Caleb Williams vs. Drake Maye: Who will be QB1 in the 2024 NFL Draft?

By Matt Edwards | June 14, 2023 | 3 minutes

Caleb Williams vs. Drake Maye: Who will be QB1 in the 2024 NFL Draft?

It’s June, so we are still early in this offseason’s QB analysis circle of life. It starts with overhyping the future pro prospects of the next group of quarterbacks. Then we watch the games, and new narratives take hold. After the season, the focus shifts to measurables, intangibles, and the all-important leaked cognitive test scores. Then the draft comes and everyone is shocked by who is drafted when. Rinse and repeat.

To some degree the same hype cycle happens with all players, and in most other sports as well. But quarterback is likely the most important, and therefore most analyzed, position across sports, so the degree of scrutiny on QBs is unmatched.

As of today, the projected top two quarterbacks for next season’s draft (apologies to Bo Nix, Michael Penix Jr, and Sam Hartman) will be studied as much or more than any in the history of the NFL draft. Caleb Williams has been getting Patrick Mahomes comparisons since his Freshman year, which would put him as a surefire number 1 pick in any draft. But Drake Maye is pushing for that number 1 pick and is getting a lot of love from analysts as well. The race to the top pick in the NFL will be an interesting battle to watch this upcoming season. Let’s dive into the numbers and see what we can learn about these two quarterbacks.


Drake Maye - Radars
Caleb Williams - Radars

Caleb Williams has one of the best looking radars of any quarterback from this past season. He’s pushing the edge (95th percentile or higher) on most of the categories: Yards per completion, air yards, and explosive percentage. Doing all of this while having a low interception percentage is truly impressive. He is pushing the ball down the field, completing the ball, and not throwing many interceptions (Maye similarly was excellent at avoiding picks, with only 1.4% of his passes resulting in INTs.)

One of the reasons Williams gets the Mahomes comparisons is his ability to extend plays. He had the highest time to throw of any non-option quarterback in FBS play. His ability to improvise and make off schedule throws is unmatched in college, and is one of the main reasons NFL scouts and teams are so excited about his potential. But this can come at a cost, as USC’s offense had one of the highest pressure percentage rates in the country.

North Carolina’s offense under Phil Longo was one of the best in the country in creating explosive plays, both in the run game and the pass game. Sam Howell used that offensive system to become an NFL draft pick, and Maye stepped right in and kept that going. One of the things that sticks out the most in his radar is his explosive and chunk rate plays. He was able to do this while keeping his interceptions low.

Completion Percentage Over Expected (CPOE)

At StatsBomb we are constantly expanding the data we are generating and surfacing. Among the more recent are Completion Percentage Over Expected (CPOE) and Catch Rate Over Expected (CROE). These metrics allow us to glean more information not just about which QBs have had the most success in the passing game, but also provide some insight into how much of the credit for that success should go to the QB himself as compared to how much his talents are being enhanced by his receivers.

Maye was one of the leaders in the country in CPOE last season, coming in just behind 2023 number 2 draft pick C.J. Stroud. Maye was throwing to two NFL draft picks in Josh Downs and Antoine Green; productive college players, but nobody would mistake them for Marvin Harrison Jr and Emeka Egbuka (or Jaxon Smith-Njigba when he was healthy).

As you might anticipate, most quarterbacks have a higher CPOE inside the pocket than outside the pocket - some drastically so, Carolina Panther fans might want to look away. The chart below shows the CPOE of the top qualified quarterbacks while inside or outside the pocket.

Maye had one of the highest CPOE’s inside the pocket, while outside the pocket, he wasn’t quite as effective. On the other hand, Williams was one of the few QB’s in the country who had a higher CPOE outside the pocket than inside the pocket.

Since Williams draws so many Mahomes comparisons, I wanted to take a look at the same data from the NFL this past season. Interestingly enough, Mahomes has a similar profile for inside-outside of the pocket CPOE. Although Mahomes does have a slightly higher CPOE inside the pocket than outside, his numbers are very similar to those of Wiliams.

Passing Chart

As mentioned above, Williams is one of the best quarterbacks in the country in off schedule plays. He scrambles, keeps his eyes downfield, and makes big plays when things break down. He is a great example of a QB using his legs not just to pick up yardage scrambling, but also to find big plays passing the ball. This allows plays to develop, and gives receivers a little longer to shake defenders and get open.

Looking only at passes where he takes 4 seconds or longer to throw can tell us a lot about his ability to let plays develop.

The dots are the location of the receivers at the catch attempt, and the arrows at the other end of the line are the location of where Williams was when he threw the ball. Most of these pass attempts happen outside of the pocket. He does a good job mixing up his depth of target and isn’t just running around and chucking it deep. His yards per pass attempt on passes that were 4 or more seconds after the snap was 11.1, 2nd in the country behind Syracuse’s Garrett Shrader.

Williams has a leg up in the competition as he will be playing in the same offensive system as he has for his previous two seasons. Maye will be learning a brand new system as old OC Phil Longo has moved on to Wisconsin and former UCF OC Chip Lindsey comes to Chapel Hill in Longo’s place.

Below, is a comparison of heatmaps of Maye’s passes from last season with UCF’s.

Notice the bright spots of color over the middle of the field for Maye, and the noticeable absence of those on the UCF map? I am interested to see how Maye (as well as Lindsey) adjusts to the new situation. Will we see a similar offense to what Lindsey ran at UCF (with notable dual threat all-everything athlete John Rhys Plumlee), or an approach more suited to Maye’s game (and arm talent)?

Drake Maye - Passing Heatmap
UCF Knights - Passing Heatmap


One of my least favorite things in sports is losing sight of what happens on the field in lieu of something else. Dialogue around things like the college football playoff, Heisman Trophy discussion, and NFL draft scenarios can make it hard to enjoy what is actually happening on fall game days. Mid-June feels like the perfect time to have a deeper dive into these stories, but once games start in the fall I am ready to drop the heavy analysis, and enjoy watching two of the best college QBs face off against opposing defenses.

Matthew Edwards
Head of American Football Analysis

By Matt Edwards | June 14, 2023