The 2024 NFL draft class could quickly transform losers into winners.
With a full season of college football still to be played, two future franchise quarterbacks are already being penciled into the top of draft boards: Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams of Southern California and North Carolina’s Drake Maye.
Conventional wisdom is that both would grade out higher than Alabama’s Bryce Young, who went No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers last Thursday night in Kansas City, Missouri.
Things can change, of course, but barring injuries the top prospects in 2024 should include two QBs, a wider receiver with Hall of Fame bloodlines, a couple of foundational left tackles and several Alabama defensive players.
A way-too-early look at how the 2024 draft could play out:
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers after trade with Cardinals (via Houston): CALEB WILLIAMS, QB, USC
The Texans’ big move in this draft, trading up to No. 3 to take OLB Will Anderson Jr., gives Arizona two first-round picks — its own and Houston’s. Even with QB C.J. Stroud and Anderson, the Texans have a lot of rebuilding to do and project to be one of the worst teams in the league next season.
The Cardinals have QB Kyler Murray locked up on a longterm deal, but that relationship seems to be fluid. There is no doubt the Bucs need a quarterback, and will likely be bad.
2. Arizona Cardinals after trade with Buccaneers: MARVIN HARRISON JR., WR, OHIO STATE
The last wide receiver to be drafted this high was Calvin Johnson by Detroit in 2007. Harrison is the best receiver prospect since then.
3. Los Angeles Rams after trade with Cardinals: DRAKE MAYE, QB, NORTH CAROLINA
The post-Super Bowl decline continues for the Rams, but the rebuild gets a jolt.
4. Indianapolis Colts: JOE ALT, OT, NOTRE DAME
The Colts will need more protection for this year’s first-rounder, QB Anthony Richardson.
5. Arizona Cardinals after trade with Rams: JARED VERSE, DE, FLORIDA STATE
Arizona goes defense with its second top-five pick and grabs the best pass rusher in the draft.
6. Washington Commanders: QUINN EWERS, QB, TEXAS
Ewers delivers on his five-star potential and becomes a first round selection.
7. Green Bay Packers: OLU FASHANU, OT, PENN STATE
The Packers get the other franchise tackle in the class.
8. New England Patriots: BROCK BOWERS, TE, GEORGIA
Bowers is no Gronk — he’s not nearly as big as the former Pats All-Pro Rob Gronkowski — but he’s a special and versatile offensive option at the tight end position.
9. Tennessee Titans: MAASON SMITH, DT, LSU
After losing the 2022 season to an early knee injury, Smith breaks out in 2023.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers: DALLAS TURNER, OLB, ALABAMA
Steelers get pass rush help for T.J. Watt.
11. Chicago Bears: XAVIER WORTHY, WR, TEXAS
Bears still need receivers for QB Justin Fields, and Worthy has all the tools.
12. Atlanta Falcons: J.J. MCCARTHY, QB, MICHIGAN
McCarthy is an excellent athlete with a strong arm and improving feel for the game.
13. Las Vegas Raiders: KOOL-AID MCKINSTRY, CB, ALABAMA
McKinstry is also a dangerous return man on special teams.
14. Denver Broncos: MICHAEL HALL, DT, OHIO STATE
Hall is a quick and disruptive in the interior.
15. Houston Texans (via Browns): EMEKA EGBUKA, WR, OHIO STATE
QB C.J. Stroud is reunited with yet another talented Buckeyes receiver.
16. Chicago Bears (via Panthers): JC LATHAM, OT, ALBAMBA
Another tackle to go with this year’s first-rounder, Darnell Wright.
17. Seattle Seahawks: LEONARD TAYLOR, DT, MIAMI
High upside for this 300-pound lineman
18. New York Giants: ROME ODUNZE, WR, WASHINGTON
Odunze might have been a first-rounder after 2022 but gets there after another strong 2023.
19. Baltimore Ravens: ANDREW MUKUBA, S, CLEMSON
Ravens get a versatile nickelback, which are all the rage in the NFL.
20. Minnesota Vikings: KAMARI LASSITER, CB, GEORGIA
It can’t be a first-round of the draft without a Georgia defensive player.
21. Miami Dolphins: J.T. TUIMOLOAU, DE, OHIO STATE
Tuimoloau has the potential to be a top-10 pick, but has only shown flashes so far.
22. San Diego Chargers: COOPER DEJEAN, DB, IOWA
Chargers go defense and take the tall cornerback and playmaker.
23. Detroit Lions: SHEMAR TURNER, DT, TEXAS A&M
Turner is another former blue-chip recruit up front poised for a breakout season.
24. New Orleans Saints: TROY FRANKLIN, WR, OREGON
Saints take the 6-foot-3 receiver with great body control.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: JEREMIAH TROTTER, OLB, CLEMSON
Son of a former longtime NFL linebacker joins former Clemson stars Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne in Jacksonville.
26. Green Bay Packers: MALACHI MOORE, DB, ALABAMA
Moore is another do-it all Crimson Tide defensive back in the Minkah Fitzpatrick mold.
27. Philadelphia Eagles: TREVEYON HENDERSON, RB, OHIO STATE
After huge freshman season, injuries slowed Henderson as a sophomore but he has an elite power-speed combo.
28. Kansas City Chiefs: JA’TAVION SANDERS, TE, TEXAS
Trying to find the next Travis Kelce, Chiefs look to Sanders — a tight end with wide receiver skills.
29. San Francisco 49ers: COOPER BEEBE, OG, KANSAS STATE
Beebe is a 330-pounder with power and experience.
30. Buffalo Bills: BRALEN TRICE, DE, WASHINGTON
The Bills take the best defensive player in the Pac-12.
31. Dallas Cowboys: RAHEIM SANDERS, RB, ARKANSAS
The 237-pound Razorback is a punishing runner with good speed from Jerry Jones’ alma mater.
32. Cincinnati Bengals: KINGSLEY SUAMATAIA, OT, BYU
Nimble big man who could be an effective pulling guard in the long run.
AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to the report.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25