The NFL has entered a unique time in its history. The league is desperate for young talent, with 11 quarterbacks drafted in the first 150 picks and 14 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft class. History will be set on Sunday when Tommy DeVito becomes the 10th rookie passer to start a game this season.
2023 Rookie QB Class Breaks NFL Record in NFL Week 10
Gone are the old stalwarts of yesteryear, with Matt Ryan and Tom Brady retiring last offseason. Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins also suffered major injuries this year and are older players regardless of their Achilles ailments.
Over the last decade, the continued loss of high-end talent at the position has led to a dire need for the next generation of talent.
Between injuries and degradation of play from average quarterbacks, a third of the league has been left scrambling for a decent stopgap starter. That includes the following 10 rookies:
- Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers
- C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans
- Anthony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
- Will Levis, Tennessee Titans
- Aidan O’Connell, Las Vegas Raiders
- Clayton Tune, Arizona Cardinals
- Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Cleveland Browns
- Jaren Hall, Minnesota Vikings
- Tyson Bagent, Chicago Bears
- Tommy DeVito, New York Giants
How the 2024 QB Draft Class Can Help Needy Teams
While it’s fair to say that starts for Young, Stroud, Richardson, and Levis were anticipated, the rest of the rookie starters this season have been unexpected. Injuries have opened the door for everyone else to see the field. The results have been a mixed bag.
Barring a strong end to the season by O’Connell, Tune, Hall, Bagent, and DeVito, each of their respective teams could very well be taking another quarterback in the 2024 class. Luckily for them, our 2024 QB rankings reflect a strong group of passers that could produce as many as many as seven first-rounders.
Let’s take a brief look at those seven first-round contenders.
1) Drake Maye, North Carolina Tar Heels
While Caleb Williams is a fan favorite, Drake Maye doesn’t always get his credence as an equally viable QB1 candidate. He may not have Williams’ hyper-elite improvisational skills, but this 6’4″, 220-pound Tar Heel is a talented athlete with rare arm strength, elasticity, and anticipation ability.
Decision-making was the lone factor keeping Maye from legitimately challenging Williams earlier in the season. Still, two of his best games have come in recent weeks: A 442-yard, three-touchdown outing against Syracuse and a 273-yard, four-touchdown performance against Miami.
2) Caleb Williams, USC Trojans
Caleb Williams possesses all the necessary qualities to become a top-tier NFL quarterback early in his career. His hyper-elite creation capacity and composite arm talent will not only enable him to generate big plays, but they’ll also enable him to withstand adversity and extend plays for himself.
Williams is a flawed pocket operator outside of his generational creation ability. His mechanical discipline is still improving, his decision-making under pressure can be spotty, and his accuracy can also suffer in the short and intermediate ranges.
3) J.J. McCarthy, Michigan Wolverines
J.J. McCarthy was volatile earlier in his career, but he’s becoming steadier and more controlled in structure, and his tools are easy to like. He has a loose arm capable of hitting tight windows, and his elite creation ability and rushing value give him an edge over other young QBs.
McCarthy has everything he needs physically to be a plus NFL starter, and his recent four-touchdown outing against Michigan State showed how far he’s come operationally. He’s composed in the pocket, anticipatory as a thrower, and incredibly accurate.
4) Michael Penix Jr., Washington Huskies
Michael Penix Jr. is a bit of a throwback prospect because he’s not the most dynamic athlete. But he’s been simply undeniable as an ascending first-round prospect this year. He has 3,201 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, and seven picks to this point. He’s a Heisman front-runner and has his team undefeated and at the top of the Pac-12.
Penix’s health issues are serious. They include two torn ACLs and a shoulder problem. That medical history may scare off some teams later on, but if Penix’s medicals check out for teams, there aren’t many arguments to keep him away from Round 1 real estate.
5) Bo Nix, Oregon Ducks
At 6’2″ and 213 pounds, Bo Nix is one of college football‘s most dynamic running and off-script QB threats. He’s a quick, flexible, short-area athlete with excellent creation ability and the arm strength and flexibility to generate velocity off-platform.
Week 7 was a big checkpoint for Nix, who dueled against fellow 2024 NFL Draft prospect Penix in a high-pressure Pac-12 matchup. The Ducks didn’t get the win, but Nix did everything he needed to do to give his team a chance, completing 33 of 44 attempts for 337 yards and two scores.
6) Jayden Daniels, LSU Tigers
No 2024 NFL Draft quarterback prospect has helped their stock more than LSU’s Jayden Daniels in 2023. Daniels was viewed as a Day 3 sleeper prospect in the summer, but he’s quickly proving his merit as a legitimate early-round contender.
Through eight games in 2023, Daniels has completed 178 of 247 passes (72.1%) for 2,792 yards, 27 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. If those numbers aren’t gaudy enough, he’s also accounted for 684 yards and six scores on the ground.
7) Shedeur Sanders, Colorado Buffaloes
Everyone was interested in how Shedeur Sanders would play after transferring to Colorado from Jackson State. No one could have projected just how productive he’d be in his first year at the Power Five level.
Of course, Sanders’ placement in the 2024 NFL Draft ultimately depends on whether or not he declares. It seems more likely Sanders could return to Boulder for his senior season in 2024. If he does declare, teams will be intrigued by his excellent arm, high-level decision-making, and toughness.
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