Pope's Pick 6: Top QBs in the 2024 Draft
Welcome to Pope’s Pick 6. Once a week until the start of the season I’ll be bringing you a quick look at my college/devy football thoughts in quick-hit form. Today, in our first Pope’s Pick 6 of the summer, we address the quarterback position and who you need to watch ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft.
Caleb Williams, USC
Caleb Williams is coming off an impressive sophomore season where he threw for 4,537 passing yards and 42 touchdowns for the Trojans. He has a career 66% completion percentage and 168.9 passer rating — both very impressive. His time to throw of 3.33 second is on the higher side, but this is due to his ability to create when the play breaks down. He also had an impressive 32 big time throws via PFF, more than any 2023 quarterback.
With a solid supporting cast returning, I expect another jump from Williams. This makes him a must-roster in devy formats, and he will likely be the top pick in fantasy rookie drafts this time next year.
Drake Maye, UNC
Maye exploded on to the scene in 2023, throwing for 4,321 yards and 38 touchdowns for the Tar Heels. He was lacking a ton of playmakers on the perimeter outside Josh Downs, which is part of the reason we see him credited with 45 big time throws from PFF. Maye accounted for 45 scrimmage touchdowns, as he also rushed for 698 yards and 7 scores.
Maye will face another tough test in 2023, as he loses both Downs and Antoine Green, leaving a very unproven playmaker group. This gives me some concern at a devy level, but Maye is the real deal and should stay productive in his junior year, keeping him at the top of the 2024 rankings.
Quinn Ewers, Texas
Quinn Ewers is one of the more polarizing names in college football at the moment. As a top recruit he transferred from Ohio State to Texas before even playing a game. Last season, we only saw him for 10 games as he battled multiple injuries, and he produced 2,177 yards and 15 touchdowns. The downside is that he was erratic as a passer, resulting in 6 interceptions and am underwhelming 58.1% completion percentage, leaving much room for improvement.
Ewers is set up with a solid group of playmakers and one of the better recruiting classes in the nation, giving him plenty of opportunity for 2023. With a clean bill of health, I expect Ewers to take a step forward in 2023, returning to the form we all expected when he was recruited.
Jordan Travis, FSU
Jordan Travis was fairly irrelevant to start his collegiate career, but he ascended last year, throwing for 3,214 yards and 24 touchdowns, en route to an impressive 160.1 passer rating. He had a mere eight turnover-worthy throws, a 1.9% rate that was among the lowest in the nation. He also offers an impressive dual-threat ability, as he is coming of three straight seasons of 400-plus rushing yards and 7 touchdowns, totaling 1,516 yards and 21 touchdowns over that span.
The Seminole offense is ascending and loaded with playmakers at all positions, setting Travis up for a huge 2023. There are still a lot of questions around Travis, but they should be answered this year and I expect him to be one of the bigger risers come this time next year.
Jaxson Dart, Ole Miss
After transferring from USC in 2022, Dart had an up-and-down year for Ole Miss. He threw for 2,974 yards and 20 touchdowns — respectable numbers, but not lighting the world on fire. Dart did improve year over year, as his completion percentage increased from 61.9% to 62.4%, and his passer rating jumped from 132.5 to 143.6 despite throwing 11 interceptions. Per PFF, we see he was credited 25 big time throws, and his 2.76-second time to throw was one of the quicker times last year.
Headed into 2023, Dart with be the beneficiary of star sophomore Quinshon Judkins and a quality run game. This will allow Dart to feed off the play action and get on the move more, somewhere he excels. Dart has a chance to ascend into one of the better devy/dynasty assets this season.
Michael Penix, Washington
Michael Penix took advantage of the transfer portal, as he moved from a stagnant offense at Indiana to a more explosive offense in Washington. This shift allowed him to ascend into the top tier of college quarterbacks as he set career highs in every important statistical category. With help from a strong wide receiver room, Penix produced 4,641 yards and 31 touchdowns. He was also very protective of the ball, only throwing 8 interceptions on 554 attempts.
With most of the offense returning for another year, Penix is primed to improve his already-ascending draft stock. He is also set up to be one of the better devy assets at the quarterback position in 2023. I would not be shocked if he improved on his career highs again this year.