Every quarterback prospect you can think of has been watched, dissected, and graded for the full month of June. Following in the footsteps of Zach Wilson and Anthony Richardson before them, a couple more players will undoubtedly improve their 2024 NFL Draft status throughout the upcoming college football season. Here are the top six signal-callers heading into 2023, though, at this time.
No. 1: Caleb Williams (USC)
Caleb Williams outperforms the rest of his quarterback counterparts, thus there is no need for sensationalism or overreaching here. It is simple to understand why NFL Draft experts adore the USC superstar, even though I am not quite in the “Patrick Mahomes” camp. Former five-star prospect Williams exhibits arm strength of the NFL caliber, inventiveness outside of the pocket, and impressive ball placement on his passes.
Williams must improve his technique since he risks being seen “going through the motions” on dropbacks when playing against less skilled opponents. Here, Williams’ propensity to invent things raises yet another warning flag. At times, he would have been better off throwing the ball away or going out of bounds.
Nevertheless, there are simple ways to fix these coaching problems in the NFL. Williams might be more prepared to accept whatever the defense offers him in 2023. And who knows, maybe the 21-year-old quarterback wins the Heisman Trophy twice in a row. The QB No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft prediction from bet on nfl games online is likely to be him.
No. 2: Drake Maye (UNC)
At quarterback, Caleb Williams dominates, but Drake Maye isn’t far behind in these rankings. Despite being taller than Williams, the star player for the Tar Heels shares many of the same qualities that make them both deserving of early first-round picks.
Because he cuts through defenders like a surgeon, Maye performs best in a clean pocket. The UNC quarterback uses a variety of arm angles while passing and long strides when running to gain yards. With his impressive ability to break numerous tackles in space, Maye frequently left opponents in his wake.
Most of Maye’s problems manifest themselves when he gets flushed out of his pocket. The 6-foot-4 signal-caller is inventive, but when he rolls out his accuracy plummets. Maye puts himself in danger by using clumsy footwork rather than slipping or flinging the ball away. With new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey in charge as he enters year two, ideally a new perspective will aid in his development.
No. 3: Cam Ward (Washington State)
As the 2023 college football season draws near, consider myself the driver of the Cam Ward hype train. Ward, who was formerly a prospect with zero stars and only one scholarship offer, has proven to have a remarkable work ethic and has significantly improved each year. Incarnate Word, a lesser-known university where he started his career, helped him achieve a four-star rating in the transfer portal last offseason by helping him break numerous school records.
Eric Morris, a former UIW head coach, transferred his skills to Washington State, where he is now the offensive coordinator in Pullman. His starting quarterback from the previous two seasons followed Morris to the Pacific Northwest, so he wasn’t alone when he arrived. The talented pair continued where they left off.
Ward had a rocky start to the year, chucking numerous poor interceptions in the first month. The 6-foot-2 signal-caller corrected the self-inflicted mistakes as he gained confidence and adapted to the increase in quality. His touch and technique still need to be more consistent, but there is cause to anticipate that in 2023 he will make another advancement.
Ward has bizarre arm talent. He has a blazing fastball that can fit through small windows and a deep ball that can destroy the International Space Station. He is well-known for playing backyard football, which occasionally gets the 21-year-old into trouble. Consistency is crucial for the Cougars and potential NFL teams. If Morris can polish off Ward’s flaws, we could have a first-round pick in April.
No. 4: Michael Penix Jr. (Washington)
The former Indiana Hoosier followed his former mentor to Washington, following in Cam Ward’s footsteps. In 2023, Kalen DeBoer and Michael Penix successfully guided the Huskies to a winning season. Both now return to complete their unfinished business.
As for Penix, there has never been any doubt about his brilliance. The left arm of the sixth-year quarterback has the strongest arm in the 2024 NFL Draft. On Sundays, he is capable of making every throw required while displaying elite velocity on throws made far downfield. Even though he only uses his legs as a last resort, Penix likewise fits the mould of an underappreciated runner.
The major problem with Penix is in the lower half. The 6-foot-3 signal-caller needs to improve how he passes the ball with his legs. Penix has a powerful arm, but his footwork is a disaster, and he frequently forgets to step into throws. In college, sheer arm strength makes up for it, but at the next level, that won’t be the case.
Penix’s age and injury history will also work against him throughout the NFL Draft process in 2024. NFL teams will want to have a clear medical report before selecting the left-handed flamethrower early in the draft because he will be 24 years old as a rookie and has three torn ACLs while playing at Indiana.
No. 5: Bo Nix (Oregon)
To be completely honest, if you had told me Bo Nix would be in this grade even a year ago, I would have laughed you out of the room. The former Auburn Tiger, though, made enormous strides in his first season playing for Dan Lanning at Oregon.
Nix still had a number of stupid choices on his tape, as well as sloppy eye movement and a sense of pressure. On occasion, as he studies the field from the pocket, he leaves the pocket too soon and occasionally fails to feel the pressure on subsequent snaps, resulting in avoidable sacks.
Nix offers cause for optimism in a few other areas. First off, the five-star recruit displays strong arm power on throws and will exhibit a more reliable touch in 2022. Nix still occasionally fails to read a defense, but this has greatly improved since his time in the SEC. The 213-pounder runs like a running back and has a running style to match.
Nix does not have the extensive litany of college injuries Penix had, but the Oregon quarterback will also be a 24-year-old rookie in the NFL. A kid that age faces an uphill battle, but Nix is more gifted than Kenny Pickett, thus a jump in the rankings cannot be counted out.
No. 6: Quinn Ewers (Texas)
Okay, Longhorn supporters, let me explain myself before you brandish pitchforks and post derogatory remarks in the comments. Quinn Ewers’ placement at number six on this list does not reflect poorly on his abilities. The previous top recruit overall is brimming with it.
In 2022, he made 16 touchdown passes, demonstrating just how deadly the signal-caller is downfield. Ewers is also lethal out of the pocket. Most of the time, favorable outcomes occurred when the Texas line gave him time to throw. The 20-year-old also leverages his baseball expertise to produce unheard-of arm angles to confuse defenders.
Unfortunately, Ewers’ first season as a regular starter was cut short by an injury that occurred too soon. The fact that the talented quarterback experienced injuries while still in high school points to a bigger problem. Though he makes better decisions than most people realize, he still has room for development as he gains more experience in the center.
Given his background, which includes his lucrative NIL contracts, Ewers has the best chance of unseating Caleb Williams and Drake Maye as the top two quarterbacks. He is now too unproven, but if we wait until April of next year and Ewers is a top-10 pick… I won’t be taken aback.