11 NFL Draft 2024 rumors including Bengals, Patriots, Steelers, J.J. McCarthy, Drake Maye, and more


(Just be warned, this time of draft season is when caffeine intake is approaching unhealthy levels).

We have reached the day before the day. Tomorrow night Roger Goodell will walk onto a stage in Detroit and declare the 2024 NFL Player Selection Meeting — which we all know and love as the NFL Draft — open.

But if you were worried that meant the rumors would be dying down, rest assured.

The rumor mill is still cranking. Let’s take a spin.

Did the Raiders tip their hand?

While the Las Vegas Raiders are one of the teams linked with the quarterback position this spring, just how interested the Raiders are in adding a passer seems like something of a moving target.

Or, at least it did.

According to reporting out Tuesday, the Raiders made an effort to try and get up to No. 2 in a trade with the Washington Commanders, seemingly to draft a quarterback.

With Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew on the roster, the Raiders could theoretically kick their QB decision to next spring, rolling with Minshew and O’Connell this year. And the Raiders do have other needs besides the quarterback position.

But it seems they might be more interested in quarterbacks than we thought.

Why Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy could be critical to the top of the draft

Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports released a number of pre-draft nuggets in a column on Tuesday, including a lengthy scenario where Robinson makes the case that Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy — and not Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels — are “critical” to the draft.

Robinson writes:

“Contrary to a vast amount of projection since March 15 — when the Minnesota Vikings dealt for the Houston Texans’ No. 23 overall pick — there is a growing consensus among NFL teams that McCarthy is not the primary target in a potential trade-up for the Vikings. Instead, it’s believed Minnesota’s top target is Maye. He has a connection with quarterbacks coach Josh McCown, who coached Maye in high school. The potential complication for the Vikings is how the quarterback stack falls at the top of the draft.

“Assuming Daniels is the Commanders’ pick at No. 2, all eyes will fall on the New England Patriots at No. 3 and what they choose to do in the slot. While trading out is certainly an option, it’s telling that team owner Robert Kraft said publicly in one breath that he was going to let the team ‘make the decision,’ but then in the next breath said, ‘One way or another, I’d like to see us get a top-rate young quarterback.’ Achieving that goal points to the Patriots sticking at the No. 3 pick and selecting that player. If that’s Maye, the selection could turn the draft on its ear for two franchises.

“The first would be the Vikings, who would have their top quarterback target taken off the board. The second would be the New York Giants, who have been carefully working league connections to figure out how the quarterback stack will shake out Thursday. Without a doubt, there are other front offices that believe a quarterback is squarely in play for the Giants. The unknown is whether or not McCarthy — who made a private visit to the franchise in March — is the player they’re aiming for with the No. 6 pick.”

If you are someone who believes the draft really begins at No. 3 when the Patriots are on the clock, this is music to your ears.

If that is the scenario, perhaps the Giants are not aiming for McCarthy

Building off that point from Robinson, consider this exchange on X (formerly Twitter) from Thursday night:


For those who do not know, @MoveTheSticks is Daniel Jeremiah, one of the most respected figures in the field and an NFL Draft analyst for the NFL Network. Not only does he not “view [the Giants] as a J.J. McCarthy team,” that opinion is then shared by Dane Brugler of The Athletic and Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated.

Three very plugged in analysts coming to the same conclusion. Oh, and Hayden Winks is pretty smart too.

RBs might wait until late Friday night

Another pre-draft nugget worth mentioning from Robinson?

Running backs might be in for a wait.

“The closer we get to the draft and the more I hear the assessments on the running back class, the more I think there’s a shot that the bulk of the class comes off the board in the third round. I wrote a more expansive piece about the running backs last week, but I have some new data after my last dive into calls,” writes Robinson.

“While there has been some consideration about a surprise ‘first’ running back off the board, I’m more confident now that it will either be Texas’ Jonathon Brooks or Florida State’s Trey Benson. That’s not exactly a revelation with both being in play at the top of the running back stack, but it now feels like they’re more of a tier unto themselves, with the next tier being a mixture of Michigan’s Blake Corum, Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen and Tennessee’s Jaylen Wright.”

This opinion is somewhat in line with consensus. According to NFL Mock Draft Database, the highest-ranked running back on their consensus big board is Brooks, who checks in at No. 50 (and is coming off an ACL injury). He’s followed by Benson (No. 60), Wright (No. 71) and Corum (No. 72).

OL run on Thursday night?

One last bit from Robinson’s Tuesday column which, you can probably tell by now is worth a read.

While running backs might have to wait, offensive tackles could come flying off the board early and often Thursday night. Further, the order the players come off the board might fly in the face of current consensus rankings.

“The offensive tackle run in the first round is going to be wild. There’s a chance that seven tackles go in the first 32 picks: Notre Dame’s Joe Alt, Penn State’s Olu Fashanu, Alabama’s JC Latham, Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga, Washington’s Troy Fautanu, Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton and Georgia’s Amarius Mims. Some teams also see BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia as a potential late first-round pick as well,” starts Robinson.

“The three interesting players from this group to keep an eye on are Fashanu, Latham and Mims. There are split opinions on all three. I wouldn’t be stunned if Fashanu and Latham weren’t the second and third tackles off the board behind Alt (which is the slot they’re often mocked to), or if Mims potentially slips out of the first and into the top of the second round. Bottom line: Tackle order is going to be a little more chaotic than people might think.”

Steelers eying the middle?

Ask anyone what position the Pittsburgh Steelers are eying in the 2024 NFL Draft, at least early, and you likely get the same response.

Interior offensive line.

Graham Barton and Jackson Powers-Johnson are very popular picks for the Steelers in recent mock drafts, and now there is even more buzz to the idea that Pittsburgh is going to address the interior offensive line on Thursday night. Appearing on the “102.5 WDVE Morning Show” Tuesday, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette indicated that the Steelers really want a “top-flight center” from this draft.

“The one position on the team where there’s no starter is center, and they need a center. And not just any center. They want to get a top-flight center, they want to get a Maurkice Pouncey. I’m not sitting there saying they’re going to get a Maurkice Pouncey, but they want to get a guy who’s gonna anchor that line for 10 years. You’re not gonna find him in the third round and keep your fingers crossed that you’re gonna get a Mike Webster, who was a fifth-round pick.”

Adjust your final mock drafts accordingly.

Could Pittsburgh go QB at some point?

Speaking of the Steelers …

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reported on Wednesday morning that Pittsburgh is not expected to pick up the fifth-year option on Justin Fields, the quarterback they acquired in March via a trade with the Chicago Bears.

That means both Fields and Russell Wilson are entering the final year of their contracts:

The organization could look to re-sign one or both players, depending on how things unfold this season. But given that, the Steelers could be a team to watch on Day Two or even early on Day Three to add a developmental quarterback from this draft class.

Jerry Jones makes it clear on Dak Prescott

If you had any notion that Dak Prescott would be playing quarterback elsewhere next fall, someone critical to that decision would disagree with you.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Speaking ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft Jones was crystal clear with his words: “We want Dak Prescott, and that’s that,” Jones said at the team’s pre-draft press conference.

However, accomplishing that goal might require some more information, and might take some time.

“We’d like to see more leaves fall,” added the Dallas owner. “We’d like to see more action. It’s called option quarterback. I’ve spent my life [playing] option quarterback. I want to see some more cards played.”

His son Stephen, the team’s executive vice president and director of player personnel, echoed those thoughts.

“When you’re talking about big contracts like Dak, CeeDee and Micah, those things don’t happen overnight,” added the younger Jones. “Those things take time. There’s timing based on what other teams are doing at their position.

“There’s a lot of moving parts. Certainly, you wanna get it right. … When you’re paying the type of money we ultimately will have to, to keep them, you wanna make sure you get it right.”

Syndication: Arizona Republic

Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

What happens when Arizona is on the clock?

As we have previously discussed, the Cardinals are “open for business” at No. 4.

However, do not expect to learn what they plan to do until around 8:30 p.m. Eastern on Thursday night, as general manager Monti Ossenfort has made it clear that no decisions will be made until Arizona is officially on the clock.

Will they stay and draft, or will they trade out?

Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports wrote Tuesday that the Cardinals already have two offers in for the pick, and it is somewhat clear what teams are looking to move into that spot. According to multiple reports the Vikings, Giants, Raiders, and Broncos are all looking to move up in the first round. Jordan Raanan of ESPN reported Tuesday that the Giants are “at least looking to trade up,” with an eye on Maye, while Raanan’s colleague Kimberley A. Martin reported that the Vikings are trying to actively move up, and were hoping to have a top-five pick before the draft. Then there are the Raiders, who as we already discussed tried to get to No. 2 so Las Vegas is likely in the mix for No. 4.

Jones also had this to say about the Broncos:

“The team I feel most comfortable won’t be picking where they currently sit are the Denver Broncos. Have heard from multiple teams in the top 10 the Broncos have inquired about a trade-up. Have also heard from teams picking after 12 the Broncos have discussed an appetite for trading down,” wrote the CBS Sports scribe. “It’s obvious Denver desires a quarterback if it can get up to get one. And if not, it wants to accumulate draft capital and get more players.”

Titans will not get “cute”

Dianna Russini from The Athletic wrote about a number of rumors on Wednesday morning, working her way through the top ten of the draft and touching on many quarterback-related scenarios.

Regarding the Tennessee Titans, however, things are pretty clear.

They’re going to draft an offensive tackle, barring a surprise.

“After spending heavily in free agency and addressing many needs, the one position not addressed by the Titans this offseason was offensive tackle. Look for them to not get cute and take their tackle at No. 7,” wrote Russini on Wednesday.

However, what happens if the player they want is off the board? While many look at the Los Angeles Chargers as team desperate for a top wide receiver, the Chargers are a sneaky landing spot for a tackle in this draft, given what we anticipate the offense to look like under Jim Harbaugh.

In that scenario, Russini posits that the Titans could flip to WR.

“If the player they want isn’t there, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Titans go wide receiver, understanding that new coach Brian Callahan wants to score points.

“The Titans fell in love with Harrison during the combine interview, but the chances he’s there at 7 are slim,” continued Russini. “Keep in mind, president of football operations Chad Brinker, who has seen his involvement increase this offseason, comes from the Packers’ front office, and that franchise hasn’t gone wide receiver in the first round since 2002.”

Cincinnati to address the trenches at No. 18?

As we wrote recently, the Bengals have a number of needs this off-season, including EDGE, WR, and CB. But in the first round, expect Cincinnati to look to the trenches.

That is the report from Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic on Wednesday morning. “Cincinnati arrives with immediate priorities at defensive tackle, offensive tackle and wide receiver, as well as depth pieces at interior offensive line and a wild card of cornerback always on the table,” begins Dehner.

Dehner then mentions four players in play for the Bengals in the first round: Texas DT Byron Murphy II, Alabama OT JC Latham, OL Troy Fautanu from Washington, and OT Amarius Mims from Georgia. He continues to call Latham the “safest” of the picks. “The most powerful human in the draft at a position where Cincinnati has prioritized power and size. Plus, proof of concept as a starter the last two years on the right side at Alabama. The safest of the realistic picks,” adds Dehner.

Regarding Latham, while I concede I am absolutely not an “NFL insider” and my sources are more colleagues who have actual sources, my own discussions the past few days indicate there is a chance — a small one but still a chance — he is the first tackle off the board. Joe Alt from Notre Dame is as clean of an evaluation as it gets at the position, and Penn State OT Olu Fashanu is another great prospect, but there is growing buzz about Latham as the draft nears.

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