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2023 NFL Draft Articles

The Class of the QB

Hendon Hooker, QB

The 2023 NFL Draft has already begun gaining hype as a strong class. The 3rd year players had a ton of success as true freshmen and continued to flash NFL abilities last year. With the extra COVID eligibility year and changes to redshirt requirements, many of those eligible have been in college for 5, 6, or even 7 years and will provide experience and maturity. It has good players at the top and depth. But, when we look back in a decade, determining how good the class ended up will fall mainly on the quarterback position…and this could be the class of the QB. Here are the tiers of the 2023 NFL Draft QB Class.

 

Elite QB

CJ Stroud, Ohio State

Bryce Young, Alabama

 

Two of the top programs in the country boast highly recruited QBs with elite potential. Stroud checks all the boxed as a high Four Star prospect who has good size, a big arm, and athletic ability to move around the pocket. Though he has never been much of a runner (even in high school) Stroud can do it all. With elite receiving weapons, it is hard to see a fall from grace.

Young was listed often as the top QB of his recruiting class and won the Heisman Trophy as a second year player starting for the first time. He can make all the throws and has great ball placement. The question comes with Young’s size likely standing under 6’0 tall. Despite this, he is elite and should continue that path. 

The other piece potentially working against one of these QBs is history. The last time the top two QB prospects coming into the season were the first two selected in the NFL Draft was 2009. Though it is tough to see one of Stroud or Young fall off, it is far from a guarantee both are considered elite in 7 months.

 

High End Traits

Tyler Van Dyke, Miami (FL)

Anthony Richardson, Florida

Hendon Hooker, Tennessee

Will Levis, Kentucky

 

The next tier provides some massive upside with high end traits that could translate into first round selections if all goes right this year.

Van Dyke is my favorite with his downfield passing, big arm, and underrated movement ability. With Mario Cristobal taking over (who coached Justin Herbert at Oregon) it could spell future NFL success for Van Dyke.

Richardson came in on Bruce Feldman’s Freak List as a 240 pound QB who may have 4.50 speed. His athletic talents make him a juicy high end trait player, but he has never really started before. The potential to be Cam Newton-like is there.

Hooker has been around for a long time in college football (namely playing for Virginia Tech) but he showed how good his ball placement and accuracy was in the SEC last year. The analytics are there to support Hooker as an NFL QB. The production is also there along with some physical traits.

Levis has gotten plenty of buzz after last season. A solid game against Georgia propelled the former Penn State QB to first round buzz talk. Levis looks the part with a massive frame and rushing ability that led to 9 TDs on the ground last year. The arm strength isn’t an issue, but he never really had a dominant SEC game last year. 

 

Pro Style

Tanner McKee, Stanford

Devin Leary, NC State

 

The idea of a pro style QB certainly has evolved over time, but there are a couple passers who throw beautiful passes and would fit into the 80s NFL. The first round is possible for these players, but unlikely in today’s NFL.

McKee and Leary both have great zip and footwork to throw the ball consistently. NFL teams have taken notice of both and the NFL arm strength they have. Though neither offense will be confused with high octane, consistent big time passes in tight windows get NFL eyes. The problem is, they don’t move very well and won’t be rushing threats. Despite this, keep a look at both McKee and Leary who may fit certain NFL coaching mentalities.

 

Producers

Jaren Hall, BYU

Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina

Will Rogers, Mississippi State

Sam Hartman, Wake Forest

 

College football is full of schematically finding ways to exploit an opponent. This leads to numerous QBs playing in a pass friendly offense with short passing, RPOs, etc. This creates difficult evaluations and can lead to a talented QB slipping through the cracks. Most likely none of these will be first round picks, but new NFL schemes could lead to a 3rd-4th rounder here. 

Hall, the heir to Zach Wilson at BYU, put up solid passing numbers and even flashed some rushing upside. With some new weapons this season, there is major NFL upside in a QB friendly scheme. 

Players like McCall and Hartman are both rushers and throwers who use quick reads to throw short passes often in games. Though Hartman has flashed a bit more down field passing, McCall may be more toolsy. Both will be a tough eval this season.

Finally, Mike Leach does have NFL QB Gardner Minshew on his resume, but Will Rogers has been a 3 year starter who continues to put up numbers in the SEC. Does the weak arm and short passing matter? We will see.

 

Needs To Show It

 

Phil Jurkovec, Boston College

Spencer Rattler, South Carolina

Cameron Ward, Washington State

Cam Rising, Utah

 

There is a ton of potential in this group from old favorites to new athletic marvels. With the potential there to rise up quickly, this group could find a player emerge as a Top 100 pick early in the season.

Jurkovec and Rattler both have solid resumes and good tools to make the most of their seasons. With Jurkovec coming off of injury and Rattler in a new environment, the potential is there for both to regain their early hype as younger players.

Ward transferred up from Incarnate Word, but he is following his coach to utilize immense athletic talents at Washington State. Rising flashed a bit last year and will play on a good Utah team. There is high potential in this tier.

 

Longshots

Jake Haener, Fresno State

Brennan Armstrong, Virginia

Malik Cunningham, Louisville

Aidan O’Connell, Purdue

Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State

Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma

KJ Jefferson, Arkansas

DJ Uiagalelei, Clemson

 

From producers to runners to DJU, this tier is the longshots to make an NFL impact. But, with guys like Kenny Pickett and Zach Wilson finding their way into the first round in recent years, the “longshots” have been a sure bet to find an ascender.

This could be a great QB year if even a few of the eligible QBs reach their potential. Keep an eye out for a QB renaissance in college football and some new blood in the NFL that could be the next big stars.

 

See more from Shane P. Hallam on twitter @ShanePHallam and here

 

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