7 NFL Draft 2024 rumors including Ravens, Vikings, 49ers, Bills, Brock Bowers, and more

Just over one week to go …

A week from tomorrow night, the 2024 NFL Draft will finally arrive, and the Chicago Bears will officially be on the clock.

As we approach the draft, the rumors continue to fly. This is the part of draft season where the Top 30 visits wind down, and the final mock drafts from the big analysts start to truly give the upcoming draft some shape.

We kick off today’s rumor roundup with one such mock draft.

Peter Schrager’s Mock Draft 1.0

Mock drafts are an inexact science. An imperfect art. While they are useful data points, they are often just a snapshot in time, particularly when they are of the “what I would do” variety, then they are exercises in how one analyst views not only the prospects, but the particular needs of all 32 teams.

All mock drafts are useful data points, but some are particularly worth paying attention to.

Peter Schrager’s mock drafts fall into that latter category.

The NFL Network analyst frames his not as “what I would do” mock drafts but rather as a “predictive” mock, based on what he is hearing from various league sources. So when he puts together a mock — as he did for the first time this draft season on Tuesday — it is worth diving into.

What stands out here? A number of different things:

  • New England “loved” their Top-30 visits with both Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels, leading Schrager to believe they will be happy no matter what QB is still on the board when they are on the clock at No. 3.
  • The Giants come up for J.J. McCarthy, in a trade with the Cardinals. This is in line with the thinking from Trevor Sikkema of Pro Football Focus late last week that New York is “desperate” to move up for a quarterback.
  • The Colts trade up with the Bears to draft Malik Nabers.
  • The Jets draft Brock Bowers. “This is a special prospect. In fact, I’ve been told by multiple general managers that I’m not high enough on Bowers and that his ability after the catch sets him apart from just about every tight end prospect since Kyle Pitts.”
  • Both the Broncos and the Raiders pass on QBs.
  • San Francisco drafts Ladd McConkey at No. 31.

There is a draft nugget or two in here for everyone.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers

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Sam Darnold “vital” to Minnesota’s QB plan, just not like you might think

There is every indication that the Minnesota Vikings are adding a quarterback in this draft, with General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah reportedly liking many of the prospects in this draft class.

In this meaty piece from Alec Lewis of The Athletic, he makes the case that the presence of Sam Darnold on the roster is a big part of the Vikings’ plans for the quarterback they draft:

“We just happen to have a really good situation, in my opinion, with the players we have in that huddle, the guys who are going to be coaching that player, and then ultimately what we hope is a long-term plan to really have a special player at the position,” said head coach Kevin O’Connell.

The key word there? Hope.

That hope is not just contingent on ownership’s discipline, but also Darnold’s command. The better the 26-year-old plays, the more patient the third-year general manager and head coach can be with the rookie. The longer Darnold retains the starting role and maintains the trust of the 52 other players in the locker room, the more time the young draftee has before he is propped up as the next gold mine, the player certain to lead this organization to heights never before achieved.

The idea is that Darnold can help ease the transition for the rookie, in a way similar to how Alex Smith took Patrick Mahomes under his wing after the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Mahomes. The rookie quarterback sat for almost the entire first season, before taking over in his second year. You know how that story ended.

The Vikings do too.

Adam Schefter floats a “Julio Jones” trade

In the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Atlanta Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff mortgaged a big part of the team’s future to move up from No. 27 overall to No. 6 overall.

For wide receiver Julio Jones.

According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, this draft could see something similar.

Schefter continued to say that the wide receivers at the top of the board are all “elite” prospects.

Whether that is enough for a team — say the Buffalo Bills — to make such a move remains to be seen.

What the Bills might be looking for at safety

Speaking of the Bills …

One of the needs in Buffalo? The safety position. With Micah Hyde still uncertain about his future — and a free agent — and Jordan Poyer down in Miami after signing with the Dolphins in free agency, the Bills have a need at the back of their defense.

According to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic, while the Bills have made some moves in free agency at the position (such as re-signing Taylor Rapp and adding Mike Edwards) they “have nothing locked down at safety past 2024 and are open to nearly anything to improve that spot in the starting lineup.”

As Buscaglia notes, the player that the Bills could be eying for safety is Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean. While DeJean was a cornerback for the Hawkeyes, many analysts believe his NFL home is at the back of the defense.

DeJean is listed as a cornerback in most places, but his profile always comes with the caveat that he can be a starting cornerback or safety in the NFL, with the instincts to play both. His fit on the Bills is fascinating as precisely everything they covet in a safety. [Dane] Brugler writes that DeJean “anticipates well and credits his time as a high school quarterback for developing his feel in coverage.” DeJean comes from a zone-heavy defensive scheme, a college program McDermott is especially fond of — the same one that yielded Hyde. DeJean had seven interceptions over the past two years, is a noted strong tackler and has a high school baseball background. Especially if the Bills miss out on a wide receiver worthy of their top pick at No. 28, keep your eyes on DeJean if he’s on the board. The fit is excellent; he would likely become a Day 1 starter and solidify their free safety spot over the next five seasons. He might be the only chance the Bills take at safety in the first round.

Something to keep in mind as we head towards the first round.

NFL scouts have a surprising view of the top-10

In a fascinating exercise, ESPN called upon ten anonymous NFL scouts to prepare a mock draft of the first ten selections. As part of the exercise, the scouts could not pick for their own teams, none of them picked for a rival within their division, and most picked for a team from the opposite conference.

The results, which you can see on ESPN Insider ($), are rather surprising.

The two biggest standouts, at least to this reader? Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell coming off the board at No. 8 to Atlanta — the Falcons are often associated with pass rushers in that spot — and the Bears drafting Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II at No, 9, with the top three wide receivers off the board.

In addition J.J. McCarthy, currently rising up boards, falls out of the top ten.

Matt Miller, who conducted the exercise, had these closing thoughts:

“Outside of McCarthy not being selected, Mitchell and Murphy making the top 10 were probably the biggest surprises for me. I’m a fan of Mitchell’s game — he is ranked No. 15 on my board — but I wasn’t expecting him at No. 8. And while Murphy is No. 13 overall for me, I haven’t seen too many top-10 predictions on him. I was also a little surprise to see [Dallas] Turner not get picked anywhere here, considering he’s seventh in my rankings.

“But this is the kind of stuff that makes the draft fun and unpredictable.”

2023 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama

Photo by Perry McIntyre/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Brock Bowers the most “underrated” player in the draft

NFL Draft insider Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda shared his latest notes on Wednesday, and there are two nuggets worth highlighting.

The first involves Georgia tight end Brock Bowers, long viewed as the top talent at TE in a draft class that is fairly strong at the position. But just how high will Bowers come off the board?

According to Pauline, who has been making this case for a while, the absolute floor for Bowers is the New York Jets at No. 10.

“The way it looks now, Bowers won’t get past the New York Jets at pick 10. I first mentioned during my report from Georgia’s pro day on March 13 that “The teams showing the most interest in Bowers are the Los Angeles Chargers (fifth pick), the Tennessee Titans (seventh pick), the Chicago Bears (ninth pick) and New York Jets (10th pick),” and that still holds true.”

Pauline also reports that Bowers might be the most underrated player in the entire draft.

“On Monday I reported that people around the league believe Brock Bowers is possibly the most underrated player in the draft, and since then I’ve spoken with a number of front-office decision makers who concur with the opinion and expanded on it. As draft meetings are coming to a close, most teams I’ve spoken with have Bowers rated as the fifth or sixth player on their overall board.”

The second nugget worth highlighting brings us to the AFC North.

How the Ravens plan to address OL

One of the major needs for the Baltimore Ravens? Rebuilding an offensive line that saw a number of key departures. In fact, the team has turned to quarterback Lamar Jackson to help in that effort, seeking his scouting eye when it comes to prospects.

However, according to Pauline the team may travel a familiar path when it comes to the right tackle position.

While the Ravens have been linked with offensive linemen throughout mock draft season, Pauline believes the organization will look internally to address RT.

“Baltimore believes Daniel Faalele, the big athletic tackle from Minnesota who they selected in the fourth round of the 2022 draft, is capable of holding down the right tackle spot. They also like the potential of Andrew Vorhees at that position.”

Pauline believes that Jordan Morgan, the offensive tackle out of Arizona, could be in play for the Ravens at No. 30 and that the organization would show patience with him, starting him on the interior.

“Offensive lineman Jordan Morgan is in play for the Baltimore Ravens with the 30th pick of the draft, but it’s not a guarantee that he would play tackle as a rookie.”

After outlining the internal options, Pauline has this to say: “This all means Morgan could start his rookie season at guard and eventually replace Ronnie Stanley at left tackle, as Stanley has one more year remaining on this contract.

“A bit of revisionist history: In 1996, the Ravens selected Jonathan Ogden with the fourth pick of the draft then started him at guard as a rookie before moving him to left tackle.”

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