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QB controversy: the yearly draft debate
Photo of 2011 NFL Draft stage used with Creative Commons Licenses from Marianne O’Leary’s Flickr account.

When the NFL draft rolls around each year, young men have the chance to hear their name called on by the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fulfilling life-long dreams and reaping the rewards of their years of hard work. While the players’ lives change on the day of the NFL draft, the teams picking at the top also have the opportunity to make a franchise-changing selection. When teams are looking for a franchise-altering draftee, most people point fingers to what they think is the most important position on the field, “Quarterback.” 

Since Peyton Manning was drafted number one overall in 1998 to play quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, a quarterback has been picked first overall, all but seven times. With the 2024 NFL draft coming around the corner on April 24 in Detroit, Michigan, the trend of taking QBs number one looks to continue. The Chicago Bears hold the coveted first selection this year from a trade they made last year with the Carolina Panthers that sent last year’s top selection of Byrce Young to Carolina in exchange for their 2024 first-round pick (No. 1) and DJ Moore. The Bears are followed by the Washington Commanders (No. 2) and New England Patriots (No.3) and a host of other teams that could look to trade up for a home run selection. In my opinion, it is time for both the Patriots and Commanders to look for new options at signal caller, despite the flashes their current QBs Mac Jones and Sam Howell have shown early in their career. It is the Bears at the top who leave everyone to question what they should do. Justin Fields was a first-round pick not too long ago and has shown major flashes of potential when surrounded by the right cast. 

The reason the Bears could look to potentially move on from Fields is due to a combination of his inconsistency and the loaded 2024 Quarterback draft class. According to long-time NFL draft analyst for ESPN, Mel Kiper Jr. three of the top four players in this draft are quarterbacks.  Caleb Willaims from USC and Gonzaga Class of 2021, Drake Maye from UNC and Jayden Daniels from LSU and the 2023 Heisman Winner give teams many options at drafting a quarterback this year.

I believe that the Bears need to take the time leading up to the draft to determine if they truly believe in Justin Fields and believe they can surround him with the right supporting cast to succeed. I think Fields’ potential and play on the field have warranted the Bears to keep him and use their high draft selection to find valuable pieces to surround him with. Many experts including Josh Edwards of CBS Sports believe it is time for a new chapter in Chicago and a fresh start for Justin Fields and for Washington to select Maye and New England to select Daniels. I believe that Willaims is a bonafide superstar who should go with the No. 1 pick, and if the Bears choose a route other than Williams, they should trade back and collect assets for Willaims’ draft value. 

New England and Washington should both be putting together packages if Chicago elects to stay with Fields and trade the number one pick. The Commanders may have already begun planning to bring Caleb Willaims back to his native DMV by hiring his offensive coordinator at USC Kliff Kingsbury as their new offensive coordinator. USC’s head coach Lincoln Riley was excited by that possibility. 

 Riley said on “The Pat McAfee Show” that “[i]t would be awesome to see him [Williams] reunite with Kliff, certainly in Washington, but there’s a lot of things out of control and a lot of things that will transpire between now and then.”

The new era of ownership in Washington contributes to the speculation of making a “splash” and trading up for the top pick. In CBS Sports Chris Trapsso’s mock draft he has Josh Harris, new owner of the Commanders, making a splash and getting the top pick.

“The Commanders make the bold ascension to pair Williams with Kliff Kingsbury in the nation’s capital. New owner Josh Harris puts his stamp on his team,” Trapsso said. 

The No. 2 quarterback in the draft is still very much up in the air. Drake Maye went into the year are the clear number two option but with his UNC team underperforming in 2023 and Jayden Daniels winning the Heisman there is now an open discussion about that second option. I think the combine and pro days will be the determining factor for which quarterback can separate himself. Drake Maye appears to be the safe choice because of his physical attributes while Daniels is the more “fun” choice with a higher upside. Some analysts believe that Daniles has already separated himself as that second option at quarterback.  


“For me, I never had any question from the get-go when I started watching these quarterbacks as to who No. 2 was.  Jayden Daniels for me is clearly No. 2… I think people are going to be very impressed with Jayden Daniels as well as we move through this draft process.” said Louis Riddick on ESPN’s Get Up.


I expect these teams that are picking in the top three to be commencing with each other quite a bit in the lead-up to the draft as they each try to find their franchise-altering pick and their signal caller for the 2024 season, whether it is Williams, Maye, Daniels or another dark horse candidate. All we can do is speculate until Roger Godell comes out and makes the announcement that will change many people’s lives.

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