There is still a long way to go before the 2024 NFL Draft order becomes cast in stone, but it is entertaining to Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals are in positions to pick Nos. 1 and 2 overall. The selections are almost certainly earmarked for USC quarterback Caleb Williams and North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, in some order, if both declare. But what does that mean for other teams that may need a quarterback? What if Arizona does not take a quarterback?, like a magician moving cups around to disguise the location of a ball. As it currently stands, the
Let's explore who those prospects are and where they are being projected in an effort to play matchmaker.
J.J. McCarthy, Michigan: Vikings
CBSSports.com rank: No. 4 quarterback, No. 21 overall
There is still a lot to learn about McCarthy. His highs have been really high while his lows have been concerning. Has the sign stealing scandal been a distraction and impacted his play? If Michigan were to fall short of a national championship, would he return to school? The reality is that he has probably not shown enough to garner confidence as QB3 in this draft class, but he certainly could end up in that position.
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.
Minnesota head coach Kevin O'Connell spent two years as Sean McVay's offensive coordinator in Los Angeles. His exposure to Stafford and Cousins, the latter of whom is a free agent after the season, will likely mold what he is looking for in a franchise quarterback. There are parallels between the Vikings offense and what McCarthy runs in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Wolverines are utilizing play-action on 21.3% of drop backs. Minnesota has the NFL's highest play-action rate (20.5%), according to TruMedia.
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. Listen to the latest episode below!
Jayden Daniels, LSU: Raiders
CBSSports.com. rank: No. 8 quarterback, No. 76 overall
First and foremost, Daniels' ranking is likely to rise in the coming months as our rankings are updated, so do not be deterred by his current placement in the quarterback pecking order.
Outside of his final season at Arizona State, Daniels has done a great job of protecting the football throughout his collegiate career. He is accomplishing career-highs in completion percentage (72.6%), passing yardage (3,577), passing touchdowns (36) and rushing yards (1,014) with potentially two more games to play. His 11.8 yards per pass attempt far surpasses his previous career-high (8.7). What makes Daniels unique, particularly in this quarterback class, is his mobility.
As the roots of Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni begin to permeate through the league, there is an increasing interest in quarterbacks with dual-threat capabilities. Eagles coordinators who took head coaching jobs last offseason have adopted Kyler Murray and Anthony Richardson. Could Daniels be coveted in a similar situation?
Garoppolo has not worked out in Sin City and Aidan O'Connell has hardly been better, so the franchise will assuredly make a move. Currently projected to pick in the middle of the first round, the Raiders are in a position to add a player who has used a stellar senior season to boost his draft outlook.
It is difficult to say which type of quarterback the franchise may favor considering it has not made a full-time head coaching hire yet.
Bo Nix, Oregon: Patriots
CBSSports.com rank: No. 6 quarterback, No. 50 overall
New England is in position to draft No. 3 overall. If Arizona trades out of that spot, then options exist. However, as it stands, the Patriots are a bridesmaid and not the bride.
Nix may not be any different than Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe, but New England has to try something, and it is in no man's land as it relates to quarterbacks in the first round. If the top-two quarterback prospects are off the board and it is too soon to take one of the others, then head coach Bill Belichick would be left looking for alternatives later into the draft. Belichick 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 (191.4) in the nation. Daniels, McCarthy, Williams and Penix are also in the top-12. His 78.1% completion percentage is the highest in college football.
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Michael Penix Jr., Washington: Eagles
CBSSports.com rank: No. 5 quarterback, No. 49 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 slated to be a free agent at season's end. The Eagles may ultimately elect to use that draft capital on other positions of weakness, but the chances are not 0%.
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.