Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Meet the 2025 NFL draft’s quarterback class: Strengths, weaknesses for 19 intriguing prospects

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While it’ll be tough to top the 2024 NFL draft’s quarterback class — six passers went in the first 12 picks — there’s potential for the 2025 group to also be really, really good. Three names are already circulating as potential QB1 candidates: Georgia’s Carson Beck, Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders and Texas’ Quinn Ewers. But there is a ton of depth, too.

Who are the top names to know in 2025? What are their strengths, and where do they need to improve? Let’s look at the 19 best passers who are draft-eligible next spring, including seven who could easily be top-100 picks. I’ll also answer a couple of big questions about NFL teams that might be taking a long look at these players. I’ll start with my early No. 1 quarterback for the class.

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Top QBs to know | Best of the rest
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TOP NAMES TO KNOW

Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 220 pounds
Class: Senior

Where he excels: Beck threw for 3,941 yards, 24 touchdown passes and six interceptions last season, his first as a starter. His 86 QBR ranked fifth in the country. A rhythm passer, he has a veteran-level understanding of how to process and attack coverages. The Georgia offense centers around his decisiveness and he wastes little time getting the ball out. His average of 2.38 seconds before the throw tied for the nation’s quickest release in 2023.

Beck also trusts what he sees and remains calm even when smothered in the pocket. He has played from under center and out of the shotgun, too, giving him good experience for what he’d be asked to do at the next level.

Where he needs work: Beck isn’t the kind of QB who will consistently make plays outside the framework of the offense. He has enough mobility to get himself out of harm’s way in the pocket, but creating extra opportunities will always be a challenge.

And while Beck has a good arm, inconsistent footwork and finishes on throws have led to erratic ball placement in short-to-intermediate areas; some of his passes lose velocity as they arrive at the target. He has been a beneficiary of quick-throw offense, averaging 8.0 air yards per attempt (78th in the FBS). Now entering his second season as a starter, Beck might have more opportunities to execute deeper concepts.


Height: 6-2 | Weight: 215 pounds
Class: Senior

Where he excels: A calm distributor when protected, Sanders’ game centers around accuracy and ball placement. He completed 69.3% of his passes last season, which ranked eighth in the FBS. He never lacks confidence and isn’t afraid to test his limits as a thrower. He has enough power in his arm to drive throws over the middle of the field and deliver the ball accurately to targets outside the hashes. After dominating at Jackson State in the FCS in 2021 and 2022, Sanders moved up to the FBS level and had immediate success, finishing with 3,230 passing yards, 27 touchdown passes and three interceptions.

Where he needs work: Sanders took a lot of unnecessary sacks, going down an FBS-high 52 times in 2023. A poor offensive line wasn’t the only contributor, as he tended to drift backward in the pocket and ignore his internal clock. I’d like to see him work on climbing vertically in the pocket and making throws from it under pressure — instead of instantly tucking and running or throwing the ball out of bounds. I also want to see new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur dial up more deep throws for Sanders, who averaged 7.5 yards per attempt last season, which ranked 58th in the country.


Height: 6-2 | Weight: 195 pounds
Class: Junior

Where he excels: Ewers has high-end throwing traits and is able to generate velocity on throws with his effective side-armed extension. Ewers, who threw 22 touchdown passes with six interceptions last season, had plenty of great moments as a junior, including a big road win at Alabama, but he might have had his best performance against Oklahoma, where he completed 19 straight throws and 26 of his final 28. His arm talent helps him operate the Texas offense at a high level, though he’s inconsistent at times.

Where he needs work: Sometimes Ewers’ mechanics are too relaxed, resulting in unpredictable ball placement and throws that lack the necessary zip. He sometimes struggles in decision-making on the pace of his throws. He’ll occasionally lack zip on throws in tight windows and put too much arc on deep passes, resulting in an open receiver having to slow down and wait for the ball to arrive. The next steps in his development are understanding different types of throws and how to layer them.

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Height: 6-2 | Weight: 220 pounds
Class: Senior

Where he excels: Dart can get the ball out quickly with his loose, explosive throwing motion and drive it with ease, allowing him to take advantage of voids in a defense. Dart, who took over as the Rebels’ signal-caller in 2022 after transferring from USC, broke out as a junior in 2023, putting up 3,364 passing yards, 23 touchdown passes and five interceptions. He ranked third in the country with 63 completions of 20-plus yards. He’s also mobile, as he ran for eight scores.

Where he needs work: The challenge in evaluating Dart is figuring out how he’ll handle pro-style reads, as Ole Miss’ offense doesn’t include many multistep progressions. Lane Kiffin’s offense instead relies primarily on schemed isolation routes. Dart was inconsistent throwing between the hashes, completing only 59% of his passes, so he needs to show more growth and better vision when targeting receivers in the middle of the field.


Height: 6-2 | Weight: 223 pounds
Class: Senior

Where he excels: Ward, who transferred to Miami this year after playing two seasons at FCS Incarnate Word (2020-21) and two more at Washington State (2022-23), is an electrifying playmaker who can tie defenses in knots from in or out of the pocket. Last season, he ranked 14th in the FBS in passing yards inside the pocket (3,117) and 11th in yards outside the pocket (618). He has excellent improvisational skills and can make Houdini-like plays outside of structure. He can generate velocity on his passes and is extremely confident in throwing into tight windows.

Where he needs work: Ward’s confidence in his arm strength can get him into trouble at times, and I want to see him take a step forward as a downfield decision-maker for the Hurricanes in 2024. Playing in an offense that relied heavily on underneath passes last season, he averaged just 6.7 air yards per attempt, which ranked 117th in the FBS. He wasn’t asked to go through progressions at Washington State, which meant he passed up plays down the field. When he did throw it deeper, though, he was really solid. Ward completed 55.3% of his passes that traveled 10 or more air yards, which ranked 12 in the country. I want to see him consistently create these big gains.


Height: 6-2 | Weight: 220 pounds
Class: Junior

Where he excels: Milroe is aggressive throwing downfield, as his 34 completions of 20-plus air yards last season ranked fourth in the FBS. He overcame a Week 3 benching to lead Alabama to an SEC title and the College Football Playoff. He finished with 2,834 passing yards, 23 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He’s also a strong and competitive runner, rushing for 531 yards and 12 touchdowns. He excels with his legs when plays break down, with the ability to threaten defenses up the middle and on the edge.

Where he needs work: Milroe lacks consistency on short-to-intermediate throws due to faulty footwork. That leads to delayed decision-making and unreliable ball placement when he needs to get the ball out quickly. He shows more comfort when afforded time to see things unfold down the field. Milroe can be overconfident in his scrambling ability, which results in too many negative plays. He was sacked at least four times in eight games last season and must realize that he doesn’t have to have a highlight-reel play on every down.


Height: 6-4 | Weight: 212 pounds
Class: Senior

Where he excels: Leonard is a dual-threat signal-caller with a smooth and fluid throwing motion that complements agile feet in the pocket. Injuries plagued him at Duke last season, as he played only six games, finishing with 1,102 passing yards, three touchdown passes and three interceptions, while adding four rushing scores. He’ll be able to show more of his passing ability under offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock, the architect of Jayden Daniels‘ breakout at LSU last season. With better protection and talent around, Leonard could make a significant jump in his development in 2024.

Where he needs work: Leonard didn’t attack downfield frequently or effectively last season, as Duke’s offense focused on short passes. He completed only 57.6% of his throws despite being in a scheme that required short passes and quick decisions. Duke’s offensive line issues might have been a factor in his inaccuracy, but he has an average arm that will be tested in a much more aggressive Notre Dame offense. We’ll have a better idea of his limitations after this season.

BEST OF THE REST

These 12 passers are listed alphabetically.

Drew Allar, Penn State

At 6-5, 243 pounds, Allar checks all the boxes physically and is a gifted passer with plenty of tools. During his first season as a starter, he had 2,631 passing yards, 25 touchdown passes and two interceptions. Allar needs to improve his accuracy (59% completion percentage) and lack of touch, which could be helped by better lower-body mechanics. New offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki arrives from Kansas and will work to make Allar more consistent.

Max Brosmer, Minnesota

Brosmer enters his first season at the FBS level after spending the past five seasons at New Hampshire in the FCS. He had an FCS-best 3,464 passing yards and 29 passing touchdowns last season. The 6-2, 217-pounder has a quick, over-the-top delivery that enables him to get the ball out in a hurry. Minnesota’s offense is similar to what Brosmer ran at UNH, so he is out to prove his skill set translates to the FBS level.

Jalon Daniels, Kansas

Daniels had a three-game stretch last season in which he threw for 705 yards and five touchdowns in the Jayhawks’ high-octane offense. Those were the only three games he played, as he missed the final nine contests with a back injury. Injuries have been an issue, as he has missed 14 games in the past two seasons. But when healthy, the 6-foot, 215-pound Daniels is an accurate passer — he completed 74.7% of his 75 throws a year ago — who can also make plays on the ground.

Noah Fifita, Arizona

The reigning Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year was electric, finishing last season with 2,869 passing yards, 25 touchdown passes and six interceptions while completing a school-record 72.4% of his passes. He is an unconventional but exciting passer who should be among the top performers in the country as a third-year sophomore. At 5-11, 194 pounds, Fifita’s size is a concern, and there are questions about how his frame will translate to the next level.

TJ Finley, Western Kentucky

Finley is at his fourth school after stints at LSU (2020), Auburn (2021-2022) and Texas State (2023). At 6-7, 255 pounds, he’s the biggest of this year’s quarterback crop. He produced in his first year as a starter, throwing for 3,439 yards with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Finley flashes mobility (especially for his size) and arm talent, but an overreliance on his upper body causes accuracy issues. Western Kentucky’s offense will test that accuracy, as it’s reliant on quick and frequent passes.

Dillon Gabriel, Oregon

Gabriel is on his third school after three years at UCF (2019-2021) and two at Oklahoma (2022-23). His second season at Oklahoma was stellar, as he set a career-high in passing yards (3,660) and threw 30 touchdown passes. His 88.6 QBR ranked No. 3 in the FBS. He’s a quick-throwing left-hander who has two potent options in wide receivers Tez Johnson and Evan Stewart. With top receivers and a scheme that plays to his strengths, the 5-11, 204-pound Gabriel has a chance to pick up where Bo Nix left off. Like Fifita, though, Gabriel lacks prototypical NFL size.

Will Howard, Ohio State

Howard transferred into a great situation, as Ohio State arguably has the most talented roster in the country. The Buckeyes lacked consistency at quarterback last season, which Howard provided in his four years at Kansas State. The 6-5, 242-pound senior improved every year with the Wildcats, with career-highs in passing yards (2,643), completion percentage (61.3%) and touchdown passes (24) last season. Unlike many taller passers, Howard plays with a balanced base. His emphasis in 2024 should be on continued improvement with ball placement.

KJ Jefferson, UCF

While Jefferson had a storied five-year career at Arkansas, the 2023 season wasn’t his best, as he threw for 2,107 yards with 19 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Transferring to UCF could be good for him; Knights coach Gus Malzahn has done well with mobile passers with good arms. Jefferson is built like a tank at 6-3, 247 pounds, and has all the traits necessary to execute Malzahn’s scheme.

Garrett Nussmeier, LSU

After serving as Jayden Daniels‘ backup the past two seasons, Nussmeier took advantage of the Heisman winner sitting out the ReliaQuest Bowl, dicing up Wisconsin for 395 yards and three touchdowns passes on 31-of-45 passing. The 6-2, 205-pound Nussmeier displayed good accuracy and touch down the field and has a clear path to LSU’s QB1 spot.

Donovan Smith, Houston

Smith transferred to Houston after spending his first two seasons at Texas Tech and performed well, throwing for 2,801 yards with 22 touchdowns and 13 picks while completing 64.5% of his passes. At 6-5, 241 pounds, Smith has a big frame and a big arm that can reach all parts of the field, but he frequently lacked touch on shorter passes and struggled throwing over the top of coverage. He also underwent surgery on his throwing shoulder in the offseason.

DJ Uiagalelei, Florida State

Uiagalelei finds himself at his third school after spending three seasons at Clemson and one at Oregon State. The 6-4, 252-pound Uiagalelei has the size necessary to hang in the pocket and make tough throws and played well in a more-traditional offense last season, throwing for 2,638 yards with 21 touchdowns and seven picks. His completion percentage declined from 2022 (62.1% to 57.1%), however, and he remained hesitant to release the ball before receivers broke open, things scouts will want to see progress on this season.

Conner Weigman, Texas A&M

Even though a foot injury limited him to four games last season, I was impressed with Weigman after studying film. He has good size (6-3, 215 pounds) and produced when he played (979 yards, eight TD passes, two interceptions), but he has to stay healthy. He has a good arm, is fiery and competitive and not afraid to test throwing windows, which he did in throwing for 336 yards against Miami. Weigman is a player to watch … if he can stay on the field.

Other quarterbacks to know for 2025: Hudson Card (Purdue), Brady Cook (Missouri), Kyron Drones (Virginia Tech), Dequan Finn (Baylor), Garrett Greene (West Virginia), Cade Klubnik (Clemson), Grayson McCall (NC State), Kyle McCord (Syracuse), Graham Mertz (Florida), Cameron Rising (Utah), Will Rogers (Washington), Kurtis Rourke (Indiana), Kaidon Salter (Liberty), Tyler Shough (Louisville), Brock Vandagriff (Kentucky) and Tyler Van Dyke (Wisconsin)

Big QB questions

At this point, which NFL team most needs to draft a QB to build around?

New York Giants. There was a lot of speculation the Giants would test the QB market in the 2024 draft, but they decided to stay put at No. 6 overall and take wide receiver Malik Nabers. That leaves a QB1 battle between Daniel Jones, who’s coming off a torn ACL, and Drew Lock, who is on his third team after being picked in Round 2 in 2019.

The Giants are the No. 28 team in ESPN’s latest power rankings and could be in line for a high pick, especially if Jones is unable to recapture his 2022 form, which is why I had them trade up from No. 4 to No. 1 to select Carson Beck in my recent mock draft.

Who is a sleeper team to watch at QB?

Dallas Cowboys. I’m not advocating for the Cowboys to replace Dak Prescott, but keeping him long term presents challenges. He is entering the final year of his contract and the two sides don’t appear to be close on an extension.

Since they can’t franchise Prescott, the Cowboys are left with two options — either sign him to an expensive long-term deal or let him walk. That puts a lot of pressure on a team already under the microscope after a disappointing wild-card loss to the Packers in 2023.

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