Seven college football QBs who could emerge as potential first-round draft picks with standout 2024 seasons


The first round of the 2024 NFL Draft saw a historic run on quarterbacks. For the first time since the legendary “class of 1983”, six signal callers (Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, Michael Penix Jr., J.J. McCarthy, and Bo Nix) came off the board in the first round. While the 1983 class saw six quarterbacks spread over the first 27 picks, the 2024 class did it in just 12 — the fastest in NFL history. 

The run on 2024 quarterbacks gives us clear insight into how NFL scouts view the 2025 crop. Outside of Georgia’s Carson Beck, Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders and TexasQuinn Ewers, next year’s class appears to be light in bona fide first-round prospects under center.

There is still an opportunity for more names to join that list, though. Daniels wasn’t considered a first-round pick around this time last year, but his 2023 Heisman Trophy season sent him rocketing up draft boards to the No. 2 overall spot. LSU quarterback Garrett Nussmeier is next up in the Tigers offense. He hopes to follow a similar trajectory and become the third LSU quarterback in five years to go in the first round. 

Many others could see their stock rise this fall with strong performances, but as of now, these seven quarterbacks are best positioned to jump into the conversation as potential first-round selections.

Cameron Ward, Miami

Ward’s 2023 season started strong. He lit up defenses and looked like a potential Day 1 or 2 selection because of his dynamic dual-threat ability. He hit a wall as the season wore on, though. The splits through the first four games in wins over Colorado State, Wisconsin, Northern Colorado, and Oregon State compared to the final eight are drastically different.

Completions Attempts Completion % Yards Average QBR Total touchdowns Interceptions Rushing yards
First four games (4-0) 105 141 74.45% 1,393 83 16 0 109
Final eight games (1-7) 218 344 63.34% 2,342 54 17 7 11

Ward started his career at FCS Incarnate Word and put up video game-like numbers before transferring to Washington State. He initially declared for the 2024 NFL Draft before electing to enter the transfer portal and play his final season under coach Mario Cristobal at Miami. Ward has the tools to be a successful quarterback in both college and at the next level. He could easily sneak into the first round if he can find more consistency in his final collegiate season.

Garrett Nussmeier, LSU

After serving as a backup for the last three seasons, Nussmeier will get his chance to show what he can do as a starter this fall. The 6-foot-2 signal caller gave LSU fans flashes of his potential in a 35-31 win over Wisconsin in the Reliaquest Bowl where he completed 31 of 45 attempts for 395 yards and three touchdowns. LSU will have a new offensive coordinator in Joe Sloan, who served as the quarterbacks coach at LSU for the last two seasons. LSU’s offensive scheme won’t change much because of the in-house coordinator hire, but Nussemier’s quarterback style will be drastically different. He is nowhere near the athlete Daniels was and not much of a threat to run, but he makes up for his lack of athleticism with an accurate touch and calm presence in the pocket. Some moderate improvements on his deep ball could really unlock Nussemier’s full potential. 

Jaxson Dart, Ole Miss

Ole Miss has captured headlines this offseason with a series of transfer portal moves to beef up its defense, but the offense looks poised for a big year as well. Despite losing star running back Quinshon Judkins to Ohio State, the Rebels have the luxury of a returning third-year starter at quarterback. Dart posted career highs in passing yards (3,364), completion percentage (65.1%), and total touchdowns (31) last fall. Still, he was sacked twice as much (14 to 27) as the year before. Some of that falls on the offensive line, but Dart also needs to improve his processing speed if he wants to climb NFL Draft boards and lead his team to the College Football Playoff.

Drew Allar, Penn State

Keep your stock (or buy more) in Allar. After McCarthy became a top-10 pick this week, the blueprint is there for Allar to do the same in 2025. He was the top-ranked quarterback prospect from the 2022 recruiting cycle according to 247Sports and spent a year learning behind Sean Clifford before taking over the starting job last year. You can’t teach size, and Allar’s 6-foot-5 frame should intrigue NFL decision-makers. He’ll have an opportunity to learn under former Kansas offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki in 2024. Kotelnicki helped Jalon Daniels make a massive development upon his arrival to the Jayhawks staff in 2022.

Jalen Milroe, Alabama

New Alabama coach Kalen DeBoer oversaw Penix’s development and helped turned him into a top-10 pick. Can he do the same at Alabama? Milroe seized Alabama’s starting quarterback role after former coach Nick Saban rotated between Ty Simpson, Tyler Buchner and Milroe during the first few weeks of the 2023 season. He is a more dynamic runner than Penix and already a first-round talent, depending on who you talk to. 247Sports’ Blake Brockermeyer‘s mock draft has Milroe going to the New Orleans Saints with the No. 7 pick. The DeBoer/Milroe combo is an intriguing fit, and both parties should benefit.

Dillon Gabriel, Oregon

Gabriel will make the third and final stop of his college career at Oregon this fall. After stints at UCF and Oklahoma, he is the No. 8 all-time leading passer in FBS history and just 4,352 yards behind former Houston quarterback Case Keenum for the No. 1 spot. With a strong season in Eugene, he could move up that list and on draft boards. Gabriel’s quick release and rapid decision-making ability could translate to the next level. Oregon offensive coordinator Will Stein helped Nix finish with a historic completion percentage (77.4%) while simultaneously producing two 1,000-yard receivers. The Ducks are also bringing highly-touted receiver transfer Evan Stewart from Texas A&M, which should give Gabriel an explosive target as he and the program acclimate to the Big Ten.

Riley Leonard, Notre Dame

Mike Denbrock is back at Notre Dame as the offensive coordinator after spending the last two seasons in the same role at LSU. Denbrock helped Daniels’ development, guiding him from Arizona State starter to Heisman Trophy winner. Now he’ll be paired with an experienced and accomplished quarterback in Leonard. The first step will be getting the Duke transfer back to full strength. Leonard has already endured two offseason ankle surgeries and missed Notre Dame’s spring game earlier this month because of the second procedure. While health is a concern, Leonard is a true dual-threat who can flourish on designed runs or broken plays when he’s at full strength. 

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