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Four QBs go in top six of Daily News’ joint NFL mock draft with Pat Leonard and Antwan Staley

While NFL general managers work the phones on possible draft trades, the Daily News’ experts are narrowing down what the top 32 picks might look like on Thursday night.

The News’ Pat Leonard and Antwan Staley present a mock draft compiled through collaboration:

Staley picked for the Giants and all of the even-numbered teams, except for the Jets. Leonard picked for the Jets and all the odd-numbered teams, starting with the Chicago Bears at No. 1 overall.

Trade considerations happen during the News’ scenario, but teams select at their original picks. Enjoy!

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

Williams took only one visit. That was to the Windy City. Carolina’s expensive trade up to No. 1 for Bryce Young last year hands Chicago its new face of the franchise one year later.

2. Washington Commanders: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

The Commanders have an interesting decision to make. But all signs point toward Washington selecting Daniels. He is probably the best fit for Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.

3. New England Patriots: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

Owner Robert Kraft needs and wants a quarterback, and he has Jacoby Brissett to start games early this season if Maye needs some time to grow into his new role as New England’s No. 1.

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

It’s not often the best player in a draft slides to the fourth pick. But with the top three teams in need of quarterbacks, the Cardinals add Harrison. He should provide an excellent security blanket for Kyler Murray.

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

This scenario sets up for the Giants or Vikings to possibly trade up for Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy. If the Chargers stick, though, they land the most explosive player in the draft.

6. Giants: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

The Giants get their quarterback of the future and take McCarthy, who helped Michigan win its first national championship since 1997. McCarthy may lack measurables and NFL throws on film, but he displayed the ability to run a pro-style offense in Jim Harbaugh’s system.

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

GM Ran Carthon lands his left tackle for the next decade.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

Assuming the Falcons stay at eighth overall, Turner should be the selection. He is a long, athletic pass rusher with tremendous quickness and the ability to attack quarterbacks consistently.

9. Chicago Bears: Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

Ryan Poles likely will trade back here. He could go receiver, too. But Matt Eberflus is a defensive head coach, so he lobbies for a big swing with this extra first-round pick on the PAC-12 defensive player of the year and Lombardi Award winner, who bounced back with the Bruins after a medical retirement earlier in college due to a neck injury.

10. Jets: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

Joe Douglas already added veteran tackles Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses this offseason, but the Beavers’ right tackle adds more nasty and talent up front to protect Aaron Rodgers.

Oregon State offensive lineman Taliese Fuaga runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Indianapolis.

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga at the NFL football scouting combine on March 3. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

11. Minnesota Vikings: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

It’s no secret the Vikings are looking to move up for one of the big four quarterbacks in this year’s draft. But if the Vikings are unable to do so, selecting Bowers would be beneficial to their offense. Bowers is an athletic playmaker who can find holes in zone defenses and make contested catches in traffic.

12. Denver Broncos: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Denver is also a quarterback-needy team. But with Williams, Daniels, Maye and McCarthy all off the board, the Broncos go defense and take Mitchell to pair with Patrick Surtain II, who is arguably the best cornerback in football. Mitchell has size like a running back (6-foot, 195 pounds), but has the ability to become one of the best corners in the league himself.

13. Las Vegas Raiders: Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew are the top QBs on the Raiders’ depth chart. Penix had injury issues at Indiana before transferring to Washington, but he may be the best thrower of the football in this class. And Vegas shares a division with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.

14. New Orleans Saints: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

New Orleans needs offensive line help in the worst way. Ryan Ramczyk’s durability has come into question with his lingering knee issues. Trevor Penning hasn’t lived up to expectations after he was selected in the first round in 2022. Getting Fashanu, who has a ton of potential and can be a dominant tackle, makes too much sense here.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

If Odunze somehow slips this far, Shane Steichen will gladly add some teams’ WR1 in this class to Anthony Richardson’s offense.

16. Seattle Seahawks: Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington

Fautanu reunites with his former Huskies offensive line coach [Scott Huff] and offensive coordinator [Ryan Grubbs]. Not only can Fautanu start at guard for the Seahawks, but he can also fill in when injuries occur at tackle.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

The Jags improve their coverage to take on C.J. Stroud and an explosive Houston Texans offense that added Stefon Diggs via trade in the AFC South.

18. Cincinnati Bengals: Byron Murphy II, DL, Texas

If you’re going to slow down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, you need to load up on the defensive line. Murphy not only has the skills to disrupt quarterbacks on the defensive line, but he can also attack running backs in the backfield.

19. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

The Albany transfer is a day one starter for Sean McVay and new Rams defensive coordinator Chris Shula. This is an easy choice for GM Les Snead, using the Rams’ first first-round pick since 2016.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jackson Powers-Johnson, OL, Steelers

The Steelers brought Powers-Johnson in for a pre-draft visit two weeks ago. Now, Pittsburgh will add a versatile and talented center to its line. Powers-Johnson won the Rimington Trophy last season, which is awarded to the nation’s top center. He was also a first-team Associated Press All-American for the Ducks.

21. Miami Dolphins: JC Latham, OT, Alabama

The Crimson Tide right tackle, who also has experience playing right guard, is a no-brainer to reinforce the pass protection in front of Tua Tagovailoa. Left tackle Terron Armstead is 33 years old, and competition for right tackle Austin Jackson is a good thing.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

The Eagles could use help in the secondary, which is why they select DeJean at this spot. At 6-foot-1, 203 pounds, DeJean is a big cornerback who excels playing in zone defenses.

23. Minnesota Vikings (from Browns): Jer’Zhan Newton, DI, Illinois

Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell hasn’t landed his quarterback yet, but he does give Brian Flores’ defense a stud on the interior by adding the first-team All-American Newton.

24. Dallas Cowboys: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

Another cornerback comes off the board, and the Cowboys get McKinstry, who could become the next Marshon Lattimore. McKinstry has the speed to play in the slot and the potential to become a shutdown outside corner.

25. Green Bay Packers: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

The Pack need offensive linemen, so Georgia’s Amarius Mims could be the pick here. But GM Brian Gutekunst believes in going defense in round one, and Jaire Alexander’s lack of reliability recently makes corner a need.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State

Buccaneers GM Jason Licht told reporters the team needs to add more depth to the defensive line. That’s why selecting Robinson here makes a lot of sense. Many will compare Robinson to Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons because of his rare combination of speed and athleticism.

27. Arizona Cardinals (from Texans): Darius Robinson, EDGE, Missouri

Arizona probably will trade back here, especially if there is a team charging up for a quarterback like Oregon’s Bo Nix. But head coach Jonathan Gannon desperately needs talent for his defense, and the powerful and versatile Robinson would be an attractive add.

28. Buffalo Bills: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

Many expect the Bills to attempt to trade up for a wide receiver after trading Diggs to the Texans. But one of the more underrated players in the 2024 draft falls to them in Thomas. Nabers received all the attention this draft season, but Thomas has the generational talent to become a top target in Buffalo.

29. Detroit Lions: Graham Barton, C, Duke

The Blue Devils’ left tackle projects as the top pro center in this draft. Taking a center is far from spending two top 34 picks on a running back and a tight end like Detroit did last year. But Barton’s stability and versatility give GM Brad Holmes something his offense needs.

30. Baltimore Ravens: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

Solidifying the Ravens’ offensive line is a top priority for the Ravens. That is why Baltimore selects Guyton, who is an excellent pass protector who could play at either left or right tackle in the league. At 6-foot-8, 322 pounds, Guyton plays with a high center of gravity and the footwork to consistently keep pass rushers in front of him.

31. San Francisco 49ers: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

This could end up being a wide receiver if the Niners trade Brandon Aiyuk. But in this scenario, landing the Bulldogs’ right tackle — who may have the potential to play both sides in the pros — is great value for a position of need for both the present and future.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

Mahomes gets a receiver weapon late in Round 1 in Mitchell, who has a blend of speed, size, and route running. Imagine Mitchell’s 4.34 speed teaming with Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce. That could potentially be scary for opposing defenses trying to slow down the back-to-back Super Bowl champions.


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