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2024 NFL Draft: 3 Key QB Matchups in Week 11

Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy

There’s been plenty of talk surrounding the top two quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft: Caleb Williams and Drake Maye. With those two taking up most of the spotlight, quarterbacks such as J.J. McCarthy, Michael Penix Jr., Bo Nix and Shedeur Sanders have fallen a little bit in the shadows.

Here are some of this weekend’s top quarterback matchups to watch as we head into the later stages of the college football season.

3 College QB Matchups to Watch

J.J. McCarthy (Michigan) vs. the Penn State Defense

This weekend, McCarthy has plenty to gain with a good showing against a stout Penn State defense that many believe is the second-best defensive unit in all of college football (behind Michigan’s).

The Nittany Lions possess multiple projected 2024 draft picks — Chop Robinson, Kalen King and Curtis Jacobs — and the Penn State defense will present a unique challenge to McCarthy given its size, speed and athleticism. This season, McCarthy has done a nice job creating out of structure in the Wolverines' offense and should get more opportunities to show his play-making abilities.

With him having the ability to gain ground in the QB3 race, Penn State’s defenders can also gain ground in their respective positional races. Robinson is currently my third-overall edge rusher in the 2024 NFL Draft, but there’s not much of a gap among him, UCLA’s Laiatu Latu and Alabama’s Dallas Turner. A strong showing by Robinson against the Wolverines’ strong offensive line unit could catapult him into EDGE1-2 discussions.

The same conversation can be had with King. Coming into the year, many projected him as the CB1 for the 2024 draft, and while he still has the chance to get that title back, some spotty performances so far in 2023 have seen him lose some ground to Iowa’s Cooper DeJean, Clemson’s Nate Wiggins and Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry. King struggled some against Marvin Harrison Jr. and the Ohio State offense a few weeks back, so this game against Michigan is a chance to bounce back against another strong offense.

close-up shot of Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders dropping back to throw

Shedeur Sanders (Colorado) vs. the Arizona Defense

Like McCarthy, Sanders has a lot to gain this weekend with a good showing against a strong defense.

After he exploded early in the season with dynamic performances against TCU, Nebraska and Colorado State, things have been a little more difficult for Sanders in the Colorado offense. But despite the slippage, he can still work his way back into the first-round discussions with a strong showing against a stout defense.

Sanders’ biggest issues over the past few weeks stem back to the biggest concerns about him in the evaluation process: his pocket presence and his taking too many sacks. In the last two weeks, Sanders has taken 11 sacks against UCLA and Oregon State.

Sanders has not been getting much help from his offensive line. Still, he’s going to have to show the ability to improve some of his pocket presence and movement to avoid taking so many negative plays inside the pocket.

Despite his recent struggles, there are plenty of positives to pack into the evaluation for him to be considered in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. But in a loaded quarterback draft, he’ll need to stack some high-level games together to separate himself from the rest of the pack.

LSU QB Jayden Daniels runs while an Alabama defender reaches out to stop him

Jayden Daniels (LSU) vs. the Florida Defense

One of the more surprising seasons from a 2024 draft quarterback has been from LSU’s Jayden Daniels.

Despite not having much traction as a draftable quarterback coming into the season, Daniels has worked himself into the Day 2 discussions with his play over the first nine games of 2023. Daniels has completed 70.6 percent of his passes, has a passer rating of 136.2 and has thrown for 2,791 yards with 27 touchdowns to just four interceptions.

While Florida’s defense has had its issues so far in 2023, Daniels could catapult his stock with another strong showing on the national stage. Daniels and the Tigers will close out their regular season with Florida, Georgia State and Texas A&M. With three strong performances, Daniels could get his name in the Day 2 discussions.

Connor Livesay breaks down and covers the NFL and NFL Draft year-round using film and data to support his opinions and takes. You can follow him on Twitter (X) at @ConnorNFLDraft