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2024 NFL Mock Draft: The race for Caleb Williams

Julian Catalfo / theScore

Seven rounds and 259 picks are officially down as the 2023 NFL Draft is in the books, and the countdown to the 2024 event in Detroit has now begun.

There's a clear prize at the top of next year's draft, with USC's Caleb Williams the type of generational quarterback whom teams consider tanking for.

The order for theScore's way-too-early 2024 mock draft was set using Super Bowl odds from theScore Bet while also balancing the number of clubs from each conference picking 19th to 32nd - the 14 spots reserved for playoff teams.

1. Arizona Cardinals - Caleb Williams, QB, USC

Thanks to the Round 1 deal that the Cardinals made with the Houston Texans for the No. 3 pick, Arizona now holds both the Texans' and its own first-round selection in 2024. Given the way the current betting odds are set, the Cardinals would become the first team since the 1992 Indianapolis Colts to hold both the No. 1 and 2 picks in the NFL draft. That sees an end to the Kyler Murray era with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Williams, going to the desert. Expect to hear a lot of Patrick Mahomes comparisons in the upcoming evaluations of Williams' game - and they might not be very far off.

2. Arizona Cardinals (via HOU) - Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

With a new explosive quarterback in the fold, the Cardinals get a fresh No. 1 receiver in the son of Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison. The younger Harrison would have easily been the first wideout taken in this year's draft had he been eligible, and he's arguably the best receiver prospect we've seen since Calvin Johnson.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

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Maye shone in his first season as starter for North Carolina, leading the explosive Tar Heels' offense to an impressive season. The redshirt freshman threw for over 4,300 yards and 38 touchdowns and rushed for 698 yards and seven scores. That makes him an easy selection for the Bucs after a season with Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask at quarterback.

4. Indianapolis Colts - Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

The Colts used their 2023 first-round pick to grab their quarterback of the future in Anthony Richardson, and now they get him some protection with Fashanu out of Penn State. The 6-foot-6, 322-pounder didn't allow a sack in 281 pass-blocking snaps last season and should be under All-American consideration in his junior campaign.

5. Tennessee Titans - Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

The No. 5 slot is high for a tight end, but Bowers isn't your regular player at the position. The Georgia star has been the biggest offensive weapon on a Bulldogs team that has won back-to-back titles. He would have been the first tight end drafted this year had he been eligible. Bowers has piled up over 1,800 receiving yards with 20 touchdown catches in two seasons of college ball.

6. Washington Commanders - Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

One of the most unique names in draft history heads to Washington to help shore up the secondary. McKinstry was a third-team AP All-American last season with the Crimson Tide and ranked second nationally with 332 yards on punt returns.

7. New England Patriots - Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

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It's two Alabama defenders in a row, with the Patriots grabbing Turner at No. 7. Matthew Judon remains very productive for New England but enters the final season of his contract in 2024. The former freshman All-American should see an increased role with the Tide this year following the departure of Will Anderson.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers - Maason Smith, DL, LSU

Smith tore his ACL in the season opener last year and missed the entire campaign for LSU. If he can stay healthy, the talented defensive tackle should make a solid push for All-American honors in Baton Rouge. With the Steelers looking to address their aging interior on defense, Smith makes a ton of sense at No. 8.

9. Chicago Bears (via CAR) - Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

The Bears used their 2023 first-round selection on Tennessee lineman Darnell Wright and double up this time around with more offensive line help. The 6-foot-8, 315-pound Alt was a first-team AP All-American last season and will make the short trip from Notre Dame to Chicago to start his pro career.

10. Atlanta Falcons - Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

After taking Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Bijan Robinson in three straight first rounds, the Falcons finally go defense with their opening pick in the draft. Verse starred in his first season with Florida State after transferring from Albany, posting nine sacks and 17 tackles for loss.

11. Las Vegas Raiders - Javon Bullard, S, Georgia

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Bullard's resume on the biggest stage will certainly be appealing to the Raiders at No. 11. Bullard won the defensive MVP of both the CFP semifinal and national title game for Georgia, with two interceptions in a dominant performance against TCU.

12. Seattle Seahawks - J.T. Tuimoloau, EDGE, Ohio State

Tuimoloau had one of the best individual games by a defensive player we've ever seen in college football last season. His exploits in the win over Penn State included two sacks, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble, and two interceptions - one of which was a pick-6. That type of raw potential will certainly catch Pete Carroll's eye.

13. Los Angeles Rams - Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas

With running backs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson now in the NFL, it's on Ewers to lead the way offensively for Texas this season. With Matthew Stafford's health continuing to be a question for the Rams, Sean McVay takes a chance on the talented passer from Austin as the quarterback of the future.

14. Chicago Bears - Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State

Harrison gets the headlines at Ohio State, but Egbuka deserves plenty of attention as one of the best receivers in the draft. The sophomore star caught 74 balls for over 1,100 yards with 10 touchdowns during an impressive 2022 season. Egbuka didn't play with Justin Fields in Columbus, but it's probably a safe bet that the young quarterback would be a fan of the talented pass-catcher at No. 14.

15. New Orleans Saints - Michael Hall Jr., DT, Ohio State

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The Saints continue the run of Ohio State players by adding to the defensive line depth with Hall. After starting just five games last season, the 6-foot-2, 285-pounder projects to have a much larger role in the Buckeyes' defense this year.

16. New York Giants - Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

While he's very slight at only 164 pounds, Worthy has elite speed and game-breaking potential at the receiver position. The Giants took Jalin Hyatt in 2023 but will likely be in more need of help out wide this time around.

17. Denver Broncos - Jeremiah Trotter Jr., LB, Clemson

With Josey Jewell a free agent after the 2023 season, Trotter is a natural replacement for the Broncos at the linebacker slot. Trotter's father was a four-time All-Pro during his 11-year career, and his son possesses many of the same traits on defense.

18. Baltimore Ravens - Denzel Burke, CB, Ohio State

Burke appeared in 13 games last season and led Ohio State with 12 pass breakups. Another year in Jim Knowles' defense should make him one of the top corners in the 2024 draft. With the Ravens facing Joe Burrow twice a season, defensive back depth will be an area of emphasis on a yearly basis.

19. Houston Texans (via CLE) - Andrew Mukuba, S, Clemson

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Mukuba's wide-ranging skill set will fit nicely in DeMeco Ryans' system in Houston. The Clemson star can play all over the field but thrives mostly from the safety slot where he would line up alongside Jalen Pitre to give the Texans a great young nucleus in the secondary.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars - Javion Cohen, OL, Miami

Cohen was a solid performer on the line at Alabama before opting to transfer to Miami this offseason. He heads north but stays in the state of Florida with the Jaguars opting to give Trevor Lawrence more protection on the offensive line.

21. Minnesota Vikings - Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

With a potential out upcoming in Kirk Cousins' contract, the Vikings will grab a quarterback of the future with the big arm of Penix at No. 21. The Washington standout was second in the country with over 4,600 yards passing for the Huskies' explosive offense in 2022. But another big year for Penix could vault him into the top 10.

22. Miami Dolphins - Ja'Tavion Sanders, TE, Texas

Mike McDaniel loves adding offensive weapons to support Tua Tagovailoa and continues that philosophy with Sanders at No. 22. His 54 catches last year were the most ever by a Texas tight end, and he's primed for another big campaign catching passes from Ewers in Austin.

23. Green Bay Packers - Kingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU

If the Packers aren't picking until No. 23, then it's safe to say the first year with Jordan Love was a success. The front office will look to help the quarterback by adding to the offensive line with the 6-foot-6, 315-pound Suamataia out of BYU.

24. Los Angeles Chargers - Jack Sawyer, EDGE, Ohio State

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Sawyer was ESPN's top-ranked recruit in the nation for the class of 2021 but has only 7.5 sacks through two seasons with Ohio State. That changes in his second campaign with coordinator Jim Knowles, and his draft stock rises with big production.

25. Detroit Lions - Shemar Turner, DT, Texas A&M

The Lions' rebuild continues with the talented Turner out of Texas A&M. Adding the 6-foot-4, 300-pounder to a line with Aidan Hutchinson should shore up what was one of the league's worst defensive units last season.

26. New York Jets - Caden Bullock, S, USC

With the Jets sitting at the 26th pick, it's clear the Aaron Rodgers experiment worked well in New York. With the offense humming, it's time to add some defensive back depth with the athletic safety from USC.

27. Dallas Cowboys - JC Latham, OT, Alabama

The Cowboys strengthen their offensive line with the massive 6-foot-6, 335-pounder from Alabama. Latham didn't allow a sack in a whopping 517 pass-blocking snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus. That is music to both Mike McCarthy's and Dak Prescott's ears.

28. Cincinnati Bengals - Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington

Trice enjoyed a breakout season for Washington last year with nine sacks and 70 pressures. Look for him to follow that up with another strong showing in his final collegiate season and bust into the first round.

29. San Francisco 49ers - Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

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Kyle Shanahan is always looking to add weapons to his offense, and the lanky Odunze out of Washington fits the bill. The 6-foot-3, 211-pounder led the Pac-12 in receiving yards with 1,145 and was named a third-team AP All-American last season.

30. Buffalo Bills - Leonard Taylor, DT, Miami

Taylor was a highly touted recruit while heading to Miami and began to deliver on that hype last season. He was one of the country's most productive pass-rushers among interior linemen, getting pressure on almost 17% of his chances.

31. Philadelphia Eagles - Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

Another Georgia Bulldog heads to Philadelphia, as the Eagles snap up Lassiter at No. 31. With the NFC champions' secondary aging, Lassiter is a great fit as a depth piece before becoming an eventual starter.

32. Kansas City Chiefs - Cooper Beebe, G, Kansas State

Beebe is the type of versatile athlete Andy Reid covets on the offensive line. The Kansas State standout has played every position up front outside of center and excels in pass protection. Beebe hasn't allowed a sack in over 750 pass-blocking snaps since 2021, according to Max Chadwick of PFF.

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