2024 NFL Draft: Analytical Rankings for This Year's Quarterback Class

The 2024 NFL Draft has a terrific quarterback class with two game breaking talents at the top of the group

NFL Combine
NFL Combine / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

The 2024 NFL Draft is around four weeks away, so it’s time for some positional rankings! All of us draft nerds have spent the past few months grinding the tape and ignoring our friends and families as we put together our evaluations for each prospect, so it’s time for me to release my thoughts on this year’s class. Of course, there’s no better position group to discuss and argue about with strangers on the internet than the quarterbacks, so that is where we will get started.

Before we get into the rankings, these were made with a heavy reliance on career stats from PFF and athletic testing numbers. This is a different view from most draft analysts and this gives us a good picture of each prospects' entire body of work. Also, career stats were used to adjust for prospects who break out late because these prospects tend to have a lower hit rate. Also, a lot of prospects' best season comes before their final season.

With each ranking below you will see a "draft grade" from 4.0 (an undrafted free agent) to 10 (a perfect prospect) and the corresponding pick value for that grade. This system is similar to what Bleacher Report uses with a few changes. With that out of the way, here are my rankings for this year's quarterback class.

1. Caleb Williams, USC

Caleb Williams
NFL Combine / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Draft Grade: 9.5

Pick Value: Top Five

Caleb Williams is a terrific quarterback prospect who pairs elite arm talent and great mobility with impressive polish as a pocket passer. His profile is extremely clean across the board as he is very accurate, generates big-time throws at a high rate, and makes good decisions as a passer. Also, his ability to extend plays and create outside of structure is elite and he has a very strong arm that allows him to attack opposing defenses deep down the field.

However, he is also very good within structure and he does a great job of balancing the necessity for him to stay in the pocket with his affinity for scrambling as he scrambled on just 6.2% of his career dropbacks, which ranks in the 94th percentile among quarterbacks prospects since 2017.

Honestly, there aren’t many red flags in his profile. He does hold onto the ball for a long time, take sacks at a higher rate than you’d like, and fumble the ball more than almost any quarterback prospect we’ve seen in recent memory, but his few warts are easy to deal with considering he makes so many incredible plays inside and outside the pocket. This is the price you have to pay when your quarterback is aggressive like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen.

Overall, Caleb Williams is one of the best quarterback prospects I’ve evaluated going back to 2019. He isn’t perfect, but he is a much cleaner prospect than people give him credit for while also having immense upside. The Chicago Bears will not struggle whatsoever to take him with the top pick in this year’s draft.

2. Drake Maye, North Carolina

Draft Grade: 9.25

Pick Value: Top Ten

Drake Maye
Campbell v North Carolina / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

Caleb Williams at No. 1 was an easy choice and this spot was just as easy to fill. 

Many people have been critical of Drake Maye over the last few months and it seems like there is a chance he could fall a little bit during the draft. In my opinion, people are overthinking his evaluation and there’s a chance his doubters will look silly in a few years.

Drake Maye is a breathtaking prospect. He has a wildly aggressive playstyle as he loves to throw deep and scramble outside the pocket and he does both of these things at a high level. 

He is legitimately one of the best deep ball throwers in recent memory, sporting a career big-time throw rate of 8.4% and a career PFF passing grade of 96.8 on throws 20+ yards down the field. On top of this, he is a really good decision-maker, sporting a turnover-worthy play rate of just 2.7%, which is unfathomable considering how aggressive he is.

Unfortunately, his profile is a bit muckier than Caleb Williams. For starters, his accuracy is fine, but nothing special. He is very accurate on short and deep passes, but his accuracy worsens on intermediate throws and when he faces a blitz. Also, like Williams, he takes sacks at a higher rate than you’d like.

His biggest red flag, though, is how often he leaves the pocket. His career scramble rate of 11.1% is very high and he has a tendency to leave the pocket early a lot. This combined with his underwhelming sack avoidance hints at some bust potential. However, he is so effective and aggressive as a passer and runner that he can overcome this and have a successful career like Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts, who also struggled in these areas in college.

3. J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

Draft Grade: 8.5

Pick Value: 1st Round

J.J. McCarthy
Michigan National Championship Celebration / Aaron J. Thornton/GettyImages

J.J. McCarthy is a fascinating prospect and my thoughts about his status as an NFL prospect have changed drastically over the last few months. If you had told me he would be a top-15 pick midway through the 2023 season, I would have called you crazy. Now, he’s my QB3 with a 1st round grade. Oh, how things change!

While some people will scoff at this ranking, the truth is that McCarthy is really good and his production at Michigan was far better than he gets credit for. He is a well-rounded passer who is moderately aggressive throwing the ball down the field, but shines in terms of accuracy, decision-making, and sack avoidance.

He’s also a very effective intermediate passer who performed well under pressure in college. One of my favorite parts of his game is his ability to manage the pocket as he avoids sacks better than the other top quarterbacks while also doing a great job of staying in the pocket with the ability to scramble if necessary.

The issue with McCarthy is I don’t think he has a ton of upside. He wasn’t used much at Michigan and he doesn’t throw the ball down the field as much as you’d like. He was way more reliant on short and intermediate throws in college. However, he doesn’t have many huge flaws, which makes his projection a bit tricky. How high do you draft a quarterback if you aren’t confident you will want to pay him a lot of money after his rookie contract is over?

While this question is difficult to answer, I think J.J. McCarthy has a similar profile to Brock Purdy and could be very effective in the right offense - cough cough Minnesota. He also has enough upside as the youngest quarterback in the draft that he could be even better during his rookie contract and that is worth a first-round pick.

4. Jayden Daniels, LSU

Draft Grade: 7.5

Pick Value: 2nd Round

Jayden Daniels
Texas A&M v LSU / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages

Jayden Daniels had a great season in 2023, producing one of the most dominant seasons we’ve ever seen in the history of college football. This breakout campaign led to Jayden Daniels skyrocketing up draft boards to the point where it seems unlikely he will make it outside the top three picks.

Daniels has a fascinating profile. He is the best rushing quarterback in this year’s draft and he is one of the best running quarterbacks to come out in some time. On top of this, he is very accurate on deep throws and while under pressure and he does a fantastic job of limiting poor decisions as a passer.

Unfortunately, there are a ton of red flags with his profile. His biggest issue is his pocket presence, which is historically bad. His career pressure-to-sack rate of 24.5% ranks in just the 7th percentile among quarterback prospects since 2017. On top of this, he leaves the pocket all the time as he scrambled on 14% of his career dropbacks the second-worst mark since 2017 behind Malik Willis.

He scrambles at a historically high rate whether the pocket is clean or not and he doesn’t scramble to throw as he attempted a pass on just 78.5% of his career dropbacks. He and Malik Willis are the only quarterbacks since 2017 to attempt a pass on less than 80% of their dropbacks.

No matter how you slice it, these are huge red flags. Quarterbacks can overcome this, though, if they show they have serious upside in other areas, like aggressiveness throwing deep and/or high-level mobility.

Daniels has the mobility, but his physical tools and aggressiveness as a passer leave a lot to be desired. His 4.8% big-time throw rate (25th percentile), 9.1 average depth of target (29th percentile) and 13.9% deep pass attempt rate (25th percentile) across his college career were all quite low and his arm strength doesn't look overly impressive on film.

I understand that Jayden Daniels had an amazing season last year, but it’s undeniable that he benefited greatly from having an amazing supporting cast with an elite offensive line and a talented group of pass catchers. This, along with his experience, helped him put up video game numbers. However, when you break down his process as a passer, it’s clear he has some major flaws that could cause him to underperform expectations at the next level.

Still Jayden Daniels is a fantastic runner with solid accuracy who doesn’t put the ball in harm's way. That might be enough for him to be an adequate starter in the right offense, but I would be shocked if he ever became a star at the next level. I also wouldn’t be shocked if he followed a similar career path to Justin Fields, who has a fairly similar skillset.

5. Bo Nix, Oregon

Draft Grade: 7.25

Pick Value: 3rd Round

Bo Nix
Vrbo Fiesta Bowl - Liberty v Oregon / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Bo Nix had an up-and-down college career, going from a struggling quarterback at Auburn in 2021 to a Heisman finalist at Oregon in 2023. As his production improved in Eugene, Oregon, so did his draft stock and he has now basically guaranteed he will be picked in the first two rounds of the 2024 draft.

Nix has a solid but boring profile. He does a lot of things that could allow him to make it in the NFL, like being very accurate on short throws, making good decisions as a passer, and providing some value as a rusher. He also has great pocket presence as he avoids sacks at a very high level and does a great job of scrambling only when he has to.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to see Nix being anything more than a game manager at the next level. He didn’t throw deep much in college, his accuracy got much worse the deeper he threw, and his production on plays that lasted over 2.5 seconds was just ok, which indicates he won’t be great at extending plays.

Bo Nix should have a place in the NFL as a quality backup who can start in a pinch. I don’t think he can be an impact starter since he doesn’t throw the ball down the field at a high level, but his skillset will allow him to have a long NFL career because of his combination of accuracy, decision-making, and mobility.

Honorable Mentions:

Michael Penix Jr., Washington

Michael Penix Jr. has a lot of fans and I get why people like his game. He put up good production in his two seasons at Washington, he’s aggressive throwing the ball down the field, and he avoids sacks at an extremely high level.

Unfortunately, his accuracy numbers were below average outside of short throws and when he faced pressure and blitzes. On top of this, he is not very mobile which severely limits his upside. I also think his lack of mobility could affect his ability to avoid sacks in the NFL just like it did for Mac Jones.

Joe Milton III, Tennessee

Joe Milton III is a very fun prospect because he has some of the best physical tools in the class. He has excellent size for the position and he has excellent arm strength and above average mobility. There’s also a lot to like about his passing profile because he didn’t turn the ball over a lot, he likes to throw deep, and he doesn’t leave the pocket too much.

However, he has so many flaws. His accuracy is extremely poor outside of short throws, he takes a ton of sacks under pressure, and his production was very underwhelming for a quarterback who played six seasons in college. He has some interesting traits that indicate he has some upside, but he lacks polish as a passer and he isn’t a good enough runner to make up for it.

Spencer Rattler, South Carolina

Spencer Rattler has gotten a ton of love from the draft community recently and there will be analysts who have him as a top-five quarterback in this class. There are some great things in his profile as he is one of the more accurate passers we’ve seen in recent memory and he put up a really strong season at Oklahoma in 2020 in which he looked like a very good prospect.

However, there are major issues with his profile when you look at his college career in its entirety. For starters, he is a small quarterback who tested poorly at the combine. Small quarterbacks with limited athleticism don’t have a high hit rate. On top of this, he didn’t throw intermediate or deep passes very often in college, he had a very low big-time throw rate, and he had a very low average depth of target, which goes against the narrative that he has a big arm.

There are other issues that scare me like his high pressure-to-sack rate and poor rushing production across the board. Of course, he suffered from playing with a bad supporting cast at South Carolina which will affect his box score numbers. However, I think there are major red flags with his process as a passer and there isn’t enough to overlook all of his significant issues.