With college football getting back underway, it is time to look forward to next year’s draft class and see which players to watch out for who should thrive before the 2024 NFL Draft Class.
Today, we look at the leading signal callers for next year’s class. Having watched eight players already, I will give you a quick run-down on them, and then list a few more who could make their way up my big board over the next year.
NFL Draft: A preseason look at the 2024 QB Draft Class
No.1. Caleb Williams, USC: Wow. Wow oh wow. Caleb Williams is an unbelievably special college player and a fantastic NFL Draft prospect. He is among the most well-rounded QB prospects we have seen in years, perhaps even more so than can’t-miss players like Trevor Lawrence or Joe Burrow. His improvisational ability is second to none on the college level and is somewhat reminiscent of current greats like Patrick Mahomes and (pre-Denver) Russell Wilson.
Williams’ arm seems to be made of rubber, as the angles he is able to achieve combined with his pure ball placement make him a genuinely elite passer. His tendency to play “hero-ball” is a blemish on an otherwise near-perfect scouting report. He projects as a blue-chip, No. 1 overall pick come next year, and would be QB1 in pretty much every draft class I have scouted.
No. 2. Drake Maye, North Carolina: Drake Maye is a great QB prospect. He flashes all the right traits that you would like to see in a future all-pro level QB: a big arm, solid dual-threat ability and what seems to be a great understanding of the game and good decision-making. However, consistency seems to be the issue with him missing some easy pickings from time to time.
As an NFL prospect, it will be fascinating to see his progression next year if he is able to handle a little bit more of a pro-style offense for the Tar Heels. But, given the NFL’s adoration for prospects with great traits, he should be a top-10 pick, and with a bit of a step forward next year, I agree wholeheartedly. He projects as an early/mid-first-round pick at this early stage in the draft cycle.
No.3. Michael Penix Jr., Washington: Michael Penix Jr. makes for an incredibly interesting evaluation. He possesses numerous traits, especially his touch and ball placement, that would make him a bona fide early first-round pick, but his concerns are quite large in comparison. His injury history and his age are two things that NFL teams will be looking down at when evaluating him as a player.
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The air raid scheme that he played in is one that has a stereotype of being a bit “basic” for the NFL, where a QB is asked to do more. Having said that, there are quite a lot of strengths that should make him worthy of an early selection, especially if he has a good 2024 season. He currently grades out as a late first-round pick for me.
No. 4. Jordan Travis, Florida State: Despite the fact that Jordan Travis will be a 24-year-old rookie, there are a plethora of reasons why he could be a high-level NFL player. His dual-threat ability and improvisational ability are two traits that are present in current elite NFL QBs and could be two traits that encourage an NFL team to take a chance on him.
There are a few things that he does that are not ideal, such as his slight lack of mental processing or his fumbling issue, but he still has a year in college to clear up all these issues before the draft. He currently grades out as a mid 2nd round pick and should come into the NFL and compete for a starting place from day one.
No.5. Bo Nix, Oregon: Bo Nix’s time at Oregon has really revived an almost-dead NFL prospect. Coming into last season, there is no way that anybody would have viewed Nix in this light, but the mental aspect of his game has shone during his time as a Duck. His field vision and smooth mechanics from the pocket are two high-level traits that NFL teams value in their QB picks. He does have a wide plethora of issues to work on, most notably his passing downfield which is lacking a bit.
I think that if Nix continues to take strides forward at Oregon next year, he could play his way into first-round consideration, but I do believe that at the time being, he should be considered an early-round prospect who should play backup to a veteran before starting on an NFL field.
No. 6. Michael Pratt, Tulane: At the heart of a great run from AAC Tulane, Michael Pratt has all the hallmarks of a secure pocket passer in the NFL. The frame is absolutely not a concern, and he brings a fine arm and a good processor along with him. He shined in the Tulane offense, one that allowed him to drop back and find his targets from inside the pocket, but that might not be a sustainable skillset to have in the NFL, as his lack of improvisational ability might be exposed by the better defenses in the league. That being said, Pratt currently grades out as an early NFL Draft third-rounder and one that should have a long career as either a lower-end starter or a strong backup.
No. 7. J.J. McCarthy, Michigan: J.J. McCarthy is a fine college player. A first-year starter, he has a lot of positive traits, traits that will (probably) prove vital at the next level: his pocket presence, strong arm, ability to throw on the move, and pure athleticism. But he has a fair share of issues that, while correctable, could really hold him back, not only as a college player but as an NFL Draft prospect. He does have a year of starting under his belt, and a year more in 2023 should prove immensely valuable.
If McCarthy shows improvement in 2023, I will have to rethink his grade, but at this point in the draft cycle, he grades out as a mid-third-round pick and one that would need to sit behind a veteran before taking snaps on an NFL field.
No. 8. Quinn Ewers, Texas: Quinn Ewers is very evidently an incredibly talented QB. His arm is NFL-caliber already and his ability to take risks when he needs to is one that will pay off in the league. However, he must fix his mechanics before he gets there.
Ewers shows no lower body drive or any lower body mechanics when he throws the ball, which drastically affects his ball placement. His issues with mechanics are the root of all of his concerns right now, and if fixed soon, there is a world in which he enters the draft as a quality QB prospect after having a fantastic season at Texas. But until that is the case, he grades out as a 6th round pick for me, and one that should be viewed as a huge project for a QB coach.
Other NFL Draft prospect QBs to watch in 2023:
Shedeur Sanders, Colorado
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
Carson Beck, Georgia
Joe Milton, Tennessee
Jaxson Dart, Ole Miss