Most years, at least 10 quarterbacks are selected in the NFL Draft. Last year was an exception, with nine QBs picked, and one of them (Brock Purdy) being the final selection in the draft. This year is all about upside, and there are 10 signal callers I believe have earned the right to have their names called this weekend. Here are my top 10 QBS ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft:
1) Bryce Young (Alabama)
This one is obvious, and I’ve written and talked about him plenty. Even though there was a moment where the Carolina Panthers seemed to be infatuated with C.J. Stroud, and were inexplicably rumored to be taking Will Levis, I believe the Panthers will make the right choice and go with Young first overall.
Young has a slight build, and I’m not usually a fan of that, but he understands his body, and keeps himself out of danger, and from taking unnecessary punishment. Bryce has been dominant at every level, and has a level of touch on his passes that sets him apart from the field. Plus, he’s as smart as they come.
2) CJ Stroud (Ohio State)
If it wasn’t for the leaked test result and the weird issue that Brady Quinn brought up about CJ Stroud not attending a Manning passing camp, CJ Stroud would be the closest thing to a sure bet as they come. He doesn’t have the size concerns that scouts have expressed about Bryce Young. The arm strength is there. He has the elite pedigree. He lived up to expectations at Ohio State. His performance against Georgia is something no one else on this list was able to accomplish.
And while he’s not a runner, he did use his legs to break the Buckeyes out of a funk against Northwestern this year. You have to respect someone who does what it takes to win.
The only criticism he’s consistently received (even from me) is that he was surrounded by the most receiving talent- but last time I checked, receivers don’t throw themselves the ball.
If Houston doesn’t grab Stroud at 2, you have to think someone is going to trade with the Cardinals to make him the third overall pick.
3) Anthony Richardson (Florida)
I wasn’t just wrong about Josh Allen. I was aggressively wrong. Because of Josh Allen’s success, we need to pay attention to the players that may not have produced at the highest level collegiately, but still possess every tool in the toolbox.
Anthony Richardson has the biggest arm, and the most dangerous scrambling ability. But can he manage an offense, read blitzes, handle checkdowns, and bring a team back from a deficit? All of that remains to be seen.
I’ve seen some Vince Young comparisons here, and while Young didn’t live up to being the 3rd overall pick in 2006, he did win 31 of his 50 NFL starts. To consider Richardson a success in the NFL, I’d set Young’s career statistics as his floor.
4) Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)
Injury concerns, age, and a good offensive system are all easy enough reasons to dismiss Hendon Hooker as a sure thing at the NFL level, but I simply don’t believe that some of these concerns have merit.
Hendon Hooker will never be asked to do at the NFL level what he was asked to do at Tennessee. He’s a talented pocket passer, and there’s no reason to have an NFL QB executing a dozen designed runs every single game. Plus, he got up from one of the biggest hits all year against LSU. The ACL was a fluke.
Also, 25 years old isn’t ancient. We’re not in Brandon Weeden territory here. If he proves his worth as an NFL starter, you’re talking about a contract extension while he’s still in his 20’s, in an age where QBs are playing at a high level well into their 30’s.
And even though Hooker wasn’t torching defenses at Virginia Tech the way he did at Tennessee, his yards per attempt stayed consistent throughout his college career.
Hooker has every intangible you could want, and as long as you’re not drafting him to be a franchise savior on day 1, he could have a respectable NFL career.
5) Will Levis (Kentucky)
Will Levis is the one that has me scratching my head a little bit. The hype coming out of his junior year was deserved- but when the spotlights that he helped turn onto himself and the Kentucky program with both his play (and his off-the-field persona) got bright, he was just average.
I look at a guy like Daniel Jones in the NFL who has plenty of talent, and produced some gritty wins, but hasn’t had those big-number explosive games, and it makes me think there could be an NFL future for Levis as a starter.
But it’s all going to depend on the situation he finds himself in.
6) Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA)
Dorian Thompson-Robinson is lightning in a bottle in multiple ways. He can dazzle you and spark the offense… or he can electrocute you to death.
DTR’s five years as a starter at UCLA showed continuous progress, plenty of highlights, and a tendency to shine when the lights were brightest.
It also saw him have moments of immaturity on and off the field.
DTR has first round talent. I wouldn’t be surprised if the right team or coach turns him into a ten year starter. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he turned the ball over seven times in a spot start. The ceiling and the floor could not be farther apart for a college prospect, but I’m rooting for him.
7) Jake Haener (Fresno State)
Jake Haener is gutsy, a good leader, and might be the surprise franchise QB of the 2023 NFL Draft.
I felt like his stock was higher after his junior year, but he still put together an impressive senior campaign and protected the ball incredibly well.
The biggest issue for NFL teams is that Haener is completely one-dimensional. If you don’t protect him, he isn’t going to pick up any unscheduled gains with his feet.
I’m just glad to have Jake Haener out of college football so he can’t terrorize any more Pac-12 teams in non-conference games.
8) Clayton Tune (Houston)
Yes, Clayton Tune played five seasons at Houston. No, Clayton Tune is not Case Keenum. But… they could have similar NFL careers. Clayton Tune is the perfect spot starting backup for a good team. He won’t cost you games, and he’s talented enough to make enough plays to keep a team afloat.
9) Jaren Hall (Brigham Young)
Jaren Hall’s draft stock not being as high as it should be is probably partially due to Zach Wilson coming out of BYU and not living up to his draft slot. Hall has wide receiver athletic ability, in a wide receiver body, but he throws on the run in a way that makes him worthy of avoiding any of that “would you consider switching positions” speculation that befalls many athletic black quarterbacks.
10) Tanner McKee (Stanford)
I never liked Tanner McKee as a college QB. He has the size, and throws a gorgeous ball, but he just wasn’t what Stanford needed to be competitive. At least at the NFL level he won’t be forced to run a slow mesh that has him getting blown up by opposing defensive line.
I’d put his ceiling, ironically, at the level of the QB he used to back up- Davis Mills. He’s certainly worth spending a late round pick on.