Competition level was varied this week among the top quarterback prospects. While Texas' Quinn Ewers led his team to victory over No. 3 Alabama, Duke's Riley Leonard did not see a pass touch the turf against Lafayette. There is a long way to go until the 2024 NFL Draft but CBSSports.com will be tracking performances each week.
Here is a look at the top 5 quarterback prospects, in this moment, and what they showcased this week:
1. Caleb Williams, USC
Stat line: 19 of 21 passes completed for 281 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions; 1 carry for 21 yards and 1 touchdown in a 56-10 win over Stanford
Williams played a total of 38 snaps before turning over a 49-3 lead to sophomore Miller Moss. Williams was pinpoint accurate yet again. He keeps his eyes downfield when pressured always looking for a receiver breaking free. The Oklahoma transfer connected with one-time Colorado wide receiver transfer and son of NFL great Jerry Rice, Brenden Rice, for a 75-yard touchdown before the half. It was a beautiful throw where he hit Rice in stride on a Go Route.
There is another play and throw that it is more indicative of his upside, however. Williams is good for at least one of these per game where he manipulates the pocket before hitting an open pass catcher on the run. In this case, it was a 19-yard touchdown to Arizona transfer Dorian Singer:
2. Drake Maye, North Carolina
Stat line: 21 of 30 pass attempts for 208 yards, 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions; 11 carries for 57 yards and 1 touchdown in a 34-40 overtime win against Appalachian State
North Carolina was more effective than on the ground, particularly in overtime as sophomore running back Omarion Hampton and Maye wore down the Mountaineers defense. Appalachian State did a good job of getting pressure on the quarterback quickly, which was reflected on his 8.5 air yards per target.
Maye's ceiling has always been high but the hope for this season was to find consistency and improved decision-making. Thus far, there are reasons to be optimistic that he has taken that next step.
3. J.J. McCarthy, Michigan
Stat line: 22 of 25 passes completed for 278 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions; 3 carries for 38 yards in a win over UNLV
McCarthy has easily been my second favorite quarterback to watch this season. Competition level has been lacking but the junior looks as though he spent the offseason studying coverages and ways to exploit them. When zone would take away downfield options, he would work to his checkdown. He understood spacing and how to attack the soft spots of the zone. McCarthy plays like he has been practicing all week against the opponent and his decision-making has dramatically improved over the course of the off-season.
USC's Caleb Williams has a comfortable grasp of that top quarterback spot but McCarthy is closing on Maye. Can he continue this graduate level quarterback play against stiffer competition?
4. Shedeur Sanders, Colorado
Stat line: 31 of 42 passes completed for 393 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions; 11 carries for -30 yards and 1 touchdown in a win over Nebraska
Sanders' ball placement has been impressive this season. He throws his receivers open and puts the ball in a position where only his teammate can make a play. The level of quarterback play, as far as reading defenses and throwing with accuracy, is much higher than any year I can remember to this point.
Sanders does not over complicate the game plan and is willing to take those underneath throws but he has also shown that he is more than capable of pushing the ball downfield. He displayed the arm strength necessary to keep the ball down and gut punch the defense.
There was one throw that Sanders would like to have back. He had a clean pocket and a ton of room to lead his receiver but led him too far.
5. Quinn Ewers, Texas
Stat line: 24 of 38 passes completed for 349 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, as well as 3 carries for 11 yards in a 34-24 win at No. 3 Alabama
The difference in Ewers and Leonard is quality of victory. Ewers has tremendous arm strength and that was on display Saturday against the Crimson Tide. However, there is still a lot of work to do with footwork and other aspects of the position. He gets happy feet at times and had opportunities to reset his feet in space to make a more accurate throw. When pressured, he looks to run a lot sooner than other quarterbacks in this class. Fortunately, he has better mobility than some of the other top names. His ability to rise to the occasion and lead his team in that environment says a lot about his leadership.
His ceiling is absolutely higher than other quarterbacks in the class but he needs to find that game in and game out consistency.
Other performance to note
Riley Leonard, Duke
Stat line: 12 of 12 passes completed for 136 yards, 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions, as well as 4 carries for 13 yards in a 42-7 win over Lafayette
Leonard did not have a pass touch the ground in Saturday's win over Lafayette. He was much more efficient operating that offense against Lafayette than Clemson, which is to be expected. He led his receivers and threw with touch into the soft spots of zone coverage. The second tier of quarterback prospects is going to be tight but all are showing that they deserve Top-50 consideration.