Top QB Pro Days: 2024 NFL Draft Preview

Once the Scouting Combine ends, the next event on a prospect’s calendar is his Pro Day. Last year, we talked about the top 4 QBs, but this year, we have six whose names could be called on opening night: Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, JJ McCarthy, Bo Nix, and Michael Penix Jr (in terms of their current projected draft order). Pro Days are scripted workouts, but team officials flock to them nonetheless. Every player should look his best because their school is doing everything it can to make him seem great. However, players must still execute, and team interviews matter greatly. Let’s take a look at the top QB Pro Days in the order they occurred (earliest first).

Bo Nix, Oregon

Nix had a strong overall day. The whole event seemed calm, and he was in complete command. I think the best thing he did was demonstrate his arm strength. Common opinion states that Nix has an adequate arm but nothing more than that. He tried his best to counter that narrative but dialing up a bunch of deep shots, pretty much all of which were executed perfectly. Nix had no trouble driving the ball down the field, and he did so accurately, hitting his WRs in stride. He also made several throws on the run, showing that his mobility was more than just a scrambling threat.

We didn’t hear very much about Nix’s interviews, but that doesn’t matter. As the oldest of these 6 QBs at 24, he’s highly mature. Nix is known in Eugene to be a strong leader, which I suppose comes with a whopping 60 career starts at the college level. That experience is a bit of a double-edged sword, as it may suggest to teams that Nix is more or less a finished product with little room for development. To me, it makes him a safer projection than perhaps anyone else in this class and the least likely QB to bust. I can easily see him going #12 overall to Denver, and he should be QB5 off the board.

Caleb Williams, USC

If Williams goes anywhere other than to Chicago with the #1 overall pick, I’ll be shocked. Since the Bears traded Justin Fields and brought Williams in for his only Top 30 visit, this has felt like a foregone conclusion. That would definitely explain why his Pro Day was rather uneventful. USC made a concerted effort to ensure that Williams took no risks and created no drama. Most of the scripted throws were safe (albeit well-executed), and everything played out at a laid-back pace. On the field, this was merely another box for Williams to check, and based on what I saw, he definitely did that.

The subsequent Pro Day dinner turned out to be the more interesting part. From what I understand, he and the Bears enjoyed quite the star-studded event. That appears to be a deliberate decision by Chicago to see how Williams would behave under the bright lights. As if playing for USC as the reigning Heisman trophy winner didn’t already answer that question, I’m told that Williams acquitted himself just fine. In fact, nothing appears to have changed the Bears’ minds about him, and that means we may have one of the most anticlimactic #1 overall selections in recent years.

JJ McCarthy, Michigan

I’m going to be honest: I didn’t watch this full Pro Day. Neither did you in all likelihood because this event was not televised or streamed! I only got to see bits and pieces; otherwise, I have to take the reporters and scouts who were there at their word. We do know McCarthy’s goal for the event, and it was the opposite of what Bo Nix set out to do. Nobody doubted McCarthy’s arm, but many (including myself) question his ability to make touch throws. That was a point of emphasis during the on-field workouts, and though the program was scripted, McCarthy reportedly converted 23 of his 25 attempts.

Also off camera, McCarthy interviewed very well. We know a bit about his meditation habits and whatnot, but he gave good answers about his college stats (or lack thereof). He emphasized his winning record (27-1) as a starter and his connections with his teammates. I still worry greatly about his NFL potential, but he is clearly rising up draft boards. The latest talk has him going 4th overall with either Denver or Minnesota trading up for him. He’s a lock to be QB4 at this point, as teams feel he has much more upside than he showed in college. I don’t know where that’s coming from, but it’s where we stand.

Jayden Daniels, LSU

Daniels put some pressure on himself, stating that he wouldn’t throw at the Combine so that he could give his LSU teammates more exposure at his Pro Day. While that’s noble logic, it meant that Daniels would need to shine. His WRs, Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr (who are both likely first-round selections), gave him a chance to do so, and he completed 52 of his 56 scripted pass attempts. A few deep balls and outside throws went awry, but I didn’t see anything too noteworthy. Your opinion of Daniels likely stayed the same following his throwing session. No athletic testing was performed, not even a 40-yard dash.

Daniels’ measurements looked fine aside from his weight. At 210 lbs, he again demonstrated that slight build of his. We know he’s a fast runner; a 40 time wasn’t necessary. I just don’t know how much punishment he can take from NFL-caliber defenders. That’s something teams, particularly the Commanders, will have to determine. Daniels is going in the top 3 picks in all likelihood. Whether he goes second or third depends on how Washington views him relative to Drake Maye. Given that high level of certainty, a slightly safe yet efficient Pro Day was a good call by Daniels’ handlers.

Drake Maye, North Carolina

UNC provided us with the rockiest of the 6 QB Pro Days, but Maye also had the most aggressive workout plan. He threw 3 times as many balls as anyone else, and his script played out at a furious pace. The event was a perfect encapsulation of what you get with Maye. He threw some stellar deep balls, showed off his big arm, and curiously missed on some simpler throws. In particular, throws outside the numbers gave him some trouble. We’ve come to expect a perplexing mix from Maye: proof that he can make any throw in the game while simultaneously making you shake your head at easy whiffs.

As described above, he and Jayden Daniels are the two options for Washington at #2. The one they don’t choose is likely headed to the Patriots with the very next pick. If you tried to construct a QB in a lab, the result would probably look a lot like Maye from a physical perspective. He has a prototypical frame, and his arm is very good. Decision-making and execution are what give you pause. I’ve stated before that I see little difference, aside from height, between Maye and his UNC predecessor (Sam Howell). That remains my evaluation, so a team is going to be spending a top-3 pick on a player on whom I have a second-round grade.

Michael Penix Jr, Washington

Occurring at the same time as UNC’s Pro Day, Washington’s event probably opened more eyes. Penix had a prolific couple of seasons with the Huskies, but injuries ended 3 separate seasons during his college career. Knee injuries specifically had scouts wondering if he would have any mobility. I’d say his 40 time created some buzz. While we don’t have an official time, everyone in attendance had him under 4.6 seconds. The average was 4.53, and a couple of people even clocked him at 4.46. The other surprising aspect was his arm strength. Penix was thought to have an average arm, but he fired rockets at his Pro Day.

I doubt anyone helped himself more at his Pro Day than Penix did. The athletic testing treated him very well, and he showed improved accuracy, completing 57/60 passes that included a variety of throws. Analysts are suggesting that he be a late first-round pick, but I must caution you. Last year, 4 QBs were projected to go in the top 10, but only 3 went in the entire first round. I’d be shocked to see 6 QBs come off the board in round 1, but it’s possible. Due to his medical red flags, Penix is the one who is most likely to fall. As always though, it takes just one team to love a prospect to pull that early trigger.

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