It has been 41 years since six quarterbacks were selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. That year, only three went on to have Hall-of-Fame careers, John Elway, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino. In 2001 five quarterbacks were selected in the first round, only one, Trevor Lawrence, became a quality starter. In 2020, Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and Jordan Love were selected in the first round and have all developed into quality starters.

Why am I laying this all out, it’s because NONE OF US knows jack when it comes to how a prospect is going to perform in the NFL. Talent, arm strength, offensive scheme, none of this matter when it comes to placing the right prospect with the right team. ANYONE who says otherwise or says they know a prospect is a sure fire is full of crap.

What I do know is Chicago, Minnesota and Las Vegas are the best landing spots for any of the six quarterbacks expected to go in the first round. Three of them, Williams, Daniels, and Maye bring a terrific amount of skill and talent to the position and could all be future Pro Bowlers.

This year’s draft also includes three terrific options at the wide receiver position, led by Marvin Harrison Junior. Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze are right there with Harrison and should come off the board in the first ten picks. Nabers is a dynamic threat who can take it the distance from anywhere on the field. He plays with a huge chip on his shoulder. Odunze is a deep threat who does a great job on back shoulder throws and is a monster on 50-50 balls, with an incredible 60-plus percentage catch rate.

There is a TON of depth along the offensive line, where we could see a record nine to ten selections in the first round. This year’s class is led by Joe Alt, Olumuyiwa Fashanu, JC Lathem and my favorite lineman Troy Fautanu. Tight end Brock Bowers is in the Dallas Clark mold, he is a great receiving threat but will need work as a blocker. This draft is loaded on the offensive side of the ball and could break a record with more than 20 players selected in the first round.

On the defensive side of the ball, there are three players that really standout. Byron Murphy II at defensive tackle, small school product, Quinyon Mitchell, who showed all the big boys at the Senior Bowl that his play will elevate to the next level and outside edge rusher Dallas Turner.

North Carolina v NC State
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Quarterback Breakdowns:

1. Caleb Williams – USC, a poor man’s Pat Mahomes - can throw from all angles - is fantastic when working out of the pocket and off-schedule - has an incredible arm and can keep a play going with his mobility and desire to get the ball downfield – wants the ball in his hands at crunch-time - exhibits the type of traits and instincts that translate into a potential All Pro - had to play off-schedule too much last year behind a poor offensive line – the question is, will some of the bad habits he picked up, see the Notre Dame game, follow him into the NFL.

2. Jayden Daniels – LSU, best deep ball in the draft – throws with great loft - tremendous athlete - deadly as a runner - 5-year starter who has truly developed into a solid passer - had great weapons to work with at LSU and was great at using them - has shown flashes of being a great prospect going back to his freshman year at Arizona State when he outdueled Justin Hebert, see the 2019 Oregon game, he spent three years at ASU and then transferred to LSU - he does a great job of staying in the pocket and is willing to take a hit to make a big play - he has sprinter’s speed and is compared to Lamar Jackson but is more like Robert Griffin III as a runner - he is a bit lean and as mentioned before can be too willing to take an unnecessary hit - will need to play smarter in the NFL.

3. Drake Maye – UNC, prototype NFL quarterback - has great size - a strong arm - and a decent amount of mobility - is compared to Justin Hebert in stature but is not as gifted a player - is a strong competitor who can put his team on his back - played better as a freshman than he did as a sophomore but that had to do to with a bad offensive line - can make the kind of throws only a few QBs have the ability to make - can throw it a country mile - can place the ball in the tightest of windows but can also dirt a ball in the flat and leave you scratching your head with some of his errant throws - air-mailed a few passes in his pro day - yes, his pro day - will need work on his feet and lower body mechanics – would be best suited to sit the bench his first year.

4. J.J. McCarthy – Michigan, a winner who doesn’t question his role - is willing to sacrifice his stats to ensure the win - decent athlete with an above average arm - has the ability to make every required throw at the next level - can have pin-point ball placement and has the skill to play off-schedule - played in a run heavy offensive scheme where he was asked to make plays only when they were needed - to his benefit he almost always did - has had some issues throwing to his left - where he can overstride and misfire on his throws – has had less than desired collegiate repetitions as a thrower and has not had to carry his team on his back as a passer - will need at least a year to get his game accustomed to the NFL where more will be required to be more of a passer.

5. Bo Nix – Oregon, great out of the pocket - solid athlete, mobile and can throw off-schedule - has improved accuracy on his intermediate throws and has become a solid decision maker - a change of scenery to Oregon truly elevated his play - how good is his deep ball - has shown he has the adequate arm strength to play at the next level - has a quick release and will not waste time getting rid of the ball - comps to Tua with his release - great accuracy - led the nation with a 77.4 completion rate - 5-year player who started 60 plus games - struggled early on in his career as he was a legacy player at Auburn following in the footsteps of his father Patrick Nix - seemed to be trying too hard to be the guy - questions as to whether he is a “checkdown Charlie” or if the offensive scheme at Oregon had him throwing most his passes around the line of scrimmage.

6. Michael Penix Jr – Washington, (2 ACL injuries - same knee, 2 shoulder injuries) left handed - may be the best pure passer in the draft - will throw balls that will make you leave your seat - has a strong arm and can zip the ball into tight windows when needed - throws some incredible post and out routes - has large hands - is accurate - 6-year starter whose career blossomed at Washington - his mechanics can be all over the place - feet and throwing angle - lowers his release - has tipped balls - is an arm thrower who needs to improve his base and use it - was not asked to throw across the middle - will be interesting to see how comfortable he will be with NFL requirements - is a good athlete with speed but does not like to run or leave the pocket - may be due to previous injuries - is a bit of an enigma as he can look like a future pro bowler one week (see Texas game) and completely lost against an NFL type defense the next (see Michigan game).

7. Spencer Rattler - South Carolina, 5-year starter - great arm/zip on ball - has a beautiful throwing motion and can place the ball where he wants it at times - was a bit of a head case coming into Oklahoma as his press clippings went to his head - lived up to his hype in 2020 and then lost his job to Caleb Williams the following year - transferred to South Carolina where his two-year career was up and down - parts of that was due to poor talent around him, other times it was due to him forcing the issue - needs to not try to play hero-ball - is a bit under-sized but has the talent to potentially develop into a starting QB.

I only reviewed seven quarterbacks as the other prospects rank more as potential backups.

Top 40 Prospects

Ohio State v Rutgers
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The Great Eight:
1. Caleb Williams – QB, USC
2. Marvin Harrison – WR, Ohio State
3. Malik Nabers – WR, LSU
4. Rome Odunze – WR, Washington
5. Jayden Daniels – QB, LSU
6. Drake Maye – QB, UNC
7. Joe Alt – OT, Notre Dame
8. Brock Bowers – TE, Georgia

Iowa v Penn State
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Next Up:
9. Olumuyiwa Fashanu – OT, Penn State
10. Quinyon Mitchell – CB, Toledo
11. Troy Fautanu – OL, Washington
12. JC Lathem – OT, Alabama
13. Byron Murphy II – DT, Texas
14. Dallas Turner – EDGE, Alabama
15. Terrion Arnold – CB, Alabama
16. Taliese Fuaga – OT, Oregon State
17. Jared Verse – DE, Florida State
18. Graham Barton – OL, Duke
19. Laiatu Latu – DE, UCLA
20. Brian Thomas Jr – WR, LSU

2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington
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Potential First Round Draft Picks:
21. J.J. McCarthy – QB, Michigan
22. Chop Robinson – Edge, Penn State
23. Jer’Zhan Newton – DT, Illinois
24. Jackson Powers-Johnson – OL, Oregon
25. Cooper DeJean – DB, Iowa
26. Amarius Mims – OT, Georgia
27. Adonai Mitchell – WR, Texas
28. Tyler Guyton – OT, Oklahoma
29. Kool-Aid McKinstry – CB, Alabama
30. Darius Robinson – DL, Missouri
31. Xavier Legette – WR, South Carolina
32. Nate Wiggins – CB, Clemson
33. Ladd McConkey – WR, Georgia
34. Payton Wilson – LB, N.C. State
35. Ennis Rakestraw Jr. – CB, Missouri
36. Bo Nix – QB, Oregon
37. Braden Fiske – DT, FSU
38. Xavier Worthy – WR, Texas
39. Edgerrin Cooper – LB, Texas A&M
40. Marshawn Kneeland – Edge, Western Michigan

LSU v Alabama
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Top 5 Prospects at each Position:

LSU v Alabama
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1. Caleb Williams – USC
2. Jayden Daniels – LSU
3. Drake May – UNC
4. J.J. McCarthy – Michigan
5. Bo Nix – Oregon

Wyoming v Texas
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Running Backs:
1. Jonathon Brooks – Texas
2. Trey Benson – FSU
3. MarShawn Lloyd – USC
4. Ray Davis – Kentucky
5. Bucky Irving – Oregon

2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington
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Wide Receivers:
1. Marvin Harrison Jr. – Ohio State
2. Malik Nabers – LSU
3. Rome Odunze – Washington
4. Brian Thomas Jr. – LSU
5. Adonai Mitchell – Texas

Georgia v Auburn
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Tight Ends:
1. Brock Bowers – Georgia
2. Ben Sinnot – TCU
3. Theo Johnson – Penn State
4. Ja’Tavion Sanders – Texas
5. Cade Stover – Ohio State

California v Washington
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Offensive Line:
1. Joe Alt – Notre Dame
2. Olumuyiwa Fashanu – Penn State
3. Troy Fautanu – Washington
4. JC Latham – Alabama
5. Taliese Fuaga – Oregon State

Texas v Iowa State
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Defensive Tackles:
1. Byron Murphy II – Texas
2. Jer’Zhan Newton – Illinois
3. Darius Robinson – Missouri
4. Kris Jenkins – Michigan
5. Brandon Dorlus – Oregon

Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan
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Defensive Edge:
1. Dallas Turner – Alabama
2. Jared Verse – FSU
3. Laiatu Latu – UCLA
4. Chop Robinson – Penn State
5. Adisa Isaac – Penn State

Clemson v NC State
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1. Payton Wilson – N.C. State
2. Edgerrin Cooper – Texas A&M
3. Jeremiah Trotter Jr – Clemson
4. Junior Colson – Michigan
5. Cedric Gray – North Carolina

Alabama v Texas A&M
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1. Quinyon Mitchell – Toledo
2. Terrion Arnold – Alabama
3. Cooper DeJean – Iowa
4. Nate Wiggins – Clemson
5. Kool-Aid McKinstry – Alabama

2023 CFP National Championship - TCU v Georgia
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1. Javon Bullard – Georgia
2. Tyler Nubin – Minnesota
3. Calen Bullock – USC
4. Kamren Kitchens – Miami
5. Cole Bishop – Utah

Pitt Comes Back Against UCLA to Win 2022 Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl

The Pitt Panthers came back from a 14-point deficit in the second half to defeat UCLA 37-35 in a wild finish at the 2022 Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl.

Gallery Credit: Steve Kaplowitz

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