Tannenbaum's GM mock draft: A former exec's own first-round picks, including six QBs and one big trade


Decision-makers for every NFL franchise are working around the clock to get ready for April’s 2024 NFL draft. I remember the process well, with experience as a general manager and executive vice president with the Dolphins (2015-18) and Jets (2006-12). And for a fourth year in a row, I was feeling nostalgic and wanted to take a run at all 32 first-round picks — how I would make each selection.

What follows isn’t a traditional mock draft. While draft analysts aim to project what they believe will happen based on what they’re hearing — my colleague Mel Kiper Jr. just unveiled his newest set of predictions last week — I’m instead putting myself into the general manager chair for each team with a first-rounder and making my own picks. So it’s not necessarily what I’m expecting to happen but rather how I’d personally approach each Day 1 selection. This is all based off my own evaluations, preferences, philosophies and rationale.

I have something new this year, too — I made one trade, which I justify because I would do it from both teams’ perspectives. So let’s jump in with my GM selections for the first 32 picks, starting with a no-brainer for Bears GM Ryan Poles at No. 1. And be sure to check out my “SportsCenter” special on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

More on the NFL draft (espnplus):
All of our mock drafts | Position rankings

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Caleb Williams, QB, USC

Williams has rare talent and playmaking ability, and the trade of Justin Fields to Pittsburgh clears the road for him to come to Chicago. With a supporting cast of Keenan Allen, Cole Kmet, DJ Moore, D’Andre Swift and Gerald Everett, Williams is set up for speedy development as a pro and quick success. The sacks (83 over three college seasons) and fumbles (16) are concerning, but I believe Williams’ fundamentals in the pocket (climbing instead of escaping backwards) will improve. He averaged over 9 yards per pass attempt in each of his three college seasons (one at Oklahoma) and threw 93 TD passes.


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Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

Maye has ideal size at 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds and shows really good pocket movement. He can make all the throws and has a good release, executing with accuracy and anticipation. I was impressed with what he was able to accomplish last season after losing receiver Josh Downs to the NFL, throwing for 3,608 yards. His traits remind me of Justin Herbert. And giving Maye an offense that has Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Austin Ekeler and Brian Robinson Jr. should help him be productive in Year 1.


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Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Daniels is coming off a massive final season at LSU, throwing 40 touchdown passes, improving his completion rate to 72.2%, avoiding turnovers with only four interceptions and rushing for 1,134 yards and 10 more scores. I have concerns about his build — he was listed at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds at LSU didn’t weigh in at the combine — and he needs to add weight to withstand the rigors of an NFL season. But I really like the idea of Jacoby Brissett already being in New England, which would allow the Pats to let Daniels develop; there’s no rush or rule that says he has to play right out of the gate.


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J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

Look, QB availability is crucial in today’s NFL — 66 passers started at least one game last season — and Kyler Murray hasn’t played a full season since 2020. I really like McCarthy’s long-term upside. The 21-year-old averaged 9 yards per attempt and completed 72.3% of his throws last season, and he bulked up to 219 pounds at the combine. In short, I think he’s a better, younger and more durable quarterback than Murray right now, and I’m not passing up this chance.

You might point to Murray’s contract (which includes $35.3 million guaranteed for 2024 and $29.9 million guaranteed for 2025), but teams routinely eat substantial dead money these days for a better opportunity at the position. And besides, I think the Cardinals could get a first-round pick back in exchange for him — stay tuned there, I might have something up my sleeve.


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Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

The Chargers gave up 43 sacks last season, 13th-most in the NFL. So despite the top receivers all being on the board and a glaring need there after trading Keenan Allen and cutting Mike Williams, I’m choosing to instead protect quarterback Justin Herbert. Alt is 6-foot-9 with great movement traits, and he gave up just six sacks over 2,142 snaps in college. Fortifying the offensive line is the foundation of any Jim Harbaugh team, and that’s especially true after Herbert missed four games last season due to a fractured finger. The WR class is deep, so I’m taking my OT1 now and worrying about the pass-catchers on Day 2.


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Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

Four QBs are already off the board, so the Giants need to think about getting the offense some playmakers for Daniel Jones. New York averaged 14 offensive points per game last season (29th in the NFL), and Darius Slayton was its leading receiver with 770 yards. You might be screaming for Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. here, but this WR1 race is really close, and I’m actually giving Nabers the edge because of his speed. Nabers averaged 15.9 yards per reception for his career and scored 14 TDs last season. He’s the most dynamic prospect in the class, both as a route runner and after-the-catch playmaker. The Giants’ offense desperately needs that sort of impact player.


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JC Latham, OT, Alabama

The Titans signed Lloyd Cushenberry at center but cut tackle Andre Dillard. They also gave up 64 sacks, tied for fourth-most in the NFL. So I’m targeting Latham here; he gave up two career sacks over 41 games (27 starts) at Alabama. He takes too many penalties (17 over the past two seasons), but OL coach Bill Callahan would surely address that in his rookie minicamp. I would keep Latham on the right side where his 6-foot-6, 342-pound size and strength should allow him to thrive.


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Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

This one is easy. With Kirk Cousins answering the quarterback question, the Falcons can draft the best pass-rusher in this class after they had 42 sacks last season (tied for 21st). He had an incredible workout at the combine, measuring in at 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds, running a 4.46-second 40-yard dash and jumping 40.5 inches in the vertical and 10-foot-7 in the broad. Turner had 22.5 sacks over three seasons at Alabama, and I like his movement skills. He can even play in space when necessary. Turner would be highly productive right out of the gate in Raheem Morris’ scheme.


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Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

Chicago just traded for Keenan Allen and has a really solid set of playmakers, but how can you pass up Harrison at No. 9? He reminds me of Larry Fitzgerald — he’s excellent in contested catch situations, has great hands and gets in and out of his breaks smoothly despite being 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds. He just had his second straight season with 14 TDs and over 1,200 receiving yards (1,211). What better way to put Caleb Williams in a position to be successful than loading up his supporting cast?

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Marvin Harrison Jr. makes history in 3-TD game against Michigan State

Marvin Harrison Jr. becomes first Ohio State player to have multiple 1,000 receiving yard seasons after his performance against Michigan State.


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Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State

The Jets signed left tackle Tyron Smith to a one-year deal, but given his age/durability concerns, Fashanu would be a very necessary insurance policy and future building block. At 6-foot-6 and 312 pounds, Fashanu has excellent feet and movement skills for his frame. He played 1,306 snaps during his Penn State career and only gave up one sack. He has perennial All-Pro potential if his technique continues to develop, giving the Jets a shutdown left tackle for years to come. (New York also traded for Morgan Moses, but he’s a fit on the right side and is a 2025 free agent.)


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Mock projected trade: Vikings address their QB issue

Cardinals get: No. 11
Vikings get: QB Kyler Murray and No. 66 (third round)

I drafted J.J. McCarthy at No. 4 to take over under center for Arizona, so Murray becomes a trade candidate and Minnesota is still searching for QB answers after missing out on the top four passers in the class. I don’t love the scheme fit for Oregon’s Bo Nix in Minnesota, and it’s too early for Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.

So here’s my proposition to clear some cap space for the Cards, officially start the McCarthy era in Arizona and fix the Vikings’ QB issue. In my mind, the No. 11 pick for Murray straight up is too rich, and No. 23 — Minnesota’s other first-rounder — on its own is not enough. So I’m attaching that third-rounder to the No. 11 pick to level this out. It’s similar to what the Cardinals did during the 2022 draft, when they traded their first-round pick (No. 23) to Baltimore for receiver Marquise Brown and a third-rounder.

From the Vikings’ standpoint, everything I said earlier about Murray’s durability still matters, but he’s cheaper and younger than Kirk Cousins would have been to re-sign and gives them a chance to compete this season rather than rebuild.


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Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Mitchell had an outstanding combine, running a 4.33 in the 40, jumping 38 inches in the vert and posting a 10-foot-2 broad jump. I was also impressed with his Senior Bowl practice week. Mitchell has standout man-to-man skills and the ideal 6-foot-1 size to play outside corner. His ball production is elite, with 39 pass breakups and six interceptions over his time in college. Arizona signed Sean Murphy-Bunting, but this team struggled on defense (specifically against the pass) last season and needs more. The Cards gave up a staggering 7.6 yards per pass attempt (27th). Pairing Mitchell with Murphy-Bunting would make for a much-needed upgrade to the Cardinals’ secondary.


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Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

Obviously Denver is in transition at QB after releasing Russell Wilson. Nix’s 77.4% completion rate led the nation in 2023, and he threw 45 TD passes to three interceptions. He has the accuracy and anticipation to succeed in Sean Payton’s offense. The big concern would be the arm strength. His deep balls fluttered at times at the Senior Bowl, and that matches what I see on tape. It may limit his ceiling, but it’s also something that Payton can work around and develop.


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Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

The Raiders struggled on offense last season, and it starts up front. Losing tackle Jermaine Eluemunor to the Giants leaves a hole, so I love the idea of bringing in 6-foot-6, 324-pound Fuaga. He has started 25 games (40 total games of play) and only given up one sack, and he brings the kind of physical edge that coach Antonio Pierce wants in Las Vegas. With Kolton Miller at left tackle, I would keep Fuaga on the right side.


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Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

Offensive line might be the bigger position of need, but this value for Odunze is just too good. He’s available at this point only because I’ve had five QBs come off the board, pushing down a great player. It’s a break for the Saints, who need another young WR to complement Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed. Odunze is one of my favorite prospects in the class — he ran a 4.45 40 at 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds in Indy and plays even bigger and faster than that. I love his physicality at the catch point and ability to break tackles in the open field. He had 92 catches for 1,640 yards and 13 scores last season and should develop into a frontline No. 1 WR. I see a lot of Terrell Owens in his game.


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Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

While Gus Bradley’s scheme relies mainly on zone coverage, the Colts still need to be able to play man to man — and Arnold would give the Colts a true CB1. Kenny Moore II is excellent in the slot but Indy needs a playmaker outside. Arnold plays faster than his 4.5-second time in the 40-yard dash, and he had 12 pass breakups and five interceptions last season as Alabama’s best corner.


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Troy Fautanu, G, Washington

Seattle has done of good job addressing the tackle position in recent years, drafting Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas. But on the interior, the team has lost guard Damien Lewis and center Evan Brown. Fautanu is a plug-and-play Day 1 starter at guard. He has great 6-foot-4, 317-pound size, solid length, quickness, toughness and position flexibility. He played mostly tackle at Washington, but I like him inside.


Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

Calvin Ridley went to the Titans, and while the Jaguars added Gabe Davis to a receiver room that includes Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, they need a true No. 1 target. Thomas has the 6-foot-3 size and 4.33 speed to be a difference-maker. He had an incredible 2023 season with 68 catches, 1,177 yards and 17 TDs. Trevor Lawrence will be ecstatic with this pick.


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Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

The Bengals need a right tackle with Joe Burrow coming back from his right wrist injury and last year’s starter (Jonah Williams) joining the Cardinals. The Trent Brown signing helps, but it is a one-year deal, and he missed six games due to injury last season. So how about Mims? He has a 6-foot-8, 340-pound frame, and his 1.78-second 10-yard split in his 40-yard dash shows his acceleration. However, Mims has played only 774 snaps (relatively inexperienced for an offensive line prospect) and needs to be quicker on his feet.


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Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

This makes six quarterbacks in the first 19 picks but consider the bigger picture for the Rams. Matthew Stafford is 36 years old and Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t a long-term option. L.A. has a good base to its roster, and Penix’s game is well-suited for Sean McVay’s offense, thanks to his arm strength and accuracy from the pocket. He didn’t miss a game over two years at Washington, though Penix had knee and shoulder injuries at Indiana that need to be vetted. He’ll also be 24 when he enters the league.

But I just love the production and deep-ball placement; he threw 67 TD passes and only 19 picks over the past two seasons, and his 4,903 passing yards led the country in 2023. Aaron Donald’s recent retirement means defensive tackle could be an option, but I see great value in finding a long-term solution for when Stafford is no longer the guy.


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Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

The Steelers have dramatically overhauled their QB position with Russell Wilson and Justin Fields, but they also recently traded Diontae Johnson and could use a standout receiver opposite George Pickens. Mitchell had a standout season at Texas after transferring from Georgia, averaging 15.4 yards per catch and scoring 11 TDs. He can fly at 6-foot-2, running a 4.34 at the combine, and I really like this fit.


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Jackson Powers-Johnson, C, Oregon

This pick could go in a number of ways, but with center Connor Williams still an unsigned free agent coming off a torn ACL and Robert Hunt leaving for a big-money deal in Carolina, there is a weakness on the interior of the offensive line (even with the addition of Aaron Brewer). Keeping a firm pocket for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is critical for the Dolphins’ success. JPJ had a great week at the Senior Bowl and a tremendous workout at the combine, where he showed excellent movement skills for a 6-foot-3, 328-pound player. Powers-Johnson started 17 games in college and didn’t give up a single sack.


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Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Could you imagine a personnel grouping of Bowers, Saquon Barkley, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert with a healthy Jalen Hurts under center? Bowers had 2,538 receiving yards and 26 receiving TDs over three seasons, and he would give coach Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore matchup advantages. He has to improve his blocking, but I believe that will happen in time. I also thought about a defensive back here — Philly’s back seven remains a concern even with the additions of Devin White and C.J. Gardner-Johnson — but Bowers is just too good to skip over this late in Round 1.


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Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

Minnesota did a great job of addressing their edges in free agency (Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel), and now I have the Vikings landing an explosive interior pass-rusher who had 18 sacks and 95 pressures over 45 games at Illinois. He’s coming off a foot injury and is undersized for the position at 6-foot-2 and 304 pounds, but his versatility and production is coveted on NFL defenses. Minnesota could also consider a cornerback here, like Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry or Clemson’s Nate Wiggins.


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Byron Murphy II, DT, Texas

Dallas drafted a bigger defensive tackle in Mazi Smith last year, but Murphy brings more of an interior pass-rush component. He can anchor with a strong lower body, even though he’s 6-foot-1 and 297 pounds. He had 59 pressures in 39 games at Texas (five sacks in 2023), and he can close on the QB quickly — he ran an impressive 4.87 in the 40 at the combine.


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Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

With longtime Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari moving on and guard Jon Runyan signing with the Giants, Green Bay has to address quarterback Jordan Love’s protection. Guyton’s smooth movement skills remind me of D’Brickashaw Ferguson, whom I drafted in 2006 while with the Jets. Guyton is a plug-and-play guy from Day 1 at left tackle, after starting 14 games over the past two seasons at Oklahoma since transferring from TCU. He allowed only one sack in that time.


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Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

Coach Todd Bowles loves versatility on the back end, and that’s exactly what DeJean brings to the table. Cornerback Carlton Davis III left for Detroit and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. may be in town for only one year on the franchise tag. DeJean had seven interceptions over his final two seasons at Iowa and is an outstanding punt returner. While I would start him at corner, he eventually could evolve into a terrific safety because of his 6-foot-1 size, physicality and range.


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Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

This is Arizona’s third pick in Round 1 thanks to my Kyler Murray move, but the team is still looking for a receiver. Michael Wilson, a 2023 third-rounder with 38 catches in his rookie season, is the Cards’ WR1 at the moment. McConkey checks every box for them, though. At the Senior Bowl, he was uncoverable. At the combine, he ran a 4.39 in the 40 and recorded a 10-foot-4 broad jump. On the tape, he has tremendous route-running ability. And while he would probably start in the slot, I think he can also win outside. McConkey battled an ankle injury last season but averaged 14.2 yards per catch and had 14 touchdowns over his career.

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Ladd McConkey takes one 41 yards for a Georgia TD

Carson Beck hits Ladd McConkey for a 41-yard Georgia touchdown to tie it up.


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Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

Gabe Davis left in free agency, and Stefon Diggs has only one year left of guaranteed money. So I’m absolutely taking a long look at the receiver class here to build more around quarterback Josh Allen. While Worthy’s 4.21-second run in the 40-yard dash will get the headlines and attention, don’t sleep on his production: 197 catches and 26 TDs over three years. He’s also a really good kick and punt returner. Worthy is undersized at 165 pounds but could be a home-run hitter from the start of his pro career, especially with Allen throwing him deep balls.


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Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

Latu has great get-off speed and fundamentals. He had 23.5 sacks in his two seasons with UCLA, and the biggest question about him at this point will be medical-related. Latu suffered a neck injury at Washington that forced him to medically retire in 2020 before transferring and returning to the field two years later. But the skill and production are absolutely there. Even with the recent addition of Marcus Davenport on a one-year deal, the Lions could use another pass-rusher opposite Aidan Hutchinson.


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Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

I really want to get the Ravens another edge rusher in their front seven. Kyle Van Noy had nine sacks last season, while Jadeveon Clowney had 9.5, but both are still on the free agent market. The depth isn’t strong here. Verse had a great combine (4.58-second run in the 40 at 254 pounds and a standout showing in drills) and 18 sacks in two years with the Seminoles. His style of play would fit well with the Ravens.


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Braden Fiske, DT, Florida State

Fiske transferred to Florida State from Western Michigan and had an outstanding season; he plays with an incredible motor and has great technique. I like his first-step quickness and use of hands to separate from blocks. Fiske dominated at the Senior Bowl and followed that up with a wild 4.78 in the 40 at 292 pounds at the combine. The 49ers replaced Chase Young, Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw with Maliek Collins, Yetur Gross-Matos and Leonard Floyd, but I’m still working on this unit.


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Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona

The defending Super Bowl champs could use a young ascending offensive tackle, especially since Donovan Smith is a free agent and Jawaan Taylor struggled with penalties last season. Morgan has prototypical size at 6-foot-5 and 311 pounds, displays the footspeed to mirror and redirect and comes with valuable experience (37 starts under his belt). But his arms are a bit short at 32⅞ inches, and he needs to get stronger in his lower body.



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