2024 NFL Mock Draft: Early Top 50 prospect watch list

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 2: Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans throws against the Tulane Green Wave in the first half of the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on January 2, 2023 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 2: Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans throws against the Tulane Green Wave in the first half of the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on January 2, 2023 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /
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Kool-Aid McKinstry is the second cornerback drafted in this 2024 NFL Mock Draft
AUSTIN, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 10: Kool-Aid McKinstry #1 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after an interference penalty in the first half against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

45. . Edge Defender. Denver Broncos. J.T. Tuimoloau. 17. player

Tuimoloau is a blizzard of activity from the LEO position and has intriguing tools. Having said that, the production has not yet lived up to the potential (barring the performance highlighted in the tweet below), and that could dictate when he is picked. If he can live up to the raw talent, then a first round grade is not out of the question.

Cornerback. Minnesota Vikings. Kool-Aid McKinstry. 18. player. 60.

The current clubhouse favorite to be drafted as the first cornerback next year, McKinstry finds a home in Minnesota in this 2024 NFL Mock Draft. McKinstry is excellent in all phases of the game and is a versatile defensive back, equally adept in both man and zone coverage. He has an NFL-level physique and reads the game exceptionally well performing as an above-average run defender.

. Defensive Interior. New Orleans Saints. Jer'Zhan Newton. 19. player. 15

With the drive and will to succeed that Newton possesses, he could hear his name called much earlier than this, but he lands in the lap of the New Orleans Saints in this 2024 NFL Mock Draft. Newton had 14 TFL last year and 5.5 sacks, but he is just scratching at the surface of what he could become as an interior terror. Shades of Calijah Kancey in terms of how he could rise with a productive 2023 season.

20. player. 31. . Wide Receiver. New York Giants. Rome Odunze

The second wide receiver off the board in this 2024 NFL Mock Draft may be a bit of a surprise, but Odunze has legitimate WR1 potential at the next level. He has an ideal size at 6’3 and 201 pounds and is perhaps the most well-rounded receiving prospect behind Harrison Jr. in the class. He is a vertical threat, is effective in contested catch situations, and has the speed and shiftiness required to play underneath. Furthermore, Odunze has an impressive ability to create after the catch and plays with great body control. There is not much that he cannot do and with a monster season on the horizon, should hear his name called in round one when all is said and done.

Jacksonville Jaguars. Kamren Kinchens. 21. player. 52. . Safety

PFF’s highest-graded safety in coverage last season (90.7 grade), Kinchens will be appealing to teams looking for a true free safety or nickel back to add to their roster. Six interceptions in 2022 highlight a real playmaker and it is not just in coverage where Kinchens excels. He is a willing contributor in the run game and plays with a hard-hitting mentality. One to watch.

59. . Offensive Tackle. Miami Dolphins. Blake Fisher. 22. player

Miami needs to keep building its offensive line despite the high picks that they have used on it in recent years. This is not a case of chasing good money after bad, for the o-line is the one position where repeat investment is a worthwhile strategy and the Dolphins must protect Tua at any cost. Fisher is a hulking right tackle prospect and is a surprisingly nimble mover for a 320+ pound man. There is a real mean streak with him and if he can continue to work on maximizing his natural athletic traits, then his pass blocking should reap the rewards.

. Safety. Los Angeles Chargers. Calen Bullock. 23. player. 13

Bullock is the second safety/nickel prospect to leave the board in round one of this 2024 NFL Mock Draft. The USC prospect is another instinctive playmaker, recording five interceptions in 2022. A great tackler in the open field, Bullock has real acceleration and recognizes plays developing faster than most. Would provide the Chargers with real talent on the back end.

Ruke Orhorhoro. 24. player. 26. . Defensive Interior. Baltimore Ravens

Orhorhoro has a powerful, long, dense frame and is a physical disruptor in the backfield. He is a prototypical three-technique and is sometimes overshadowed by the bigger names on the Clemson defense. Nevertheless, he has an opportunity this year to elevate his profile and production and in turn, see his draft value skyrocket. If he can fulfill his potential, then the back end of round one is his floor.

50. . Defensive Interior. Detroit Lions. Michael Hall Jr.. 25. player

Another interior defensive lineman who has the opportunity to seriously raise his stock as we head into the 2023 season. Hall Jr. does not quite have the natural physical prowess of Orhorhoro, but he is a thickly built, powerful specimen with a stout anchor who is tough to move. The test this year is to see whether he can be a more consistent presence in the backfield despite an apparent lack of length and burst off the snap. If he can emerge as a true penetrative force, watch out!

123. . Wide Receiver. Dallas Cowboys. Emeka Egbuka. 26. player

Egbuka finds a home in Dallas as a potential long-term replacement for Michael Gallup. The less heralded of the two Ohio State wideouts should not be discounted in next year’s draft and is a premium talent in his own right. He is a sharp and smooth route runner and plays with excellent body control both throughout the catch and when slicing through traffic with the ball in his hands. Creates easy separation and is a surefire WR2 at the next level.

. Offensive Tackle. Green Bay Packers. Graham Barton. 27. player. 49

Barton started his career at Duke as a center and this could be due to a lack of length. Despite this perception, Barton moved to the blind side and excelled in 2021 and 2022 thanks to his excellent mobility, movement, and powers of recovery in space. A fantastic run blocker thanks to his powerful and thick legs, stout base, and desire to play through the whistle, Barton is a high-floor player who is a solid investment at the back end of round one.

42. . Offensive Tackle. San Francisco 49ers. Jonah Monheim. 28. player

A seventh offensive tackle leaves the board to San Francisco in this 2024 NFL Mock Draft. The former guard moved to tackle in 2021 and was outstanding in pass protection against speedy and fluid QB hunters. Able to match their movements and react seamlessly in space. Has easy power thanks to his explosive qualities, but will not overwhelm with pure strength. If he can develop this aspect of his game and become a real people mover, he will be assured of a first round grade.

16. . Defensive Interior. Buffalo Bills. Leonard Taylor. 29. player

300-pound defensive tackle with the requisite athleticism to be a penetrative force on the interior as well as an above average run defender. The Bills have a number of players such as Ed Oliver, Jordan Phillips, A.J. Epenesa, and Shaq Lawson who are approaching unrestricted free agency, as well as the contracts of DaQuan Jones and Tim Settle that will need addressing. Poona Ford has been signed, but they must keep adding with an eye to the future. Taylor would be the perfect start.

56. . Interior Offensive Lineman. Cincinnati Bengals. Cooper Beebe. 30. player

Beebe has experience at left tackle, but he does not have the length or top end athleticism to stick there. Instead, his thick build and explosive power suit perfectly well inside. His experience on the edge certainly does help when he has to move, as he has his head on a swivel at all times and can move with light feet without sacrificing any power. High floor and another who will be coveted for his versatility and ability to play tackle in a pinch.

54. . Wide Receiver. Philadelphia Eagles. Troy Franklin. 31. player

As usual, there will be many onlookers and analysts who project running back to the Eagles here. Braelon Allen would certainly be a sound pick with so many runners who are currently on the roster out of contract next year, but a true third receiver is the pick in this 2024 NFL Mock Draft. Troy Franklin would be a terrific compliment to A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, offering a dangerous option underneath and drawing attention away from the two aforementioned pass catchers. Franklin is said to run in the 4.3s and is a threat to take it to the house at any time. Jalen Hurts continues to be showered with an embarrassment of riches.

124. . Cornerback. Kansas City Chiefs. Cooper DeJean. 32. player

A high school wide receiver and title-winning quarterback, DeJean is a special athlete and multi-sport competitor. The original plan was for DeJean to play safety at Iowa, but ended up as a starting corner. He excelled as a ball-hawking playmaker, showing off high-level instincts for the position whilst playing with the control and discipline of someone far more experienced at the position. DeJean displays the mindset of a wide receiver when the ball is in the air and has the burst and quick twitch to match all but the absolute elite athletes he comes up against. Could excel on the outside, in the slot, or at safety at the NFL level and this versatility will be treasured by evaluators come next April, especially the Chiefs who took some below-average DBs this year.

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Just missed the cut. Additional first round watch list by position.

Braelon Allen, Running Back – Wisconsin

Raheim Sanders, Running Back – Arkansas

TreVeyon Henderson, Running Back – Ohio State

Xavier Worthy, Wide Receiver – Texas

Jalen McMillan, Wide Receiver – Washington

Ja’Tavion Sanders, Tight End – Texas

Kingsley Suamataia, Offensive Tackle – BYU

Jordan Morgan, Offensive Tackle – Arizona

Tate Ratledge, Interior Offensive Lineman – Georgia

Donovan Jackson, Interior Offensive Lineman – Ohio State

Laiatu Latu, Edge Defender – UCLA

Chop Robinson, Edge Defender – Penn State

Zion Tupuola-Fetui, Edge Defender – Washington

Maason Smith, Defensive Interior – LSU

D.J. James, Cornerback – Auburn

Denzel Burke, Cornerback – Ohio State

Andrew Mukuba, Safety – Clemson

Rod Moore, Safety – Michigan

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Quarterbacks to keep an eye on

Quinn Ewers, Quarterback – Texas

Michael Penix Jr., Quarterback – Washington

Joe Milton III, Quarterback – Tennessee

Spencer Rattler, Quarterback – South Carolina

J.J. McCarthy, Quarterback – Michigan

Cameron Ward, Quarterback – Washington State

Tyler Van Dyke, Quarterback – Miami

Bo Nix, Quarterback – Oregon

K.J. Jefferson, Quarterback – Arkansas

Let me know your thoughts and tell me who YOU have in your 2024 NFL Mock Draft on Twitter: @BenAMatthews.