Let me introduce you to the beautiful dichotomy of the quarterback position in college football.

There are quarterbacks the NFL loves, and quarterbacks who are phenomenal college players. It doesn’t mean they can’t live in the same college world.

NFL scouts love North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye. He’s Justin Herbert with more athletic ability, and could be the 1st overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

College fans love Jordan Travis, Florida State’s dynamic and dangerous dual-threat quarterback who has lifted a program from the scrap heap with talent and undeniable sheer will. He’s everything you want from a college player.

He’s also a late-round NFL flier, a player who potentially could move to the mid rounds by improving any number of NFL measurables (accuracy, consistency, throwing with anticipation).

But that doesn’t mean Travis isn’t 1 of the 10 best quarterbacks in college football, or that he can’t lead FSU to the Playoff. Which is what it’s all about, anyway.

Our annual post-spring look at the ACC quarterbacks, ranked in tiers:

1. Championship level

1. Drake Maye, North Carolina: The rare quarterback — the rare player — that comes around once every few decades.

The talent level is ridiculous, both throwing and running, and making plays/decisions off schedule. The numbers tell the story: 4,321 yards passing, 38/7 TD/INT ratio with 698 yards rushing, 7 TDs.

But more than that, it’s the competitive desire. One NFL scout told me, “He’s a linebacker playing quarterback. An unbelievable competitive mentality.”

The only hiccup last season: When November rolled around and the Tar Heels needed elite play from the most important position on the field, Maye was inconsistent. He completed 56% of his passes in ugly losses to NC State and Georgia Tech, and played poorly in the ACC Championship Game in a 28-point loss to Clemson (he didn’t get much help).

A strong bowl performance in a 1-point loss to Oregon reset 2023. Now how much better can he be?

2. Jordan Travis, Florida State: I’m torn about Travis. He’s a highlight reel waiting to happen every single snap. He makes big plays in critical situations, and he might be the most dangerous dual-threat quarterback in college football.

But he’s not a thrower — at least not yet. Will that become a problem at some point this season, or will it finally get exposed if FSU reaches the Playoff?

The Jordan Travis vs. NC State, Clemson and Florida isn’t leading FSU back to the top of the ACC. The Travis vs. LSU and Oklahoma will.

3. Riley Leonard, Duke: The most underrated and overlooked quarterback in college football.

I have no idea how Duke kept him from the NIL vultures, or why Leonard didn’t leave for Alabama or Florida or Auburn — or any other high-profile Power 5 school. But he didn’t, and now Duke gets another year (and that might be it) with a lock NFL Draft 1st-rounder and a difference-maker at the most important position on the field.

In his 1st season as a starter in 2022, he completed 64% of his passes, threw for 2,967 yards (20 TDs, 6 INTs), and led the the Blue Devils in rushing and scoring (699 yards, 13 TDs).

The talent and production (and prototypical NFL size) plays out over and over. And how do you not pull for (and celebrate) a guy who said no to bigger schools to stay at Duke?

2. A step away

4. Cade Klubnik, Clemson: The problem with following Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence as a 5-star recruit is you’re expected to play at that level from the jump.

There’s a reason Watson and Lawrence were rare. That doesn’t mean it can’t click in Year 2 for Klubnik, who is clearly talented and probably should’ve played more last season.

Expect his production to be more like the ACC Championship Game, and less like the Orange Bowl.

5. Brennan Armstrong, NC State: Which Armstrong will we see? The confident, accurate thrower from 2021 at Virginia, or regressed version of 2022?

The narrative is Armstrong will return to 2021 form because he has reunited with his former OC at Virginia in 2021 (Robert Anae), and because he just didn’t fit with the new Cavs coaching staff in 2022.

You don’t go from throwing for 4,400 yards to 2,200 yards, and 31 TDs to 7 TDs without a significant change somewhere in the transition.

6. Phil Jurkovec, Pittsburgh: A breakout season in 2020 at Boston College was followed by 2 seasons of regression while dealing with injuries.

Two things: Can he stay healthy, and can he revert to the level of play (and confidence) of 2020? If he can, Pitt will play November games of significance.

7. Tyler Van Dyke, Miami: I’ll give you the problems on 2022 are on former OC/QBs coach Josh Gattis and that it just didn’t work.

Van Dyke’s regression is as much about that as it is a shoulder injury. New OC/QBs coach Shannon Dawson and a new quarterback-friendly offense will be the drastic change a young but talented Miami needs to compete for the ACC title.

At some point, though, some of the fall from grace has to be placed on Van Dyke. Like Armstrong at NC State, Van Dyke has to play better. Period.

8. Mitch Griffis, Wake Forest: Welcome to the world of what could be.

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson and OC/QBs coach Warren Ruggiero (another ACC talent, like Leonard, who chose to stay instead of leaving for bigger jobs) have proven they can prepare quarterbacks.

Next up is Griffis, who in 1 start as the backup to wildly productive Sam Hartman, completed 21-of-29 passes for 288 yards and 3 TDs (0 INT). Yeah, it was against VMI — but I’m still betting on Griffis/Clawson/Ruggiero.

3. Game managers

9. Garrett Shrader, Syracuse: First 6 games of 2022: 12 TDs, 3 INTs, 5 Rush TD, 6-0 record. Last 6 games: 5 TDs, 4 INTs, 4 rush TDs, 1-5 record.

When the heavy lifting arrived in the 2nd half of the season, Shrader (and Syracuse) struggled. He missed spring rehabbing a right arm that affected his play in the 2nd half of the season.

A tough, willing runner, and a solid thrower.

10. Jack Plummer, Louisville: He played for new coach Jeff Brohm at Purdue before transferring to Cal because he lost out on the starting job to Aidan O’Connell.

His first season as a full starter was productive (3,095 yards, 21 TDs), and his career TD/INT ratio is solid (47/19). Can he make it work in a 1-shot deal with a 3rd program?

11. Haynes King, Georgia Tech: Former blue-chip recruit gets another chance to reach expectations.

Jimbo Fisher believed he could be an elite player in the SEC, but an injury at Texas A&M in 2021 sidetracked a season and his development through 2022.

He’s athletic and has a strong arm. Has to be more consistent, and has to prove he can make game-winning plays.

12. Emmett Morehead, Boston College: Jurkovec got hurt, and Morehead took over in November — and it wasn’t nearly as bad as the 1-3 record.

He played well in 3 of 4 games, and the entire team imploded in an ugly loss at Notre Dame. Outside of the ND game, he had 9 TDs, 2 INTs and completed more than 60% of his passes against Duke, NC State and Syracuse.

Those aren’t groundbreaking numbers, but they’re absolutely winning numbers.

13. Grant Wells, Virginia Tech: New coaches don’t win only 3 games without significant talent/buy-in issues. In other words, it wasn’t all Wells in 2022.

He was better at Marshall from 2019-21, but the accuracy slipped and the ball didn’t get downfield — his average per attempt plummeting to 6.5. If the Hokies protect better, and 2 key transfers — WRs Jaylin Lane (Middle Tennessee) and Da’Quan Felton (Norfolk State) — make an impact, Wells will play better.

14. Tony Muskett, Virginia: A Monmouth transfer (where he started 20 games), Muskett was 1 of 2 potential starters who played in the spring game.

The other, Jay Woolfolk — who had 1 career start — played on the baseball team this spring. (He’s an elite closer, with 7 saves and 33 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched entering the final weekend of the regular season.) Either way, coach Tony Elliott must get the most important position on the field figured out.

He did it with elite talent at Clemson. Can he do it with less at Virginia?