2025 NFL Draft QB self scout: Carson Beck, Will Howard and others evaluate themselves (2024)

THIBODAUX, La. — A heavy-hitting list of quarterbacks flew off the board during the first 12 picks of the 2024 NFL Draft. This points to a new, possibly lesser-known crop of passers preparing to take center stage leading up to the 2025 NFL Draft.

The Manning Passing Academy, almost inadvertently, has become the largest melting pot for college quarterbacks to convene during the calendar year. “Inadvertently” fits well since the QBs are camp counselors first and competitors second during the annual camp, held in late June at Nicholls State.


Still, it’s a chance for many of the top college passers to size each other up before heading into the year, and eventually into draft season. During this year’s academy, I caught up with six of the quarterback prospects you’ll likely run across while scouring through 2025 NFL Draft coverage, to check on what they’re working to improve this season:

  • Carson Beck, Georgia
  • Quinn Ewers, Texas
  • Riley Leonard, Notre Dame
  • Will Howard, Ohio State
  • Graham Mertz, Florida
  • Kyle McCord, Syracuse

Each of these quarterbacks carries unique challenges and expectations into a critical season for their respective college careers. Players like Beck and Ewers are considered first-round draft prospects, while others, like Leonard and Howard, chose one more year with new schools on bigger stages in hopes of improving their NFL chances — and competing for a national championship in the process.

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Carson Beck, Georgia

What’s the primary thing you’ve been working on?

I think the biggest thing is not even, like, football-wise, but taking a step as far as being a leader goes. Being better connected with the guys on our team and really trying to understand the guys around me. What’s their “why?” What makes them tick, like, what’s going to give them a go? How can I be a better leader? So that’s one thing that I’ve really been trying to improve on.

And as far as football goes, I mean, it’s just trying to be consistent. So just working on the same things week in week out — throwing on the run, deep ball, quick game. There’s so many different aspects to the game of football where, you know, you’re always improving. You’re either improving or you’re getting worse. You’re never staying the same. But yeah, I mean, there’s so many areas to continue getting better at.

How do you go about honing your skills, knowing that your name is high among NFL Draft boards throughout the media?

Honestly, I mean, none of that really crosses my mind. Obviously, it is a thing and it’s real. I’m not going to just play stupid and act like that’s not there. But that’s not my mentality, and that’s not where my focus is. It’s very much just day by day and be where your feet are. Stay grounded and don’t go too far into the future. Don’t go back into the past, which is very hard to do.

It’s very challenging, especially in the world today, where there’s so much stuff always all around you — so much noise. But just stay grounded where you’re at, and it usually makes life more simple.

Quinn Ewers, Texas

What are you working to improve upon?

You know, I’m just working on just taking full command of the team, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of it. (I’m) just a lot more comfortable in my own skin and a lot more comfortable just taking charge in that aspect of the game.

How far do you think you had to come in that aspect, taking charge and command of the team?

It definitely took me a little bit, just because I’m a more introverted person than extroverted. But now that I know these guys, it just makes everything easier.

How do you approach the NFL Draft, knowing that people are going to be looking at you and you could be considered a franchise quarterback for a team?

Yeah, I mean, I’m excited. First, I’ve got to play well this year, so, yeah, I’m excited for all the opportunities in front of me — super blessed to be in the position that I’m in. I know a lot of people would want to be in this position, and I just try to think about that stuff every day. You know, there’s probably a million people who wish they were a quarterback for Texas and (had) the opportunity to go play in the NFL next year. So that just kind of puts a different perspective on things.

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Riley Leonard, Notre Dame

What’s the primary thing you’ve been working on this offseason, other than being in a new environment?

I’d probably say (the) biggest thing is getting healthy. I’ve had three surgeries this offseason, which I say pretty proudly at this point. You know, you might as well embrace it. But I think it’s coming into the locker room as humble as possible.

I think a lot of guys may have had this preconceived perception of me, coming in as a big-time quarterback, a quarterback with a big name who’s going to come in and think he’s all this and that. I just had the approach of being very humble and being very serving to the guys. So any way I can help them, I wanted to do that so I could build those relationships.


Outside of getting physically back, what are you working on?

I think it just comes down to, like, preparation and knowing how do I handle myself on the field better — because I think I have all the off-the-field stuff pretty much handled. But being able to be on time (with the football) and, like, all these basic things. Be on time, be accurate, know where to go with the ball, know how to read the coverage. These are the things that kind of get bypassed sometimes. But if you can master those, you’re gonna be a heck of a football player.

Will Howard, Ohio State

How are you approaching the move to Ohio State?

I feel like now, in the Ohio State system, I don’t really have to be a hero or anything. I can kind of dish the ball around, make good decisions and let those guys go make plays, and I don’t really have to be a hero. So I’m just trying to lean into that, trying to just get the ball to my playmakers and let them go make plays.

In terms of helping yourself physically, with the NFL Draft being the goal, what are you working on to make that even more of a reality after this year?

The biggest thing is I’m trying to lean out and cut down, which I have done. I’m about 235 (pounds) now, I got (to Ohio State) at about 248. So I was a little heftier when I first got there and definitely slimmed down some weight, and I’m still trying to get down. Maybe if I can get it to 232, that would be ideal.

And then I would say just the velocity on my ball. Coach (Ryan) Day is big on zipping that thing and getting it there in tight windows. I’ve always been very good at touch throws, and I know when to dart the ball and when to put touch on it. Just getting more consistent with knowing when to just really dart that thing.

Will Howard passes up the NFL Draft for the Buckeyes. Great opportunity for him to parlay the 2024 season into a top-100 pick in the 2025 class. Plenty of love for him in scouting circles.

Biggest upgrade Howard offers OSU is mobility. Legit run threat at 6-5 and 240 lbs. https://t.co/kGFM6GIxzv

— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 5, 2024

Graham Mertz, Florida

What’s the primary aspect you’re working on this offseason?

I was there (at Florida) last year, so I got a year in my belt. I think one thing that we are blessed with is the system we have in Florida. I think as a new player, it forced you to really catch on quickly. And that was one thing that I really benefited from, just the structure of it.

So for me right now, we’ve got a lot of new guys. We got guys coming back that were young last year. So how do we maximize our time? How do we get a little bit better every day? And how do we keep that focus and that urgency in what we do? For me, you know what you’re going to do, you know how to do it. How do you get everybody to buy into that? You truly move as one.

So for me, it’s waking up every day — how do we truly move as one towards that goal, because obviously we weren’t satisfied with last year.

OH MY 🤯 Mertz to Wilson for a 60-yard TD!!

💻 https://t.co/cDmbrV8uRG pic.twitter.com/T1QgTHQSuI

— Florida Gators Football (@GatorsFB) April 13, 2024

What are you working on physically?

I think a big thing for me, I’ve been in college for six years — you always bench, you squat, you clean, you try to get fast, you try to get a little bit faster, you work on mobility — but for me, it’s finding new ways to attack it and embracing new things and trying to open my mind to change in some areas. Trying to just get, like I said to the other guys, just get a little bit better every day. It’s trying new things to either add to my routine or subtract another thing from my routine.


Kyle McCord, Syracuse

Obviously, there’s a new adjustment at Syracuse, but what are some of the physical things you’re working on?

I think just throwing off balance, just trying to get myself in a position to make off-schedule throws. (I) played last year, obviously, a little banged up, but I feel really good right now. I feel like I’m at 100 percent. And so now it’s just getting in tip-top shape and putting the finishing touches on it before we go out and play.

How do you handle the adjustment to a different locker room and differentatmosphere?

I think for a quarterback, obviously, regardless of what your personality is, you’re going to be looked at as a leader. And I think the biggest thing is they have to see you do the work. I think it’s tough to come into a new locker room and have no shared experiences under your belt and try to lead the guys. I feel like the offseason was really good, because we had tough workouts. And then getting into spring practice, I felt like I really started to settle into that role where, you know, I was comfortable being vocal.

So I think it was important just to get out and show my teammates (that I’m) a hard worker. I put in extra hours and all that, and I think they’ve really started to buy in, and I feel like that’s where the team chemistry has grown the most.

(Top photo of Will Howard: Jason Mowry / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2025 NFL Draft QB self scout: Carson Beck, Will Howard and others evaluate themselves (3)2025 NFL Draft QB self scout: Carson Beck, Will Howard and others evaluate themselves (4)

Larry Holder is a Senior Writer for The Athletic, focusing on the NFL. He was a Saints beat writer from 2006 to 2013, then became a Saints/NFL columnist starting in 2013. Before joining The Athletic in 2018, he worked for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, CBSSports.com and the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald. Follow Larry on Twitter @LarryHolder

2025 NFL Draft QB self scout: Carson Beck, Will Howard and others evaluate themselves (2024)


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