This is how it works in the wonderfully frightful world of drafting a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft: You either hit or you don’t.

Simplistic, yes. But there’s zero room for error.

“I’ve been with a (franchise) where the 4 months prior (to the pick) was torture. Absolute torture,” an NFL scout told Saturday Down South. “Everyone knows their job is on the line.”

Because everyone in the league knows — and scouts and personnel people in the NFL are adamant about this — the odds of hitting are less than 50-50.

More times than not during drafts of multiple quarterbacks selected in the first round, an unscientific but highly reliable reality plays out. One will be a franchise quarterback, one will be a solid starter and the rest, well, let’s just say it’s not good.

Mitchell Trubisky. Zach Wilson. Sam Arnold. Marcus Mariota. Trey Lance. Carson Wentz. Blake Bortles.

All top 5 picks in the past 10 years. All backup quarterbacks or out of the league.

This, of course, leads to the 2024 NFL Draft, where 5 quarterbacks — and maybe 6 — will be selected in the first round. It’s not a stretch to see the unwritten rule play out.

There were 5 quarterbacks selected in the first round in 2021 — including the top 3 picks — and only 1 (Trevor Lawrence) is a starter. The road for the rest is brutal: all 4 are backups, and 3 of the 4 are with new teams.

After 3 seasons.

So welcome to the annual quarterback crapshoot, where Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, JJ McCarthy, Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr. are now in the barrel.

Who flashes and who fails?

Caleb Williams, USC

The positive: It looks effortless. Throwing from different release points, throwing off platform, the quick flick with velocity. It all looks so Pat Mahome-ish, it may just be too good to be true.

“That’s sort of like saying this guy or that guy is the next Tom Brady,” another NFL scout told SDS. “That’s how good Mahomes is, and how ridiculous that comparison is. These guys change when they get here. Mentally, physically, emotionally. You just don’t know how they’ll react.”

The negative: The Lincoln Riley system. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray had big arms. They threw off platform and were athletic and it all looked easy.

Mayfield has played for 4 teams in 6 years. Murray was the Rookie of the year and has played in 2 Pro Bowls in 5 seasons, but has missed 15 games in the past 2 years because of injury. He has 24 TDs and 12 INTs over the past 2 seasons.

The future:

Scout No. 1: “His skills are rare. He’s not Mahomes, but I believe you can go deep in the playoffs with him.”

Scout No. 2: “The thing I like about him beyond the skill is he’s tough, and his football IQ is off the charts. He understands the position and how to maximize every scenario.”

Drake Maye, North Carolina

The positive: Big and strong, and athletic. The easy comparison is Trevor Lawrence. Can stand tall in the pocket and make every throw, and can hurt you with his legs.

The negative: The accuracy and consistency. Rules favor the offense — and more specific, the passing game — and there’s no reason college quarterbacks shouldn’t be completing 70% of passes.

Maye completed 63.3 percent in 2023, and only once in his career completed more than 60% against ranked teams.

The future:

Scout 1: “He scares the hell out of me. He has the skills to become a solid starter, but I can also see him out of the league in a few years.”

Scout 2: “I like him a lot. Are there consistency issues? Absolutely. But they’re fixable. His mechanics are all over the place. Get him in your building, clean it up, and away you go.”

Jayden Daniels, LSU

The positive: The production and the improvement. He had the skills early in his career at Arizona State, but there were consistency problems.

From the midpoint of the 2022 season, he has been a different player. Confident, smart, aggressive in his approach, getting better every game.

The negative: Durability. He’s 6-4. 210 pounds, and it’s a thin 210 pounds. His arm strength also isn’t elite. But Lamar Jackson entered the league with the same negatives — and got bigger and stronger. And has won 2 MVPs.

The future

Scout 1: “His skill-set is perfect for today’s game. I’m just not sure he can take the constant pounding. He’s going to play Day 1, and how much stronger and bigger can you get in 4 months?”

Scout 2: “This is one of those times when one specific issue (durability) forces teams to pass, while ignoring all that’s good. Our game now is about getting the ball out on time, or buying time off platform and throwing accurately. He can do both. And he’ll be the fastest guy on the field.”

JJ McCarthy, Michigan

The positive: Does a lot of things well, and played in a pro system at Michigan. Plenty of arm strength, and is accurate on boots and rollouts and when breaking containment. Athletic and fast, and can pick up hidden yards in the run game.

The negative: The resume. There’s not much of it. In 2 seasons as a starter, he threw 654 passes, and though he completed nearly 68%, there are accuracy issues on 2nd- and 3rd-level throws. Durability is a concern, too. He must get bigger and stronger.

The future

Scout 1: “His knowledge of the position and passing concepts is off the charts. And I love his attitude. But there are guys that know where to go with the ball and don’t always get it there.”

Scout 2: “He’s a late Day 1 guy for me. There are a lot of questions, from arm strength on deep throws, to consistent accuracy. A lot of teams love his (football) IQ and the way he carries himself. That’s great, but can he consistently make NFL throws?”

Bo Nix, Oregon

The positive: Much like Daniels, a completely different quarterback with his 2nd team. Nix looked lost at Auburn, and developed into an elite volume thrower in 2 seasons at Oregon. Arm strength, compact, quick release and athletic ability. He has all the skills of today’s NFL quarterback.

The negative: Did his level of play increase because he got away from the best defenses in college football in the SEC? In other words, is he a product of the Oregon offense — and more important, Pac-12 defenses?

The future

Scout 1: “One of the most intriguing players in the draft. After those ugly Auburn years, his tape the last 2 seasons screams, ‘You better not pass on me.’ A guy with that release, who can make every throw and can extend plays and throw accurately, is going to last in this league. He’s a gamer, too. I love that moxie.”

Scout 2: “I see a lot of Mitch Trubisky. (Nix) has more tape, better tape, but they’re similar players. Nix is more athletic, but you’re not going to take (Nix) in the top 3 (where Trubisky was taken). He decision-making was iffy at times, and frankly, there were a lot of behind the line or first level throws at Oregon.”

Michael Penix Jr., Washington

The positive: Release and pocket awareness is elite. The best deep ball thrower in college football, he’s fearless when throwing into 2- and 4-deep coverage.

The negative: The injuries. He tore his right ACL twice in 5 seasons. While an elite deep ball thrower, his accuracy on intermediate throws is inconsistent. He falls off too many throws, and an elite receiving corps at Washington cleaned up many missed plays.

The future

Scout 1: “I can’t get past the injury history. If you’re telling me I can get him Day 2, sure, you take the risk. But a Day 1 guy? I don’t like that his production consistently drops when he has to escape.”

Scout 2: “I’m not touching him in the first round, but there are teams with Day 1 grades on him. Even without the injuries, I think there are too many inconsistencies for a Day 1 grade.”