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    Thursday, July 25, 2024

    QBs Williams, Maye and Daniels could go 1-2-3 in NFL draft. Or WR Harrison could bump them down

    Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

    Indianapolis — Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels arrived in Indianapolis as Heisman Trophy winners. Drake Maye is seeking to add to his family's impressive athletic legacy.

    And the only player who might prevent those three talented quarterbacks from going 1-2-3 in this year's NFL draft appears to be All-America receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.

    On Friday, the four top prospects attended the league's scouting combine, and for the next eight weeks, they will be vying for the No. 1 spot.

    “I think I’ve put in all the hard work, the time, the effort, the energy into being that. I don’t think of a Plan B,” Williams said. “That’s kind of how I do things in my life. I don’t think of a Plan B, stay on Plan A. When things don’t work out, I find a way to make a plan work.”

    Williams has been favored to become the top pick almost from the moment he won the Heisman in 2022.

    Now, however, there are nagging questions about Williams. He has heard concerns over his size, how he handled the team's struggles in 2023, his mentality, even some rumored contract demands.

    Yet on Friday, instead of addressing those questions, he may have raised another issue. Williams, who had already said he wouldn't work out in Indy, surprisingly said he was also opting out of medical exams at the combine.

    “Not 32 teams can draft me. There’s only one of me,” Williams said. “The teams I go to for my visit, those teams will have the medical and that will be it.”

    Harrison also has taken an unconventional approach to the draft. He did no combine-specific training and doesn't intend to work out in Indy or at Ohio State's Pro Day.

    Could their decisions affect the top of the first round? Perhaps.

    Chicago owns the No. 1 pick and has Justin Fields, once thought to be its quarterback of the future. There is speculation that the Bears would either take Williams and trade Fields or keep Fields and pair him with Harrison.

    Bears general manager Ryan Poles said earlier this week he'd hopes to make a decision about Fields soon, but Williams' approach to the combine could result in a delay.

    “You want to have a thorough evaluation on all the players because you go back to those and you look at those evaluations as those guys grow in the league and go through free agency,” Chicago coach Matt Eberflus said Tuesday. “You look at all those evaluations, so you do it the same way (every year).”

    Washington and New England both have young quarterbacks who struggled last season. If those teams decide to start over, they could be choosing between Williams, Maye or Daniels.

    Before Daniels' emergence last season, Maye had been regarded by many as the No. 2 quarterback in the draft class.

    His father, Mark, played in the World League of American Football. Two of his brothers won national championships in 2017 — Luke with North Carolina's basketball team and Cole with Florida's baseball team. Drake's other brother, Beau, walked on to the Tar Heels basketball team. His mother, Aimee, was a high school basketball standout.

    “My brother Luke, the shot he hit against Kentucky, it put us on notice back in Memphis that year,” Maye said when asked about his family's favorite moment. “Being the youngest of four boys, three older brothers and three of my best friends, I’ve got a lot of memories.”

    Drake Maye could become his family's first NFL draft pick.

    Then there's Daniels, who turned down the chance to enter last year's draft after a strong finish at LSU. Instead, he altered his offseason training program and came back with 15 pounds of added muscle, along with what receiver Malik Nabers described as a stronger, more precise arm.

    Daniels turned in a dazzling 2023 season, became the third LSU player to win the Heisman and has been climbing on draft boards ever since. Can he do enough before draft day to separate himself from Williams, Maye and Harrison and go No. 1?

    “The best situation is whoever believes in me,” Daniels said. “Obviously, if someone's going to take a chance on me, say, you know, ‘This kid could change our organization or franchise, can be the face of the franchise,’ that’s somebody who supports me, believes in me. Obviously if they call my name, they believe in me as a quarterback.”

    North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
    LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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