2024 NFL Draft Position Review: Quarterbacks

Caleb Williams


Quarterback Class

Early-round talent: A
Mid-round: B
Late-round: B
Overall grade: B+

Merging the 2023 and 2024 prospects

Drake Maye
Caleb Williams
Jayden Daniels
Bryce Young
C.J. Stroud
Anthony Richardson
J.J. McCarthy
Bo Nix
Will Levis
Hendon Hooker
Michael Penix Jr.
Spencer Rattler
Joe Milton

Just to be clear, this article and series is all my opinion based off my own study and information I’ve gotten from general managers, directors of college scouting, national scouts, area scouts and NFL coaches. They all know way more than I do.

The 2024 NFL Draft has a strong class of quarterbacks, with three who are legit high first-rounders and some quality prospects for outside of the top-10 and into Day 2. I like Drake Maye the most of all the prospects over the last three drafts. I think both Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels are better prospects than Bryce Young, although I know some team evaluators who disagree with me on that. I think C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson were better prospects than J.J. McCarthy is. I feel McCarthy and Nix are better than Will Levis, while Hendon Hooker was a better prospect than Michael Penix Jr., Spencer Rattler or Joe Milton.

Safest Pick: Drake Maye, North Carolina

Previous Picks:
2023: C.J. Stroud
2022: Kenny Pickett
2021: Trevor Lawrence
2020: Joe Burrow
2019: Daniel Jones
2018: Sam Darnold
2017: Pat Mahomes
2016: Carson Wentz
2015: Jameis Winston
2014: Derek Carr
2013: Geno Smith

This year, my choice was pretty easy. Maye is the safest of the quarterback prospects to turn into a quality starter. He is an accurate passer who makes good decisions, and has size, a quality arm, and some mobile athleticism. I went with him over Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels because Maye’s style of play fits the NFL well.

Biggest Bust Potential: J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

Previous Picks
2023: Anthony Richardson
2022: Desmond Ridder
2021: Mac Jones
2020: Jordan Love
2019: Kyler Murray
2018: Mason Rudolph
2017: Mitch Trubisky
2016: Connor Cook
2015: Brett Hundley
2014: Johnny Manziel
2013: Mike Glennon

I was torn between McCarthy and Michael Penix Jr. for this selection, but Penix could slide well into the second day of the 2024 NFL Draft, which would not make him a true bust. McCarthy has a lack of passing instincts at this time, and I could see him facing some pitfalls with translating to the NFL. Of the definite first- and second-round picks, I think McCarthy has the most bust potential.

Quarterback Rankings by Attributes

Accuracy:

NFL prototype: Jared Goff, Lions

  1. Caleb Williams
  2. Drake Maye
  3. Jayden Daniels
  4. Bo Nix
  5. Spencer Rattler
  6. J.J. McCarthy
  7. Joe Milton
  8. Michael Penix Jr.

Recap: The most important characteristic for any quarterback in the NFL is accuracy. Not only do accurate quarterbacks reduce turnovers and maintain time of possession, they increase the opportunities for skill-position players to make a bigger impact. Thus, accurate signal-callers will give teams more return on their dollars for high-priced wide receivers. It takes an accurate quarterback to be a weapon as a pocket passer, and the elite quarterbacks are able to beat good coverage with precision passes into tight windows.

I think Williams and Maye are just about tied, but I give a slight edge to Williams because of his accuracy while throwing off platform and going outside the numbers. Williams’ deep-ball accuracy was not as good in 2023 as it was in previous seasons, so really I see this as a very near tie. Williams has accuracy, showing the ability to fire passes by defenders into tight windows. In the pocket or on the move, Williams presents a danger to throw precise passes that beat coverage. He definitely possesses natural accuracy.

Maye is definitely an accurate passer. He throws the ball with excellent precision and ball placement. Utilizing natural loft and timing, Maye fits his passes into tight windows, and he is able to beat good coverage by being supremely accurate. Maye leads his receivers for more yards after the catch. Along with throwing receivers open, Maye tosses passes with good loft and is able to give his wideouts a very catchable ball. Maye shows excellent accuracy over the middle of the field. However, his accuracy to the outside is not as good, and that is something he can work to improve. His accuracy also suffers when he throws off platform. Those are things he could refine with pro coaching, so it will be critical that Maye goes to a team with good quarterback coaching.

Daniels is generally accurate, although he will miss on some passes. His accuracy might be described as good, but not elite. Regularly Daniels throws some great passes, locating the ball well and leading his receiver to make the catch and pick up additional yards. Daniels lofts in some beautiful passes downfield, and his deep-ball accuracy is exceptional. When Daniels sees a receiver break free downfield, he will put excellent touch on the ball to drop it in with a very catchable pass for his receivers. Entering the next level, Daniels’ natural deep-ball accuracy is very impressive.

Nix is an accurate passer who throws a very catchable ball. Over his final two seasons, he was superb with his ball placement, routinely dropping in well-located strikes.

Rattler is a talented passer who can be accurate and efficient. He has the ability to fire strikes in the short to intermediate part of the field, displaying good ball placement to lead his receivers for more yards.

McCarthy is a mixed bag in terms of accuracy. On the plus side, his ball placement to the sideline and outside the numbers is very good. McCarthy drops in some well-located passes and also throws some bullets to complete deep outs. On the negative side, McCarthy’s accuracy in the middle of the field is not consistent. He has a tendency to throw late and miss high or behind on some throws between the numbers.

Penix is streaky and inconsistent in his accuracy. In some games, he is on point, throwing some perfect passes downfield. At other times, he is off and spraying the ball far afield from his intended targets. Penix’s footwork is inconsistent, and that leads to his accuracy suffering. He needs to improve his fundamentals, which will lead to him being more accurate.

Milton’s accuracy cam also be inconsistent. He can have some well-located passes and then have some miss. Milton needs to improve his accuracy when he is forced to scramble or reset his feet.

Arm Strength:

NFL prototype: Josh Allen, Bills

  1. Joe Milton
  2. Caleb Williams
  3. J.J. McCarthy
  4. Spencer Rattler
  5. Michael Penix Jr.
  6. Jayden Daniels
  7. Drake Maye
  8. Bo Nix

Recap: The quarterback with the strongest arm doesn’t always mean that much, but there are throws that big-armed quarterbacks can make that average quarterbacks can only dream of making. So a powerful arm is another weapon that can lead to points, wins, and miserable days for defenses.

Milton has the strongest arm in this draft class, but not by a lot over Williams and McCarthy. There is no doubt that Milton has an absolute cannon. The ball explodes out of his hand and rips through the air effortlessly downfield. Williams has an elite arm that can make all the throws required with the ability to beat good coverage via the velocity of his passes.

McCarthy and Rattler have strong arms and can really spin the ball. That was clearly seen by area scouts, and both players have impressed with the power of their throws in the postseason. Penix can really spin it as well and has the arm to make all the throws for the NFL. He can flat-out throw the heck out of the ball.

Daniels and Maye do not have an elite cannons, but their arms are plenty strong enough for the NFL and won’t be problems for them. Nix’s arm strength is average. While he does not have a weak arm, his arm is not strong.

Field Vision:

NFL prototype: Pat Mahomes, Chiefs

  1. Drake Maye
  2. Caleb Williams
  3. Jayden Daniels
  4. Bo Nix
  5. J.J. McCarthy
  6. Spencer Rattler
  7. Joe Milton
  8. Michael Penix Jr.

Recap: Field vision is one characteristic that separates the elite quarterbacks of the NFL. Quarterbacks who throw a lot of interceptions are inclined to lock onto their primary reads and stare down receivers. Signal-callers with good field vision can quickly work through their progressions and see more than a receiver on a route. They also can help get wideouts open by looking off safeties and playing games with their eyes. Many college quarterbacks enter the NFL with subpar field vision and have to improve this at the next level.

Maye reads the field well and is advanced with his ability to work through progressions. He showed no issues with his field vision. Last year, there were times when defenses tried to trick him with switched coverage post-snap, but Maye sniffed it out and didn’t fall for the trap. He missed the blitz a few times in games against Virginia and Clemson, so learning and identifying blitzes is something for him to work on as a pro.

Williams is not tall, but he sees the field well for a 6-foot-1 quarterback. Williams will hold onto the ball and let routes develop while showing his excellent mobility to dodge tacklers. He keeps his eyes downfield while scrambling and anticipates well how defenders are going to move.

Daniels showed huge improvement in his field vision over the past couple of seasons. From within the pocket or on the move, Daniels keeps his eyes downfield and does a nice job of moving through progressions.

McCarthy, Rattler, Milton and Penix all need to improve their vision. McCarthy has potential, but he needs work. Rattler sees the field well on some plays and poorly on others. Milton’s vision suffers when he is not in a clean pocket.

Sources say that one of things that concerns them is Penix is either not reading coverage, or he is just throwing into it anyway because he predetermined where he was passing the ball. That is a big problem for the NFL because it will lead to interceptions versus pro defenses. Penix also had issues when teams dropped large numbers in coverage and only rushed him with three or four defenders. Taking away easy throws caused problems for Penix. For the next level, Penix is going to have do significant work in developing his field vision, working through progressions, and making the right decision on where to pass the ball.

Decision-Making:

NFL prototype: Joe Burrow, Bengals

  1. Jayden Daniels
  2. Caleb Williams
  3. Bo Nix
  4. Drake Maye
  5. J.J. McCarthy
  6. Joe Milton
  7. Michael Penix Jr.
  8. Spencer Rattler

Recap: Daniels is superb at taking care of the football. His decision-making is very advanced, as he is skilled at avoiding turnovers and is not reckless with the football. With only seven interceptions over two seasons, Daniels did a great job of keeping the ball away from defenses. Decision-making is a real asset to Daniels’ game, as it is rare to find players with his playmaking ability staying so patient.

Similar to Daniels, Williams is a good decision-maker overall. He had five interceptions in each of the past two seasons while attempting a lot of passes in the USC aerial offense. Williams is generally smart about not throwing into traffic and places the ball well where either his receiver can make the catch or it will fall incomplete.

Nix’s decision-making was superb in 2023, putting up thelowest interception total of any of these prospects. His numbers were vastly improved from where he was early in his career. Maye was a good decision-maker overall. He needs to cut down on some interceptions that happened in 2023, but some of that stemmed from his offensive line and receivers.

While McCarthy did not throw a lot of interceptions in college, team sources felt that McCarty needs to improve his decision-making for the NFL. He easily could have had more than four interceptions last year given some of the risky passes he made.

Milton and Penix both need to improve their decision-making for the NFL. Rattler showed improvement over 2022, but he still has a long ways to go in improving his decision-making. In order to be a candidate to start as a pro, his decision-making must improve dramatically.

Mobility:

NFL prototype: Lamar Jackson, Ravens

  1. Jayden Daniels
  2. Caleb Williams
  3. J.J. McCarthy
  4. Bo Nix
  5. Michael Penix Jr.
  6. Spencer Rattler
  7. Drake Maye
  8. Joe Milton

Recap: Mobility is important factor that can help a team’s offensive line and wide receivers. As read options, spread offenses, and up-tempo concepts continue to grow in the NFL, mobility will continue to be a sought-after attribute for pro quarterbacks. The top-five quarterbacks in this group all have good mobility. There really is not a quarterback in the group who is a complete statue in the pocket.

In terms of his ability on the ground, Daniels is somewhat reminiscent of Lamar Jackson in terms of explosive speed, cutting ability, and elusiveness. Daniels is very fast for a quarterback, and he will run away from defenders. Daniels also is elusive as a runner, as he will juke and dodge defenders to accelerate into space. On top of his feet and quickness, Daniels has a sturdy build that gives him the strength to take hits. However as a pro, he must learn to slide becaise he was too physical as a runner in college. There is no doubt that Daniels has to slide more to cut down on his injury risk. In the NFL, Daniels could be a running threat like Lamar Jackson is for the Ravens.

As a runner, Williams is elite as well. He is incredibly dangerous when plays break down, and he is very frustrating for defenses as they can execute everything correctly but still see Williams ad lib his team into a big gain. Williams also will take off running when nothing is open, and he is a dangerous threat on the ground. He is a shifty runner with quickness and also shows toughness to run through some contact and break tackles. As a pro, he is going to need to do more sliding and protect himself from hits. Right now, Williams is too cavalier with dishing out hits, stiff arms, and running through tackles. He is going to need to be more protective of his head, right shoulder and right arm – in particular – to avoid injuries. Williams isn’t a big quarterback, so he definitely needs to cut down on his physicality as a runner to help avoid injuries as a pro.

McCarthy is a good runner who can hurt defenses on the ground when things break down. At the end of his college career, McCarthy made key plays with his legs, including coming up with some clutch plays in the National Championship Game. He shows some athleticism to dodge defenders in the pocket, and he possesses impressive speed to rip off yards while scrambling upfield. Looks can be deceiving, as McCarthy is fast for a quarterback.

While Nix improved his passing after going to Oregon, he remained dangerous on the ground. He is a good athlete in the pocket with quick feet to dodge the rush and make throws on the run. Nix is a nimble and shifty quarterback who can be tough to bring down for defenders. He also is a threat to pick up yards as a runner. While Nix is not an elite runner like a Lamar Jackson, Nix is a good athlete who has a good burst for a quarterback along with elusive moves to dodge tacklers. In the NFL, his mobility will be an asset to pick up some first downs on third-and-manageable when nothing is open.

Penix also has some functional mobility to dodge the rush and pick up some yards on the ground. He has quality size and plays tough.

Rattler also is dangerous, offering mobility and athleticism. He is a dangerous runner with excellent feet and agility to dodge pass rushers in the pocket. With his feet and mobility, Rattler is able to extend plays, and he has the arm strength to make big throws off platform. Rattler has a backyard-baller style of play that brings energy to his team.

The one en vogue attribute that Maye does not have is serious running ability for the NFL. Maye is not a true running threat with speed and shiftiness in the field. That being said, Maye is not a complete statue in the pocket. He has functional mobility to manipulate the pocket and avoid the pass rush. He can climb, slide, and move around enough to help his line. Maye also will take off and run on occasion and has good decision-making to catch defenses by surprise. In the NFL, he won’t be a Lamar Jackson- or Josh Allen-type threat, but Maye will be able to help his offensive line by avoiding some rushers and pick up some first downs with his feet.

Milton has some running ability, which is an added part of his skill set that makes him dangerous. He shows some athleticism to get out of the pocket and a second gear with some straight-line speed to rip off yards while scrambling upfield. His size comes into play when he uses his strength to finish off runs, and there is no doubt that Milton is tough player. He takes hard hits and stays in the game while showing fearlessness as a runner, blasting through defenders. Miton might need to slide more as a pro, but his violent attitude and physicality is impressive.

Intangibles:

NFL prototype: Justin Herbert, Chargers

  1. Drake Maye
  2. J.J. McCarthy
  3. Bo Nix
  4. Jayden Daniels
  5. Joe Milton
  6. Michael Penix Jr.
  7. Spencer Rattler
  8. Caleb Williams

Recap: Maye, McCarthy, Nix and Daniels have drawn good reviews for their intangibles from team sources.

Milton is said to have solid intangibles. Penix is said to not be a bad kid, but there are some questions of him as a worker. Rattler had maturity issues early in his career, but it sounds like those are vastly improved now. Williams has make-up concerns with many sources around the league. They wonder about his personality and his ego, him being high maintenance, and his overall football character.



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