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2024 NFL Scouting Combine Cheat Sheet: Quarterback 

Jayden Daniels, LSU
Jayden Daniels, LSU

Depending on which mock draft you look at, there is any combination of up to six quarterbacks steadily being mentioned in the first round of April's NFL Draft. That means that eyes all around the NFL will be on this group to see if anyone separates from the rest of the pack. We don't know how many of them will go through testing or even throw at the event, but here are the names to watch.

Workout Warriors

These are the players who analysts expect to see perform best in the athletic testing portion of the workout.

Jayden Daniels (LSU) – Listed at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner was one of the most dynamic players in the entire sport (pro or college) last fall, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and running for another 1,100 on top of it. A fifth-year senior who started as a true freshman for former Eagles great Herm Edwards at Arizona State early in his career, Daniels' explosiveness stands out any time you watch him. Daniels had 44 (!) explosive runs last season, according to Pro Football Focus, which ranked second in the entire country, and he did it against some of the top athletes in America while playing in the SEC. If Daniels goes through the athletic portion of the workout, he'll be in contention to challenge some of the top times ever at the position.

Joe Milton (Tennessee) – While Daniels has more of a sleek Ferrari build, Milton is built like a sturdy SUV at 6-foot-5 and a thick 235 pounds. Not only is he believed to have one of the strongest arms in recent prospect memory, but he's one of the top athletes in this class. An explosive mover who should impress if he goes through the gamut of drills, Milton pulled off one of the most athletic maneuvers I saw all week down in Mobile, Alabama, at the Senior Bowl. After a completed pass in a 7-on-7 period, Milton celebrated the end of the drill by doing a standing back flip before running back to the huddle.

Michael Pratt (Tulane) – Pratt is one of the most interesting stories in the draft after starting for four years at Tulane despite not playing organized football until high school – a rare feat for a quarterback. He is also talked about as one of the top athletes in the quarterback group. The senior ran for at least five touchdowns in all four of his seasons as a starter, and he was often seen making plays with his legs for the Green Wave. Like Daniels, his toughness stood out on a lot of those runs as well; he's talked about as a fearless competitor who will likely be able to perform well in these tests.

Caleb Williams, USC
Caleb Williams, USC

The Drill to Watch

For the quarterbacks, what we get to see on television ultimately comes down to their throwing session with the wide receivers in attendance. Overall, the quarterbacks will throw slant routes, out routes, curl routes, dig routes, post-corner routes, and deep go routes. Those last three routes call for the quarterback to push the ball down the field, and here are things you may notice on those passes.

Velocity and accuracy are important for any quarterback; see which passers are able to combine both elements on these throws. 

It's hard for quarterbacks to make these throws – which require a bit of timing with the receiver – to guys they've likely never worked with before. It's always interesting to see which quarterbacks are just willing to cut it loose in this situation. Sometimes a pass is thrown right where it should be but it falls incomplete, it's important to note that those disconnects are not always on the quarterback.

Here are the players who everyone is hoping to see and who have a chance to shine in these drills:

Caleb Williams (USC) – The man who many presume to be the top pick in April's draft, Williams has been a standout thrower of the football ever since stepping on Oklahoma's campus back in 2021. He followed coach Lincoln Riley to USC and continued to shine. He has developed into what many view as a sure-fire top pick. The Maryland native can make every throw, has shown the ability to maintain accuracy on the move as well as from the pocket, and has the creative flair that some of the great ones in the league possess.

Drake Maye (North Carolina) – Of the quarterbacks at the top of the draft, the one with the most varying opinions publicly might be Maye. With prototypical size at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, Maye is another player who can execute an offense both in and out of structure, shouldering the load for the Tar Heels over the last two seasons. While the team struggled for chunks of this season, his traits are evident. Not only would he be expected to test well in the athletic portion of the workout, but he could prove to be one of the most impressive passers at the event in Indianapolis.

Spencer Rattler (South Carolina) – Before Williams' stock rose in Oklahoma, it was Rattler who many viewed as the next Lincoln Riley protege ready to develop into a star. After that 2021 position battle with Wiliams, a season where both guys split the season as the starter, Rattler transferred to the "East Coast SC" and went just 13-12 as a starter over two years, but also elevated the Gamecocks to some big wins over that span. Jalen Hurts' former teammate at OU, Rattler has a quick release and has shown he can make any throw. After being named one of the top quarterbacks during the week of practice at the Senior Bowl, Rattler should continue that momentum into this event.

Best Stories

All of these players have great stories to tell, but who has taken the most unique journey to get to this point? 

Michael Penix (Washington) – Penix began his career back in 2018 at the University of Indiana, where he went 12-5 as a starter over four seasons, all of which ended prematurely due to injury. That said, he showed off traits of a future NFL starter, and after a trip through the Transfer Portal he landed with the Huskies and exploded immediately. Penix went 25-3 as a starter over two seasons at UW, didn't miss a game due to injury, and now has put himself square in the mix to be one of the top quarterbacks off the board this spring.

Sam Hartman (Notre Dame) – Another player who began his journey to the draft at one school before transferring, Hartman spent the better part of five seasons as the starter at Wake Forest before exhausting his eligibility with Notre Dame this year in his super senior campaign. That extra time has been put to good use, as Hartman got to prove himself in more of a pro-style attack this past season while continuing to get more time on task as a starter. Hartman started 57 games and played more than 4,100 snaps over the course of his college career. Both marks are higher than any quarterback drafted in the last decade. We've seen a lot of extremely experienced quarterbacks come into the league and find some levels of early success in recent years (led by the 49ers Brock Purdy), and Hartman fits that bill.

Fly Eagles Fly

How did the current Philadelphia Eagles perform out in Indianapolis? We'll take a look at one number or performance from the current depth chart that stood the test of time.

Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) – If you're an Eagles fan then you have by now heard numerous times about Jalen Hurts' exploits in the weight room, including his 600-pound squat. You don't do that without having a unique amount of power in your body. The drill at the Combine that best displays that power? The broad jump. Jalen Hurts broad jumped 125 inches back in 2020, and since that point only two quarterbacks (Anthony Richardson last year and Desmond Ridder the year before) have bested that mark at the quarterback position.

Significant Stats

These are the players of note with a special statistic or measurement that sets them apart from their peers.

Bo Nix (Oregon) – Like Hartman, Nix is another highly experienced passer with even more starts (61) under his belt entering the NFL after beginning his career at Auburn. He moved to Oregon before the 2022 season and his game soared to new heights. Nix threw for 74 touchdowns and 10 interceptions the last two seasons for the Ducks, and he did it while being one of the most accurate, efficient passers in the nation. PFF has a stat called Adjusted Completion Percentage, which removes things like drops, throwaways, and spikes from a quarterback's passing numbers to give a more accurate representation of true misfires. Nix's adjusted completion percentages this fall were outrageous. From a clean pocket, only one drafted quarterback in the last decade had a more accurate final season on campus (Nix finished at 86.2 percent on those throws). When pressured, Nix's adjusted completion percentage dropped slightly to 79.6 percent, which is far and away the best number of any quarterback taken over that time frame. The knock on Nix has been the scheme (although he's played for a different offensive coordinator nearly every season he's played in college) featured a high amount of screens last season. But if you take out all of the screens and RPOs, and you look at his adjusted completion numbers on third down, Nix's 83.3 percentage is, again, the highest of any quarterback drafted in the last decade.

J.J. McCarthy (Michigan) – From a skill set standpoint, there are a lot of similarities between Nix and McCarthy, who are two of the most accurate passers not just in this draft class, but in recent draft history. The difference is that Nix operated more out of a spread attack that funneled through his right arm, whereas McCarthy managed an offense more predicated on more of a methodical, smash-mouth run game. That means that the total volume of throws will look much different between the two (especially with McCarthy being just a 21-year-old redshirt sophomore) ... but when you look at the efficiency numbers there is a lot to like. Like Nix, McCarthy's Adjusted Completion percentages are all extremely impressive. His 75.6 percentage clip nearly matches Joe Burrow's coming out of LSU in 2020 (75.7). His third-down numbers were similar to Nix as well. The other stat that McCarthy can hang his hat on? He was 27-1 as a starter and won a National Championship. That's a number that many will weigh heavily into the evaluation.

The Rest of the Pack

Everyone else who will take part in the events in Indianapolis (in alphabetical order):

Devin Leary (Kentucky), Austin Reed (Western Kentucky), Kedon Slovis (BYU), Jordan Travis (Florida State)

Mr. Average

We get to read all about the measurements for all these players over the next few weeks ... but wouldn't it be nice to have some context? What is considered a "good" 40-yard dash time? What about arm length? The broad jump? Here's what the average player drafted at each position has looked like over the last decade (based on my own personal research).

Height: 6030 (6-foot-3)

Weight: 220 pounds

Hand Size: 958 (9 5/8")

Arm Length: 3200 (32")

Wingspan: 7668 (76 3/4")

Unofficial 40-Time (Stopwatch): 4.77 seconds

Official 40-Time (Laser): 4.82 seconds

10-Yard Split: 1.63 seconds

3-Cone Drill: 7.09 seconds

Short Shuttle: 4.32 seconds

Broad Jump: 113"

Vertical Jump: 31"

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