Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels? How NFL People Really Feel About QB Draft Class

The 2024 NFL Draft quarterback class is one of the best in years, but how do teams rank Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels?

As we get closer to the 2024 NFL Draft, the only thing that feels like a lock is USC quarterback Caleb Williams going first overall.

But is even that assumption safe? And just how closely ranked are UNC’s Drake Maye and LSU’s Jayden Daniels? Let’s get up to speed on this year’s QB class, which is considered the best in years.

First 3 NFL Draft Picks Likely Will Be Used on QBs

You could make a case that Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. is the best prospect in the draft. Longtime draft expert Daniel Jeremiah even believes Harrison, Washington wideout Rome Odunze and LSU receive Malik Nabers might be the three best players available.

However, Jeremiah is among multiple insiders who expect the top three picks to be used on quarterbacks — one way or another.

“I think when it’s all said and done, it feels like, to me, that you’re going to have the three quarterbacks go one, two, three when we get down to it,” Jeremiah said last week in a conference call. “Whether that’s New England taking one, or either them or Washington trading out and somebody coming up.

“It just feels to me, talking to people around the league, that seems to be the expectation.”

Mark Daniels, a Patriots reporter for MassLive, sang a similar tune Thursday afternoon.

“According to multiple sources, the Patriots are planning to draft a quarterback with the No. 3 pick,” Daniels wrote. “One NFL executive, outside of New England, relayed that it’s widely expected in league circles that quarterbacks will be selected with the first three picks in April.”

The Athletic’s Jeff Howe also checked in Thursday after speaking with sources at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

Howe currently expects the Chicago Bears to select Williams at No. 1, the Washington Commanders to take Maye at No. 2, and the Patriots to draft Daniels at No. 3.

There’s Momentum Behind Jayden Daniels

Maye was once viewed as the consensus No. 2 quarterback in the draft. Many Patriots fans were devastated after New England finished with the third pick, seemingly eliminating Maye as an option.

But things have changed. Maye endured a somewhat disappointing campaign in 2023, whereas Daniels won the Heisman Trophy. Some draft experts now have Daniels ranked ahead of Maye, and some NFL talent evaluators feel the same way.

“While there has been a longstanding assumption Maye would be the second pick, it’s not the consensus opinion around the league,” Howe wrote Thursday. “Maye has a massive arm and has drawn plenty of comparisons to Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, but his inconsistent performances last season have given evaluators some pause.

“Rival executives, however, think the Commanders would be comfortable with Maye.”

At this point, all the momentum seemingly is behind Daniels. Dan Orlovsky even believes the Bears should take Daniels over Williams.

That’s probably a stretch, but the top three QBs might indeed be more closely ranked than previously thought.

“With those guys, it’s eye of the beholder,” an NFC personnel executive recently told Pro Football Network when asked to rank Williams, Maye, and Daniels. “They all have strengths and weaknesses. It’s just more what you’re looking for.”

Hall of Famer Kurt Warner offered interesting comments on Maye and Daniels during a Thursday appearance on WEEI.

“Jayden Daniels has all of the physical ability to run around,” Warner said. “And the way he played last year was so good. I just watched the Ole Miss game last night, and it was some really good stuff from a processing standpoint. So, I’m kind of liking what I’m seeing there.

“Drake Maye is interesting because he’s big, he’s strong, he’s got the big arm, but there’s a level of inconsistency with him throwing the football — and that always worries me. … There’s some things there that concern me just from a consistency standpoint. His technique in the pocket.

” .. And it’s been just about every tape I’ve watched where he just misses what I call ‘layups’ — like throws in front of him, and he just wildly misses those throws, you know, four, five, six times in a game.”

At the end of the day, it still feels as if Williams, Maye, and Daniels will be drafted in that order. But there’s a long way to go before the NFL Draft starts in late April, and teams’ evaluations of this year’s QB class are ongoing.

What About the Other Quarterbacks?

As for the next tier of QB prospects, don’t be surprised if they all go in the first round.

“There’s growing buzz around the league the next tier of quarterbacks could be gone by the time the Patriots pick again at No. 34,” Howe wrote. “Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy seems to be generating momentum as a first-round pick, and Oregon’s Bo Nix may not be far behind.

“Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. might be the only second-tier QB on the board entering Friday night of draft weekend.”

KEEP READING: Top QBs in the 2024 NFL Draft

Howe also noted that teams expect J.J. McCarthy‘s hype train to “pick up steam” after he throws this week at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

Is that just smoke created by agents who want their clients to go in the first round? Perhaps. But it’s not a stretch to suggest that six quarterbacks could be selected in Round 1.

This year’s QB class is that good, and the NFL knows it.

All the 2024 NFL Draft resources you need — the draft order, the top QBs, the Top 100 prospects, and the full 2024 Big Board — right at your fingertips at Pro Football Network!

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