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2024 Combine Preview: Top Quarterback Prospects

One of the most important chapters of the offseason has arrived, with the NFL Scouting Combine taking place from Monday, February 26, to Monday, March 4, in Indianapolis. The week-long process will see draft prospects go through different phases of evaluation in an attempt to maximize their stock, including interviewing with teams, undergoing measurements and medical examinations, and, for most, working out in front of executives, coaches, and scouts.

For fans, the greatest draw is typically the on-field workouts, which will take place from Thursday through Sunday. Defensive linemen and linebackers will be up first, followed by defensive backs and tight ends on Friday, quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs on Saturday, and closing out with offensive linemen.

For teams, the next week will be a calculated fact-finding mission. Each organization has certain benchmarks that must be checked when deciding how to rank prospects, whether that be explosiveness, size, or character. These interviews and testing provide much-needed context that will aid in their evaluations and help narrow down their draft boards.

The Patriots should be well-represented in Indy, with MassLive‘s Mark Daniels reporting Jerod Mayo and a handful of assistant coaches from his new-look staff will be in attendance. De facto general manager Eliot Wolf is also expected to speak to the media on Tuesday morning at 10 am ET. With the team embracing a more collaborative approach that includes collaboration from both the coaching staff and the front office, their presences make sense ahead of what will be a crucial few months.

New England has needs at nearly every position, particularly on offense. Free agency will ultimately determine which spots are needier than others, but their most glaring holes will likely be addressed with both veteran and rookie talent.

After two seasons of disastrous passing offense, which falls on coaching and front-office decisions as much as the players themselves, the Patriots seem headed for a reset at the quarterback position. Mac Jones was drafted to be the new face of the franchise in 2021, but a lack of support following his promising rookie campaign led to nearly unfathomable regression. Between unacceptable decision-making, deteriorating mechanics, and reports that he lost confidence inside the building, Jones lost his starting job late last season to Bailey Zappe, who performed admirably but never proved to be more than a spot starter. Now, whether or not New England cleans house at quarterback, they are virtually guaranteed to invest a high pick in a signal-caller, offering direction as the team enters a new era.

With that need in mind, here are the top quarterback prospects who will be in attendance during the Combine based on NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board.

Caleb Williams, USC – Height: 6’1″, Weight: 215 lbs

Background

  • Born: November 18, 2001 (22)
  • Class: Junior
  • 5-star recruit in 2021 class, per 247Sports
  • Transferred from Oklahoma to USC in 2022

Accolades

  • Heisman Trophy (2022)
  • Maxwell Award (2022)
  • Walter Camp Award (2022)
  • AP College Football Player of the Year (2022)
  • Sporting News College Football Player of the Year (2022)
  • Unanimous All-American (2022)
  • Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year (2022)
  • First-Team All-Pac-12 (2022)
  • Second-Team All-Big 12 (2021)
  • Team Captain

Scout’s Take

“Overall, Williams is a fascinating prospect. The arm talent oozes off the film, and he is a special playmaker when things break down. Williams is also more put together as a processor than his playing style suggests, even if he still needs work.

In the NFL, Williams would fit best in a spread-out passing offense that gives him space and enables his playmaking ability, similar to Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray or the aforementioned Josh Allen.”
Derrik Klassen, Bleacher Report

Consensus Projection: Round 1, Pick 1 (CHI)

Drake Maye, UNC – Height: 6’4″, Weight: 230 lbs

Background

  • Born: August 30, 2002 (21)
  • Class: Redshirt Sophomore
  • 5-star recruit in 2021 class, per 247Sports

Accolades

  • ACC Player of the Year (2022)
  • ACC Offensive Player of the Year (2022)
  • ACC Rookie of the Year (2022)
  • First-Team All-ACC (2022)
  • Second-Team All-ACC (2023)
  • Team Captain

Scout’s Take

“Overall, Maye is a supremely talented passer. He has the athleticism, arm talent and baseline processing skills to become a weapon at the next level. All he needs to do is cut out some of the “doing too much” plays. Maye has the skill set to fit in any system and develop into a star.”
Derrik Klassen, Bleacher Report

Consensus Projection: Round 1, Pick 2 (WAS)

Jayden Daniels, LSU – Height: 6’4″, Weight: 210 lbs

Background

  • Born: December 18, 2000 (23)
  • Class: Senior
  • 4-star recruit in 2019 class, per 247Sports
  • Transferred from Arizona State to LSU in 2022

Accolades

  • Heisman Trophy (2023)
  • Walter Camp Award (2023)
  • AP College Football Player of the Year (2023)
  • Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (2023)
  • Davey O’Brien Award (2023)
  • Manning Award (2023)
  • SN Player of the Year (2023)
  • Consensus All-American (2023)
  • SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2023)
  • First-team All-SEC (2023)

Scout’s Take

“Overall, Daniels has an exciting floor as a prospect. He is a veteran-like presence in the pocket, and he’s far and away the best athlete in the class at the position. Daniels’ average arm talent and inconsistent accuracy may limit his ceiling, but it’s hard to imagine him totally flaming out. Daniels would be best in an offense that leans into his rushing ability and vertical passing, similar to Kyler Murray or Jalen Hurts.”
Derrik Klassen, Bleacher Report

Consensus Projection: Round 1, Pick 3 (NE)

J.J. McCarthy, Michigan – Height: 6’3″, Weight: 202 lbs

Background

  • Born: January 20, 2003 (21)
  • Class: Junior
  • 4-star recruit in 2021 class, per 247Sports

Accolades

  • CFP National Champion (2023)
  • Griese–Brees Quarterback of the Year (2023)
  • First-Team All-Big Ten (2023)
  • Second-Team All-Big Ten (2022)
  • Rose Bowl Offensive MVP (2024)

Scout’s Take

“McCarthy fits best in a Shanahan-style system that simplifies things pre-snap and leans into throws over the middle of the field with the help of play action. He has the requisite arm talent and pocket toughness to function in that system. Even still, McCarthy will take time to develop his ability to progress from the pocket and, hopefully, add weight and strength.”
Derrik Klassen, Bleacher Report

Consensus Projection: Round 1, Pick 24 (MIN)

Bo Nix, Oregon – Height: 6’2″, Weight: 217 lbs

Background

  • Born: February 25, 2000 (23)
  • Class: Senior
  • 4-star recruit in 2019 class, per 247Sports
    • Dropped to 3-star recruit as a transfer
  • Transferred from Auburn to Oregon in 2022

Accolades

  • William V. Campbell Trophy (2023)
  • Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year (2023)
  • First-Team All-Pac-12 (2023)
  • SEC Freshman of the Year (2019)
  • Team Captain
  • Highest single-season completion percentage in NCAA history (77.45, 2023)
  • Most career starts for a QB in NCAA history (61, 2023)
  • Senior Bowl

Scout’s Take

“Nix will ultimately be a dice roll on traits. His athleticism and arm talent can be game-changing if honed correctly. With that said, it’s a little worrisome that Nix is still unrefined in some areas as an older prospect with a ton of games under his belt. Nix would fit best in a spread-oriented offense that emphasizes RPOs, the quarterback run game, and vertical passing.”
Derrik Klassen, Bleacher Report

Consensus Projection: Round 1, Pick 12 (DEN)

Michael Penix Jr., Washington – Height: 6’3″, Weight: 213 lbs

Background

  • Born: May 8, 2000 (23)
  • Class: Redshirt Senior
  • 3-star recruit in 2018 class, per 247Sports
  • Transferred from Indiana to Washington in 2022
  • Four season-ending injuries
    • ACL tear (2018, 2020)
    • Shoulder joint dislocation (2019, 2021)

Accolades

  • Maxwell Award (2023)
  • AP Comeback Player of the Year (2022)
  • First-team All-American (2023)
  • 2x second-Team All-Pac-12 (2023, 2022)
  • Second-Team All-Big Ten (2020)
  • Team Captain
  • Top Senior Bowl Quarterback (National Team)

Scout’s Take

“For teams that want to chuck it down the field with a heavy dose of play action, Penix is an interesting dice roll. His live arm, aggressiveness, and moments of progression passing give him a shot to stick in the NFL. With that said, Penix’s lack of touch, shaky pocket management, and minimal ability to create plays will limit his ceiling in the pros.”
Derrik Klassen, Bleacher Report

Consensus Projection: Round 2, Pick 43 (ATL)

Spencer Rattler, South Carolina – Height: 6’1″, Weight: 217 lbs

Background

  • Born: September 28, 2000 (23)
  • Class: Redshirt Senior
  • 5-star recruit in 2019 class, per 247Sports
    • Dropped to 4-star recruit as a transfer
  • Transferred from Oklahoma to South Carolina in 2022

Accolades

  • 2× Big 12 Champion (2020, 2019)
  • 2020 Big 12 Championship MVP
  • First-Team All-Big 12 (2020)
  • Top Senior Bowl Quarterback (American Team)
  • Senior Bowl MVP
  • Team Captain

Scout’s Take

“Rattler projects as a starting NFL quarterback with a good ceiling. With his combined physical tools and mental growth, he can become a top 12-15 quarterback. Unlike a lot of top QBs, Rattler had to uplift and elevate average-at-best talent. He made the best lemonade possible with the lemons he had.”
Damian Parson, The Draft Network

Consensus Projection: N/A

Taylor Kyles

Taylor Kyles is the lead NFL Analyst for CLNS Media covering players, schemes, and tendencies through a New England Patriots-centric lens.

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