Chicago Bears No. 1 draft pick quarterback Caleb Williams smiles as he listens to reporters during an NFL football news conference in Lake Forest, Ill., Friday, April 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

USC standout Caleb Williams and LSU player Jayden Daniels being the top two picks of the 2024 NFL Draft marks the second consecutive year that a pair of Black quarterbacks were deemed the top draft prospects.

Throughout history, the NFL refused to grant Black athletes access to the quarterback position, even if they had proficient college careers. Last season, the NFL had the most Black quarterbacks starting in week one in history with 14.

They are just two of three black quarterbacks that were the top 10 draft picks with Washington Huskies Michael Penix Jr. going eighth overall.

Both Williams and Daniels were featured in Student Athlete of the Week during their college careers. Williams brought USC into national prominence during the 2022 season. His 4,537 total passing yards and 382 total rushing yards would earn him the Heisman Trophy during the 2022 season.

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Williams noted how he is ready to take on the expectations and pressures of playing for the Chicago Bears.

“This year, I watched the Bears a little bit more than I ever have,” Williams said. “The anticipation part, I’ve been waiting for that day and now that it came true, I’m excited but I got a couple other goals to hit over the next few years.”

Washington Commanders first round draft pick Jayden Daniels speaks to reporters during an NFL football news conference in Ashburn, Va., Friday, April 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Williams led the Trojans to an 11-3 overall record in 2022, earning several accolades including Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and Walter Camp Player of the Year.

Second overall pick Jayden Daniels is a native of San Bernardino and a product of Cajon High School. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has 12,749 passing yards and 3,307 rushing yards in his career. His efforts would win him the 2023 SEC Offensive Player of the Year, the Davey O’Brien Award, and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

Daniels mentioned how he placed a piece of paper on his wall that said he was going to be in the NFL when he was young.

“It was something I dreamt about every time I worked … the workouts with my Dad when I didn’t want to work out,” Daniels said. “When I started doubting myself, when I was younger … all the perseverance I’ve been through, all the adversity I’ve been through my life led me to this point now.”

Penix led the nation in passing yards for two consecutive years. He edged up his Huskies passing record to 4,903 yards. During the Huskies CFP National Championship loss to Michigan, Penix made 27 throws for 255 yards.

“I’ve been through a lot throughout my career but I feel like through all that adversity, it made me tougher, it made me stronger,” Penix said. “Everything I’ve been through made me into the person and the player I am today.”

Atlanta Falcons first round draft choice quarterback Michael Penix Jr., holds a Falcons jersey during a news conference Friday, April 26, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Penix was a fan of Michael Vick, who was the first Black quarterback to be drafted first overall. He was also acquired by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2001 Draft.

Historically, the quarterback position had been privy to white players, leaving Black athletes to either play in the Canadian League or abandon the position to play in the NFL. In some cases, playing quarterback was the only position they knew, leaving athletes to learn a different position on the pro level.

In 1968 the Oakland Raiders drafted signal caller Eldridge Dickey, making him the first Black quarterback to be a first-round draft pick in the NFL or AFL. Dickey, who led Tennessee State through two Black college national titles and an undefeated season in 1966, was moved to play wide receiver on the professional level.

In 1973, when Pittsburg Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw was sidelined with a shoulder injury, Joseph Gilliam stepped up. Despite getting countless death threats, Gilliam led the Steelers to four wins in six games. Yet, fans called for Bradshaw to start and Gilliam was soon benched.

Hall of Famer Warren Moon signed with the Canadian League team the Edmonton Eskimos prior to the 1978 NFL draft. He became the first pro player to rack up at least 5,000 in one season in the Canadian League.

Through the trials there were triumphs; Doug Williams became the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl in 1988. James “Shack” Harris became the first Black slinger to play in the Pro Bowl and to become Pro Bowl MVP.

These quarterbacks and many more paved the way through a treacherous road of bigotry and racism for the quarterbacks of today to shine and be appreciated for their talents.