NFL executives rank Caleb Williams and Drake Maye as second and third-best QB prospects in past four years: Who’s No. 1?

Caleb Williams

Two teams positioned at the top of the 2024 NFL Draft order are poised to land what some NFL executives say are two of the best QB prospects in the past five years, in Caleb Williams and Drake Maye.

Williams has long been propped up as a future No. 1 overall pick, dating back to his 2022 Heisman Trophy run. Yet, USC didn’t have the same success, falling to a 7-5 record in 2023 after racking up 11 wins the year before, but Williams otherwise had a strong season.

As to Maye, the North Carolina QB has also long been on the radar as a potential first-round pick. Like Williams, Maye didn’t have the greatest supporting cast in college, yet his talent was on full display.

Now, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer has heard from several current NFL executives who believe Williams and Maye are the second and third-best QB prospects since 2021.

But who’s the best prospect? That honor, according to NFL execs still goes to former Clemson star Trevor Lawrence, the first overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Seeing Lawrence listed as the consensus top prospect is no surprise. Rarely do we see 6-foot-6 quarterbacks with a quick release, mobility, a plus arm, and three years of starting experience like Lawrence.

While there have been several other top QB prospects since, they all had their own limitations, such as size or a lack of experience. Here are the highest-drafted QBs since 2021.

  • Zach Wilson, New York Jets – No. 2 pick, 2021
  • Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers – No. 1 pick, 2023
  • C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans – No. 2 pick, 2023
  • Anthony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts – No. 4 pick, 2023

Stroud is on track to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, and if he had stayed healthy, maybe Richardson would have been a finalist too. The impact seen in Houston and Indianapolis (early on) from their rookie QBs has been better than anticipated, yet NFL execs seem to think Williams and Maye can bring even more to the table. That’s a scary thought.

Related: 2024 NFL mock draft: Steelers, Bears and Raiders snag QBs, 2024 NFL Draft projections

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