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Helmet-to-Helmet: NFL draft preview

Lila Baltaxe | Senior Graphic Artist

In the voice of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, “The Chicago Bears are on the clock.” 

This could be the first year ever where a quarterback has been taken with each of the first four picks due to the incredible depth of this quarterback class. In a weak running back class, some high-end receiving prospects are expected to hear their names called early. With the festivities beginning tomorrow in Detroit, what better way to lead into the draft than discussing the possible top 10 picks? 

The NFL Draft is unpredictable every year, but there’s one thing I am 110% positive will happen — “With the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select Caleb Williams, QB, USC.” 

There is no need to ponder on this pick at all. Many scouts and coaches see Williams as the surefire No. 1 overall pick with generational talent, elite awareness and playmaking ability. He’s been linked to Chicago for a few months now, but prospect fatigue won’t change anything in this case. The Bears can get their franchise guy with the top pick and finally have an above-solid QB. 

The No. 2 pick is where the draft really starts. Washington traded away Sam Howell this offseason, signaling that they will draft a QB in this spot. While Heisman winner Jayden Daniels could go to Washington, he doesn’t seem very eager to play for the Commanders. I believe Washington will forgo Daniels’ incredible ceiling, and draft University of North Carolina QB Drake Maye. Though he would need to furnish up some details, the former Tar Heel has all the intangibles to be a top-tier player in the NFL. 

At No. 3, the Patriots would be ecstatic with Daniels falling to them, and would grab their QB of the future. Some say the Patriots could trade down and get a tackle to rebuild their offensive line, but when an opportunity like this presents itself, it’s hard to look elsewhere. The LSU superstar put up record-breaking numbers this past year, and I don’t think he’ll be the only Tiger to go in the top 10.

As much as I want to see history written, I think Arizona will break the QB train. It’s a possibility to trade down —  granted they are in a full rebuild — but have their guy in Kyler Murray. The Cardinals can get their hands on a wide receiver prospect, whose talent is reminiscent of Calvin Johnson. Marvin Harrison Jr., a freak athlete with crisp route-running, otherworldly ball tracking and great speed, might be the most complete talent coming out of college in some time. In what I believe is the second most certain pick in this year’s draft, “Maserati Marv” is likely to take his talents across the country to AZ.

I see the first trade happening in the fifth spot, with the Chargers using themselves as a stepping stone to a quarterback-needy team. Their future is set with Justin Herbert, and though they could stick at five to draft a receiver or tackle, they could move back at the right price. The Minnesota Vikings have the most capital to make a move, a potential move that has created buzz during the last month. This could also show star receiver Justin Jefferson why he shouldn’t want to leave town. I predict that the Chargers will receive both of the Vikings’ first-round picks at a minimum, and Minnesota will trade up to draft Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy.

The Giants own the sixth pick in the draft, but despite reports that voice the team’s concerns with Daniel Jones, I’m positive that New York will bolster their skill position group here. LSU WR Malik Nabers won’t have to wait much longer to hear his name called, as the Giants can scoop up a versatile, big-play weapon who has shades of his former Tigers: Ja’marr Chase and Justin Jefferson.

Tennessee is on the clock with the seventh pick, and with Nabers no longer available, they might try to revamp their offensive line. They’d be happy to get the best tackle available in Notre Dame’s Joe Alt, who combines size and height quite well. 

Atlanta needs improvement on defense, especially in the trenches, so they may take Alabama edge Dallas Turner, who can get to the backfield in the blink of an eye with the eighth selection. 

With their second first-round pick, I believe the Bears will explore this loaded receiver class and use the ninth pick to draft Washington’s Rome Odunze, a polished product with exceptional hands. 

Last but not least, I think the New York Jets won’t be able to help themselves and draft Georgia TE Brock Bowers with the tenth pick, giving QB Aaron Rodgers another elite pass-catcher.

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