When Is Caleb Williams Draft Eligible? 2024 NFL Draft Could Be His Time

    With each jaw-dropping play, Caleb Williams' future as a premier NFL draft prospect becomes more and more certain. But when will he be draft eligible?

    When Is Caleb Williams Draft Eligible? 2024 NFL Draft Could Be His Time

    Each highlight prompts more and more onlookers to ask the question: When will USC quarterback Caleb Williams be eligible for the NFL draft? That time is coming soon, and when it comes, he could be in the QB1 mix.

    When Is Caleb Williams Eligible for the NFL Draft?

    The NFL draft has always been on the radar for Williams. Right out of the gate, he was recognized as one of college football‘s top talents at quarterback.

    Williams was a five-star recruit in the 2021 cycle and the top player at the QB position on multiple outlets. Drawn to Oklahoma by the presence of offensive guru Lincoln Riley, Williams soon usurped the starting spot from Spencer Rattler as a true freshman and quickly made his imprint on the CFB stage.

    As a true freshman, Williams completed 136 of 211 passes for 1,912 yards, 21 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. When it was announced that Riley would be making the move to USC, Williams traveled with him and became the Trojans’ starting QB.

    At USC, Williams went from a budding star to a bonafide star, completing 296 of 448 passes for 4,075 yards, 37 touchdowns, and four picks in a groundbreaking 2022 campaign.

    MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board

    The stats from Williams are incredibly impressive, and that production is backed by awe-inspiring tape. Few quarterbacks at the CFB level have the brand of creation capacity and arm talent that Williams has. That talent and production has amounted to Williams winning both the Walter Camp and Maxwell Awards. He’s also been named a finalist for the 2022 Heisman Trophy.

    If he were eligible, some would argue that Williams might be QB1 of the 2023 NFL Draft — ahead of passers like Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, and Will Levis. But Williams isn’t quite eligible for the NFL draft yet. Players are required to incur at least two seasons of collegiate play before earning draft eligibility.

    While that’s a disappointing development for a player like Williams, 2022 is his second year of collegiate play incurred. Thus, Williams will be eligible for the 2024 NFL Draft next cycle. And seeing how he’s produced to this point, it’s a safe bet that Williams will declare early, as long as he holds his current trajectory.

    Caleb Williams Could Be Top Quarterback in 2024 NFL Draft

    Already, the 2024 NFL Draft QB class is taking shape — and it’s set to be an incredibly exciting group, with Williams positioned near the top.

    There are still a few declaration decisions yet to be made. Passers like Bo Nix, Cameron Ward, and Spencer Rattler could further strengthen the 2024 group, should they choose to return. But none of those returnees will impact Williams’ tentative positioning as a QB1 candidate.

    In a modern NFL that prioritizes natural talent, creation capacity, and combined arm strength and elasticity, Williams has a coveted combination that few others can match. That ability to create and elevate his offense has been well-documented at USC, along with a steely toughness that should win over NFL coaches.

    It’s still too early to crown anyone as QB1 with a full season left to play before the 2024 NFL Draft. But it’s safe to assume Williams will be in the running. Others near the top of the early 2024 QB board include North Carolina’s Drake Maye, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.

    MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Watchlist

    Every class brings breakout potential, and 2024 will have plenty of that. Quinn Ewers will look to show additional growth at Texas, while Kyle McCord waits in the wings as Stroud’s successor at Ohio State. Meanwhile, at Kansas State, Will Howard has emerged as a potential sleeper.

    A number of talented passers have entered the transfer portal as well — among them Jeff Sims, DJ Uiagalelei, Graham Mertz, and Devin Leary. Sims, in particular, has massive upside in the right spot. And at Colorado, Shedeur Sanders will be worth keeping an eye on.

    There will be dozens of names to keep tabs on in the 2024 NFL Draft QB class, but none of this changes the book on Williams. A select few will be in the QB1 conversation. Williams will be one of them, and his résumé is already looking very strong.

    Ian Cummings is an NFL Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Ian’s work here and follow him on Twitter: @IC_Draft.

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