and they added a second-round pick to wait on him.

23) Arizona Cardinals (from Minnesota Vikings): EDGE Laiatu Latu

After trading down, the Cardinals have so many top draft picks to work with that they can afford to take some risks with them. Latu once medically retired because of a neck injury, but has the best tape of any edge rusher in the draft. Getting him late in the first round is a steal.

24) Dallas Cowboys: OT Tyler Guyton, Oklahoma

Tyler Smith can play left guard and left tackle, but he was an outstanding guard, and with the prices of that position rising, it’s not a deal-breaker to keep him inside. Guyton is a bit of a project, but is a legit left tackle option, which is rare this late in the first round.

25) Green Bay Packers: CB Nate Wiggins, Clemson

The Packers finished 2023 with seventh-round rookie Carrington Valentine making 12 starts at cornerback. Jaire Alexander played seven games last year. Eric Stokes has played 12 over the last two seasons. They need an injection of top young talent at the position. Wiggins could start in the slot before working his way outside, as well.

26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, EDGE Jared Verse, Florida State

After upgrading the interior of their defensive line last year with Calijah Kancey, the Bucs get him a running mate in Florida State end Jared Verse.

27) Arizona Cardinals, CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

In a deep cornerback class, the Cardinals find value late in the first with an experienced, Day One-ready option from a big-time school.

28) Buffalo Bills, WR Brian Thomas Jr., LSU

I had Adonai Mitchell from Texas pegged for this spot, but I didn’t end up finding a home for Thomas earlier. Josh Allen is the benefactor.

29) Detroit Lions, DT Johnny Newton, Illinois 

Another player that represents a bit of a slide. The Lions are a hard team to predict, but they love strong play in the trenches.

30) Baltimore Ravens, DE Darius Robinson, Missouri

Steelers fans (and quarterbacks), get ready to hate this pick. Robinson is a versatile defensive lineman with a high motor that can play five-technique in Baltimore’s base 3-4 and rush the passer from the edge in sub packages.

31) San Francisco 49ers, OT Jordan Morgan, Arizona

Trent Williams gets an understudy, and it’s one with a surprising amount of upside, considering where the 49ers are picking.

32) Kansas City Chiefs, WR Adonai Mitchell, Texas

Cornerback is now the bigger need after L’Jarius Sneed was traded, and tackle still needs a lot of help as well, but the Chiefs can’t pass up Mitchell, a strong playmaker that will take some of the weight off Travis Kelce.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Georgia WR Ladd McConkey

Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Ladd McConkey at the 2024 Senior Bowl. — Alan Saunders / Steelers Now

ROUND 2

33) Carolina Panthers, WR Ladd McConkey, Georgia

34) New England Patriots, WR Xavier Legette, South Carolina

35) Arizona Cardinals, WR Troy Franklin, Oregon

36) Washington Commanders, WR Keon Coleman, Florida State

37) Los Angeles Chargers, DT Braden Fiske, Florida State

38) Tennessee Titans, EDGE Chop Robinson, Penn State

39) Carolina Panthers, C Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon

Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Sainristil, Michigan Athletics

40) Washington Commanders, CB Mike Sainristil, Michigan

41) Green Bay Packers, LB Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M

42) Houston Texans, S Tyler Nubin, Minnesota

43) Atlanta Falcons, DT Kris Jenkins, Michigan

44) Las Vegas Raiders, OT Kingsley Suamataia, BYU

45) New Orleans Saints, S Javon Bullard, Georgia

46) Indianapolis Colts, WR Ricky Pearsall, Florida

47) New York Giants, RB Jonathon Brooks, Texas

48) Jacksonville Jaguars, EDGE Adisa Isaac, Penn State

49) Cincinnati Bengals, WR Roman Wilson, Michigan

50) Denver Broncos (from Philadelphia Eagles), EDGE Chris Braswell, Alabama

Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Zach Frazier

West Virginia center Zach Frazier warms up before a game against Oklahoma State at Milan Puskar Stadium on Oct. 23, 2023. — Kelsie LeRose / WVSN

51) Pittsburgh Steelers, C Zach Frazier, West Virginia

A player the Steelers have been coveting throughout their process falls to them at No. 51. I’m not sure I’d have been this patient, but Omar Khan’s nerves of steel pay off.

Others considered: Trading up to get Zach Frazier; WR Malachi Corley, Western Kentucky; WR Ja’Lynn Polk, Washington

52) Los Angeles Rams, OT Blake Fisher, Notre Dame

53) Philadelphia Eagles, LB Payton Wilson, NC State

54) Cleveland Browns, DT Brandon Dorlus, Oregon

55) Miami Dolphins, CB Ennis Rakestraw Jr., Missouri

56) Dallas Cowboys, RB Blake Corum, Michigan

57) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, G Christian Haynes, UConn

58) Green Bay Packers, OT Kiran Amegadjie, Yale

59) Houston Texans, CB Kamari Lassiter, Georgia

60) Buffalo Bills, S Jaden Hicks, Washington State

61) Detroit Lions, CB T.J. Tampa, Iowa State

62) Baltimore Ravens, WR Malachi Corley, Western Kentucky

63) San Francisco 49ers, WR Ja’Lynn Polk, Washignton

64) Kansas City Chiefs, CB Max Melton, Rutgers

ROUND 3

65) Carolina Panthers, EDGE Marshawn Kneeland, Western Michigan

66) Arizona Cardinals, G Cooper Beebee, Kansas State

67) Washignton Commanders, OT Roger Rosengarten, Washington

68) New England Patriots, OT Patrick Paul, Houston

69) Los Angelens Chargers, CB Andru Phillips, Kentucky

70) New York Giants, CB Khyree Jackson, Oregon

71) Arizona Cardinals, RB Jaylen Wright, Tennessee

72) New York Jets, TE Ja’Tavion Sanders, Texas

73) Detroit Lions, EDGE Jonah Ellis, Utah

74) Atlanta Falcons, CB Kris Abrams-Draine, Missouri

75) Chicago Bears, DT Ruke Orhorhoro, Clemson

76) Denver Broncos, WR Xavier Worthy, Texas

77) Las Vegas Raiders, CB Renardo Green, Florida State

78) Washington Commanders, S Calen Bullock, USC

79) Atlanta Falcons, WR Jermaine Burton, Alabama

80) Cincinnati Bengals, DT Michael Hall Jr., Ohio State

81) Seattle Seahawks, LB Junior Colson, Michigan

82) Indianapolis Colts, RB Trey Benson, Florida State

83) Los Angeles Rams, RB Bucky Irving, Oregon

84) Pittsburgh Steelers, WR Jalen McMillan, Washington

McMillan could be a slot receiver and could be a flanker at the next level — a perfect fit for a team that really needs both. If the Steelers can put McMillan with George Pickens and add one veteran, they could have a very nice receivers room in 2024.

Others considered: WR Devontez Walker, North Carolina; WR Javon Baker, UCF; WR Johnny Wilson, Florida State; LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson; DT T’Vondre Sweat, Texas

85) Cleveland Browns, LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson

86) Houston Texans, DT T’Vondre Sweat, Texas

87) Dallas Cowboys, WR Devontez Walker, North Carolina

88) Green Bay Packers, OL Mason McCormick, South Dakota State

89) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, WR Javon Baker, UCF

90) Atlanta Falcons (from Arizona Cardinals), EDGE Xavier Thomas, Clemson

91) Green Bay Packers, S Cole Bishop, Utah

92) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, LB Cedric Gray, North Carolina

93) Baltimore Ravens, OL Dominic Puni, Kansas

94) San Francisco 49ers, CB Cam Hart, Notre Dame

95) Kansas City Chiefs, OT Brandon Coleman, TCU

96) Jacksonville Jaguars, WR Johnny Wilson, Florida State

97) Cincinnati Bengals, CB Caelen Carson, Wake Forest

98) Pittsburgh Steelers, CB Jarrian Jones, Florida State

Jones started his college career at outside corner, but moved to the slot in 2023 and thrived, and that’s exactly where the Steelers will play him in the pros. His tackling isn’t quite as good as they’d like for a slot, but he brings some Mike Hilton-esque pass-rush traits to the table that could be tantalizing. New Steelers assistant defensive backs coach Anthony Midget was his position coach at Florida State.

Others considered: CB D.J. James, Auburn; CB Jarvis Brownlee Jr., Louisville; CB Kalen King, Penn State; DB Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, Texas Tech; DB Tykee Smith, Georgia; LB Tommy Eichenberg, Ohio State; LB Trevin Wallace, Kentucky; DT Maason Smith, LSU

99) Los Angeles Rams, EDGE Bralen Trice, Washington

100) Washignton Commanders, EDGE Austin Booker, Kansas