The 2023 season has been a nightmare for the New York Giants.
How else could we describe a season that started with expectations of building a perennial post-season competitor, but turned to discussions about the top quarterback prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft before Thanksgiving?
The year started as a season full of promise after their first trip to the playoffs since 2016 and their postseason first win since 2011. That win was followed up by big contract extensions for quarterback Daniel Jones, offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, and defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, as well as an aggressive offseason plan and a draft that netted three starters in the first three rounds.
Expectations to start the year were the highest they’ve been since 2017, which made the fall which started in Week 1 all the more painful. And now the Giants have lost Jones for the season with a torn ACL and the Giants seem destined to have a high draft pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
The Giants will face a looming question regarding the quarterback position. Jones depends on his athleticism to enable his passing, and he’s also had significant injuries every year since 2019 (save 2022). On the flip side, the 2024 NFL Draft is projected to have a very strong quarterback class, perhaps as impressive as any class in recent memory. While the Giants just signed Jones to a four-year $160 million contract, drafting a quarterback highly could well be in the cards for New York.
We also know that GM Joe Schoen has quietly been scouting the top quarterbacks this year.
To our knowledge, Schoen has personally scouted Clemson vs. Duke (9/4), Texas vs. Oklahoma (10/7), Michigan vs. Indiana (10/14) and USC vs. Notre Dame (10/14), and USC vs. Washington (11/4). Observers have also noted that the Giants have scouted four different North Carolina games this year, including UNC vs. Duke and UNC vs. South Carolina. We’ve been trying to avoid reading too far into the fact that each of Schoen’s scouting trips have involved a quarterback who could be ranked in the top 100 in next year’s draft.
Considering how life has changed for the Giants since Sunday, we should probably start familiarizing ourselves with the quarterbacks who could be in the upcoming draft.
This is just a brief overview of the players projected to be at the top of the depth chart. There’s still quite a bit of college football left to play, and we don’t even know which underclassmen will declare for April’s draft. There’s still plenty of time for in-depth scouting reports.
Obviously, some of these players could be in the conversation for the first pick in the draft. But on the other hand, the sheer number of exciting draft-eligible quarterbacks could drive others into the second round.
Caleb Williams (USC, junior)
Williams has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country over the last three years, and has widely been expected to be the first pick in whatever draft he enters at least that long. Williams is athletic, creative, and has exciting arm talent. He’s the type of quarterback who can reduce any play to sandlot football and exploit the confusion.
Williams’ ability to scramble and generate velocity on the ball from a variety of arm angles has drawn natural comparisons to Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, meanwhile, compares Williams to Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen for his arm strength and athleticism outside the pocket, as well as his willingness to challenge the defense deep.
Drake Maye (North Carolina, red-shirt sophomore)
The UNC passer is right there in the conversation for first overall pick alongside Williams. But where Williams is relatively undersized at 6-foot-1, 218 pounds, Maye fits the NFL’s archetype for a starting quarterback at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds. He isn’t a static pocket passer either, and is a very good athlete in his own rite. Maye has been excellent so far this year, and has been very impressive despite not having much to work with on the North Carolina offense. Not only can he flow within the pocket, he also has the ability to win outside of the pocket and throw off platform.
Maye’s been compared to Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.
Michael Penix Jr. (Washington, senior)
Michael Penix has become a hot name in recent weeks. Penix’s play this year could have him in the Top 10, or even Top 5, conversation. However, he’s also going to be one of the more polarizing prospects in the upcoming draft.
Penix isn’t going to be controversial for his play, but rather for his injury injury history. Penix has already suffered a pair of torn ACLs (2018, 2020), as well as a pair of shoulder injuries (2019 and 2021). He’s smart and precise passer who sees the field well and operates well in rhythm. Penix draws comparisons with Tua Tagvailoa thanks to his injury history and his style of quarterbacking.
Bo Nix (Oregon, senior)
The Pac-12 is seemingly collapsing as teams depart for other conferences, but right now it’s pretty stacked at the quarterback position.
Nix was a prized recruit for Auburn, but failed to live up to his potential and struggled with an undermanned Auburn roster. Nix transferred to Oregon prior to the 2022 season and blossomed in his fresh start. He’s quick and athletic, with a strong arm and the ability to create when off-schedule or outside of the pocket. Nix doesn’t have the same injury concerns as Penix, but there’s concern that his improvement has been due a better supporting cast at Oregon, and he might regress if he lands on a less talented team with greater pressure in the NFL.
J.J. McCarthy (Michigan, junior)
McCarthy’s draft stock is going to be absolutely fascinating to watch over the coming weeks and months. There’s a lot to like about his game and he’s another QB having a great year for a top-level program.
McCarthy has enough arm strength to challenge a defense at all areas of the field (while also have a very quick release) and the athleticism to evade defenders to extend the play. Likewise, he’s received NFL caliber coaching and it shows in his game. He has solid mechanics as a thrower which allow him to place the ball well for his receivers, and he’s also savvy in how he manipulates defenses with his eyes. McCarthy is listed at 6-foot-3, 202 pounds, and that will likely lead to concerns about his durability at the NFL level.
Jayden Daniels (LSU, senior )
Daniels is another quarterback who found success after a transfer. He arrived in Baton Rouge prior to the 2022 season and has quickly become one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Like McCarthy, Daniels is a long, lean quarterback at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, and that could lead to concerns about his durability at the NFL level. But there’s no question that he’s become a playmaker for the Tigers’ offense.
Daniels is able to drive the ball down the field while maintaining the touch to layer it in between defenders. He also has the wheels to escape pressure and pick up yards on his own. Daniels might not be getting the kind of attention that Caleb Williams and Drake Maye are receiving, but he’s just behind Williams in EPA per play (0.63 to Williams’ 0.68) for third in the country.
Other quarterbacks to know
(and we’ll be talking about them more later)
- Shedeur Sanders (Colorado, junior)
- Riley Leonard (Duke, senior)
- Spencer Rattler (South Carolina, senior)
- Sam Hartman (Notre Dame, senior)
- Michael Pratt (Tulane, junior)