2024 NFL Draft pro day primer: What to watch for as Caleb Williams, other top QBs work out, plus full schedule

Written by on March 20, 2024

It’s the start of Quarterback Pro Day Weeks for the 2024 NFL Draft. So, that’s not actually a real thing, but it could be. I’m surprised NFL Network hasn’t branded it yet. Over the next two weeks, we’ll get all the top passers throwing the football at the friendly confines of their college campuses, starting with Caleb Williams and J.J. McCarthy this week. 

No, we shouldn’t put too much into pro day workouts. And teams don’t. However, they can serve as a tiebreaker, and a strong performance throwing the rock against air can slightly elevate or dip a draft stock. In this class, where we aren’t quite sure how the passers will be picked in April — maybe outside of Williams going No. 1 overall — these pro days matter more than they have in a while. 

Let’s jump into each of the big workouts and pinpoint what each quarterback needs to show.

USC Pro Day 

Date: March 20
QB prospect:
Caleb Williams

What he has to show: Williams feels like the locked-in No. 1 overall pick right now, and, frankly, any concerns the Bears may have with him probably don’t appear on film. So there’s probably not a specific drill at his Pro Day that could assuage those concerns, if they’re there. 

But it wouldn’t hurt Williams to just go out there, sling the football around from a variety of arm angles to a variety of areas on the field. He has upper-level arm strength and freaky arm talent, so why not show it off. Even if a few passes don’t hit USC’s wideouts perfectly in stride, his draft stock won’t move whatsoever, regardless what he or anyone in his camp may think. Williams’ traits are borderline special. He should show them off at the start of this run of quarterback pro days. And give it some flair. Demonstrate the reverse-of-field athleticism, stop-and-start suddenness and throws from every platform and arm-angle conceivable. 

Michigan Pro Day

Date: March 22
QB prospect: J.J. McCarthy

What he has to show: Volume. I want McCarthy to demonstrate to everyone — the NFL, fans, and media alike — he can be a high-volume thrower. Let’s see, something like 70 passes from the three-year Michigan starter. The more, the better. Because his low-volume career in Ann Arbor is the main general gripe about him as a prospect. He wasn’t the focal point of Michigan’s three straight CFP berths that culminated in a national championship in January. 

Give everybody the full McCarthy experience. Because the larger frame and live arm are there on film. Time to show off the physical traits. With the higher volume workout that should feature plenty of “off-structure” throws — of course a workout that highlights his accuracy wouldn’t hurt, too. Really, unless he totally tanks, there’s not much McCarthy could do to hurt what is apparently a strong reputation among the decision-makers of NFL teams

LSU Pro Day

Date: March 27
QB prospect: Jayden Daniels

What he has to show: It feels like Daniels has jumped Drake Maye en route to being the second quarterback off the board in late April, doesn’t it? But we’ve seen nothing from Daniels since a four-touchdown, no-pick effort against Texas A&M on Nov. 25. While Daniels may have more confidence now than he did then that he’d be the second selection in the draft, there’s no guarantee that’ll happen, therefore a workout that allows him to demonstrate his explosive athleticism and deep-ball touch would go a long way in cementing those strengths of his game in the minds of the Washington Commanders brass — or any other team willing to ascend the draft board to snag him. 

Washington Pro Day 

Date: March 28
QB prospect: Michael Penix Jr.

What he has to show: Penix had the most impressive combine throwing session. The ball came out of his hands differently. And it’s what we expected, but to see Penix and McCarthy throw essentially at the same time, made for the difference in their arm strength to be even more apparent. 

On the surface, Penix probably doesn’t need to do much more to help himself after what transpired at the combine. Then again, there’s nothing that’s hinted Penix as a lock for the first round, so technically there’s still work to be done for the Washington passer. Everything about his pro day has to be centered around his bazooka of an arm and how, despite an awkward-looking release, he gets the ball out of his hands in a flash.  

North Carolina Pro Day

Date: March 28
QB prospect: Drake Maye

What he has to show: Despite literally doing nothing, Maye’s stock has, for some reason unbeknownst to me, taken the biggest hit during the pre-draft process. It’s that, or, there is a team or teams working diligently to get Maye to fall into their laps. Those calculated disinformation campaigns occur every single draft season. 

And while it’d be arguable, to me he’s the most naturally talented quarterback in this class, and checks the most boxes at the quarterback position. Size, arm strength/talent, athleticism, scrambling capabilities, creativity outside the pocket. It’s all there. Maye needs to get on the move, make a litany of throws deep down the field — which he did often in his two years as North Carolina’s starter — to remind everyone of his immense physical gifts and how accurate he can be despite possessing a noticeably strong arm. 

The post 2024 NFL Draft pro day primer: What to watch for as Caleb Williams, other top QBs work out, plus full schedule first appeared on CBS Sports.

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