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2024 NFL Draft prospect rankings: QBs

Julian Catalfo / theScore

theScore's prospect rankings series takes a position-by-position look at the top players in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Top 50
QB | RB | WR | TE | OL
ED | DL | LB | CB | SAF

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Williams’ final season in college was a bit of a roller coaster, but there should be little doubt about his status as an elite QB prospect and the clear No. 1 player in this draft. The USC superstar demonstrates many of the abilities that separate the true game-changers from the rest in today’s NFL. He can make any throw on the field, and that threat becomes even more dangerous with his innate feel for extending plays and making magic off-script. There’s some risk with his play style, as holding onto the ball and occasionally forcing it downfield can create opportunities for negative plays. But how much of that all-or-nothing approach was the product of a disastrous USC offense? We’re betting that it was quite a bit. There’s a real chance that an improved offensive infrastructure at the next level will unlock an even better, more refined version of Williams. That should be a scary thought for NFL defenses.

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Don’t fall into the trap of helmet scouting here - Maye is the second of two elite QB prospects in this class. While he surely would have liked to cap off his college career with a more consistent 2023 campaign, the North Carolina standout has proven capable of being a high-end player in the professional ranks. Opponents have to account for every blade of grass against Maye’s rocket arm, and he’s one of the few quarterbacks to already demonstrate pro-caliber pocket-management skills. Add in the athleticism to extend plays in creation mode, or take off and pick up yards himself, and you’ve got a quarterback who can overcome anything defenses throw at him. Maye can be a little too aggressive at times, occasionally making poor decisions when a play breaks down, and footwork issues lead to some bizarre misses. But those are all things that can be improved in the early stages of his NFL development, especially with a better supporting cast and offensive structure. Maye has the potential to be a true franchise quarterback.

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Daniels took a major step forward in his final season at LSU, filling up the stat sheet in every way possible to cap his college career with a Heisman Trophy. It hasn’t been the smoothest path to first-round draft status, but he’s there now. Daniels will immediately be one of the NFL’s most dangerous running quarterbacks. That dynamic element, combined with his ability to push the ball downfield accurately, should give him a relatively high floor for production from Day 1. But there are questions about his ceiling. Daniels doesn’t attack the middle of the field as much as other top quarterbacks, and he has to get better at going through progressions before dropping his eyes and taking off. When he does run, he can't afford to be so reckless. An extremely slender frame becomes all the more concerning when you have a propensity for taking massive shots rather than sliding or getting out of bounds. There’s more risk than you’d like for an early first-round pick, but it’s easy to see why teams would be willing to bet on Daniels' unique skill set.

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McCarthy is a polarizing prospect. On one hand, it’s easy to understand why he gets so much love from Michigan fans (and Jim Harbaugh). Winning is the name of the game, after all. For anyone wanting more in terms of production, however, he can be a bit of a tough sell. But is that his fault? McCarthy manages the pocket well, demonstrating an ability to navigate pressure and extend plays while keeping his eyes downfield. He has the athleticism to make things happen outside the pocket, maintaining his passing efficiency on the move and posing a threat to pick up yards with his legs. He’s also one of the few quarterbacks in this class who consistently attacks over the middle of the field. But his processing and timing are still a work in progress, and his ball placement isn't quite as good as his completion percentage might suggest. McCarthy, much like Brock Purdy, could very well become a star in a Shanahan-style offense. He may not be for everyone, though.

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Penix has a cannon for an arm. While most quarterbacks see their effectiveness drop off deep and outside the numbers, that’s actually where the Washington product does his best work. The ball gets downfield on a rope with the flick of a wrist, and his feel for accuracy on vertical routes is sublime. He’s also got some subtle pocket-management skills that allow him to slide away from pressure and reset. Those abilities, combined with his willingness to challenge tight windows downfield, could make him a big-time playmaker in an offense that attacks vertically. The rest of his game may require some development. Penix needs to throw on time with improved accuracy at other levels of the field to become a complete quarterback. And while his impressive pro day numbers generated some buzz, that athleticism never really showed up when it came to making plays outside the pocket. He’s also already 24 years old and has an extensive injury history. Scheme fit and supporting cast could be crucial for Penix’s chances of developing into a franchise quarterback.

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This isn’t the same Nix we saw at Auburn. Granted, it took him a while to get here, so we’re now talking about a prospect who will be 24 years old as a rookie. That will be an issue for some. But NFL teams should take starting-caliber quarterbacks however and whenever they can get them, and Nix could prove to be exactly that after an outstanding final season at Oregon. He’s demonstrated good accuracy to all levels of the field, the creativity to thrive outside of structure, and the athleticism to make plays with his legs. Nix still needs to clean up his footwork, particularly against pressure, to avoid unnecessary misses. And he hasn’t completely gotten past the tendency to do a little too much when the play breaks down. Can he continue to improve on these things at the next level? Or does his experience, however valuable, suggest that he’s already near his ceiling? The answer to that question should ultimately determine his chances of becoming a long-term starter in the NFL.

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Rattler is this year’s most interesting mid-round prospect. After a disappointing run at Oklahoma saw him fall off the radar of NFL evaluators, he enjoyed a late resurgence at South Carolina, concluding an adventure of a college career by flashing all the skills that once made him a top recruit. He’s got the arm strength to make throws on- or off-platform, he’s accurate to all levels of the field, and he sees the game well. While some disastrous offensive line play resulted in brutal sack numbers, he demonstrated polish in terms of pocket management. This all makes for an especially intriguing skill set, but his ceiling does seem to be limited. Rattler is undersized for the position, he doesn’t quite possess the athletic profile to compensate, and a tendency to force throws into coverage could lead to some costly turnovers at the next level. He also turns 24 in September. Rattler has the makings of an exciting backup who could compete for a starting job in the right situation.

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Pratt profiles as a long-term backup quarterback at the next level. Touch and accuracy are his calling cards, particularly over the middle of the field. He could become an effective point man in an offense built around a quick-hit passing game. Pratt also shows an ability to extend plays with his legs and occasionally pick up yards for himself. Average arm talent keeps him from being overly effective downfield and outside the numbers, and he will need to develop better processing skills and pocket management to take care of the ball and make good, timely decisions.

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Milton has a long way to go in the more technical areas of quarterback play - he needs to make major strides in terms of reading the field, operating on time, playing with anticipation, and managing the pocket. But why wouldn’t someone take a shot on a player with these kinds of physical gifts? The Tennessee product has prototypical size, intriguing athleticism, and one of the strongest arms you will ever see in a quarterback. Milton developing enough to make the most of his raw talents feels like a long shot, and entering the league at 24 years old doesn’t exactly help what figures to be a long process. But this is a home-run swing worth taking in the late rounds.

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Travis is an interesting backup QB prospect. Mobility is his calling card, as he can either extend plays outside the pocket or take off to pick up yards with his legs. He also has a knack for utilizing his athleticism in creative ways, unlocking opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available. Consistent production at the NFL level could prove challenging due to lacking arm talent and accuracy issues pushing the ball downfield. His size doesn’t do him any favors as a passer, either. Travis could be a long-term No. 2 or No. 3 QB, providing a spark whenever called upon.

Other notable prospects

Sam Hartman, Notre Dame
Austin Reed, Western Kentucky
Devin Leary, Kentucky
Kedon Slovis, BYU
Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland

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