Home » Last-minute NFL draft buzz: How will the QBs come off the board? Who is looking to trade up — or down?

Last-minute NFL draft buzz: How will the QBs come off the board? Who is looking to trade up — or down?

The 2024 NFL draft kicks off with Round 1 on Thursday night (8 p.m. ET on ESPN/ABC), and our insiders are gathering all of the latest intel on how things might play out. When will the quarterbacks come off the board, and in what order? Which teams could surprise? Who are the late-rising prospects to watch? And what about Days 2 and 3 — how will teams build up their rosters?

Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano have spent the past few days making calls to people around the NFL, including execs, coaches and scouts. Here’s all of the last-minute buzz they’ve heard on the 2024 draft.

Jump to latest buzz on:
Commanders | Patriots | Chargers | Giants
Vikings | Raiders | Falcons | Late-Round 1 moves
Cowboys | Bowers | WR class | Latu
Veteran moves | CB1 | OT class

Which QB will go to Washington at No. 2?

Fowler: The Commanders conducted high-level personnel meetings early this week to begin finalizing plans for the three-day draft, including what to do at second overall. The expectation from other teams picking in the top 10 is that Washington will go with LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels.

He’s considered the overwhelming favorite for the pick, though it hasn’t appeared to be the smoothest process. Agent Ron Butler’s retweet of a Pro Football Talk post suggested Daniels’ camp was not happy Washington brought in four different quarterbacks for “top 30” visits last week. Commanders brass had significant one-on-one time with each player during their trips, but the event was not exclusive to any one player. In total, Washington had more than 20 players in its building, and the sense is that Daniels was surprised by the large gathering.

Regardless, Washington spent significant time scouting Daniels, and its actions suggest it has zeroed in pretty firmly. The Commanders do like Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, too, but that would be a pretty big upset pick.


All options on the table for the Pats?

Graziano: While Washington seems set on staying put and selecting a quarterback — as Jeremy said, most believe it’ll be Daniels — at No. 2, the Patriots are legitimately considering all options with the No. 3 pick. They could absolutely stay at No. 3 and take their favorite quarterback still on the board, but they’ve also made it clear they’re willing to listen to offers from teams looking to trade up to that spot.

The key thing to watch is how far back they’re willing to go. Patriots ownership seems to have a strong preference to come out of the first round with a quarterback, so moving back to, say, No. 11 with Minnesota or No. 12 with Las Vegas might be too precipitous a drop for the Patriots to still ensure their ability to do that. But if they were to move back only three spots in a trade with the Giants, who pick sixth, they could still be in position to pick a quarterback in the first round and add multiple extra premium picks.

Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. was among the quarterbacks with whom the Patriots visited in the pre-draft process, and people I’ve spoken to say that visit was to gather information on the lefty quarterback in case they decided to trade down. I believe they’re high on him, though I don’t think he’s a consideration if they stay at No. 3.

Fowler: “Common sense says the Patriots need a quarterback,” a team source told me. My sense after asking around to several sources is that the Patriots have Daniels rated ahead of North Carolina’s Drake Maye in the pecking order but still like Maye’s upside. McCarthy would fall somewhere after that, though I was reminded Tuesday night to not totally discount Robert Kraft’s affinity for Tom Brady, who might see shades of himself in McCarthy, a fellow Michigan product. The Patriots could trade back and acquire McCarthy with a later pick.

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The plays that make UNC’s Drake Maye a top NFL prospect

Take a look at the top plays from Drake Maye during his time at North Carolina.

The Patriots have fielded trade calls but haven’t been wowed by a potential deal yet. They are open to offers, but signs point to them staying put. Should New England select a quarterback at No. 3, don’t be surprised if it seriously considers a wide receiver at No. 34, assuming the options it likes are available. The Pats could swing a trade for a wide receiver, but it would be shocking if they didn’t come out of the draft with a pass-catcher somewhere relatively high.


Chargers looking to trade?

Fowler: While the Cardinals at No. 4 can effectively serve as the draft’s pivot point for a trade, teams I’ve spoken to believe the Chargers are eager to trade back at No. 5, too. “The Chargers have made that clear — they want to move back,” an NFL executive said. “They probably want an [offensive] tackle.”

One thing to keep in mind: New Chargers GM Joe Hortiz has a long-standing relationship with Jets GM Joe Douglas from their days together in Baltimore. And Douglas, who picks 10th overall, has proven a willing trade partner, though the Jets aren’t hunting for a quarterback and might be less inclined to move. The Cardinals and Chargers both need receiver help big-time, and if Arizona stays put, most teams I’ve talked to believe Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. would be the favorite there.

On a separate note, teams really are split on Harrison vs. LSU’s Malik Nabers for WR1. It’s all about preference: Harrison’s polish vs. Nabers’ explosion. Washington’s Rome Odunze is considered such a pro-ready prospect that he’s right there with them.


Are the Giants in on the QBs?

Graziano: The Giants have been tough to get a handle on. A month ago, many in the league believed their favorite quarterback in the class was McCarthy. If that were true, things have changed. The rumblings early this week: The Giants’ guy is Maye.

I’ve been told the Giants and Vikings are the two teams that have been most active in discussions with the Patriots about the No. 3 pick, and that if Washington takes Daniels at No. 2, the Giants would be very interested in trading up to No. 3 for Maye. I’ve also been told in recent days that the Giants like Penix and might even be willing to take him as high as No. 6. There’s a lot of chatter flying around, but what is clear is that the Giants have done significant work on the quarterbacks and are very open, if not desperate, to come out of Thursday night with one of them.

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1:35

McAfee: Brandon Aiyuk would garner a lot of interest if available

Pat McAfee breaks down the possibility of the 49ers trading Brandon Aiyuk.

Daniel Jones is owed $36 million in guaranteed money in 2024 but none after that. So if the Giants were to take a quarterback who might need time to develop — such as Maye — they’re positioned to start Jones and work to develop the draft pick in 2024.


Will the Vikings be aggressive in moving up?

Fowler: The Vikings have actively worked the phones with teams in the top 10, according to multiple league sources, giving themselves options at the quarterback spot. As Dan points out, New England is among the teams they’ve called. “I think they pull it off,” an AFC executive said about Minnesota moving up to secure a passer. “They’ve probably been the most active team as far as potentially moving up.”

Teams are split on whether Minnesota’s target would be Maye or McCarthy or someone else (slight lean to Maye, based on my attempts at an informal poll). The Vikings are in a precarious spot, with two first-rounders (Nos. 11 and 23) but zero Day 2 picks. They are counting on additional third-round picks in the 2025 draft due to the compensatory pick formula, so perhaps that gives them more flexibility Thursday night. The belief among some team executives I’ve spoken to is that Minnesota doesn’t want to part with both of its first-round picks in a trade, which makes a major move up an arduous task. Perhaps that’s just posturing, but the Vikings appear nimble.

“I could even see them taking the best player available at 11, like a corner, and then figuring out quarterback at 23,” an executive from a team picking high in the draft said. “Feels like all options are on the table for them.”

It’s worth noting that the Vikings had a positive experience in the pre-draft process with all five of the QBs stacked behind USC’s Caleb Williams, which means Penix and Oregon’s Bo Nix could also be options.


Which QBs make sense for Las Vegas?

Graziano: The Raiders would love to be able to get up high enough to take Daniels and reunite him with coach Antonio Pierce, who was on the Arizona State coaching staff back when Daniels began his college career there. But they know they might not be able to do that, especially if Washington has decided on him at No. 2. The Raiders have talked with the Cardinals about what it would take to get to No. 4, but Arizona has said it wants to wait until it is on the clock (i.e., see which quarterbacks went in the first three picks) before considering trade offers. The Raiders’ interest in the No. 4 pick would, I believe, cool off significantly if Daniels is among the top three picks, as expected.

The Raiders are also thought to be high on Penix, and if the quarterback market starts drying up quickly and they feel they need to trade up in order to avoid being shut out, the Chargers at No. 5 and the Titans at No. 7 are two teams that people believe are willing to trade down.

Fowler: I’ve also heard Daniels has interest in playing for Pierce and the Raiders. That interest is mutual, though as Dan said, Las Vegas moving up from No. 13 to No. 2 just isn’t very plausible right now. Penix, Nix and even South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler could very much be in play for the Raiders down the board.

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Bengals OT Amarius Mims’ prospect profile

Check out some of the top college highlights from new Bengals offensive tackle Amarius Mims.


Wait, the Falcons also have QB interest?

Fowler: Multiple people have told me this week that they believe the Falcons like Penix a lot. Enough to take him No. 8? That’s hard to say. But he’ll likely be long gone by the time the Falcons are on the clock again at No. 43.

Quarterback isn’t an on-paper need for Atlanta after the Kirk Cousins signing. But general manager Terry Fontenot hasn’t drafted a quarterback in the first two rounds of any of his first three drafts. Falcons brass, including Fontenot and coach Raheem Morris, flew all the way to Seattle to watch Penix work out for a few hours, then flew home. No dinner, no stayover. Penix has enough interest that the top 15 isn’t off the table for him.

The safe pick for Atlanta would be to go defense, but it has done enough QB homework to make it a plausible move at some point in the draft.


Late-Round 1 trades?

Graziano: Trades from the teens into the top five or top 10 for quarterbacks are fun to discuss, but they’re tough to execute because of the expense associated with such deals. The people I talk to think we’re likely to see more trades in the second half of the first round than in the first half. The Colts (No. 15), Jaguars (No. 17), Rams (No. 19) and Eagles (No. 22) are all teams I’ve heard have been making calls about potentially moving up.

For the Colts and Jaguars, the target would most likely be a cornerback, which might be interesting to a team like Chicago at No. 9 or Denver at No. 12. Having two division rivals battling it out to trade up for the same guy (maybe Alabama’s Terrion Arnold?) could drive up the price. People I’ve talked to believe the Eagles want to try to move up for a receiver, though one theory I found very interesting and potentially hilarious is that they could move up for tight end Brock Bowers, given their recent predilection for Georgia players. If the Rams move up, it would be to get one of their top targets on defense.

The Bengals at No. 18 are also worth watching for a potential trade-up. They like Alabama offensive tackle JC Latham a lot and could stand to bolster the line, but they may need to move up to get someone in that tier. Otherwise, watch for Cincinnati to bolster the interior of its defensive line following the offseason departure of defensive tackle DJ Reader via free agency.


Can the Cowboys fill holes in the draft?

Graziano: The Cowboys’ general plan is focused on offensive line in the first round, and they go into it with the belief that Tyler Smith‘s versatility gives them options.

If the Cowboys were to use their first-round pick on an interior offensive lineman such as Duke’s Graham Barton, they believe Smith could move outside and play left tackle. But if they were to draft a left tackle in the first round, they would be fully comfortable keeping Smith at guard, where he has been a star for them. They’d still need a center in that case, but the Cowboys could likely find one in the second or third round.

While scouts like this year’s tackle class, they seem less impressed with the interior offensive line group (which may be why so many veteran guards got paid in free agency last month). The name I have heard connected most closely with Dallas is Oklahoma tackle Tyler Guyton, a massive 6-foot-8, 322-pound blocker from Manor, Texas — about three hours south of Dallas.


Tough to predict Bowers’ landing spot?

Fowler: Just about everyone is sold on Bowers as a top-10 prospect in the draft. “He’s my highest-graded player in the field,” an NFC executive said. “He’s the easiest evaluation.”

But not everyone is sold that he’s a surefire top-10 pick, a byproduct of need and position. “I do wonder if he falls a little bit, based solely on what teams need in the top 10,” said a high-ranking NFL team official. “If you’re talking three or four quarterbacks, three receivers, maybe a defensive guy and some offensive linemen, those positions could take up all the spots. He shouldn’t fall based on the talent.”

The Jets at No. 10 are a wild card here. “Usually I think Joe [Douglas] would go offensive tackle, but they are all in on 2024, which could make Bowers tempting,” an AFC executive said. Added a separate AFC exec on Bowers: “He’s one of the best players in the entire draft. He’ll go pretty high.”


Who will be WR4?

Fowler: When I ask teams to predict which player will be the fourth receiver taken, one name that comes up fairly often is Texas’ Xavier Worthy. Elite speed goes high. LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. is in that conversation, too. He’s bracing to go somewhere in the teens or early-to-mid 20s. Teams are monitoring Thomas’ shoulder issue from college, but scouts say it’s not a major red flag — just something that would have to be managed in Year 1. He’s extremely talented.

Texas’ Adonai Mitchell, Georgia’s Ladd McConkey, Florida State’s Keon Coleman and South Carolina’s Xavier Legette are among possibilities later in the round, too. Buffalo (No. 28) and Kansas City (No. 32) are late-round teams to watch at the position. And if a few key receivers slip into the second round, there will be action early on Day 2, especially with Carolina and New England sitting at Nos. 33 and 35, respectively.

The Bills will basically scour the Earth for receiver help this draft. Word is that they love Odunze and loosely know what it would take to acquire him. Do I expect Buffalo to trade up for him? No, that’s a steep climb into the top 10. But that’s a window into the legwork that Buffalo is doing on the WR position.


What are teams making of Latu’s medical concerns?

Graziano: Laiatu Latu racked up 23.5 sacks over two seasons at UCLA and demonstrates a level of edge rush talent that teams think will translate into NFL production. Of course, Latu has medical concerns, about which opinions vary significantly. Latu medically retired from football due to a neck condition while at Washington in 2020. So there’s concern about that resurfacing and potentially shortening his career. But most teams I talked to didn’t seem overly worried about that. I think he has genuinely moved up some draft boards this week as teams have grown more comfortable with the medical issue.

I had a couple of teams tell me they were concerned about Latu’s relatively limited experience, since he spent so much time out of football and therefore could be a little bit behind, both physically and in terms of overall skill development. But I expect his name to be called Thursday night — possibly before any other defensive player.

Fowler: When asking teams about the pass-rush class, something along these lines comes up often: Alabama’s Dallas Turner has the most upside; Latu is the best pure pass-rusher. Atlanta (No. 9) and Denver (No. 12) are among options for them. A popular prediction from NFL evaluators is Turner to Atlanta, and pass rush is on the radar for Denver if it decides to wait on a big quarterback move.


Possible veteran trades?

Fowler: We’re not only watching prospects this week. Some veterans are worth keeping an eye on as teams make moves.

  • Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos: Denver has received several trade calls on him but haven’t planned to trade him. Pittsburgh could be a team to watch here.

  • Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers: He wants a new deal and hasn’t gotten one yet. The 49ers’ draft plans, especially on Day 1, could say something about what they plan to ultimately do with Aiyuk.

  • Marshon Lattimore, CB, Saints: New Orleans explored trading him during free agency, and if another team strikes out on CB in the draft, they could circle back on Lattimore. It’s not a deep cornerback class.

  • Tee Higgins, WR, Bengals: Cincinnati has made it clear behind the scenes that it doesn’t plan to trade Higgins. But will the Bengals get an offer they can’t refuse on Day 2?


Who is the CB1 in the class?

Graziano: Teams I talk to are split on Arnold and Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell as the top cornerback in this year’s class. These two are pretty neck-and-neck. Any of the teams in the 13-17 range (except maybe Seattle) look like candidates to jump at the chance to pick one of the two.

Fowler: When asking teams about the top corner, Mitchell typically gets a slight edge over Arnold — but it’s close. Both could certainly be gone within the first 12-15 picks.


How will the OTs come off the board?

Graziano: Don’t view Latham solely as a right tackle. Teams believe he can play any position on the offensive line, including left tackle. Apparently, Alabama rotated guys in practice to make sure they had experience all over the line, so Latham got plenty of practice time at left tackle even while he was playing on the right side for the Crimson Tide. Latham could be selected earlier than many expect, as could Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga, whom one scout described to me as “the guy the offensive line coaches all love.”

Fowler: Georgia’s Amarius Mims believes he has a good chance to go in the top 20. Teams are on board with him as a first-round talent but aren’t sure what his true range is due to a lack of playing time — he was mostly a reserve over his first two years at Georgia and only has eight career starts. He has some boom-or-bust appeal, though the upside is massive.

Mims could be one of seven offensive tackles drafted in Round 1. In fact, several evaluators have noted that tackles and wide receivers could comprise more than 40% of the first round, with the possibility of no running backs, inside linebackers or safeties taken Thursday night (depending on whether you view Iowa’s Cooper DeJean as a corner or safety).

What else are you hearing ahead of the draft?

Graziano’s notebook:

  • The record for the most offensive players drafted in the first round is 19 (1968, 2004 and 2009). Could this class break that record? The consensus is that this draft is strong and deep at wide receiver and offensive tackle but light on impact defensive players. So if five quarterbacks, six offensive linemen, six wide receivers and Bowers all go in the first round, that’s 18 offensive players right there. You’d only need to add two to break the record, and surely it’s possible that more players at any of those positions end up hearing their names called Thursday night.

  • No running backs are expected to go in the first round, and there’s a great variety of opinion on which one will be the first back selected this year. I’ve spoken to scouts from multiple teams who think Michigan’s Blake Corum might be the best of the bunch and believe Jim Harbaugh’s Chargers will do what it takes to make sure he’s reunited with his college coach.

Fowler’s notebook:

  • Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II is considered a riser in the process, but as one veteran AFC scout told me, “He hasn’t risen — he’s always been in the top half of the first round for me.” One NFC official believes Murphy going as high as No. 8 to Atlanta is a possibility.

  • I heard an interesting thought from an NFL coordinator on USC’s Williams: The Bears need to get him immersed in their run-first, progression system early because coming from the Lincoln Riley offense is not easy. “The transition scares me for some of these guys where it’s just, set, hike, find the open man,” the coordinator said. “And you’ve seen guys like Kyler [Murray] and Baker [Mayfield] struggle with the transition at times.” In fact, the coordinator said Murray, after previous struggles, did a good job embracing a play-action offense with a strong run game in 2023, and it helped him endear to the new Cardinals regime as a viable long-term option: “That’s a good blueprint for Caleb to learn from early.”

  • Multiple scouts say they are thinking late-Round 1 for Missouri defensive lineman Darius Robinson due to his flexibility as a 3-4 DE who can play inside. The Packers (No. 25), Ravens (No. 30) and 49ers (No. 31) are among potential fits.