2024 NFL Draft: Top 10 QBs headlined by Drake Maye, Caleb Williams

With the 2024 NFL Draft approaching, let's take a look at each individual position's rankings. We'll start with quarterback.

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1. Drake Maye, North Carolina

2. Caleb Williams, USC

Drake Maye and Caleb Williams have been the top two players on my big board for months. I view both as elite talents and both a full tier above the other options in this year’s group of quarterback prospects.

Maye is an excellent combination of age, size, athleticism and arm talent, with more feel in the pocket and creativity to his game than I think he’s gotten credit for. Williams has superb accuracy, clean footwork and has more overall soundness to his game than he’s gotten credit for, along with the ability to extend and create and work throws from angles that other quarterbacks cannot even fathom. Both of these players show the ability to work from the pocket (when it was clean enough to), mitigate sacks, push the ball and create big plays with their arms and legs; these are all the prerequisites for upper-echelon modern quarterback play.

Both have plenty to work on — Maye with slowing down his heat checks and tightening up some footwork, and Williams with trying not to press, and both with cutting their sacks down a bit — but they are true prizes in a draft group with the upside to contend for MVPs in their careers.

With college basketball done, MLB Opening Day in the rearview mirror and The Masters still days away, attention is heating up on the NFL's marquee offseason event. Let's make our turn toward the NFL Draft. (Taylar Sievert/Yahoo Sports)
With college basketball done, MLB Opening Day in the rearview mirror and The Masters still days away, attention is heating up on the NFL's marquee offseason event. Let's make our turn toward the NFL Draft. (Taylar Sievert/Yahoo Sports)

3. Jayden Daniels, LSU

Daniels got better throughout his college years, culminating in a Heisman season. He will do damage from the pocket with plus marks in accuracy, and has no issues working within the offense's confines.

When things break down, Daniels is an excellent straight-line athlete (although not overwhelmingly shifty) and an explosive runner of the football, but as I wrote in my extended breakdown of Daniels, he can look to run a bit too often for my liking, choosing to find a scrambling lane rather than working to extend a play to get off a throw. His propensity to look down at the rush also leads to him taking a high rate of sacks, and Daniels' lack of general aggression on things like high-low concepts could lead to the offense behind the chains a lot at the next level.

Daniels’ toughness as a player should never be questioned, and he has some Johnny Knoxville to his game, but it is something you will have to smother almost entirely at the next level. His athleticism creates a sliding scale with his size; he can create more than a typical passer and operate quickly from the pocket and win with accuracy, but his ability to work over the middle and intermediate parts of the field, given his just adequate arm strength and inconsistent anticipation, will remain a question mark until proven otherwise.

4. JJ McCarthy, Michigan

I have warmed to McCarthy’s game the more I’ve watched him (which is needed given his low usage in Michigan’s offense this past season), but I will unlikely raise him much higher than this. He’s aggressive, willing to work the middle of the field, flashes good feel in the pocket and is a plus-athlete who throws well on the move. He shows off vision as a scrambler and designed runner.

McCarthy can have inconsistencies anticipating outside, especially to his left, and with layered throws over the middle, which will lead to some sprayed tosses when he feels late and then overstrides. He is also alarmingly skinny, which causes me hesitation about his ability to pull away from a stronger NFL defender’s grasp in the pocket and potential to hold up to sustained hits. And while he is athletic, he’s again more of a good athlete than an excellent one.

Quarterbacks are always complex to evaluate and McCarthy, with his lack of substantial throws to evaluate, is even more so. Coaches from Shanahan offenses will like McCarthy more because of his ability to throw on the move and drive the ball in the intermediate areas. But there is a ton of projection needed with such a young and low-usage player.

5. Spencer Rattler, South Carolina

I have concerns right away with Rattler from a size and speed standpoint, but then I watch him get throws off from destroyed pockets to overmatched wide receivers from all kinds of different arm slots and it reels me right back in.

Rattler’s offensive line was constantly spinning around and putting him under duress, which actually provided plenty of usable film of how Rattler would operate from tough NFL pockets.

Rattler was able to move in the pocket and constantly get throws off, all while throwing his teammate open. He would hang the ball away from defenders in man coverage or save a teammate a hit from a closing safety. Rattler could be an interesting backup with a chance for more. A team with an established starter and a good offensive coach looking for a dart throw to find a replacement in the mid-future (say, the Rams) could be a good fit.

6. Bo Nix, Oregon

Nix is an older prospect (just turned 24) who has good arm strength and can push the ball when needed, but was often asked to, and preferred to, operate underneath. Oregon’s offense often had Nix get the ball out in short time, often not asking him to make more difficult throws down the field. He has solid accuracy and is a good athlete.

Nix can create throws when things break down, but he’s not an aggressive thrower, so he can leave some meat on the bone. I view him as a high-end backup with a chance at starting in the right situation down the road.

7. Michael Penix Jr., Washington

Penix plays with an aggressive style that makes him a really fun watch, but he has a tendency to spray the ball more often than you'd like and can be inconsistent with his anticipation, especially over the middle.

He tested like a good athlete, but it doesn’t really show up when watching him. He is not a creative thrower and requires a larger platform to get the ball off in the pocket, but can get hot when given room to operate.

8. Michael Pratt, Tulane

Pratt is a football player playing quarterback. He’s tough and can create as a thrower and runner, but his footwork is noisy and affects his ball placement and timing, both of which are below-average and will need to be cleaned up for him to have a chance to stick as a run-around backup type.

9. Kedon Slovis, BYU

He's a good athlete who shows flashes of layering throws and touch. Slovis doesn’t have the strongest arm and will make too many wonky decisions for a player with so many starts. A late Day 3 type who has just enough tools to work with.

10. Joe Milton, Tennessee

Milton has one of the strongest arms you will ever see and is a good athlete with very good size. His accuracy and decision-making are wildly inconsistent and have kept him from developing from more than an interesting bundle of tools in college. He’s a late-round dart throw type of prospect for a team betting that it's the one to finally help Milton put it together.