2024 NFL draft: USC's Caleb Williams leads top 5 quarterback prospect list

The 2024 NFL scouting combine is here with 321 football players descending on Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this week for the annual event.

That means draft season is upon us. Who are the top prospects at their position?

Quarterbacks, wide receivers and offensive tackles are three of the strongest position groups in this year’s draft class and some of those players are among this year's most fascinating draft prospects. Where will they land in the first round of the draft?

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USA TODAY Sports explores the top five quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL draft:

USC QB Caleb Williams

  • Height: 6-1

  • Weight: 215

Caleb Williams is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft.
Caleb Williams is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft.

Caleb Williams is the consensus top quarterback prospect in the draft. He has arguably the strongest arm amongst the QB prospects. He can torque his body and throw from different angles and can make magic happen on off-script plays.

The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner has good mobility, pocket awareness and is a playmaker behind center.

Williams ended his USC career with many Trojan single-season records, including for total yards (4,919), most touchdowns scored rushing and passing (52), completions (333), passing yards (4,537) and touchdown passes (42).

Weaknesses: Sometimes Williams tends to hold the football too long and tries to do too much. There were also times during his college career that he was careless with the football.

LSU QB Jayden Daniels

  • Height: 6-4

  • Weight: 210

No quarterback saw his draft stock rise higher in 2023 than Jayden Daniels. He made tremendous strides as a passer in his two seasons at LSU after transferring from Arizona State.

Daniels’ accuracy and precision passing were impressive during a prolific 2023 season in which he amassed 3,812 passing yards, 40 passing touchdowns, 1,134 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. He finished his 2023 campaign with a 208.0 passer rating, the highest in FBS history.

The dual-threat quarterback has good mechanics and footwork. He’s best on short and intermediate throws.

Weaknesses: Did Daniels hit lightning in a bottle at LSU? Can he stay on this same trajectory? His slender frame might also cause some durability concerns.

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.

  • Height: 6-3

  • Weight: 213

Watch Michael Penix’s tape of his 430 yards and two touchdown performance in a 37-31 Sugar Bowl win against Texas and it’s hard to argue that he’s not a top three quarterback in this year’s draft. Penix picked apart Texas much like he did to teams in the Pac-12.

Penix, a left-handed passer, is accurate, poised and has a strong arm.

In 2023, Penix’s 4,903 passing yards broke his own Washington school record and led the nation. He won the 2023 Maxwell Award.

Weaknesses: Penix does play a little stiff. He also had two ACL tears and shoulder injuries in college.

North Carolina QB Drake Maye

  • Height: 6-4

  • Weight: 230

Drake Maye has the body type of a prototypical NFL QB. Maye is big, has a strong arm, throws with velocity and can make throws all over the gridiron. The playbook is wide open with him.

Last year, Maye was one of eight FBS quarterbacks to average more than 300 yards passing per game. He also finished with the third-most total offensive yards per game (338.1).

The North Carolina product is a top-two quarterback on many draft boards. He has the size and arm talent to make scouts salivate.

Weaknesses: Maye can get careless with the football and had poor footwork at times.

Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy

  • Height: 6-3

  • Weight: 202

Former Michigan coach and new Los Angeles Chargers head man Jim Harbaugh called J.J. McCarthy the greatest quarterback in Wolverines history. That alone is a rousing endorsement for a program that produced Tom Brady and even Harbaugh.

McCarthy is efficient with the football. He completed 240-of-332 passes for 2,991 yards with 22 touchdowns and four interceptions during Michigan’s national championship season.

McCarthy is composed and plays within the structure of an offense.

Weaknesses: McCarthy doesn’t have an elite trait, and the accuracy and success of his deep throws are below average.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Tyler Dragon on X @TheTylerDragon.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL draft 2024: Top 5 quarterback prospects led by Caleb Williams