Most years, at least 10 quarterbacks are selected in the NFL Draft. Last year was an exception, with nine quarterbacks taken, and one of them (Brock Purdy) was the final pick in the draft. This year is all about perks, and I think there are 10 signal callers who 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 a lot about it. Even though there was a time when the Carolina Panthers seemed to have a crush on CJ Stroud, and were inexplicably rumored to be taking Will Levis, I think the Panthers will make the right decision and go with Young first overall.
Young has a slim build, and I’m not normally a fan of that, but he understands his body and stays out of harm’s way and 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 he looks.
2) CJ Stroud (Ohio State)
If it weren’t for the leaked test result and the weird issue Brady Quinn brought up about CJ Stroud missing a Manning passing camp, CJ Stroud would be the closest thing to a safe bet. 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 the hype at Ohio State. His performance against Georgia is something no one else on this list could pull off.
And while he’s not a running back, he used his legs to get the Buckeyes out of a slump against Northwestern this year. You have to respect someone who does what it takes to win.
The only criticism he has consistently received (even from me) is that he was surrounded by the greatest receiving talent, but last time I checked, receivers don’t throw the ball to each other.
If Houston doesn’t take Stroud in 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. He was aggressively wrong. Because of Josh Allen’s success, we need to pay attention to players who may not have produced at the highest collegiate level, but still have all the tools in the toolbox.
Anthony Richardson has the biggest arm and the most dangerous fighting ability. But can he run an offense, read blitzes, handle checkdowns, and get a team out of 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 third overall pick in 2006, he did win 31 of his 50 NFL starts. To consider Richardson an NFL success, he would set Young’s career statistics as his floor.
4) Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)
Injury concerns, age and a good offensive system are easy enough reasons to write off Hendon Hooker as a sure thing at the NFL level, but I just don’t think some of these concerns have merit.
Hendon Hooker will never be asked to do at the NFL level what he was asked to do in Tennessee. He’s a talented pocket passer, and there’s no reason to have an NFL QB running a dozen designed runs every game. Further, rose from one of the biggest hits of the entire year against LSU. The ACL was a fluke.
Also, 25 years is not age. We’re not in Brandon Weeden territory here. If he proves his worth as an NFL starter, he’s talking about a contract extension while he’s still 20, at an age when quarterbacks play at a high level well into their 30s.
And while Hooker wasn’t torching defenses at Virginia Tech like he had at Tennessee, his yards per attempt remained constant throughout his college career.
Hooker has all the intangibles you could want, and as long as you don’t draft 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 bit. The hype his junior year generated was deserved, but when the spotlights he helped focus on himself and the Kentucky program with his game (and his off-the-field personality) shone, he was in average.
I look at a guy like Daniel Jones in the NFL who’s very talented and produced some gutsy victories, but hasn’t had those explosive, high-numbers games, and it makes me think there might be a future in the NFL for Levis as a start.
But everything will depend on the situation in which you find yourself.
6) Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA)
Dorian Thompson-Robinson is lightning in a bottle in multiple ways. He can dazzle you and unleash the offense… or he can electrocute you to death.
DTR’s five years as a starter at UCLA showed continued progress, plenty of highlights and a tendency to shine when the lights were brightest.
It also saw him have moments of immaturity in and off the field.
DTR has first-round talent. I wouldn’t be surprised if the right team or coach makes him a ten-year starter. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he turns the ball over seven times in a punctual start. The ceiling and floor couldn’t be further apart for a college prospect, but I support it.
7) Jake Haener (Fresno State)
Jake Haener is gutsy, a good leader, and could be the franchise’s surprise quarterback for the 2023 NFL Draft.
I felt his value was higher after his junior year, but he still put together an impressive senior campaign and protected the ball incredibly well.
The biggest problem for NFL teams is that Haener is completely one-dimensional. If you don’t protect him, he won’t make unscheduled gains at his feet.
I’m glad to get Jake Haener out of college football so he can’t terrorize any more Pac-12 teams in non-conference games.
8) Clayton Melody (Houston)
Yes, Clayton Tune played five seasons in Houston. No, Clayton Tune is not Case Keenum. But… they could have similar careers in the NFL. Clayton Tune is the perfect 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 isn’t as high as it should probably be in part because Zach Wilson came out of BYU and didn’t live up to his draft spot. Hall has wide receiver athleticism, in a wide receiver corps, but he throws on the run in a way that makes him worthy of avoiding any of that “would you consider changing positions?” which happens to many athletic black quarterbacks.
10) Tanner McKee (Stanford)
I never liked Tanner McKee as a college QB. He has the size and he throws a beautiful ball, but he wasn’t what Stanford needed to be competitive. At least at the NFL level, he won’t be forced to execute a slow net that explodes down the opposing defensive line.
It would put his ceiling, ironically, at the level of the quarterback he used to back: Davis Mills. A late round pick is certainly worth spending.