Projecting the top ten quarterbacks during 2024 college football season

Grant Grubbsby:Grant Grubbs05/14/24

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J.D. PicKell's 2024 Quarterback Projection Rankings

Six quarterbacks were taken in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, tying the 1983 class, which included Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. Despite the college landscape’s losses, NCAA Football will have no shortage of talent behind center in the 2024 campaign.

From veteran transfers to young standouts, countless QBs are hungry for their shot at glory in the upcoming season. On Tuesday, On3’s JD PicKell provided his predictions for the top 10 quarterbacks in 2024.

10. Garrett Nussmeier (LSU)

LSU QB Garrett Nussmeier
Nathan Ray Seebeck | USA TODAY Sports

Nussmeier’s only start last season came in LSU’s victory over Wisconsin in the ReliaQuest Bowl. In the win, Nussmeier exploded for 31 completions, 395 passing yards and three touchdowns. PicKell is confident Nussmeier will replicate this success next season in an expanded role.

“They’re going to score a lot of points,” PicKell said of LSU. “It is [Nussmeier’s] team now. He knows that. Brian Kelly knows that. Everyone in that locker room knows that. And, I think you kind of got a preview of it during the bowl game.”

9. Will Howard (Ohio State)

Ohio State QB Will Howard
Barbara J. Perenic | Columbus Dispatch | USA TODAY NETWORK

Howard is expected to be the starter at Ohio State this season after transferring in from Kansas State. Last season alone, he tallied 2,643 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing a career-high 61.3% of his passes. PicKell believes Howard’s experience will pay dividends for the Buckeyes.

“There’s not going to be a moment that is too big for Will Howard,” PicKell said. “Now, the pressure is enormous to begin with, but you pair the moments he’s going to have this upcoming season where he better have a cool hand — that game on October 12, where you go to Eugene, Oregon. You go to Autzen to play the Ducks at their place — there better not be any shake in that hand for Will Howard.”

8. Nico Iamaleava (Tennessee)

Nico Iamaleava, Tennessee Football (Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK)
Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel | USA TODAY NETWORK

Nico Iamaleava finished his debut campaign with 28 completions for two touchdowns and zero interceptions. In Tennessee’s 35-0 win over Iowa in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl, Iamaleava completed 12-of-his-19 pass attempts for 151 yards and a touchdown while adding three scores on the ground. PicKell believes Iamaleava could realize his full potential this season.

“I’m telling you a lot of broadcasters behind closed doors right now, they’re practicing that name because they know they’re gonna have to say it a lot,” PicKell said of Iamaleava. “He has so much ability and so many weapons around him. He may have the highest ceiling of any one on this list.”

7. Cam Ward (Miami)

In 2023, Cam Ward tallied 3,735 passing yards at Washington State, the fifth-most in the country. He also tacked on 25 passing touchdowns and eight rushing scores while throwing just seven interceptions. Now in Miami, Ward will have a chance to thrive under offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.

“Cam Ward is going to be more consistent. Cam Ward is going to be more of a known commodity within that system throughout the course of this season,” PicKell said. “It’s not going to be a lot of hoping and wishing that he can make all the throws. He’s gonna make all the throws for you.”

6. Shedeur Sanders (Colorado)

Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders opened up about his viral watch moment
Mark J. Rebilas | USA TODAY Sports

In his first season in Colorado, Shedeur Sanders exploded for 298 completions on 430 attempts (69.3%) for 3,230 passing yards and 31 total touchdowns. Additionally, Sanders notched 111 carries for 394 yards and four scores. Despite any offseason controversy, PicKell does not expect Sanders to slow down in the upcoming season.

“The kid can flat-out ball. He’s gonna put up huge numbers,” PicKell said. “They are going to throw it to win. So, regardless of what Colorado does this year on the win and loss columns, he’s gonna have big stats.”

5. Jalen Milroe (Alabama)

Jalen Milroe-Alabama Crimson Tide-Alabama football-NIL
Gary Cosby Jr. | USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Milroe finished this past season with 2,718 yards passing, 23 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He was also a significant threat on the ground, collecting 468 rushing yards and a team-high 12 touchdowns on the ground. While Nick Saban is no longer leading the Crimson Tide, PicKell predicts Milroe will continue to roll over his opponents.

“Jalen Milroe and Kalen DeBoer, to me, are a lot like the french fry and milkshake combo,” PicKell said. “It sounds like it wouldn’t taste good. It’s two things that are very different. I think that’s Kalen DeBoer and Jalen Milroe. You don’t think they’re supposed to go together and then you try it and you’re like, ‘Oh, wow, this is phenomenal.'”

4. Dillon Gabriel (Oregon)

Dillon Gabriel, Oregon
Dillon Gabriel, Oregon – © Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK

Dillon Gabriel will wear a new uniform this season, but still boast the same skills. In 2023 at Oklahoma, Gabriel amassed 266 completions, 3,660 passing yards and 30 touchdowns compared to only six interceptions. This year will be Gabriel’s seventh at the collegiate level, and PicKell expects the experience to show.

“He may have the highest floor of this entire group,” PicKell said of Gabriel. “This scheme that Oregon is going to allow him to thrive in plays exactly to his skill set. It’s a big reason why he chose Oregon. Dillon Gabriel is going to get the football out quickly. He’s going to put it in the right place.”

3. Jaxson Dart (Ole Miss)

Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart (2). (Photo: Barbara Gauntt/Clarion Ledger / USA TODAY NETWORK)
Barbara Gauntt/Clarion Ledger / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jaxson Dart led one of the most dangerous offenses in the nation last season at Ole Miss. In the 2023 campaign, the 6-foot-2 QB recorded 233 completions for 3,364 passing yards and 23 touchdowns while only tossing five picks. PicKell forecasts these numbers will grow in the upcoming season.

“If he takes an another step in the [Ole Miss offensive coordinator] Charlie Weis system in Year Three, I mean is he in the Heisman conversation? Because, at that point, he’s probably in the range of 40 total touchdowns. It’s worth discussing,” PicKell said.

2. Quinn Ewers (Texas)

Quinn Ewers
© Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

Quinn Ewers threw for 3,161 yards and 21 touchdowns across 11 games as a redshirt sophomore last season, leading Texas to its first College Football Playoff appearance in program history. PicKell expects even more jaw-dropping statistics from Ewers this year.

“Quinn Ewers, I think has the ability to have the best statistical performance out of anybody on this list this season,” PicKell said. “He has figured out what works in college football. The light bulb is on and it’s flashing. It’s beaming.”

1. Carson Beck (Georgia)

Carson Beck Georgia
Brett Davis | USA TODAY Sports

Carson Beck finished this past season ranked third nationally and first in the SEC in passing yards (3,941), as well as fourth in the nation in completion percentage (.724). For his efforts, he was named a Coaches All-SEC Second Team selection. Obviously, PicKell anticipates more accomplishments ahead for Georgia’s QB1.

“I have the highest level of confidence that [Beck] is going to execute his job at the highest level every single Saturday,” PicKell said. “There was a lot of letting Carson Beck get comfortable last year. There was a lot of continuing to provide him more and more lease with this offense. Now, that car’s not rented anymore. That is the Georgia offense. That is his car. That is his offense.”