We look at the top prospects for the 2023 Draft, with an in-depth review of the best QBs and where they could land.
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The 2023 NFL Draft looks to have depth at several positions, but none is more important than the quarterback spot.
What’s the best NFL Draft for quarterbacks? You’d have to go back exactly 40 years to 1983.
Six QBs (a record) went in the first round, among them three Hall of Famers (John Elway, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino).
That’s a lofty standard, but is the Class of 2023 up to the task? The smart money says this year’s draft won’t see a half-dozen signal callers go in round one. Four or five seems more likely. But there’s everything NFL teams like in the early picks.
We’ve got college success (Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young), strong arms (Kentucky’s Will Levis), huge upside potential (Florida’s Anthony Richardson), and big stats (Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker).
Here’s a look at each NFL Draft top prospect and where they might land on draft night.
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State University
The one drawback to playing in a program like Ohio State?
For better or worse, you’re often judged on one thing – the Michigan game. And that spelled trouble for Stroud after the Buckeyes lost two straight to the Wolverines in 2021 and 2022 for the first time since 1999-2000.
But look closer – Stroud completed 67% of his passes in the two games and accumulated 743 yards through the air with four touchdowns. He wasn’t on the field when the Wolverines admittedly ran the ball down the Buckeyes’ throats, averaging 43.5 points per contest.
Stroud silenced (most) doubters when he threw for 348 yards and four TDs in Ohio State’s heartbreaking College Football Playoff loss to eventual champion Georgia.
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No, the Buckeyes didn’t come out on top in some of Stroud’s biggest games. But the call here is for Stroud to come out on top at the NFL Draft as the first pick of the Carolina Panthers, who’ve searched for Cam Newton’s replacement at QB since 2019.
Bryce Young, QB, University of Alabama
Young’s drawback is even more challenging than Stroud’s. His only weakness is the one he can’t do anything to control.
He won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore in 2021 and backed it up by throwing for another 32 TDs on an injury-plagued Alabama team in 2022. In a program famed for a strong running game, Young accumulated over 8,000 yards and 79 touchdowns passing in just two years as a starter.
So what’s the big problem? He isn’t – big, that is.
Young measured at 5 feet, 10 1/8 inches and 204 pounds at the NFL Combine – nearly identical measurements to Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray, who’s been plagued by such concerns during his career.
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The NFL likes its prototype QBs – think Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning – athletes well over six feet tall and in some cases closer to 250 pounds than 200.
The concerns, unfortunately, will follow Young through his career. But it’s a career we expect to begin in Houston after the Texans take him No. 2 overall.
Anthony Richardson, QB, University of Florida
Richardson’s college stats are pretty underwhelming compared to our top two QBs.
In only one year as a full-time starter, Richardson completed just 53.8% of his passes for 17 TDs, but also tossed nine INTs.
But wow – that potential. He has to be classed as one of the best players in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Richardson won’t turn 21 for another month after the draft. At the NFL combine, he measured at 6-foot-4 (perfect NFL QB height) and a heavier-than-expected 244 pounds.
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Was the extra weight a problem? Not after he clocked a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, wowing scouts and drawing comparisons as “something in between Dak Prescott and Cam Newton” according to his own college coach, Billy Napier.
He hasn’t really proven it on the field yet. But if you’re the Indianapolis Colts, picking fourth and in search of a franchise QB since Andrew Luck’s early retirement in 2019, can you turn down this kind of potential? We’re saying they can’t.
Will Levis, QB, University of Kentucky
Next on our elite list of NFL Draft top prospects is another NFL prototype (6-foot-4, 229 lbs.) from the SEC.
Levis has more of a track record than Richardson with two years as Kentucky’s starter under his belt, but his production doesn’t rival that of Stroud or Young.
With this prospect, it’s about the arm strength. Levis can make every throw the NFL wants to see. But can he do it accurately? And can he do it in big games, which he hasn’t played in many times at Kentucky?
The fact that these questions haven’t been answered on the field probably drops him below our top three – but not by much. He could go as early as No. 5 to Seattle, but the likelier scenario sees a quarterback-needy team (Falcons? Commanders? Buccaneers?) trading into the back end of the Top 10 to take a chance on his potential.
Hendon Hooker, QB, University of Tennessee
Yup, we’re still in the SEC, but with a new set of concerns. This time, they revolve around injury history and age.
Hooker spent three solid seasons at Virginia Tech before transferring to Tennessee in 2021 and quickly ascending. He led the Volunteers’ upset of Bryce Young and Alabama in October, and ultimately finished with 58 passing touchdowns to only five interceptions over his two years as a starter.
The issue? He tore his ACL in November in a loss to South Carolina, and has been unable to work out for teams leading up to the Draft.
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Compounding matters? He’s already 25 years old, which makes him older than a handful of established NFL starters.
But are those really weaknesses? Let’s face it, two stellar years as a starter in college football’s toughest conference should tell you all you need to know about Hooker’s ability, and he’ll be 9-10 months post-surgery by the start of the 2023 season.
As for the age, you could look at it two ways:
Glass half-empty: “Hooker’s already 25, maybe this is as good as he’ll get.”
Glass half-full: “Yeah, and that’s pretty good. We don’t want to wait for a QB to improve, we want someone who can compete now.”
Plenty of teams seem to be taking the half-full approach, as Hooker has visits scheduled with the Buccaneers, Titans, and Saints in the coming days.
Recent buzz has him as a first-round pick, and that’s without any workouts. But where? The aforementioned teams he’s visited are candidates, and we’ll throw in a sleeper: the Minnesota Vikings, who have to be thinking about a successor for 35-year-old Kirk Cousins.
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Other Draft-Eligible QBs for the 2023 NFL Draft
They’re not likely to be first rounders, but these QBs figure to hear their names called during the 2023 draft:
Tanner McKee, Stanford University
Looks the part at 6-foot-6 and 230 lbs.; plenty of experience and arm strength.
Clayton Tune, University of Houston
Again, experience is a plus, as is his uncanny ability to lead game-winning drives in college. May lack prototypical arm strength.
Jake Haener, Fresno State University
Our NFL Draft sleeper pick was a lot of fun to watch on late-night, West Coast college games. Barely 6-foot-1, he’ll go later in the draft due to a lack of size but makes up for it with his overachiever mentality – if he can stay healthy.
Stetson Bennett, University of Georgia
People are done writing him off… right? After two straight national championships, who cares if he’s under six feet and 200 lbs.? At the very least, Bennett’s ability to overcome adversity and rise to the top – twice – means he won’t be phased in a backup role at the next level.
Number 1 Draft Pick Odds
Now that we’ve covered the best players in this year’s NFL Draft, let’s take a look at the odds for that coveted number 1 pick:
|Player||Odds for Number 1 Pick|
|Lukas Van Ness||+20000|