2024 NFL Draft: Ranking the teams most likely to land USC star QB Caleb Williams with the No. 1 pick next year

Even though the roller-coaster ride that was the chaotic three-day bonanza called the 2023 NFL Draft just came to a halt on Saturday, all 32 teams in the league have already set their sights on the 2024 Draft. This year, there was a lot of pre-draft debate centering on the top quarterback prospect, with four of them receiving support to be the first overall pick: Alabama’s Bryce Young (first overall pick by the Carolina Panthers), CJ Stroud of Ohio State (the second overall pick by the Houston Texans), Anthony Richardson of Florida (the No. 4 overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts) and Will Levis of Kentucky (the Tennessee Titans’ 33rd pick in the second round).

The 2024 NFL Draft won’t have such a debate over first overall pick and best quarterback. The unanimous answer to both questions is the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner, USC quarterback Caleb Williams. The leader in college football’s total touchdowns last season (47 total; 37 assists and 10 carries) will be draft-eligible in 2024, and while he’s yet to play his junior season, Williams is already setting some comparisons with Patrick Mahomes. Famed quarterbacks coach Tom House told ESPN’s Adam Schefter in December that Williams was “the second coming of patrick mahomes.” Williams isn’t phased by the lofty praise, and he even openly agrees with it.

“It’s kind of cool, I would say, just because everyone looks at Patrick and sees all the cool things he can do,” Williams said. said in December. “I always said, even in high school, and obviously he’s special, but I don’t think there’s anything I can’t get him to do there. I think it’s really cool, like I said. I’ve had comparisons with a bunch of other people, and since I did, Patrick’s been pretty cool.”

Since Williams is considered to have the potential to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, here is a ranking of the five teams that have the best chance of ending up with the number one overall selection and the rights to play it. take in 2024, based on where the NFL landscape is today. Plus three honorable mentions, black horse teams that could trade the farm for its draft rights, if they have disappointing campaigns in 2023.

The face of the Kyler Murray franchise could miss up to half of the 2023 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus and undergoing surgery to repair both in January. Starting early in 2023 with soon-to-be 37-year-old Colt McCoy or fifth-round rookie Clayton Tune at quarterback could lead to early losses under freshman head coach Jonathan Gannon. The heart and soul of the Cardinals defense, All-Pro safety Budda Baker, wants out unless the rebuilding franchise makes him the highest paid in the NFL in his position. Lots of uncertainty on both sides of the ball.

Additionally, Arizona has the Houston Texans’ 2024 first-round pick after trading the third overall pick in 2023, allowing the Texans to select Alabama pass thrower Will Anderson Jr. That gives them two chances. to end up with the first overall pick, controlling the first round of two rebuilding teams that were the NFL’s last three teams in 2022. Between a lack of talent on defense — the Cardinals allowed 26.4 points per game in 2022, the second in the NFL – so with Murray’s absence and a lack of clarity on what he could look like after a major injury, Arizona is well positioned to find itself with the opportunity to select Caleb Williams.

The Buccaneers are a team set to fall in Year 1 of Tom Brady’s real retirement. They averaged 76.9 rushing yards per game in 2022, the fewest in the league, which took their offense to an average of 18.4 points per game (25th in the NFL). It was with Brady at quarterback. In 2023, Tampa enters with quarterback competition between Mayfield Baker and 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask, who played in an NFL game. Top passing thrower Shaq Barrett is coming off a torn Achilles and could experience rust when he returns to football. The Buccaneers are a team ready to fight after not having had much room to add reinforcements in free agency. They are squarely in the Williams draw.

Three teams made the NFC East playoffs in 2022, and none of them were the commanders. Washington enters the first season of Eric Bieniemy, assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, calling to play in the nation’s capital with a training camp quarterback competition between 2022 fifth-round pick Sam Howell, who played one career game in the NFL, and a journeyman Jacoby Brisset. While Bieniemy’s call play will likely raise the ceiling for this offense, he doesn’t work with much outside of Pro Bowl wide Terry McLaurin.

The Commanders improved their porous secondary — their 60 passing touchdowns allowed over the past two seasons are tied for the most in the NFL — thanks to the draft with first- and second-round picks of cornerbacks Emmanuel Forbes and Jartavius ​​​​Martin, but both may face a difficult adjustment period in their rookie years. Washington could easily become the punching bag of the NFC East again, putting them in a position to fall off a cliff and become the No. 1 pick in 2024.

The Atlanta Falcons have signed quarterback of 2022 third-round pick Desmond Ridder as a their guy in 2023taking the opportunity to sacrifice Lamar Jackson before he signs the richest contract in NFL history. Atlanta could struggle to come together defensively in 2023 with all the turnover on that side of the ball. They have a new defensive coordinator coming from the New Orleans Saints, Ryan Nielsen, as well as a number of new free agency plays, highlighted by safety Jessie Bates III. If head coach and playmaker Arthur Smith continues to fail to fit tight end Kyle Pitts into the passing game, who also just suffered a season-ending knee injury, their passing game could flounder again. .

The addition of the draft’s top running back, Bijan Robinson, is nice, but it may not translate to wins in 2023 as the Falcons’ 2022 third-place running offense contributed to a campaign of 7-10. The addition of Williams could be the missing piece that elevates young point guards like receiver Drake London, Pitts and Robinson. Atlanta should have a chance to hit rock bottom at the end of the year if things don’t go as planned early on.

Quarterback Justin Fields was not selected by general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus, making 2023 an audition year for him. His rushing prowess is solid: Fields’ 1,143 rushing yards in 2022 were the second in a single season by a quarterback in NFL history. There’s still plenty of room for him as a passer with 24 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in two seasons. Fields took 55 sacks last season, tied for the most in the NFL with Russell Wilson. Chicago improved both its receiving core, trading for receiver DJ Moore, and its offensive line, signing guard Nate Davis and drafting Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright 10th overall.

Plenty of resources have been poured into the defensive side of the ball in free agency with the signings of linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (four years, $72 million) and TJ Edwards (three years, $19.5 million). This is a team that finished 2022 with 10 straight losses and 14 overall, the two worst in a season in franchise history. Their defense ranked last in the NFL in points per game (27.3), third down conversion percentage allowed (49%), yards per attempt (8.0) and sacks (20). If their defense doesn’t improve much and Fields doesn’t develop as a passer in 2023, Chicago could have a good shot at Williams. Especially since they also own the Panthers’ first-round selection in 2024 as Carolina rebuilds.

dark horses

The Dolphins are expected to be improved in 2023 after trading for All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey and adding famed defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to their roster. However, it all comes down to the health of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. His concussion issues are so worrisome that he was study judo to learn how to fall safely. Even the normally stoic Nick Saban, Tagovailoa’s college coach, is concerned about his former student’s head injuries. If he fails to stay healthy this coming season, Miami could pull out a YOLO trade and send all the draft capital they have for the right to select Williams first overall.

Williams himself has ranked the Dolphins as his top NFL destinationthrowing more fuel on the fire than Miami could consider doing what it takes to pick it up in 2024.

The Patriots offense hit a new low in its lifetime without Tom Brady, averaging 18.2 points per game in 2022, their lowest since 2000. It was Bill Belichick’s first season as coach -chief. Their red-zone misfortunes were a huge culprit, converting drives inside the 20 into touchdowns 42% of the time, the lowest rate in the NFL. Yes, longtime defensive coach Matt Patricia leading the offense is a lawful excuse for quarterback Mac Jones and the whole offensive regression after Josh McDaniel left to become Raiders head coach.

If Jones struggles again with Bill O’Brien calling plays, maybe Belichick’s patience with his 2021 first-round pick runs out, and he trades atop the draft for Williams. Belichick may hate how he’s looked like the lesser dynamic duo he and Brady formed, with the latter winning a Super Bowl single-handedly. That dissatisfaction could perhaps lead to Belichick trading for another generational quarterback to join his borderline top-10 defense to get back to the winning standard he set in New England.

The Packers will have a starting quarterback in Week 1 who is not Hall of Famer Brett Favre or future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers for the first time in 31 years in 2023. As such, Green Bay has allocated plenty of draft capital to replenish their receiving core in the 2023 draft, spending four picks in the first five rounds on wide receivers and tight ends. This makes the Packers the fourth team in the Common Draft Era (since 1967) to do so. The love probably won’t go away considering Green Bay has provided him with two strong running backs in Pro Bowler Aaron Jones and AJ “Quadzilla” Dillon, and huge tight ends (Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft, both 6-5 or more) in addition to promising young receivers Christian Watson and Roméo Doubs. However, if he struggles mightily, maybe the Packers decide they don’t want to be without a generational quarterback for a long time after having only had all-time players in that position for decades.

If so, the Packers are well-equipped to trade thanks to likely receiving the Jets’ 2024 first-round pick (based on Aaron Rodgers playing 11-12 games in 2023) in addition to having their own.

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