Quarterback is routinely the hardest position in football to project if a college level player’s skill will translate to the pros. There is no exception for the 2023 NFL Draft Quarterbacks. While there’s a few things fans and “draft experts” can agree on, there’s a lot of different opinions out there on rankings. Like many prospects, there are things to love and things to hate about this class. One could call it the goldilocks effect. Some could find a player too raw, too small, too old, etc. Here, we’ll attempt to get rid of the fluff and the overembellished to rank the top five prospects in the 2023 class.
1. Bryce Young
- Great Intangibles/Leadership qualities
- Accurate thrower with decent power
- Good scrambler, quick feet
- Arm strength not top tier
Bryce Young would be the consensus number one pick if he had a few more inches and pounds on his frame. With out a doubt, many teams, fans, and players favor the bigger QBs simply because they don’t know if Young’s body will hold up. But players like Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray have proven the undersized QB can survive in the league. Everything else is there that he needs to be successful including his arm, his mobility, and his ability to lead a team. You can build muscle, but you can’t teach Young’s intangibles.
2. C.J. Stroud
- High IQ in the pocket, quick processor
- Good power, great accuracy
- Can throw to any area on the field
- Oddly immobile for such an athlete
- Can falter under pressure
- Struggles when having to throw outside the pocket
Out of the 2023 NFL Draft quarterbacks, Stroud is the best pocket passer. While he does struggle to escape from pressure, pressure struggles to get to him. He’s quick on his feet and quick to deliver a ball where it needs to go. He is enough of an athlete to get the ball anywhere it needs to go as his arm and accuracy are already NFL level. He did manage to use his feet a lot more in the CFB Championship and looked good doing it as he put up his best numbers of the year. If he did that more consistently, he would likely be the consensus top choice. Either way, it’s great he flashed that potential.
3. Anthony Richardson
- The best athlete out the 2023 NFL Draft quarterbacks this year, maybe out of any position
- Incredible runner and tough enough to take the hits
- Quick release, great arm
- All-around raw mechanics
- Inconsistent decision-maker
- Likely needs to sit a year to learn to read defenses better
Richardson had the NFL world drooling over themselves with his combine performance. He ran a 4.43 second 40-yard dash, had a 1.53 second 10-yard split, and had a vertical jump 40.5″ inches that broke the previous QB combine record. The Florida product claims he can throw the ball 75 yards through the air, and after his performance, you can’t doubt him. He has all of the tools, but he is very much raw. The game film shows unrefined throwing mechanics leading to inaccurate throws, mediocre pre-snap work, and a lot of bad decision-making. He likely needs to ride the bench and put a lot of work int the classroom for some time. He has as much potential as anyone, but he needs to go to the right team to realize it.
4. Hendon Hooker
- Shows great accuracy on short/intermediate throws with good zip
- Tall and mobile, helping him see the field and move around it
- Multiple reports of him being a great human and leader, everybody loves him
- Won’t look downfield when moved out of the pocket, looks to run too quickly
- Lacks a strong touch pass
- Coming off of a torn ACL in November
- Played in a “gimmicky” college offense, may struggle learning “NFL level” offenses.
Hooker would likely have first round hype around him if not for the injury he suffered late November vs South Carlina. Luckily for him, and NFL teams, he’s been since cleared to play. Hooker has a lot of tools you love to see out of prospects including mobility, accuracy, power, and intangibles. The other two issues that get in his way are his age, as he’ll be 25 come draft day, and the offense he played in. Many see Tennessee’s offense as more of “gimmick” offense that made it easier for Hooker to make reads. However, NFL offenses have been hopping on the trend of borrowing plays/schemes from college ball in recent years. So, depending on where he lands, the learning curve may not be too big.
5. Will Levis
- Physically impressive, second only to Richardson
- Possibly the best deep ball out of all 2023 NFL Draft quarterbacks
- Incredibly smart and hardworking
- Terrible numbers in college, ended his senior year with 10 TDs and 19 interceptions
- Raw mechanics
- Looks to run too quick, bad at processing the field in front of him
- Bad footwork, rushes when he has time
- Couldn’t beat out Sean Clifford when he was at Penn State
Whoever drafts Levis will be looking to get their own version of Josh Allen. They will be looking for a big, mobile QB who can absolutely rip the ball downfield that they can develop. He’s also a gym rat who is incredibly smart, so much so he holds a 4.0 GPA and got Ivey League school offers. The problem is when viewing the film, one finds themselves asking far too often, “What was he thinking?” Whether it’s choosing to run when he’s got a man open right in front of him or an unwarranted throw into tight coverage, Levis has his fair share of head scratching plays. He plays bad football beautifully and it might make sense for him to sit a year to get used to playing ball in the NFL.
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