Ranking Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Others

Every cycle is not only dictated but dominated by the quarterback prospects, and the 2024 NFL Draft cycle will be no different. One year after a class that boasted C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, and Anthony Richardson, could the 2024 crop be even better? Already, there are two potential blue-chip QBs at the top and other breakout candidates beyond.

Ranking the Top QBs in the 2024 NFL Draft

10) Jeff Sims, Nebraska

Jeff Sims might be an unexpected name on this list. To be fair, his placement is based on upside. He’s aiming to revitalize his career at Nebraska under Matt Rhule’s oversight, after failing to find consistency at Georgia Tech. But Sims’ spring game at Nebraska brought confidence, and if given the opportunity, his talent could be an accelerant for his rise.

At 6’4″, 219 pounds, Sims looks the part, and he has legitimate separating traits for his size. He’s a high-energy athlete with speed and burst in space, as well as evasion skills in the pocket. Sims also has a crisp, efficient release, and superb velocity at the short and intermediate levels. He’s a passer built for the modern NFL if he can put it all together.

9) Jordan Travis, Florida State

Early in his career, it wasn’t clear if Jordan Travis would earn an extended opportunity as the Seminoles’ starter. But a wave of growth in 2021 led to a breakout 2022 campaign, in which Travis completed 226 of 353 passes for 3,214 yards, 24 touchdowns, and five interceptions, while also adding 417 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

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At 6’1″, 201, Travis is undersized. He also doesn’t quite have elite arm strength, but he’s a game-changing running threat with enough pace to whip the ball into buckets outside the numbers. Travis can also adjust his shoulder alignment to add loft and precision on passes. Right now, he’s a mid-round sleeper who could move up boards down the line.

8) Cameron Ward, Washington State

After lighting up the FCS at Incarnate Word in 2021, Cameron Ward made the leap to the Power Five, taking the reins as Washington State’s starting quarterback. Ward was productive in 2022 — completing 320 of 497 attempts for 3,231 yards, 23 touchdowns, and nine picks — but his 2022 tape left clear room for maturation in the eyes of scouts.

Ward has all the talent you want at QB. At 6’2″, 220 pounds, he has a great frame and impressive short-area freedom. He’s a prolific creator with truly elite arm elasticity, and though his arm isn’t as strong as some counterparts, he can generate enough velocity. The key for Ward is refining his game in structure, but his ability to create will be coveted.

7) Spencer Rattler, South Carolina

Spencer Rattler had first-round aspirations as early as high school when he arrived at the collegiate level as a five-star recruit. And after a 2020 season that saw him toss 28 TDs to just seven picks, he looked well on his way to top 32 capital. A regression and a transfer to South Carolina followed, but Rattler might be on the path to revitalizing his stock.

Rattler has legitimate arm talent and off-platform ability, and he turned things on down the line in 2022. In the final five games, he completed 120 of 174 attempts (68.9%) for 1,389 yards, 13 scores, and just three interceptions. If Rattler can sustain that strong play in 2023, he has the traits and gunslinger mentality to go early in the 2024 NFL Draft.

6) Quinn Ewers, Texas

There’s always a default level of excitement with five-star passers, but Quinn Ewers was one of the most anticipated QBs in recent years, even in that select group. His commitment to Ohio State ended up being short-lived, but after transferring to Texas, Ewers showed flashes of promise in 2022. He’s still a mixed bag, but 2023 could be his breakout season.

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It helps Ewers that he has a very strong weapons corps at his disposal with the Longhorns — led by potential 2024 first-round pick Xavier Worthy. But Ewers himself also has the natural talent to take the leap and be a Round 1 selection in his own right. He’s a fearless passer with a whip-like arm, and that fearlessness will be rewarded with further growth.

5) J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

Even after a campaign that saw him complete 208 of 322 passes for 2,719 yards, 22 touchdowns, and five picks, as well as help lead Michigan to the CFB Playoffs, J.J. McCarthy isn’t a mainstay on 2024 NFL Draft preview lists. He’s still very volatile as a passer in structure. But as long as he continues to add mass and study, he has a very high ceiling.

At a lean 6’3″, McCarthy has elite creation capacity as a threat on the ground. He frequently got the better of defenders in open space with his burst and lateral agility, and he also has an extremely live arm — one that allows him to vault passes past deep coverage, as well as rip lasers into tight windows. McCarthy’s tools are truly top-tier.

4) Bo Nix, Oregon

Bo Nix was an afterthought when he hit the transfer portal and joined the Oregon Ducks. His career at Auburn wasn’t without its gaffes, but with a change of scenery, Nix was able to play loose and build up his game in 2022. The result? 3,593 passing yards, 29 scores, and seven picks at a 71.9 completion rate, with 510 yards and 14 additional TDs on the ground.

At 6’2″, 213 pounds, Nix is one of the most dynamic running and off-script threats at QB at the college football level. He’s a twitchy short-area athlete with excellent creation capacity, and the arm strength and elasticity to generate velocity off-platform. Nix’s development on the operational side in 2022 is extremely exciting and alludes to early-round potential.

3) Michael Penix Jr., Washington

Sixth-year seniors don’t always compete for real estate in Round 1, but Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. can be that guy. After an up-and-down, injury-riddled tenure at Indiana, Penix broke out at Washington in Kalen DeBoer’s scheme. He threw for 4,641 yards, 31 scores, and eight picks, and the 2023 campaign could be just as prolific.

First and foremost, Penix has the necessary tools and the competitive toughness. He’ll sell out for major plays as a runner with his athleticism and resolve, but he also has a high-velocity left arm that can layer throws. Penix further separates himself with his processing ability and field vision. He’s able to anticipate windows and capitalize with precision.

2) Drake Maye, North Carolina

The 2024 NFL Draft QB group looks extremely deep at surface level, but right now, there are only two QBs who are safe bets to earn early Round 1 capital. One is USC’s Caleb Williams, and the other is North Carolina’s Drake Maye. Maye has the tools to be a franchise passer, and his 4,321 yards and 38:7 TD:INT ratio in 2022 backed his cause.

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At 6’4″, 220 pounds, Maye fits the prototypical mold, and he’s an stellar athlete for his size. He evades the rush easily and creates with his fleet-footed mobility and agility. Maye also has an easy, effortless release, with which he can generate ample heft and velocity without much strain. He abruptly torques his hips off-platform — a vital trait in the modern NFL.

Who Is the Best QB in the NFL Draft?

1) Caleb Williams, USC

It’s important not to anchor to a specific ranking and cling to it. There is a reasonable scenario where Caleb Williams isn’t QB1 down the line. Maye has the talent to challenge him for that title. But right now, looking at Williams’ dual-sided talent and production, it’s hard to have anyone other than the defending Heisman winner as the preliminary QB1.

Williams — who completed 333 of 500 attempts for 4,537 yards, 42 scores, and just five picks in 2022 — is truly a hyper-elite creator. He easily passes the desired athletic threshold and is a tough runner, but his prime selling point is undoubtedly his transcendent composite arm talent. His mix of strength and elasticity, at times, defies physics.

Honorable Mentions

  • Jalon Daniels, Kansas
  • DJ Uiagalelei, Oregon State
  • KJ Jefferson, Arkansas
  • Michael Pratt, Tulane
  • Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
  • Shedeur Sanders, Colorado
  • Kyle McCord, Ohio State
  • Jayden Daniels, LSU
  • Sam Hartman, Notre Dame

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