April 12, 2024 10:00am

Quarterbacks and the 2024 NFL Draft

Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye pushing Caleb Williams at the top of the first round

Photo of Rick Gosselin
NFL Correspondent

The Chicago Bears have locked in on Southern Cal quarterback Caleb Williams with the first overall selection of the 2024 NFL draft. But he doesn’t figure to be the only quarterback to go high.

In this week’s NFL Power Poll, we asked our panel of former players, coaches, officials, talent evaluators, writers and broadcasters to predict the second overall pick of the draft after Williams. And our panel likes a quarterback run at the top of the draft.

LSU’s quarterback Jayden Daniels received 96 of the 140 cast to follow Williams in the draft order. There also was support for North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, who was next with 29 votes. Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison received nine votes, Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy seven and Washington QB Michael Penix two.

Daniels started for five seasons, his first three at Arizona State and the last two at LSU. His best season was his last season in 2023 when he won the Heisman Trophy. He completed 72.2 percent of his passes for 3,812 yards with 40 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He also rushed for 1,134 yards and 10 more scores. He has ideal height for the position at 6-4 ½.

Maye is leaving his final two years of eligibility on the table to enter the 2024 draft. He also has NFL size at 6-4, 230 and a big arm. He completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 3,608 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

“The NFL has become all about quarterbacks, so the college guys tend to get drafted higher than perhaps they should be,” said Hall-of-Fame voter Barry Wilner, the long-time NFL editor for The Associated Press. “Whether Washington remains at No. 2 -- it should -- or trades out of the spot, whichever club is picking there will take a quarterback. Daniels seems to be the most logical selection.”

In our second question, we asked our panel where retiring Aaron Donald ranks in the annals of defensive-tackle play. He played 10 seasons and went to the Pro Bowl in every one of them. Donald was a first-team all-pro eight times and a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He collected 111 sacks and a Super Bowl ring.

So we asked our panel to identify the greatest defensive tackle of all-time was and offered up eight options – the seven players at that position who were named to the NFL’s Centennial Team plus Donald. But in this case the latest was not considered the greatest.

All eight tackles collected votes but it was “Mean” Joe Greene of the Pittsburgh Steelers who finished on top, receiving 51 of the 140 votes. Donald was next with 43, followed by Bob Lilly (Dallas) and Alan Page (Minnesota) with 12 apiece, Randy White (Dallas) with eight, John Randle (Minnesota) with six, Merlin Olsen (LA Rams) with five and Buck Buchanan (Kansas City) with three.

Greene was the fourth overall pick drafted by Pittsburgh in 1969 and became the cornerstone of the Steel Curtain defense that delivered four Super Bows in the 1970s. He became the NFL Rookie of the Year and a two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Greene also went to 10 Pro Bowls and was named to the 1970s all-decade team and the NFL’s 75th anniversary team in addition to the Centennial team.

Page collected 148 career sacks, a record for defensive tackles, and Randle was next with 137 ½. White was also in the 100-sack club along with Donald.

“Randy White over Joe Greene, Alan Page Arnold the others is a tough decision,” said Hall of Fame wide receiver Drew Pearson of the Dallas Cowboys. “All were the best ever… However I played with Randy White and saw first hand why Charlie Waters labeled him `The Manster’ -- half man, half monster. He brought it every game every play. One of my favorite teammates.”

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of significant key players in American sports today. It's member list draws on people from media, team management, and league management. It is not a scientific survey, but the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those who know most about the sport.

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