The 2024 NFL draft will leave Penn State with the top quarterback in the Big Ten

The Big Ten is adding four teams from the Pac-12, but three of those team's elite quarterbacks aren't coming. They'll be selected in the 2024 NFL Draft along with JJ McCarthy, leaving Drew Allar alone as the best returning QB in the conference.
Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy (9)
Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy (9) / Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY

A massive shift is coming to the landscape of the Big Ten next season. UCLA, USC, Oregon, and Washington are all arriving from the Pac-12 to create a super conference, but it’s perfect timing for Penn State. 

The Nittany Lions no longer have to simply beat Ohio State and Michigan for a conference title, now the competition is much tougher, but the 2024 NFL Draft will clear a path to a year of conference supremacy and the College Football Playoff. There are five quarterbacks likely to be selected in the first round of the draft and a sixth who projects as a second-rounder, who may sneak into Round 1. Of that group, four quarterbacks left 2024 Big Ten teams. 

Caleb Williams is the presumptive No. 1 overall pick out of USC and he’ll likely be joined by Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., and Oregon’s Bo Nix within Days 1 and 2 in Detroit. Those four teams, along with Ohio State who held the door for Kyle McCord on his way out of Columbus, all had to replace their starting quarterback this offseason, which means Drew Allar is the clear top returning QB. 

Oregon, Ohio State, and Washington had significant transfer portal additions with Dillon Gabriel, Will Howard, and Will Rogers respectively, but James Franklin may still have an advantage at the most important position on the field. If nothing else, he has continuity on his side even with a change from Mike Yurcich to Andy Kotelnicki as offensive coordinator. 

Last year was up-and-down for Allar, but even while being hamstrung by an incompetent offensive coordinator, he was able to throw 25 touchdowns with just two interceptions. While the former five-star is still oozing with potential, Allar is far from a superstar. Still, as the names of Williams, McCarthy, Penix, and Nix get called over on Thursday and Friday at the NFL Draft, the pressure will build on Allar to deliver a Big Ten title to Happy Valley. 

Good teams are coming to the conference, but their superstar quarterbacks aren’t coming with them. After this weekend, Drew Allar should be the top dog and if he plays like it, he’ll be joining those players in the NFL next April.

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