Chiefs get Patrick Mahomes a top wide receiver


With Super Bowl 58 over, it’s officially NFL mock draft season.

Or maybe it already was. After all, this is USA TODAY Sports’ fifth projection since midseason.

To be fair, though, there is still plenty to sort out in the coming months before the draft will gain any measure of clarity. NFL free agency – along with potential trades – will significantly reshape the outlook for many teams. Before then, the NFL scouting combine – which is just two weeks away – will bring more attention to the pre-draft process.

But with the first-round order now fully set, here’s our latest NFL mock draft.

1. Chicago Bears (from Carolina Panthers) – Caleb Williams, QB, USC

Ryan Poles isn’t tipping his hand, but isn’t that to be expected? Dismissing offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and replacing him with Shane Waldron would be an odd forerunner to standing pat with Justin Fields, so it’s hard not to imagine Chicago’s future with the electric Williams. In placing him with a burgeoning supporting cast – which should grow significantly more formidable with a draft class that could be enhanced by a Fields trade – the Bears would be able to get many parts of their rebuild into solid positioning. 

2. Washington Commanders – Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

Don’t go overboard in connecting dots between the hire of Kliff Kingsbury and a potential trade for Caleb Williams, the former pupil of Washington’s new offensive coordinator. Dealing up in the draft still seems like a long shot for an ownership group seemingly inclined to build slowly and carefully, and it makes little sense to construct a coaching staff on such a hypothetical. Maye has more than enough playmaking ability and deep-passing prowess to unlock the key facets of Kingsbury’s attack.

3. New England Patriots – Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Jerod Mayo has vowed to go his own way as the Patriots’ new coach and not try to be another version of Bill Belichick. An important early differentiator for him might be how he handles the team’s quarterback situation. If he elects to take the Heisman Trophy winner Daniels, New England would enjoy a far more dynamic threat behind center than Mac Jones while also getting a supremely accurate and fluid passer from the pocket. 

4. Arizona Cardinals – Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

No one has more invested in an early run on quarterbacks than Arizona, which would stand to benefit from a pursuit of passers by landing Harrison. A No. 1 receiver in essentially every aspect imaginable, he’s one of this class’ most reliable prospects as well as one of the few seemingly capable of transforming a team. Regardless of what happens between the Cardinals and top target Marquise Brown, an impending free agent, Harrison Jr. would be the clear choice here if not already taken.

5. Los Angeles Chargers – Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

How will Jim Harbaugh and general manager Joe Hortiz prioritize remaking the Chargers’ roster in Year 1? If getting the most out of Justin Herbert is one of the foremost goals, then adding an electric element at receiver is a necessity. Consider that box checked with Nabers, who routinely pulls away from defenders both as a deep threat and with the ball in his hands.

6. New York Giants – Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

Can’t discount a quarterback here, especially if Daniels is still available. Still, Odunze is no mere consolation prize for this offense. The 6-3, 215-pound target projects as the go-to target this offense has long lacked – and someone who can help Big Blue get a better read on Daniel Jones if the team does stick with him as starter for another year.

7. Tennessee Titans – Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

Tennessee is likely in for a bumpy transition as first-year coach Brian Callahan takes over for Mike Vrabel. Taking Alt would be consistent with the slow but steady trajectory Ran Carthon set the franchise on last year as he began the rebuild.

8. Atlanta Falcons – Dallas Turner, OLB, Alabama

Raheem Morris worked wonders in developing a Rams pass rush that didn’t look to have any premium players beyond Aaron Donald. If the Falcons secure Turner, they could give their new head coach the dynamic and forceful edge threat that the unit is overdue for. 

9. Bears – Laiatu Latu, DE, UCLA

Montez Sweat’s midseason arrival helped lift Chicago’s pass rush, but more juice is needed for a defense that ranked 31st with 30 sacks last season. A supremely polished threat off the edge, Latu likely will be an early contributor to whichever defense he joins. 

10. New York Jets – Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

If the win-now mandate wasn’t already apparent in the Jets’ Aaron Rodgers-centric plans, owner Woody Johnson’s comments at last week’s NFL Honors further highlighted the urgency facing Gang Green. The best quick-fix option at this point seems to be Bowers, who can make life far easier for Rodgers and top target Garrett Wilson with his penchant for turning quick hits into big gains.

11. Minnesota Vikings – J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

When answering a question last February about Minnesota’s future at quarterback, GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said the franchise had to contemplate whether there was “a chance to add somebody maybe with different skill sets.” McCarthy would no doubt provide something different than Kirk Cousins does, and pairing Justin Jefferson with an athletic passer capable of whipping throws into tight windows would give the Vikings fascinating long-term upside. But would McCarthy be ready to take the reins as a rookie if Cousins signs elsewhere?

12. Denver Broncos – Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Russell Wilson seems likely to be released. Could Garett Bolles follow him out the door? Amid a cap crunch, Denver could save $16 million by parting ways with its fixture at left tackle. The proposition would be even more enticing if the Broncos knew they’d have a promising replacement ready in Fashanu, who has all the physical tools to be an upper-echelon pass protector.  

13. Las Vegas Raiders – Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

The Silver and Black will be an X-factor for a quarterback, but landing an established passer via a trade or free agency might be the more sensible route given that many of the top signal-callers are likely to be gone by this point. Adding a mauling yet steady presence to the offensive line in Fuaga seems like the kind of steady move that new GM Tom Telesco would find attractive. 

14. New Orleans Saints – JC Latham, OT, Alabama

As the Saints appear intent on doubling down on their dubious approach to contention, it’s clear enhancing protection for Derek Carr right away will be a priority. Lathan is a battle-tested right tackle after facing the Southeastern Conference’s best defenders, and he should be able to hold his own against power rushers as he figures out how to combat elite speed off the edge. 

15. Indianapolis Colts – Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Too high for the only non-Power Five prospect in this exercise? Maybe not. At the Senior Bowl, Mitchell reinforced that he has the physical tools, savvy and confidence to square off against even the most imposing NFL receivers. Gus Bradley’s scheme seems like it would bring out the best of his excellent ball skills.

16. Seattle Seahawks – Jared Verse, DE, Florida State

Seattle is one of the more difficult teams to peg in the first round, as there are any number of avenues that John Schneider and new coach Mike Macdonald could pursue. For now, let’s equip an ailing defense with Verse, a jolting presence off the edge thanks to his power and explosiveness.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars – Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

Sure, GM Trent Baalke dismissed the notion that new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen would bring a big change with substantially more man coverage, thereby necessitating a retooling of the secondary. Still, with Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams entering the final years of their deal, it would be wise to reload the back end of the defense, especially with a well-rounded and ascendant cornerback like Arnold. 

18. Cincinnati Bengals – Byron Murphy II, DT, Texas

DJ Reader is recovering from a torn quad and might find a richer deal elsewhere in free agency. Plugging in Murphy would set Cincinnati up to generate more havoc up front with a quick-twitch threat who can throw blockers off balance. 

19. Los Angeles Rams – Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

It won’t be easy for first-time defensive coordinator Chris Shula to advance the work Raheem Morris did in bringing a wildly inexperienced group of players together. Adding Wiggins, an imposing matchup in press coverage who has ample speed to recover and stay with receivers downfield, would be an important step in that effort. 

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Cooper DeJean, CB/S, Iowa

Black and gold (or yellow, depending on your viewpoint) clearly suit DeJean just fine, as the do-everything defender demonstrated at Iowa he can be dangerous in an assortment of assignments. That’s an attractive package for an underachieving Steelers defense that relied on its pass rush to mask its many deficiencies. 

21. Miami Dolphins – Jackson Powers-Johnson, C/G, Oregon

A unanimous All-American this past season, Powers-Johnson showed off at the Senior Bowl, making a strong claim to be the first interior offensive lineman selected. Rugged yet refined, he sizes up as exactly the kind of figure that Mike McDaniel would covet to enhance this offense. 

22. Philadelphia Eagles – Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

Even though three-time All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson made it clear he plans to keep on playing, general manager Howie Roseman still might be drawn to finding the 33-year-old’s eventual successor. What better long-term option is there than Guyton, a fellow Sooners product who is already being mentored by Johnson and could continue to learn the finer points of the position as he sits behind the veteran?

23. Houston Texans (from Cleveland Browns) – Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

Despite his smooth and reliable style of play, McKinstry might have to wait his turn behind several other cornerbacks – including Crimson Tide teammate Terrion Arnold – before hearing his name called on draft day. That dynamic could benefit a team like the Texans, who might be able to overlook his pedestrian deep speed and instead focus on his even-keeled approach.

24. Dallas Cowboys – Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

While Jerry Jones appears focused on staying the course despite the Cowboys’ wild-card flameout against the Packers, Dallas might need to replace Tyron Smith if the longtime left tackle heads elsewhere in free agency or retires. Though Mims has just eight starts to his name and played right tackle at Georgia, he’s the kind of high-upside option that Jones might be drawn to. 

25. Green Bay Packers – Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona

After compiling the league’s most impressive collection of young skill-position players, it’s time for Brian Gutekunst to turn his attention to his offensive front. Morgan could either take over for David Bahktiari as another undersized yet promising left tackle or kick inside to guard. 

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

Call this a contingency plan for the possibility of Mike Evans departing in free agency. Should the Buccaneers’ all-time leader in every major receiving category head elsewhere in March, Thomas could step in and provide an immediate big-play threat for Baker Mayfield – or whichever quarterback is behind center in 2024. 

27. Cardinals (from Houston Texans) – Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

Though he lacks the measurables of the typical first-round defensive tackle, Newton has a knack for creating disruption that is readily evident. The Cardinals are desperate for some kind of impact on the interior after generating little pressure last season.

28. Buffalo Bills – Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Dogged by drops in key spots, cap-strapped Buffalo has to look to the draft if it wants to reshape its receiving corps. More steady than explosive, Coleman could be just what Josh Allen needs.

29. Detroit Lions – Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB, Missouri

Stifling in man coverage, Rakestraw Jr. is exactly the kind of tenacious yet savvy cornerback that Dan Campbell would appreciate. He could help provide needed stability to a secondary that has been repeatedly reshuffled in recent years and still gave up 411 passing yards per game over the last six games of the season. 

30. Baltimore Ravens – Darius Robinson, DE, Missouri

Mike Macdonald’s departure isn’t the only change that the Ravens’ defense can expect, as defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, linebacker Patrick Queen and edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney are among the standouts who could head elsewhere in free agency. To reload the pass rush, Baltimore might want to take a close look at Robinson, a Senior Bowl standout with the size (6-5, 296 pounds) and massive wingspan to overwhelm blockers at the point of attack. 

31. San Francisco 49ers – Troy Fautanu, G, Washington

While San Francisco boasts arguably the league’s most well-rounded roster, the offensive line beyond cornerstone left tackle Trent Williams has been a sore spot. Picking up Fautanu, an accomplished and versatile left tackle who looks bound to bump inside due to his frame, should only further enhance opportunities for Brock Purdy and the Niners’ assortment of offensive stars. 

32. Kansas City Chiefs – Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

The 6-3, 180-pound Franklin is not the surehanded target that one might expect Kansas City to target after a season of errors from its receiving corps. But his deep speed and run-after-catch ability would add vital explosiveness to a passing attack that has grown far too stale.


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