USC’s Caleb Williams and UNC’s Drake Maye already have quarterback-needy teams waiting to select them in the NFL Draft next year.
The NFL Draft is over a month away, and most of the attention is focused on the quarterback prospects. There are four signal callers from college who could go within the Top 10: Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio States C.J. Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis, and Florida’s Anthony Richardson. Teams like the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, and Indianapolis Colts could all select one of these prospects.
But what about other quarterback-needy teams that pick in the middle or end of the first-round?
In a ESPN+ article (subscription required), Jordan Reid and Matt Miller discussed the takeaways from free agency that have had an impact on the upcoming NFL Daft. One trend both touched on was those teams in need of quarterbacks that made moves in free agency “around where they pick in Round 1.”
From there, Reid and Miller discussed how some teams outside of the top of the first round have punted on taking a signal caller in 2023, and waiting for USC’s Caleb Williams and UNC’s Drake Maye next year.
NFL teams already waiting on Caleb Williams and Drake Maye next year
“Yeah, teams like the Buccaneers, Commanders and Falcons seem to be pivoting toward contingency plans and waiting out the 2023 season,” said Reid. “Jacoby Brissett to the Commanders, Baker Mayfield to the Bucs and Taylor Heinicke to the Falcons are all stopgap additions. And all three clubs seem open to the young unproven signal-callers already on the roster and want to see if those guys can win the starting job in training camp. If Sam Howell (Washington), Kyle Trask (Tampa Bay) or Desmond Ridder (Atlanta) take the next step, then maybe the quarterback problem is solved for their respective teams. But those middle-of-the-first-round teams could also have their eyes on a solid 2024 crop of passers which includes USC’s Caleb Williams and UNC’s Drake Maye.”
Miller then brought up that after speaking with scouts, there are teams that are already “enamored” with both Williams and Maye next year.
“So many scouts are already enamored with those two prospects, and I do think there’s some truth to the idea that some teams are looking at where they are drafting in 2023, then looking at the caliber of QBs available next April and ultimately opting to wait until 2024,” said Miller. “That’s especially true if the cost to move up is what Carolina paid in its trade to No. 1. If you’re on the outside looking in — Washington, Tampa Bay, Atlanta and even Tennessee — it’s almost better to wait for the 2024 class than go broke trying to land one of the four guys this year, based on the cost to get into position to do so.”
Those teams that are in need of a quarterback of the future this year watched as the Panthers gave up the No. 9 and 61 picks this year, their first-rounder in 2024, their second-rounder in 2025, and wide receiver D.J. Moore to get the Chicago Bears to give them the No. 1 pick. Given that they jumped up eight spots to get their quarterback of choice, imagine teams that are picking in the middle of the first-round?
The Panthers are taking a quarterback at one, the Texans will follow that up by selecting one of their own with the No. 2 pick, and the Colts may pick one at No. 4. The Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions and Las Vegas Raiders could potentially select one at the No. 5, 6, and 7 spots. So the options will be limited for those teams picking outside the Top 10, unless they want to give up a ton of capital to do so.
Williams will be the top prospect heading into the 2023 college football season. After all, he did win the Heisman Trophy after throwing for 4,537 yards, 42 touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 66.6-percent of his passes, in addition to running for 382 yards and 10 touchdowns on 113 carries.
As for Maye, he took over for Sam Howell in his freshman season at North Carolina, and he impressed the college football world. Maye threw for 4,321 yards, 38 touchdowns, and seven interceptions while completing 66.2-percent of his passes.
Once the 2023 NFL Draft has concluded, all the focus will be placed on next year’s quarterback class, which will be headlined by Williams and Maye. From there, they will keep an eye on how they perform in the 2023 college season, and to see which teams are in position to select them as the NFL campaign progresses.