2023 NFL Draft Quarterback Class: Who Comes After Stroud and Young?

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The 2022 NFL Draft was a weak one for quarterbacks, with only Kenny Pickett from Pittsburgh coming off the board in the first round, staying in town with the Steelers. Throughout this past draft process, the narrative was prevalent that the 2023 NFL Draft would have a much stronger quarterback class. Indeed, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young sit atop the class as talented and polished passers. While there is an ongoing debate on who is currently the better prospect, many agree that they are highly expected to hear their names called within the first 10 selections in 2023, though it would be a surprise if they were the only quarterbacks to be selected in the first round. Who else might emerge to confirm our belief that the quarterback class will be quite strong? Let’s look at four quarterbacks who could come off the board in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft alongside Stroud and Young!

 

Will Levis, Kentucky

2023 NFL draft: Could Kentucky QB Will Levis really go No. 1?
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Levis started his college career at Penn State, redshirting his first season in 2018 and then spending the next two years backing up Sean Clifford. After graduating from Penn State, Levis transferred to Kentucky, where he truly broke out in 2021, starting all 13 games and throwing for 2,827 yards and 24 touchdown passes. Levis possesses elite physical traits in terms of size, arm strength, and athleticism. He is a dangerous running threat because of his build, power, and speed. As a passer, Levis flashes the ability to complete big-time NFL throws into tight windows and to the deeper portion of the field. However, he showed his limited starting experience by struggling to throw with proper mechanics, avoid sacks, consistently place the ball with precision, and regularly make good decisions. NFL scouts are certainly intrigued by Levis’ traits and flashes, and the key to his emergence as a first-round prospect in 2023 will be to gain consistency and refinement as a passer. 

 

Anthony Richardson, Florida

Florida Football: Anthony Richardson's quarterback ranking per PFF
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Richardson is a player I am really excited to watch in 2022. He redshirted in 2020, then spent the 2021 season mostly backing up Emory Jones. In the limited playing time he earned through eight games, Richardson showed the rare combination of size and athleticism that made him a coveted four-star recruit coming out of high school. He is an elite rushing quarterback given his power, toughness, burst, and speed. He also possesses a rocket for an arm and flashes good touch throwing downfield. As indicated by his lack of playing time thus far in his collegiate career, Richardson is still a raw quarterback prospect. For example, he must take care of the football better by improving his decision-making and ability to read the field. Projecting Richardson as a 2023 first-round selection includes a significant leap of faith since his first season as a starter will see him showcase his tantalizing playmaking ability but may also have some rough patches as he gains in experience. It may be more likely to see Richardson in the NFL Draft in 2024, but his serious NFL potential already puts him on the radar for 2023 in case his first season as a starter convinces scouts he is already worth a first-round selection. 

 

Tyler Van Dyke, Miami

6 quarterbacks the Minnesota Vikings could draft in 2023 - Page 5
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Van Dyke was a four-star recruit from the state of Connecticut who committed to Miami, playing the role of backup to D’Eriq King and only seeing action in two games his first season at ‘The U’ in 2020. An injury to King three games into the 2021 season thrust Van Dyke into action, allowing him to start the last nine games of the season, in which he broke out to the tune of 2,931 yards and 25 touchdowns through the air. At 6’4” 224lbs, Van Dyke is an imposing presence in the pocket and has the arm strength to match that size, making for a very appealing combination to NFL scouts. Considering his limited starting experience, Van Dyke showed a good foundation of passing ability to build on. Like Levis, he needs to improve on the nuances of the quarterback position in 2021, including his mechanics, accuracy, and ability to go through progressions. Van Dyke has a lot of work to do in these areas, but his size and arm strength are highly coveted traits in the NFL and certainly give him a shot at becoming a first-round selection in 2023 if he can take a big step forward as a passer. 

 

Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina

Coastal QB McCall ready to 'rock and roll' | The Sumter Item
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McCall is quite different from the previous three quarterbacks I’ve detailed, since he does not possess physical traits that rank among the college football elite as they do, but he is far more advanced as a passer. He is an excellent distributor of the football, throwing with great accuracy and ball placement. He senses pressure well, shows good pocket mobility, and is a quality decision-maker, as evidenced by his 27:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2021. McCall excels when the play breaks down as well, as he can throw well on the run or gain chunks of yardage with his legs. While he doesn’t have the elite arm strength, size, or athleticism, he is certainly above-average in each of these areas. The biggest concern regarding McCall’s NFL Draft profile is the simplicity of Coastal Carolina’s spread triple-option offense and the fact that he has not been exposed to many throws, concepts, and reads that he will be required to master in the NFL. As a result, it’s hard to envision McCall being drafted in the top ten, but with a third consecutive season of stellar play, he could deservedly hear his name called in the first round nonetheless.

 

Each of these prospects has a shot of being selected in the first round in the 2023 NFL Draft, but who is the most likely to? Heading into the 2021 season, I believe McCall is the best quarterback prospect in the group. His accuracy, decision-making, and general consistency as a passer are head-and-shoulders above the other three, and I believe in his ability to transition to a pro-style offense. However, given the elite physical traits Levis, Richardson, and Van Dyke possess, it takes just one of them showing improvement in regards to their refinement as passers to vault themselves above McCall into the top-10 discussion. And of course, the late breakouts of Joe Burrow, Zach Wilson, and Kenny Pickett in recent years have taught us that a quarterback outside of this conversation could become a first-round selection. Enjoy the 2022 college football season and pay special attention to this group of four quarterbacks. There could be a 2023 first-round pick among them (or more!) waiting to show the nation what he’s capable of.

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