Top QBs in the 2024 NFL Draft: Caleb Williams and Drake Maye Duel for QB1, Jayden Daniels Closes the Gap

The 2024 NFL Draft will see Caleb Williams and Drake Maye duel for the QB1 spot. But how do Bo Nix, Jayden Daniels, and others stack up?

Looking ahead, the 2024 NFL Draft will be a pivotal event for NFL teams seeking to secure their franchise quarterback. It’s important to consider many factors when building a professional roster, but winning a Super Bowl is ultimately unlikely without a great QB.

So, which quarterbacks will be the key to opening that door for teams in 2024?

Ranking the Top QBs in the 2024 NFL Draft

10) Carter Bradley, South Alabama

After spending the majority of his career at Toledo, Carter Bradley — the son of former NFL head coach Gus Bradley — transferred to South Alabama and reworked his game. He improved his accuracy and his mechanics and earned an invite to the 2024 Senior Bowl where he continued to impress NFL teams.

As a mid-to-late-round backup candidate, Bradley has a lot of appeal. He’s not the most mobile QB, but he’s a functional pocket operator with good processing ability, discretion as a decision-maker, and an NFL-caliber arm that can drive velocity and hit fleeting windows.

9) Jordan Travis, Florida State

The Florida State Seminoles went 23-4 through 2022 and 2023, and Jordan Travis was far and away the team’s most important player during that stretch. If you need any proof, look at how his absence swayed the College Football Playoff selection committee in 2023.

The decision to exclude Florida State from the CFB Playoffs was a controversial one, but there’s no denying the impact Travis made — both as a distributor and a playmaker from the pocket.

At 6’1″, 205 pounds, Travis doesn’t fit the prototypical mold nor does he have high-end arm strength. But he’s a hyper-elite creator with impressive twitch and corrective mechanical feel as a passer. Those traits could help him stick around in the NFL.

8) Michael Pratt, Tulane

Michael Pratt is the best Group of Five passer in the 2024 NFL Draft. He made a great impression at the Senior Bowl with his ability to direct his teammates and throw with touch, and he has a long future ahead of him as a quality backup and spot starter.

Pratt was a four-year starter at Tulane. That experience has afforded him one of the best operational profiles in his class. Pratt is poised in the pocket, has excellent field vision and window identification, and can use his arm to layer pace and touch on throws.

His arm is only above average at best, and he’s not an elite athlete. Those factors alone relegate Pratt to a backup projection. But in a league where QB security is becoming more and more valuable, he has the intangibles and toughness to be an excellent security blanket.

7) Spencer Rattler, South Carolina

It surely came with its ups and downs, but Spencer Rattler‘s college career was something to behold. When he was on top of his game, very few could elevate talent the way Rattler did during his time at Oklahoma and South Carolina.

However, when Rattler was off his proverbial game, the team around him suffered, as did his accuracy and decision-making process.

Rattler will require some projection at the NFL level, but there’s no denying his arm talent and creation capacity inside the pocket. He brings easy velocity, arm elasticity, and off-platform freedom, as well as the arm talent to layer pace and touch on throws.

MORE: Spencer Rattler’s Fantastic Senior Bowl Showing Vaults South Carolina QB Atop Rankings

Rattler could harness his talent and become a starting QB in the right system. He’ll need time, the right coach, and that aforementioned right system. However, if the cards fall in his favor, Rattler could turn heads in the NFL in a few seasons.

At the Senior Bowl, Rattler impressed, and he left the event as a riser. Not only did he showcase the ability to progress and work within a structure, but he also appeared as a man matured since his time at Oklahoma. All it takes is one team to be taken by his tools, and he’ll be picked early.

6) J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

At the start of the 2023 season, J.J. McCarthy was seen as a promising player with great potential in the QB3 race. There were QB3 flashes early on, but a lack of elevating performances — even amid a CFP National Championship run — left many feeling inconclusive about McCarthy’s profile.

McCarthy has everything he needs physically to be a plus-NFL starter, and the flashes of operational growth in 2023 were exciting. Particularly earlier in the season, McCarthy showed glimpses of high-end pocket navigation and anticipation, on top of his mobility and elastic arm talent.

On the surface, McCarthy’s 2023 campaign was a massive success. He won the Big Ten Championship and the National Championship. Winning matters to some NFL evaluators. But while Michigan didn’t win in spite of McCarthy, McCarthy was more or less a passenger for most of the season-closing run.

McCarthy officially declared for the 2024 NFL Draft after the title game, and his tools and youth could very well earn him a spot in the early-to-mid first-round range. The best outcome might be for him to sit and learn for a year or two while he hones his poise, field vision, and mechanical synergy.

5) Michael Penix Jr., Washington

Michael Penix Jr. was one of the headliners of the 2023 college football season, leading his Washington Huskies to a national championship berth while throwing for 36 touchdowns and almost 5,000 yards.

In the end, Penix came up heartbreakingly short against Michigan in the title game, but his play in 2023 did earn him newfound respect as a legitimate early-round prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft — and a potential Round 1 pick if his health checks out.

MORE: Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

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, then there aren’t many arguments against him becoming a developmental starter for a team.

Penix has excellent field vision, aggressiveness, and competitive toughness. Particularly on drive throws outside the numbers and to the intermediate range, he’s a merchant, and he can fit high-velocity lasers into microscopic windows.

On top of his superb in-structure qualities, Penix also has a wicked arm to match. He’ll easily have the strongest left-handed throwing arm in the league over Tua Tagovailoa once he makes the NFL leap, and his driving velocity is a fusing element for his accuracy and intangibles.

It’s not brash to say that, at his peak, Penix could be an NFL starter in a similar mold to Matthew Stafford or Philip Rivers — a surgical pocket operator with the arm strength and elasticity to make the most of any opportunities given by a defense at any level of the field.

At 24 years old, Penix still has things to improve. Particularly when he’s pressured and faced with tight coverage, he’ll attempt to force plays, and his incongruent mechanics can impact his precision. But in the right situation, there’s enough to work with to make him a team’s QB1 — if he can stay healthy.

4) Bo Nix, Oregon

Bo Nix has quickly made the NFL world forget his struggles at Auburn. Now in more control of his urges and physical talent, he’s a very real first-round QB candidate.

At 6’2″ and 213 pounds, Nix is one of the most dynamic running and off-script QB threats in the 2024 NFL Draft. He’s a quick, flexible, short-area athlete with excellent creation ability, plus he has the arm strength and flexibility to generate velocity off-platform.

Nix’s development on the operational side suggests he can be a quality NFL starter.

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.

MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Reports

Nix didn’t break stride after the demoralizing loss, either. He came back with near-perfect games against Washington State, Utah, California, USC, Arizona State, and Oregon State, earning wins in all instances with his accuracy, arm talent, and quick decision-making skills both in and out of structure.

By season’s end, Nix completed 364 of 470 attempts — a record 77.4% completion rate — for 4,508 yards, 45 touchdowns, and just three picks. He operated at a level of efficiency rarely seen in his final two seasons, and he also has the talent to generate big plays.

Nix dueled Penix again in the Pac-12 title game and lost, but he took the loss with grace. For NFL evaluators, he’s shown everything needed to be an early-round pick.

3) Jayden Daniels, LSU Tigers

No 2024 NFL Draft quarterback prospect helped their stock more than LSU’s Jayden Daniels this year. Daniels was viewed as a Day 3 sleeper prospect in the summer, but he’s proven his merit as a legitimate QB3 contender.

In fact, he might be closer to Drake Maye and Caleb Williams than people think.

Through 12 games in 2023, Daniels completed 236 of 327 passes (72.2%) for 3,812 yards, 40 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. If those numbers aren’t gaudy enough, he also accounted for 1,134 yards and 10 scores on the ground.

It was a universally agreed-upon conclusion in the summer months that Daniels had the requisite athleticism and arm talent to be an NFL quarterback. That creation ability and running value were his primary selling points in 2022.

But in 2023, Daniels completely reworked his game in the pocket, dicing up defenses with his quick processing ability, anticipation, smooth mechanics, accuracy, and situational precision.

With Daniels, you have to ask: What prevents him from being an early Round 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft? Because with each passing week, the answers to that question dwindled more and more.

Daniels has the high-energy athleticism and playmaking potential to elevate an offense, and he’s also able to work in structure with absurd efficiency, as well as deliver passes down the field. There simply aren’t many boxes he doesn’t at least check.

2) Caleb Williams, USC Trojans

Caleb Williams locked down his status as a collegiate star after throwing for 4,537 yards, 42 touchdowns, and five picks while also running for 10 more scores in 2022 on his way to that season’s Heisman Trophy.

Williams’ production is impressive, and looking at the tape, he stands out as a premier QB1 candidate. It’s ultimately a situation where Maye and Williams are QB 1-A and QB 1-B in the 2024 NFL Draft cycle. It’s still a coin flip between the two, and there are reasons to pick Williams.

MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Big Board

Williams possesses all the necessary qualities to become a top-tier NFL QB early on in his career. His hyper-elite creation capacity and composite arm talent will not only enable him to generate big plays but also allow him to withstand adversity and extend plays for himself.

Williams is a flawed pocket operator outside of his generational creation ability. His decision-making ability and accuracy can be spotty under pressure, and his play style does lead him to hold the ball too long and create unnecessary chaos. The Notre Dame game was proof of this.

Nevertheless, Williams rebounded after that game and provided a new taste of his passing magic each week in the final stretch of 2023. He has a high-enough floor with sky-high upside, and he’s very much worth banking on as a franchise QB option in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Who Is the Best QB in the NFL Draft?

1) Drake Maye, North Carolina Tar Heels

The 2024 NFL Draft QB class is being led by two talented quarterbacks who are neck and neck in terms of skill — Williams and Drake Maye.

While Williams is a fan favorite, Maye doesn’t always get credit as an equally viable QB1 candidate. He may not have Williams’ hyper-elite improvisational skills, but the 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, and occasional poor decisions will be something for the former to iron out. But with his 2022 and 2023 tape accumulated, many are in agreement that he deserves QB1 credence.

Maye, for his size, still has exceptional off-platform ability and athleticism. There’s a strong argument to make that he’s more disciplined, more decisive, and more accurate than Williams in structure.

Even more impressive from Maye is the leverage awareness that he shows, both as a pocket navigator and as a manipulative field processor, using his eyes and shoulders to misalign defenders and his rocket arm to capitalize in a real-time sense.

Not dissimilar to Justin Herbert, Maye is an elite physical talent who can use his traits to elevate the offense within structure — something Williams is still working on.

As C.J. Stroud has shown early on in his NFL career, it’s the passers with the best balance of physical talent and operational utility that find success. Both Maye and Williams have bright futures, but Maye might best fulfill that definition in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Honorable Mentions

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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