NFL Draft News & Analysis

Buying, selling 2024 NFL Draft rumors, including J.J. McCarthy being a top-5 pick

2WBCEJM Houston, United States. 08th Jan, 2024. HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 08: Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) celebrates during the CFP National Championship against the Washington Huskies on January 08, 2024 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Image of Sport) Credit: Newscom/Alamy Live News

• Will J.J. McCarthy be a top-five draft pick? It seems likely that a team will trade up to select the Michigan signal-caller early on Day 1.

• Brock Bowers doesn't have a clear fit in the top 10: The Jets are the lone team that could pull the trigger, but we’ll be fading the top-10 noise for now.

• Try PFF's Mock Draft Simulator: You can trade picks and players and draft for your favorite NFL team.

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Every year in the month leading up to the NFL draft, we have to sift through the nonsense and the more accurate rumors leaking out to the public. And so far in 2024, the smokescreens appear to be at an all-time high.

We’re still three weeks away from the Chicago Bears being on the clock with the No. 1 overall pick on April 25, but with a few betting markets slowly trickling out, there are some narratives we want to address.

Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy will be a top-five pick”

Verdict: Buy

The McCarthy discourse has been all over the place, with a meteoric rise up the ranks and consistent intel from all the top national reporters that the league is infatuated by the national-champion quarterback. It also helps that Los Angeles Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh, who won the national championship with McCarthy, claimed his pro day was the best he’d ever seen and that McCarthy should be the No. 1 overall selection. Is he hyping up his former player? Yes. Is he perhaps trying to get a team to trade up to No. 4 with the Arizona Cardinals so the Chargers have their pick of the first non-quarterback in the class? Or even trade up with the Chargers themselves for a haul? Probably.

If you were a member of the PFF Printing Press Discord channel last draft season, you’ll recall that we pushed back heavily on the Will Levis buzz in the lead-up to the draft.

His NFL draft position line of 7.5 eventually moved up to 6.5, and we continued to suggest hammering the over throughout the pre-draft process.

However, the McCarthy buzz is real, and we expect him to be a top-five pick come draft night. It’s now just a question of how early he goes and which team he ends up with. There is no betting value here, with McCarthy listed at -300 to be a top-five pick, but we’ll keep an eye on the over/under when it drops.

4. Minnesota Vikings: QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

Oregon C Jackson Powers-Johnson is a fringe first-rounder”

Verdict: Buy

ESPN NFL draft analyst and insider Matt Miller recently shared in an article that he’s hearing highly touted Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson will likely not be a top-25 selection in the upcoming draft, and we agree.

Powers-Johnson’s night should realistically start at No. 20 overall when the Pittsburgh Steelers are on the clock, and they have somewhat neglected the center position thus far in the offseason, which only increases the dot-connecting. The next four teams slated to pick after Pittsburgh all need interior offensive line reinforcements to some degree, with the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys either losing valuable centers/interior offensive linemen this offseason or perhaps looking to get out ahead of future needs.

We'll be keeping an eye on Powers-Johnson’s line, looking to quickly jump on the over, presuming it lands around 19.5 to 24.5.

In a class loaded with high-level prospects at quarterback, wide receiver and tackle, as well as some quality defenders who will get pushed out of the top 10, a position like center is going to get bumped down the board no matter the fit/need of certain teams. The Steelers' connection is an angle we’d like to take advantage of if the over/under does land at 19.5, which is a common practice in the early draft betting markets, considering the team is currently without a true No. 2 wide receiver and also has glaring needs at tackle and cornerback.

It’s important to remember that centers rarely go in the top 20. Former N.C. State center Garrett Bradbury’s selection at No. 18 overall in 2019 by the Minnesota Vikings is tied for the earliest center draft pick since the rookie wage scale began in 2011. Former Iowa Hawkeyes center Tyler Linderbaum was regarded as one of the best center prospects ever, and he fell to No. 25 overall to the Baltimore Ravens in 2022. Finally, the free-agent class at center was remarkably strong and boasted quality depth, with plenty of teams finding their solution at the position on the open market.

“Georgia TE Brock Bowers will be a top-10 pick”

Verdict: Sell

Bowers has a strong case as the greatest college football tight end ever, and he should be a first-round lock, but the projections may be a bit too high for the Georgia Bulldogs legend.

Bowers is currently listed on DraftKings Sportsbook at +105 to go in the top 10, and we don’t like the value there.

The New York Jets have become more and more interesting here with the additions of starting tackles Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses, the big-time trade for edge defender Haason Reddick and the signing of wideout Mike Williams. However, despite all the signs of an all-in effort for 2024, and perhaps 2025, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Jets general manager Joe Douglas has always drafted with an eye on long-term building blocks.

Even if we did want to buy the idea that the Jets may operate with a mandate of focusing almost entirely on the short term, we should not let the recent successes of rookie tight ends like Sam LaPorta cause us to forget that rookie tight ends struggle out of the gate far more often than not.

No other team in the top 10 makes a whole lot of sense for Bowers, and while a trade-up could carry some risk simply due to the fact Bowers is the top prospect at the position by a very wide margin, we’ll be fading the top-10 noise for now.

LSU QB Jayden Daniels will be the No. 2 overall pick by the Washington Commanders

Verdict: Sell

Daniels has understandably catapulted up draft boards after one of the most impressive college football seasons in history, with the Heisman winner’s 94.7 grade being the top mark among all college football quarterbacks, his 8.4% big-time throw rate ranking sixth and his 1.6% turnover worthy play rate also placing sixth. Daniels lit up the scoreboard on a near-weekly basis, putting up some truly absurd stat lines through the air and on the ground. We also don’t buy the notion of a “late breakout” for Daniels — yes, he has certainly improved his game over time — considering he put up a stat line of 22-of-32, 408 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions as a true freshman in 2019 in a win over Justin Herbert’s No. 6-ranked Oregon Ducks.

All of that said, North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye is receiving similar treatment to presumptive No. 1 overall pick USC quarterback Caleb Williams for a “down” final college season. Despite very poor surrounding circumstances, Maye earned a 90.8 grade that ranked 14th in the country, and he finished top-11 in both big-time throw rate and turnover-worthy play rate in 2023.

Daniels is currently -150 to be the No. 2 overall pick on DraftKings Sportsbook, with Drake Maye holding the second-best odds (+150). We’d suggest buying now on plus-odds for Maye if the offering is available in your state. We think Maye is becoming this year’s overthought quarterback prospect, akin to C.J. Stroud last year, S2 test notwithstanding, and will end up as the No. 2 overall pick when all is said and done.

We also discussed in our Mock Draft 1.0 how the hype about Daniels fitting stylistically with Kliff Kingsbury, who coached the Arizona Cardinals in the same city as Arizona State for Daniels’ three seasons there, while true, similarly applies to Maye.

Click here to see Jayden Daniels' 2024 NFL Draft profile.
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