The Changing Face of the NFL: Black QBs Poised to Shine Again in the 2024 Draft

The Changing Face of the NFL: Black QBs Poised to Shine Again in the 2024 Draft

The 2024 NFL draft has the potential to be another strong showing for black quarterbacks, continuing the trend of increasing representation at the league’s highest-profile position. While this year’s draft might not replicate the historic feat of 2023, with three black QBs selected in the top four picks, the upcoming class boasts some very talented prospects who are poised to make an impact.

Over the years, the Fritz Pollard Alliance (FPA) has played a vital role in championing diversity within the NFL at all levels. This year’s draft potential is a testament to the continued progress that the FPA and similarly aligned organizations have made toward helping minorities excel at the highest level of professional football.

Top Prospects for the 2024 NFL Draft

The 2024 NFL draft features a promising trio of black quarterbacks who are projected to be picked early on:

  • Caleb Williams (USC): A dynamic dual-threat quarterback with a knack for the spectacular, Caleb Williams burst onto the national scene at USC and was the catalyst for the Trojans’ resurgence. The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner, Williams possesses elite arm strength, pinpoint accuracy, and the elusiveness to create big plays with his legs. His experience in Lincoln Riley’s high-powered offense makes him pro-ready and he has the potential to be an immediate franchise-altering talent at the NFL level.
  • Jayden Daniels (LSU): An extraordinary athlete and proven leader, Jaden Daniels became a transformative figure at LSU. He possesses all the tools of a modern NFL quarterback – a powerful arm, exceptional mobility, and the composure to make smart decisions under pressure. Daniels became the first player in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history to reach both 350 passing yards and 200 rushing yards in a single game, which was the high point of a record-smashing 2023 season. His Heisman Trophy win capped an outstanding college career.
  • Michael Penix Jr. (Washington): Resilient and remarkably talented, Michael Penix Jr. authored an inspirational comeback with the Washington Huskies. Overcoming past injuries, he blossomed into a prolific passer, twice shattering the university’s single-season passing yard record and leading the Huskies to the 2024 College Football Playoff National Championship game. Renowned for his deep ball accuracy, pocket presence, and knack for leading his team to victory, Penix emerged as one of the nation’s most exciting quarterbacks. His combination of raw skill and determination make him a highly intriguing NFL prospect.

Building on Breakthroughs: The Recent Rise in Top Black Quarterback Prospects

The 1999 NFL draft marked a groundbreaking moment, with Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, and Daunte Culpepper becoming the first trio of black quarterbacks selected in the first round. This shattered barriers and paved the way for future successes as the 21st Century approached. The most recent decade has seen a remarkable acceleration in the rise of black QBs in the NFL, and they are changing the way the league perceives this pivotal position.

Here are some of the key milestones that black quarterbacks have achieved during the past decade:

  • 2017 – A New Generation Emerges: Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson entering the league as first-round picks signaled a new era. They showcased the exceptional talent and leadership capabilities of black quarterbacks, challenging traditional narratives.
  • Continued Momentum (2019-2021): Drafts from 2019 to 2021 saw a consistent trend of black quarterbacks landing in the first round, with Kyler Murray going first overall in 2019. The selections of Dwayne Haskins, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance further cemented the growing influence of black quarterbacks throughout the NFL.
  • 2023 – A Watershed Moment: The 2023 NFL Draft stands as a historic high point. With Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, and Anthony Richardson all drafted within the top four, it signified the incredible depth of talent at the position. 

The Changing NFL Landscape: A New Era of Excellence for Black QBs

The potential of the 2024 NFL draft takes on even greater significance when placed alongside the success of the black quarterbacks who are already in the league. Superstars like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Jalen Hurts have reshaped the perception of the NFL’s most important position. Their accomplishments extend far beyond the order in which they were drafted, demonstrating dominance on the football field. 

Mahomes already holds three Super Bowl titles and two MVP awards, while Jackson’s dynamic play has earned him two MVP awards as well. Hurts’ recent Super Bowl appearance further underscores the consistent presence of black quarterbacks at the pinnacle of the sport.

These quarterbacks serve as powerful agents of change, challenging outdated stereotypes and paving the way for the next generation. They prove that black QBs aren’t just capable athletes who can put up MVP numbers, but they can also be the driving force behind championship-caliber teams and break down barriers in the process. 

A Lasting Legacy? The 2024 Draft Potential 

Like many recent classes, the 2024 NFL draft has the potential to leave a lasting mark on the league. If the projections hold true, it could help solidify a new era where black QBs are consistently among the NFL’s elite.

This draft class also provides another group of talented role models who will help inspire a new generation of young black athletes. Witnessing quarterbacks who look like them excel at the highest level can ignite dreams and break down perceived limitations. The success stories likely to emerge from the 2024 class will continue to serve as a powerful source of motivation for future stars in the making. 

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