2024 Rookie Faceoff: Caleb Williams v Jayden Daniels

Rookie quarterbacks are far from an exact science when trying to evaluate them for fantasy football. In this edition of the 2024 Rookie Faceoff, we compare the first two quarterbacks to come off the board at the 2024 NFL Draft, Caleb Williams vs. Jayden Daniels. To see where they both fall in our rankings, check out our Rookie Rankings Page. Also, check out the 2024 NFL Draft coverage to stay up-to-date. For the sake of this faceoff, we will be comparing the prospects in seven categories. Size, speed and rushing ability, arm strength and accuracy, throw mechanics, college production, and college QB rating as well as draft capital and landing spot as well as draft capital and landing spot.

This faceoff features the two best superflex assets in this rookie class by a considerable margin. The winner will likely be QB1 in the 2024 rookie draft class with Caleb Williams being the presumed winner going into this. Williams and Daniels Win in different fashions but both have elite potential. Neither figures to fall any lower than QB2 in this rookie class, but is there a case to be made for Daniels over Williams? Who will stake their claim to the QB1 spot?

Meet Caleb Williams

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Caleb Williams was a star from the second he stepped on the field at the University of Oklahoma and wrestled the starting job away from Spencer Rattler. After a breakout season, he quickly transferred to USC where he took his play to a whole new level. His career season came in 2022 when he racked up an impressive stat line that saw him post 4,537 passing yards and 42 touchdowns with only five interceptions. Williams would become the easy 1.01 pick at the 2024 NFL Draft selected by the Chicago Bears and would find himself on a newly retooled roster full of offensive weapons. He didn’t participate in the majority of the Pre Draft testing as he had little gain from risking injury, so it remains a mystery exactly what his ceiling is athletic. The only certain thing is that he is seen as an Andrew Luck-level “generational” prospect, although I find him closer to a Kyler Murray-level player.

Meet Jayden Daniels

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Jayden Daniels is an elite rushing quarterback with perhaps the best arm we’ve seen out of this build of quarterback. Often the rushing upside is there but with an inconsistent arm similar to that of Lamar Jackson but that is not the case here. Daniels has one of the best arms in this rookie class and has easily the best rushing ability, making him a unique talent with an unchallenged ceiling should he reach it. he saw himself go second overall to the Washington Commanders which is a considerably better landing spot than had he slipped to the Patriots at third overall. Daniels is the definition of a high-risk/high-reward prospect. He has a high bust potential, but if he hits his ceiling, it’s a ceiling that has QB1 overall potential.

Player Comparables

The two most relevant player comparisons for Williams and Daniels are both currently active in the NFL, although they are trending in opposite directions. Williams’s profile has him closest to Arizona Cardinals diminutive quarterback Kyler Murray although with slightly more size, while Daniels is closest to Indianapolis Colts sophomore Anthony Richardson. Neither rookie had a massive breakout in their rookie season, so it remains to be seen which one will be better in the long term. For now, let’s take a look at the 2024 versions of them to see if one stands out more than the other.

Size Comparison

This one goes to Daniels easily. Both quarterbacks are in the 210-215 lbs. range, but with Daniels checking in at 6’4″ compared to Williams at 6’0″ he is the easy winner. The downside here is that while he is considerably taller, he could use some mass on his frame, especially with his play style.

Despite being on the thin side of things, Daniels’s frame gives him the most potential if he can bulk up in an NFL weight room, which he will need to do if he plans to be a rushing quarterback in the NFL.

Winner: Jayden Daniels (1-0)

Speed Comparison

As far as speed goes, both players have excellent speed for a quarterback but the edge once again goes to Daniels. Daniels runs a 4.50-second 40-yard Dash, while Williams runs a 4.59-second 40-yard Dash. The win goes to Daniels, which is important because speed is much more a part of his game than it is to Williams.

Williams has enough speed that it is a useful attribute when he scrambles, but Daniels is going to live or die on his rushing ability and this is a must-have for him. Daniels is the best-rushing quarterback in this quarterback class, so this result is not surprising.

Winner: Jayden Daniels (2-0)

Arm Strength/Accuracy

These two quarterbacks are at the top of the board for a reason, they both possess elite arm talent. Caleb Williams grades out in the upper 80s on both short and intermediate throws and operates with both strength and precision. As far as deep throws are concerned, he is nearly perfect and has a nearly flawless ability to both reach deep downfield and hit a receiver accurately and in stride. It’s easy to see why he was the first overall pick, his arm talent is elite.

Not to be outdone, Daniels checks in with elite arm talent himself. As I reviewed the tape of both quarterbacks, I was shocked to find that Daniels graded out slightly better in each area of the field. Daniels possesses a 90s-grade arm in the short area for both strength and accuracy and narrowly edges out Williams and while Williams was in the 90s for deep throw strength and accuracy, Daniels may be the highest-graded deep thrower I’ve ever evaluated. I gave Daniels a grade of 95 and 99 for intermediate and deep throws and paired with his rushing ability, he may have the highest ceiling of any quarterback I’ve evaluated in recent memory.

Winner: Jayden Daniels (3-0)

Arm Release/Mechanics

The release and mechanics department is the first category is the first where these two didn’t grade out as elite. Caleb Williams showed solid mechanics and a good release point but he could work on his overall consistency in an attempt to avoid breakdowns in technique, especially when on the run. His mechanics are still far above average, but they are closer to good than great.

Jayden Daniels also does not possess elite mechanics and at times is prone to rushing throws and breakdowns in his throwing motion, but he shows slightly better technique and release than that of Williams. This one is close and in the end, is the most subjective category on the board, but in the end, this category also goes to Daniels.

Winner: Jayden Daniels (4-0)

College Production

Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels both showed Heisman Trophy-level production throughout their collegiate careers and in the end, Daniels put up better career-long numbers, but he did so in a significantly longer career than Williams.

If we compare their best collegiate seasons head to head, Williams is the easy winner. In 2022, Williams put up a monster season that totaled 4,537 passing yards, 42 touchdowns, and only five interceptions with a QBR of 168.5 and a completion percentage of 66.7%. If you compare that to the best season of Jayden Daniels you will see 3,812 passing yards, 40 touchdowns, and four interceptions with a QBR of 208.0 and a completion percentage of 72.2%.

While Daniels had the better QBR and completion percentage, the passing yards alone for Williams are almost unheard of. Daniels and Williams both put up elite numbers across the board, but the edge goes to Williams here.

Winner: Caleb Williams (1-4)

College QB Rating

A category that has nothing to debate and simply comes down to a specific number, we see Williams with a college QB rating of 86.5, while Daniels put up an 82.3.

Both quarterbacks put up excellent quarterback ratings throughout their careers, and Daniels put up the single best rating out of the two, but in the end it was Williams who was consistently rated better overall. Williams narrowly edges out Daniels in this category and keeps himself in the battle for QB1 overall.

Winner: Caleb Williams (2-4)

Landing Spot & Draft Capital

The draft capital debate is negligible as they were the top two players selected in the draft, so while the edge goes to Caleb Williams, it’s not enough to swing this category either way. Both received elite capital and both are going to have more than their fair share of chances to be franchise quarterbacks.

The landing spots are where the difference comes in. A year ago, nobody would have predicted that the Chicago Bears would be a prime landing spot, but that’s where we find ourselves. The bears loaded up in free agency, bringing in both Keenan Allen and D’Andre Swift, and with Rome Odunze also being added to the team, Williams is going to have every opportunity to succeed.

Daniels going to the Commanders is not terrible for fantasy, and it’s certainly better than if he had landed with the Patriots, it just isn’t as optimal as the Bears situation. These two franchise quarterbacks are both going to get every opportunity to be studs, but the edge here goes to Williams.

Winner: Caleb Williams (3-4)

And the Winner is…

In perhaps the biggest shocker of the offseason, Jayden Daniels is victorious over Caleb Williams by the score of 4-3. Williams is an elite prospect but was narrowly edged out by Daniels in several categories. The upside of Daniels as a dual-threat quarterback is simply too much to have anyone else ranked above him. He may be more raw than Williams but his upside is nearly untouchable should he ever reach his full potential.

At the end of the day, Williams is probably the safer prospect, but with two elite profiles it comes down to the upside for me and that’s why the ultimate winner is Jayden Daniels who I currently have ranked as my QB1.

If you would like to learn more about Sanders and Sinnott, check out our 2024 Rookie Sneak Peek videos of both players on The Fantasy Football Universe Podcast.

Caleb Williams, Quarterback, USC
Jayden Daniels LSU
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