In the Market: Previewing the Top 5 quarterback prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft class

With the 2023 college football season beginning, let's take a look at how things can go right or wrong for the top five quarterback prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft class.
Apr 15, 2023; Los Angeles, CA, USA;  USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) throws a pass
Apr 15, 2023; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) throws a pass / Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

When one door closes, another one opens. Last year, we kept track of how the top quarterback prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft class performed during the college football season. Now, they are all in the NFL. Bryce Young and Anthony Richardson are starting quarterbacks for the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts, respectively. C.J. Stroud is fighting for the starting job on the Houston Texans. Will Levis and Hendon Hooker were drafted by the Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions, respectively, and will likely be on the bench throughout the upcoming NFL season.

So now, we get to do this all again, this time with those quarterbacks who have great odds of getting drafted by an NFL team to be their quarterbacks of the future. As for this year's quarterback class, NFL Draft experts feel this one is far superior to last year's. One reason is that the two top names are Caleb Williams of the USC Trojans and Drake Maye of the North Carolina Tar Heels.

While Williams and Maye are slam dunks and could be the No. 1 and 2 picks in the 2024 draft, who are the other quarterbacks to look out for this season? We have you covered with the top five prospects this season.

Taking Stock: Looking at the Top 5 Quarterback Prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft class

Caleb Williams, USC Trojans

Let's start with Williams, who set the college football and NFL worlds aflame for his incredible play in Southern California. He began his career with the Oklahoma Sooners, who took over for Spencer Rattler, who struggled after being hyped up as a potential high-draft pick. After head coach Lincoln Riley jumped ship to USC, Williams joined him via the transfer portal. From there, Williams stepped onto one of the largest programs in college football and thrived.

Last year, Williams threw for 4,537 yards, 42 touchdowns, and five interceptions, while completing 66.6 percent of his passes, while running for 382 yards and 10 touchdowns on 113 carries. Williams was voted the winner of the 2022 Heisman Trophy as a result.

Now, Williams is playing in his second season for the Trojans. It seems like a lock that Williams will go first overall, as he had some comparisons to Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. While Mahomes is incomparable, Williams does have a unique ability to pull off some insane plays. Realistically, as long as he plays like he did at USC and Oklahoma in his first two years, he'll be taken first overall.

Drake Maye, UNC Tar Heels

Maye is a special quarterback, and fans got to see that in his first two years at Chapel Hill. Last season as a redshirt freshman, Maye was lighting up defenses and increasing North Carolina's odds of making it to the College Football Playoff. However, his regular season ended with three losses. It certainly didn't help that the Tar Heels defense last year was far from perfect.

In 14 games, Maye threw for 4,321 yards, 38 touchdowns, and seven interceptions while running for 698 yards and seven touchdowns.

This season, Maye will be without his top option in the passing game, Josh Downs, who was drafted in the second round by the Indianapolis Colts, where he'll catch passes from Anthony Richardson. No matter how the season goes for Maye, he'll still be in contention to get selected in the first two picks of the NFL Draft.

Michael Penix Jr., Washington Huskies

One player who was a frequent winner on the "NFL Draft Quarterback Sleeper of the Week" last year is now a top prospect in the 2024 class. That player is Michael Penix Jr. of the Washington Huskies.

After transferring over from Indiana, Penix lit up defenses in the Pac-12 and led the team to some huge victories. Look no further than a two-week stretch in which he led the Huskies to wins over the No. 23 Oregon State Beavers and the No. 6 Oregon Ducks. The latter victory ended any chance the Ducks had of making the CFP. To end off his season, Penix and Washington defeated Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

In 13 games, Penix threw for 4,641 yards, 31 touchdowns, and eight interceptions while completing 65.3 percent of his passes.

Penix will have his top receivers back in Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan, both of whom recorded over 1,000 yards last year. So, he's in a great position to have a repeat season and help increase his draft stock.

Bo Nix, Oregon Ducks

Now, we move on to another frequent winner of the "Sleeper QB of the Week" winner, Bo Nix of the Oregon Ducks.

Nix's collegiate career began at Auburn, and his numbers weren't exactly impressive. So, he transferred over to Oregon and developed into one of the top college quarterbacks in the nation under offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Will Stein. In 2022, he was able to put up multiple touchdowns in the air and on the ground weekly and was one of the main reasons why Oregon was a CFP favorite near the end of the season.

In 13 games played, Nix recorded 3,593 yards, 29 touchdowns, and seven interceptions on a 71.9 completion percentage. Nix also recorded 510 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns on 89 carries.

Oregon is making the case that Nix can win the Heisman Trophy this season, as evidenced by the multiple campaign posters that have been distributed throughout the country. If he puts up another good season, Nix could find his way on the radar of NFL teams, especially those who don't land one of the top two picks. If he plays like he did at Auburn, then his draft stock will tumble.

Quinn Ewers, Texas Longhorns

The final name that cracks the Top 5 of this list is none other than Quinn Ewers.

In the 2021 recruiting class, Ewers was not only the top quarterback but also the best recruit in the entire nation. He would commit to Ohio State for his freshman season before deciding to enter the transfer portal and join the Texas Longhorns program. Ewers was limited to just 10 games last season, due in part to suffering a sprained clavicle in Texas' second game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. He did put up strong showings in the team's 49-0 win over Oklahoma, and against Washington in the Alamo Bowl. There was some bad, most specifically his three interceptions thrown against Iowa State.

Through those 10 appearances, Ewers recorded 2,177 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and six interceptions on a 58.1 completion percentage.

Ewers will look to have a full, complete season this year. But the pressure will be on him, as Arch Manning is waiting in the wings. We've seen Oklahoma bench Spencer Rattler for Caleb Williams. Who's to say that if Ewers struggles head coach Steve Sarkisian calls upon Manning?

dark. Next. CFB Rankings: FanSided preseason Top 25. College Football Rankings: FanSided preseason Top 25