The NFL has witnessed as quarterbacks taken at every stage in the draft have made an impact on the league. Brock Purdy, a former seventh-round selection, came close to winning a Super Bowl for the second consecutive year while Houston's C.J. Stroud, a first-round choice, completed a rookie season for the record books. The 2024 NFL Draft has several talented quarterbacks with an opportunity to make an impact on the league.
Let's explore who those prospects are and where they are being projected in an effort to play matchmaker.
Caleb Williams, USC: Bears
CBS Sports rank: No. 1 quarterback, No. 2 overall
Chicago hired former Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron to replace Luke Getsy. While in Seattle over the past three seasons, the team executed designed quarterback runs on 1.72% of plays, according to TruMedia. Geno Smith has rushed on 8.9% of drop backs over the past two seasons. Williams could best be described as a pocket passer capable of rushing when the situation necessitates. His ability to extend plays and complete passes outside of the pocket is what makes him so intriguing, but it is not his identity.
The Bears are in a position to take Williams at No. 1 overall, and he is my personal top-rated quarterback. It sounds as though the franchise is leaning in this direction rather than running it back with Justin Fields under center.
Drake Maye, North Carolina: Patriots
CBS Sports rank: No. 2 quarterback, No. 6 overall
Prototypical pocket-passing quarterbacks are all first-year head coach Jerod Mayo and the Patriots have known over the past two-plus decades. Maye is listed at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. He has the arm strength necessary to make every throw on the field, but he has struggled with consistency. New England's roster is not necessarily in a position to drop in a rookie quarterback, but Maye is a top-tier talent and the Patriots are picking inside the top-10 overall for just the second time since 2001. The timing is not ideal, but who knows how long it may be before they are in a position to take a top quarterback again.
The sophomore completed 63.3% of his passes for 3,608 yards, 24 touchdowns and 9 interceptions this past season. He had 112 carries for 449 yards and 9 touchdowns.
For more draft coverage, you can hear in-depth analysis twice a week on "With the First Pick" -- our year-round NFL Draft podcast with NFL Draft analyst Ryan Wilson and former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. You can find "With the First Pick" wherever you get your podcasts: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, etc.
Jayden Daniels, LSU: Commanders
CBS Sports rank: No. 3 quarterback, No. 8 overall
Outside of his final season at Arizona State, Daniels has done a great job of protecting the football throughout his collegiate career. In 2023, he accomplished career-highs in completion percentage (72.2%), passing yardage (3,812), passing touchdowns (40) and rushing yards (1,134). His 11.7 yards per pass attempt far surpassed his previous career-high (8.7). What makes Daniels unique, particularly in this quarterback class, is his mobility.
The hire of offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury signals that the organization may prefer Williams, but Chicago is not moving off the No. 1 overall selection unless it has similar grades on a few quarterbacks. With Williams likely off the board, the choice comes down to Maye or Daniels. Kingsbury has worked with Kyler Murray and Williams, so the mobility of Daniels could be appealing.
Michael Penix Jr., Washington: Eagles
CBS Sports rank: No. 4 quarterback, No. 31 overall
There are a handful of teams that could be in the market for a quarterback that have not been discussed: Rams, Falcons, Buccaneers, Saints, etc. But here is an outside-the-box thought to consider: Philadelphia.
In June of 2019, Wentz signed a four-year contract extension with the Eagles worth $128 million. He would play just two more seasons with the franchise. It is not to say that Jalen Hurts is not the guy in Philadelphia but rather evidence to explain the franchise's position at quarterback when it selected Hurts in the second-round of the 2020 NFL Draft. General manager Howie Roseman was not expecting to trade Wentz only to see him bounce around the league over the next five years when he drafted Hurts. No, he drafted Hurts as insurance to Wentz knowing he had constructed a Super Bowl-caliber roster. Marcus Mariota is set to become a free agent. The Eagles may ultimately elect to use that draft capital on other positions of weakness, but the chances are not 0%.
J.J. McCarthy, Michigan: Vikings
CBS Sports rank: No. 5 quarterback, No. 32 overall
McCarthy is not a statue in the pocket, but he is a scrambler by necessity, not disposition. When considering where a player like McCarthy may fit at the next level, one place to start is any link to the Shanahan offense. Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford, Joe Burrow, Jimmy Garoppolo, Brock Purdy and Aaron Rodgers are some of the quarterbacks who have operated that system or a branch of that system. Good footwork and playing on time are the priorities. McCarthy is also said to be the consummate leader and a verified winner at every level of football thus far.
Minnesota head coach Kevin O'Connell spent two years as Sean McVay's offensive coordinator in Los Angeles. O'Connell's exposure to Stafford and Cousins, the latter of whom is set to become a free agent, will likely mold what he is looking for in a franchise quarterback.
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Bo Nix, Oregon: Broncos
CBS Sports rank: No. 6 quarterback, No. 42 overall
The union of veteran Russell Wilson and the Broncos is likely coming to an end, which means Denver is faced with a choice of moving forward with Jarrett Stidham or bringing in a potential replacement.
Head coach Sean Payton wants a quarterback who can push the ball downfield but, most importantly, who he can trust. According to TruMedia, Nix has the second-highest passer efficiency rating (188.3) in the nation. Daniels, McCarthy, Williams, Penix and Tulane's Michael Pratt are also in the top 20. His 77.4% completion percentage was the highest in college football.
Michael Pratt, Tulane: Giants
CBS Sports rank: No. 7 quarterback, No. 73 overall
Pratt is a roller-coaster experience. He will make a dazzling throw but then throw a ball late over the middle that gets intercepted. He has a good feel for pressure and does a good job manipulating the pocket to find clear pass lanes. He is comfortable reading defenses and exploiting mistakes. His ability to throw with touch to all levels of the field is what gives hope that he could take on a starting role at the next level.
New York is buried under Daniel Jones' contract for at least one more year, but it could consider moving on in favor of a cheaper option. If Pratt offers the Giants viable starting play for a fraction of the cost, then it would allow them to funnel resources to other areas of the roster.
Spencer Rattler, South Carolina: Raiders
CBS Sports rank: No. 8 quarterback, No. 107 overall
The Jimmy Garoppolo experiment is coming to an end in Las Vegas. They will bring in competition for Aidan O'Connell, who will be entering his second season with the organization. Rattler seems to have a personality that would appeal to owner Mark Davis. Rattler made the most of a bad situation in Columbia this season having played behind a new offensive line combination essentially every week.
The construction of the coaching staff suggests Las Vegas could prefer a more traditional pocket passer like O'Connell. Head coach Antonio Pierce played alongside Eli Manning. Quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello was drawn to Lexington by the presence of Will Levis and has extensive history working with Kyle Shanahan. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy did most recently work with Justin Fields in Chicago, but had previously worked with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. There was a period where it looked as though Getsy and Fields were on different pages trying to blend in the the Packers offense, but the two parties adapted and actually put some quality play together towards the end of the season.
The 2024 NFL Draft will take place from April 25-27 in Detroit. More draft coverage can be found at CBSSports.com, including the weekly , mock drafts and a regularly available look at the eligible prospects.