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Caleb Williams is Not QB1

A deeper look at the facts and historical trends that tell a different story than the highlight reel

Dave Syvertsen
12/27/2023 9:10PM ET

There is still work to be done, but Caleb Williams is not the top quarterback in this class.  For over twelve months, his eligibility has been the only thing that stood between him and hearing his name called by Roger Goodell at the start of the NFL Draft. But as we have seen year after year, the only perceptions that matter are the ones after the scouting process is complete. Consensus among the public, and more importantly, consensus that is derived from highlight reels rather than the full picture, do not lead to the truth. While he can do things few others on this planet can, Williams has not shown progress as a quarterback. If anything, he’s gone backward. 

 

Williams has more career fumbles than he does starts. His 36 turnover worthy passes (PFF) in 32 career starts does not coincide with the overused “generational” label put on him by many. In fact, it is not even first round-caliber. In a game where teams win 70% of games when they are on the plus-side of the turnover battle, this may be the most important variable to the position. How can one with such a problem within the most influential ingredient to wins and losses be considered the top quarterback in the class?

 

69 combined fumbles + turnover worthy plays (according to PFF) among 2,256 offensive plays over his career equates to 1 every 32 snaps. Where does that stack up among the other two first round caliber quarterbacks in this class?

 

Jayden Daniels: 1 every 83 snaps

Drake Maye: 1 every 56

 

What about the previous ten first round quarterbacks?

 

Bryce Young: 1 every 43

CJ Stroud: 1 every 43

Anthony Richardson: 1 every 37

Kenny Pickett: 1 every 34

Trevor Lawrence: 1 every 44

Zach Wilson: 1 every 46

Trey Lance: 1 every 48

Justin Fields: 1 every 51

Mac Jones: 1 every 62

Joe Burrow 1 every 47

 

The list can go on and on, but the point is real. Williams’ difficulty when it comes to protecting the ball is worse than pretty much any first round quarterback you are going to find in recent memory. The only one close is Kenny Pickett, whom may be holding on to his starting job by a thread next season, his third in the league. Problems with turnovers in college have a way of following players to the pros. While the talent is undeniable and he will grade out as a first round player, the upside and floor of both Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels are higher than Williams, QB3.