2023 NFL Draft: Another Crop of Talented Signal-Callers is on the Way

2023 NFL Mock Draft, 2023 NFL Draft, C.J. Stroud.Syndication The Columbus Dispatch
2023 NFL Mock Draft, 2023 NFL Draft, C.J. Stroud.Syndication The Columbus Dispatch /
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The 2023 NFL Draft will feature a number of talented quarterbacks. How does it stack up to the previous two classes?

The quarterback position is undoubtedly the most important in football, and arguably the most important in any sport. The NFL is a pass-first league these days, as there’s a new record set seemingly every season. The past two quarterback draft classes could not have been more opposite, as one was lauded and the other panned.

In 2021, the group was highly-touted, even earning so much praise that “the best quarterback class ever” became a regular statement being thrown around by evaluators. There were five signal-callers taken in round one: Trevor Lawrence (No. 1 overall), Zach Wilson (No. 2 overall), Trey Lance (No. 3 overall), Justin Fields (No. 11 overall), and Mac Jones (No. 15 overall).

Those five do not tell the full story, either. In the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans selected Davis Mills out of Stanford. Mills played well as a rookie and is slated to be QB1 for the franchise in 2022. It’s still too early to know if this class will ever live up to its lofty expectations, but the talent is undoubtedly there.

2023 NFL Draft: Another Crop of Talented Signal-Callers is on the Way

The 2022 class is a completely different story regarding the expectation they carried entering the draft process. With many around the league believing that the class was without an elite option at quarterback, the hype surrounding the position was minimal from NFL teams. This is evident when you see that Kenny Pickett (No. 20 overall) was the only quarterback to go in round one.

Middle-round hopefuls like Desmond Ridder, Malik Willis, and Matt Corral all have redeeming qualities and each possesses a great amount of potential going forward. Even fifth-round pick, Sam Howell, has an outside chance of seeing playing time in 2022 for the Washington Commanders if veteran Carson Wentz falters. There’s a chance this class looks much stronger down the line, but on paper, it is less than inspiring to say the least.

So, how does the upcoming draft class stack up to its predecessors? There are a couple of elite options that enter the 2022 college football season with first-round aspirations, and a slew of other quarterbacks that are flying under the radar. Let’s dive in and discuss the polarizing group of signal-callers from the 2023 NFL Draft class.

The Elite

CJ Stroud (Ohio State)

CJ Stroud is the odds-on favorite to go No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft and for good reason. The former four-star recruit out of Rancho Cucamonga won the starting job to open the 2021 season, and even amidst the growing pains early, Stroud eventually found his footing and earned an invite to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York.

The Buckeye signal-caller has received rave reviews for his exceptional anticipation and ability to make throws at every level. He by no means has the strongest arm in the world, but there is more than enough to thrive at the next level. Stroud could solidify his No. 1 overall pick status by sharpening up his progressions and utilizing his legs more on broken plays.

Bryce Young (Alabama)

The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, Bryce Young, returns to Tuscaloosa for his third year on campus. After spending his true freshman season behind eventual first-round pick Mac Jones, Young assumed the top spot on the depth chart entering 2021. He threw for nearly 5000 yards in 15 games, ending the season with a superb 47:7 TD: INT ratio.

Young lacks the prototypical size that Stroud possesses, but he makes up for it with his sheer arm talent and unwavering positivity. Young is the type of guy that was born to lead a locker room in the NFL. Size will continue to be his biggest red flag, as many around the league suspect Young is much shorter than his listed height of 6-foot flat.

He will be looking to become only the second player, along with former Buckeye Archie Griffin, to win multiple Heisman Trophies. Surprisingly, Alabama has never had a No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Between outside linebacker, Will Anderson Jr., and quarterback Bryce Young, the Crimson Tide could finally have a player sit atop the draft board in 2023.

Borderline Elite

Will Levis (Kentucky)

Will Levis is the most polarizing quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Depending on who you ask, the Kentucky Wildcat fireballer is either firmly in first-round discussions, or is an extremely raw prospect with much more room to grow. I say that there is some truth to both sides of the debate.

Levis began his collegiate career as a member of the Penn State Nittany Lions. He was primarily used in goal-line and short-yard situations due to his imposing frame. After losing out on the starting gig to Sean Clifford, Levis wound up transferring to Kentucky in hopes of finding first-team reps.

In 2021, Levis was named the starter for the Wildcats and went on to have a strong year under the tutelage of offensive coordinator, Liam Coen. Now, Coen has left the Bluegrass State to return to his roots with the Los Angeles Rams. It will be interesting to see how this impacts Levis and his development heading into his senior season.

As stated, Levis possesses an incredibly stout frame for a quarterback. Equally enough, he has a rocket launcher attached to his right shoulder. He ran some NFL packages with Coen at the helm, showing a real proficiency in the play-action setting. If Levis can cut down on his turnovers and continue learning the nuances of the position, there’s a real chance he ascends to the “elite” tier.