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2024 NFL Draft: Preseason quarterback watchlist

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Tulane v USC Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The 2023 college football season is right around the corner! With less than a month before games are played, there is NFL Draft hype to go around for dozens (if not hundreds) of college football players. Ahead of the season’s kick off, there are already a few quarterbacks quite high in the public eye in terms of pro-potential and a few more who could sneak into the spotlight this season. Here are names to know!

Caleb Williams, Southern California

Obviously. The reigning Heisman winner is already being discussed as a potential first overall pick after he dominated college football last year. Williams has a high-level arm, great athleticism, and the ability to make big plays out of thin air. He is well built despite not having prototypical height. Last season was his first as a full starter, so if he can make even small improvements to becoming a more consistent passer and decision maker, he will be a slam dunk prospect at the top of the 2024 draft.

Drake Maye, North Carolina

Right on Caleb Williams’ NFL draft hype bootheels is North Carolina’s Drake Maye. In one year as a starter, Maye helped turn UNC into a serious contender in the ACC. Maye has good size, a big arm, and athleticism to make plays with his feet. Maye has “wow” moments as a passer and can continue to grow in terms of consistency and poise, especially against tougher defenses. Maye is an excellent player and he has every chance of giving Caleb Williams a run for his money as the top 2024 quarterback.

Quinn Ewers, Texas

Is Texas finally “back?” That age-old question will ride on Quinn Ewers in 2023. The once highly rated high school prospect is as talented as any quarterback in the country. He is fearless with his big arm and has the ability to make big plays from the pocket and when the play breaks down. Ewers could be a fast riser in 2023.

Michael Penix Jr., Washington

Michael Penix had a solid, but unspectacular career at Indiana before transferring to Washington and seeing his play take all the way off. Penix has a really good arm and accuracy, with the athleticism to move an offense with his feet or make big throws outside of the pocket. Penix is an older prospect, so he will need to be really perfect in all facets of his game to warrant legit draft hype.

Bo Nix, Oregon

Much like Michael Penix Jr., Bo Nix needed a change of scenery to take the next step. After three years of not living up to the hype at Auburn, Bo Nix turned in a fantastic 2022 season. Nix has a very good arm, great athleticism, and is very impressive under pressure. If he can take another step in 2023, he could be a legit first round quarterback prospect.

Cam Ward, Washington State

Cam Ward spent two years dominating the FCS at Incarnate Word before taking his talents to the Pac-12 last year. Ward is a highly gifted passer with a big arm and the accuracy to hit any window on the field. The level up in competition proved difficult at times and Ward’s play was inconsistent because of it, but at his brightest it was clear he had star potential. If Ward can take the next step, there really isn’t a limit for how good he can be or how far he could take Washington State.

Joe Milton, Tennessee

Joe Milton has a chance to have a special 2023 season. After five seasons of waiting at the wings at Michigan and then Tennessee, Milton’s talents will be on full display this year. We got a sneak peak in 2022 when Hendon Hooker went down with injury and Joe Milton led Tennessee to two straight wins as a starter. In his final start of the season against Clemson in a bowl game, Milton passed for three touchdowns in a 31-14 win. Milton has a huge arm and great NFL-caliber size. While he is an older prospect, Milton’s talents will have many NFL teams interested.

Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina

Grayson McCall is the only player in Sun Belt history to win Conference Player of the Year three times. The 6’3”, 215 pound passer has thrown for 77 touchdowns in the last three years while only throwing eight interceptions. Over that time he has added 17 more scores on the ground, all while leading the Chanticleers to a 28-5 record as a starter. After almost transferring to the SEC this spring, Grayson McCall decided to return for a final year in South Carolina. He is a smart, accurate passer with enough arm to stretch the field and athleticism to move the chains on the ground. Expect the hype on him to grow if he turns in another stellar season at CCU.

JJ McCarthy, Michigan

JJ McCarthy was excellent in his first season starting at Michigan. McCarthy has the arms and legs to make big plays and he used them to carry Michigan to a playoff appearance and a near title berth. McCarthy is clearly a talented player and the Wolverines would be smart to let him take control in their offense even more in 2023.

KJ Jefferson, Arkansas

KJ Jefferson has everything you would want in an NFL quarterback. He has more than enough arm, great size, and a unique running style that strikes fear into the hearts of would-be tacklers. Jefferson is an impressive athlete with some serious highlights throwing the football. His game is marked by inconsistencies, and some of that comes from Arkansas’ offense not really letting him be at the controls all the time. 2023 could be a big year for Jefferson to prove he can lead an offense and show he has what it takes to be an NFL quarterback.

Other names to watch: Jayden Daniels (LSU), Riley Leonard (Duke), Jordan Travis (FSU), Tyler Van Dyke (Miami), Sam Hartman (Notre Dame), Spencer Rattler (South Carolina)

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