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Mel Kiper’s first 2024 mock draft has Seahawks taking a quarterback at No. 16

Kiper did this last year, but will he be correct this year?

NFL: APR 27 2023 Draft Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Gather ‘round, everyone! ESPN’s longtime NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr has released his first mock draft for 2024, and if you’re a Seattle Seahawks fan, this is going to spark some debate.

Kiper has USC’s Caleb Williams, LSU’s Jayden Daniels, and North Carolina’s Drake Maye going 1-2-3 to the Chicago Bears, Washington Commanders, and New England Patriots, respectively. No shocks there, and it’s very likely that this is what will happen come April.

Who’s the next quarterback off the board? National championship winning quarterback J.J. McCarthy... to the Seahawks.

The whole article is paywalled but I’ve clipped the Seahawks portion:

J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

OK, here’s a spot for the next quarterback. While I don’t have a first-round grade on McCarthy right now — a lot can change before Round 1 on April 25 — he does have first-round arm talent, along with the ability to beat defenses with his legs. He’s the type of quarterback teams will take a shot at in the middle of the first round, especially when you consider he just turned 21 a few days ago. He rarely turns the ball over — he threw 44 touchdown passes and had nine picks over the past two seasons — and can make every throw. McCarthy just wasn’t asked to beat teams with his arm for the Wolverines, because they so often dominated at the line of scrimmage. As of now, I’m betting on a team seeing his upside and trying to take him somewhere in the teens.

For Seattle, the contract Geno Smith signed last March made it clear the team could get out after one season. Smith had a decent season (20 TD passes, 9 INTs), but will he really be here long term? I could see the Seahawks severing ties and starting fresh for whomever the new coach ends up being.

McCarthy was just 10/18 for 140 yards in Michigan’s 34-13 win over Washington to capture the national title. He did rush for 31 yards and is known for his mobility, but as Kiper notes, McCarthy was not the focal point of the offense. McCarthy threw for three touchdowns and won Rose Bowl MVP in the CFP semi-final win over Alabama, leading a tying TD drive before Michigan prevailed in overtime.

J.J. is listed at 6’3 and 202 pounds, and has the physical tools of an NFL quarterback, but raw stats like TD/INT ratio and completion percentage need a hell of a lot more context behind them in college compared to the pros. Personally, I don’t see McCarthy as a Day 1 starter, so any team who takes him early probably will not have him as QB1 in Week 1.

By the way, neither Bo Nix nor Michael Penix Jr is in Kiper’s Round 1 mock.

Keep in mind that it’s January and the NFL Combine hasn’t even happened yet. Stocks will rise and fall over the next couple of months of testing, medicals, interviews, and other stuff that goes into the draft process. Chances are, Mel’s mock draft doesn’t hold up at all because, like I said, it’s January! Mel’s first mock in 2023 saw Will Levis go to the Seahawks at No. 5 and Byron Young at No. 20, and neither one of them even went in Round 1—Young dropped into Round 3. We’ll have plenty of mock draft round-ups and takes in the weeks to come.