NFL coaches and executives are divided on which QBs and Patriots should take the 2 and 3 spots

Just three weeks until the NFL Draft, teams around the league remain divided on what will happen with the No. 2 pick.

The Washington leaders are expected to select a quarterback at this spot, but which one? And what kind of chain reaction will it spark throughout the rest of the opening round?

“The QB draft is going to be wild,” one high-level team executive said.

There has been a long-standing belief that USC quarterback Caleb Williams would go to the Chicago Bears with the first pick. Beyond that, opinions seem to change with the wind.

North Carolina's Drake May and LSU's Jayden Daniels have drawn the most attention recently, but Michigan's JJ McCarthy used an impressive pro day last month to bolster his offseason rushing boards.

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The athlete Seven team executives, coaches and scouts were polled over the past week for an updated assessment of the QB class. Specifically, they were asked what they thought leaders would do in second place.

Three of them think Daniels will be the pick. Two thought it would be Mai. Someone predicted McCarthy.

The latest executive, who was not selected among the top 10, did not make a prediction but said a waiver would be the wisest option. The executive believes the drop from second-string quarterback to the next level hasn't been too steep, and that the ability to reclaim a slew of future draft picks would be too tempting to pass up.

That consensus opinion is in stark contrast to a month ago when a poll of more than a dozen coaches and executives revealed Maye as the favorite to be the second quarterback off the board. Daniels got some love at third, and McCarthy was rated the next level up.

So what has changed? All three midfielders recently ended their professional days, with McCarthy seemingly emerging the big winner from them.

“JJ killed his workout,” one executive said.

McCarthy is viewed as a solid leader with good athleticism and a strong arm, though he wasn't able to show that much for the Wolverines. But he let it happen at his pro day, and teams became intrigued by how those tools would translate to the NFL.

Maye's pro day got off to a slow start with a few missed shots, according to observers. But they said he called those plays again, hit them and finished hot. At 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds, Maye has the perfect size for Justin Herbert's arm and has enough mobility to create a modern offense.

May's leadership and character have also been put on a pedestal. He is viewed as a quarterback who can lead an NFL locker room very quickly upon his arrival.

The question with Maye revolves around his inconsistent streak in 2023, which has been almost universally agreed upon over the past two months. There were mechanical breakdowns and some throws that raised concerns, and of course, some of those inconsistencies spilled over into his pro day. One offensive coordinator was out of caution about even placing a first-round pick on Maye.

Daniels' pro day was viewed as good but it wasn't great, or at least it didn't match the hype he got that season. But again, the hype has reached levels disproportionate to Daniels, so this may be a measurable unfair handicap.

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Daniels has caught the attention of teams with the drastic improvements he has made since transferring to LSU two years ago. If he continues this path in the NFL, he could become the best QB in the class. Standing at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds at his pro day, Daniels has elite speed and athleticism that can come from the pocket, and he has enough of an arm.

But how will the draft be eliminated? There may be more excitement with this class than last year's group when coaches and executives debated the merits between Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson.

For most of the pre-draft process, it looked like Maye would go No. 2, leaving the New England Patriots with Daniels at No. 3. Recently, it seemed that choosing leaders would not be so simple, and the patriots would gather whoever remained available.

“Either one is good for (the Patriots),” one coach said.

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The Patriots have played it perfect up to this point, scouting their top quarterbacks aggressively while keeping the league on notice that the third pick could be available at the right price. Whether they're looking for a Godfather offer or simply weighing the cost of moving down in the right scenario — maybe they like just two QBs, or maybe their top tier also includes McCarthy and others — the Patriots certainly don't want teams to assume they're locked into third down when contenders think On the rise.

The wild card is McCarthy. If McCarthy finishes second, as one executive predicted, TV ratings in New England could soar to historic levels on draft night. If McCarthy takes No. 3, teams like the New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders could stumble to land the Arizona Cardinals' No. 4 pick. With Maye and Daniels not long ago considered a pipe dream for teams outside the top three, the stratospheric leap he's taken McCarthy could dramatically alter many teams' draft plans.

The athlete I reported for a month that the Cardinals were open to work at the fourth spot, likely for a quarterback-needy team, but the fifth quarterback may not have to wait much longer either. Oregon State's Bo Nix was the favorite at that spot, but don't discount Washington's Michael Penix Jr., who has Yo-Yo'd from the third round to the first and back again more times than any QB in recent memory.

There's a quarterback for almost everyone in this class. The top six have different styles and different strengths and weaknesses, which has created a lot of curiosity in front offices around the league.

Three weeks later, there is more uncertainty surrounding the 2024 quarterback class than ever before.

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(Photos by Jayden Daniels, JJ McCarthy and Drake Maye:
Jonathan Bachman, Aaron J. Thornton, and Mark Alberti/Getty Images

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