by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Sporting News and J.T. Toth.
As this year comes to a close, Draft 412 will take a look at the 2023 and 2024 draft classes by position. The following is a current “Best Of” list for both offense and defense, taking a look back at the top players from last year’s draft party and ahead to the coming NFL selection process in April.
From Draft 412 to you…Happy Holidays and get your mock drafts ready!!
The NFL has changed. Teams must have a franchise quarterback to be successful and in the new NFL, organizations want signal callers who can throw, run, read and react. The league is no longer a mix of 50/50 balanced run and pass offenses. Instead, pro football has become saturated with pass heavy schemes, charging winning championships with offense and not ball possession or defense.
The 2023 NFL Draft had 14 quarterbacks selected and here are the best of last year’s selections:
1- Houston - C.J. Stroud
Many outlets, including Draft Nation, believed C.J. Stroud should have been chosen #1 overall in last year’s draft. With his blend of size and accuracy, big things were to come for the former Ohio State quarterback. Once Bryce Young was selected by the Carolina Panthers at #1, the Texans swooped in to grab Stroud with the next selection.
Stroud has exceeded expectations in year one, and heading into week 15, the Texans are still sniffing around the playoffs. He has thrown for 3,631 yards and 20 touchdowns, but what is even more impressive is the fact that he has only thrown 5 interceptions all year long. The odds-on favorite for Rookie of the Year has thrown for over 300 yards 6 times already and is proof sometimes it is a blessing picking #2 in the draft.
2- Will Levis - Tennessee
Will Levis slipped to the second round in the 2023 draft, falling to the #33 pick to Tennessee.
Levis has played in 8 games with the Titans and has demonstrated that he has the best arm of any quarterback in last year’s draft. He plays with a toughness of eras gone by and has a willingness to take some chances with his big arm. Through 8 games, he has thrown for 1,792 yards and 8 touchdowns to go along with 4 interceptions.
3- Bryce Young - Carolina
This spot might truly belong to Raiders' quarterback Aidan O’Connell, but Draft 412 sees enough flash in Bryce Young to place him here.
To say the Carolina Panthers as a franchise are in disarray could be the understatement of the year. Admittedly, a rookie first overall pick is not the best of situations to be thrown into, and is reminiscent of Trevor Lawrence’s rookie campaign in Jacksonville.
Through 13 games, Young has thrown for 2,359 yards and has 9 touchdowns with 9 interceptions. Hardly the numbers you want to see from a 1st overall pick, but hopefully Carolina will find their footing in the offseason and start to build a competitive squad around him.
As we move from the 2023 draft to the 2024 NFL Draft, here is Draft 412’s Top Ten Quarterback prospects:
1- Caleb Williams - USC
Williams came into the season as a Heisman favorite and a lock to go #1 overall in the 2024 draft. USC started 6-0 and then went 1-5 down the stretch, however. Williams struggled to perform against the tougher defenses and failed to live up to his lofty expectations. He should still go #1 overall, but there are now some question marks on his resume.
2. Drake Maye- North Carolina
Drake Maye’s numbers were not as impressive in 2023 as they were in 2022, but he showed enough intangibles and arm skills to solidify his standing as a top two quarterback in this draft.
3. Michael Penix- Washington
2023 was a big season for Michael Penix. He led the Washington Huskies to the College Football Playoffs and was runner up for the Heisman Trophy. He also stamped a spot for himself in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. His long ball is a beautiful thing to watch, and he has shown the football world that he has gotten over his injuries from early in his career.
4. Bo Nix- Oregon
Yes, this is the same Bo Nix who struggled under center for the Auburn Tigers. After the last two seasons, he has placed himself high on NFL draft boards after his huge 2023 season. He finished 3rd in the Heisman after throwing 40 touchdown passes for the Ducks. One of the big question marks regarding Nix’s play will be if the success he enjoyed was due to the quirky, fast-paced offense and if it translates to the NFL.
5. Jayden Daniels- LSU
Jayden Daniels had a season to remember in 2023. He threw for over 3,800 yards and 40 touchdowns, while only throwing 4 interceptions. The Jayden Daniels to Malik Nabers combo led him to win the 2023 Heisman Trophy and gained momentum towards a possible first round selection.
6. J.J. McCarthy- Michigan
J.J. McCarthy’s numbers won’t stand out like the other top prospects, but playing for Michigan, they don’t have to. He completed over 74% of his passes and only threw 4 interceptions in leading Michigan to an undefeated season and a trip to the College Football Playoffs.
7. Quinn Ewers- Texas
Ewers established himself as a true NFL prospect in 2023, leading Texas to a 12-1 record and a trip to the College Football Playoffs. He engineered an early season win over Alabama that catapulted Texas into their big season. He may not have the flash of some of the guys listed above him, but he is a gamer.
8. Jordan Travis- Florida State
Jordan Travis went from being a front runner for the Heisman Trophy and a possible 1st or 2nd round pick to a 24-year-old coming off a gruesome leg injury who will most likely slip to day 3.
9. Michael Pratt- Tulane
Michael Pratt is not as well known as the other draft prospects, but he has had a consistently solid collegiate career. He fought through lingering knee pain this season to lead Tulane to an 11-2 mark. A great 3rd day pick.
10. Spencer Rattler- South Carolina
Spencer Rattler has seen it all in his college football career. At one time, he was considered a 1st round pick with the Oklahoma Sooners, then he was losing his job to Caleb Williams, to finally settling in at South Carolina. He still has struggles with progressions and decision making and will be a 3rd day selection and a future back up quarterback in the NFL.