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I’d Rather Be Watching DEs (Part 2)

…but because this team sucks so much, I guess I have to do the 2024 QB class instead.

With the New England Patriots slated to pick 3rd overall, the quarterbacks available will have a considerable impact on their future. Whether this impact comes in the form of the Patriots themselves drafting a quarterback, the team trading down with an eager partner, or the team being afforded an elite non-QB, remains to be seen. But one way or another, they matter to our future.

Before we begin, some housekeeping notes:

  • Names appear in order of the consensus big board. They are not ordered based on my individual rankings.

  • I don’t usually watch QBs with this level of attention. So take what I find with another grain of salt, in addition to the usual grain of salt associated with myself being some fan on the internet.

  • The evaluations are intended to be system-agnostic. I do not intend to judge the QBs with respect to their specific fit on the Patriots, or with any particular system or style of play in mind. I’m simply trying to appraise their qualities.

  • The positions entailed herein represent my best judgement from study. I am willing to be convinced otherwise! The point of discussion is not to disagree, but to share ideas, and potentially arrive at a sensible conclusion together.

With that out of the way, here is the anticipated article series:

  1. Caleb Williams scouting report

  2. Drake Maye scouting report

  3. Jayden Daniels scouting report

  4. Michael Penix Jr. scouting report

  5. JJ McCarthy scouting report

  6. Notes on miscellaneous other QBs

  7. Commentary on the landscape of the position

  8. Who I like best for the Patriots

Anyway, without further ado, here is the first scouting report:

Scouting Report: Caleb Williams

Caleb Williams (USC via Oklahoma)

Games Watched: Oregon, Cal, Washington, Illinois (2022)

DOB: Nov 2001


  • Great arm strength. Can make all the throws in the route tree. Can drive the ball on the move or under duress.

  • Excellent ball placement. Can throw to spots rather than at receivers, leads targets into YAC.

  • Does not throw high at his targets often, a promising sign given his stature.

  • Great touch. Manipulates the trajectory of the ball. Shows the ability to throw a deep ball that’s a rope or one that’s a weather balloon, loft a screen over defenders, etc.

  • Not only can “make all the throws” in a route tree sense, but has different clubs in his bag for each one, with his touch, different release points, etc.

  • Throws off-balance with accuracy if necessary.

  • Good base when throwing, doesn’t get his feet messed up. Can get his feet aligned after running around.

  • Has a God-given ability to extend plays. Gives his team a margin for error.

  • Rarely, if ever, drops his eyes, even when on the move or under pressure.

  • The game doesn’t appear fast for him. Makes choices while playing that other QBs are too sped up to make. Almost artistic in his ability to play the game in different ways at speed. 

  • Feel for the pocket is nice - when he actually uses it. Demonstrates the ability to sense pressure around him.

  • Shifty athlete, deceptively tough to tackle in space. Understands how to take glancing blows rather than big hits. Not a true "dual threat", but his legs can be part of the game plan in practical ways.

  • Played hurt in the 2022 PAC-12 championship. There’s some evidence that he is tough on the field.

  • Not necessarily either a pro or con, but a note: Williams is under unique scrutiny as a returning Heisman winner. Trevor Lawrence was criticized heavily this time of year.


  • Size isn’t what you want when drafting a quarterback first overall. How tall is he REALLY? The NFL quarterback mold might be more varied than ever today, but the track record of the short top picks is not promising. Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Bryce Young TBD…

  • Front offices must determine whether the fact that Caleb ad-libs so frequently is at all an artifact of him being short. Will he have any difficulty throwing over his OL? If so, his habits might be less correctable than they appear.

  • Holds onto the ball too long!

  • Needs to pick his spots to be a playmaker. The spin away from pressure thing in particular, he does far too much. It takes setting up the DE to beat them. The ¡Ole! Thing works with D1 players, it won’t work in the NFL.

  • Was fumble-prone in college. Needs to improve ball security when the pocket breaks down, holds the ball too casually while he navigates the trash.

  • Makes some really bad decisions. Full stop.

  • How much of his hunting for big plays is coached versus nature? Lincoln Riley doesn’t seem to have much desire to call a quick game.

  • Holding onto the ball very long is a dangerous game, because you are potentially showing up your teammates. Russell Wilson has notoriously never achieved the buy-in with his linemen that you’d like to see from your franchise QB. In my eyes, this is at least partly attributable to him embarrassing his offensive linemen.

  • Never under center. Will face a learning curve in the NFL.

  • While his OL was terrible, he had some NFL guys at WR. Brenden Rice is a day 2 pick this year. Will not be able to rely on his receivers working open as consistently, or on his guys winning 50/50 balls. How will he adjust to throwing into a defense that’s more talented than his offense?

  • Emotional stability is a question mark. Has gotten a taunting call during a game. What kind of QB gets called for taunting? Has been somewhat harshly singled out for crying after a game.

  • Really does not pass the QB vibe check. His dad talking about team ownership, picking an NFL destination as “leverage”... that’s not Real Football Guy (TM) stuff. His dad was citing Kyler Murray while babbling about Caleb’s future to the press - being reminiscent of Kyler is the biggest red flag for me in a way.

Oftentimes in draft coverage, great arm is used interchangeably with strong arm. Caleb Williams is not just a big-armed prospect, but a player who possesses all-around supreme arm talent. His athleticism, arm strength and accuracy, touch and different release points, give him a whole palette of brushes to paint with. There is a reason he has long been admired within the football industry.

The questions will be about his adaptability and mental fortitude.

First, can he make more plays in structure? Being the smartest kid in the class for so long, Williams might think he has all the answers. If he does, the NFL will humble him fast. At USC, you can pass up a tight window because you can do that little ¡Ole! act and create another window later. In Chicago, you can’t. Williams must be willing to play far more within the team than he did in college.

Second, being quarterback is a gig unlike the rest on a football team. You get greater attention, greater pay, and credit for the success of your teammates. With that comes greater responsibility, scrutiny, and blame. Some QBs handle this responsibility well (Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen). Others do not (Kyler Murray). Caleb has outwardly demonstrated a rebellious and sensitive streak that will get him in trouble while trying to assume the role of franchise quarterback.

In summary, if Caleb is willing to learn, both on and off the field, he will have a distinguished NFL career. If I’m an NFL team, this is the interview I’m looking forward to the most in Indianapolis. It will certainly be good for the league if Williams can channel his prodigious talents into quarterbacking successfully, whether it be in New England or elsewhere.

Next up: Drake Maye. Enjoy!

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