2023 NFL Draft: Bryce Young, CJ Stroud Live Up To Hype In Top 10 Quarterback Rankings

Oct 8, 2022; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) celebrates after throwing his fourth touchdown in the first half of the NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium.Osu22msu Kwr 46
Oct 8, 2022; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) celebrates after throwing his fourth touchdown in the first half of the NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium.Osu22msu Kwr 46 /

The 2023 NFL Draft class features high-upside players at the quarterback position. Several teams will be in the market for a new franchise signal-caller, but who should they be targeting? Our Top 10 QB rankings have arrived!

The quarterback position is what makes the NFL world go ‘round. You either have a franchise quarterback or are in search of one; even the teams with entrenched veterans always keep an eye on the quarterback crop from each NFL Draft class.

2023 NFL Draft: Bryce Young, CJ Stroud Live Up To Hype In Top 10 Quarterback Rankings

The 2022 NFL Draft was an odd one by quarterback standards. Sure, Kenny Pickett went on day one to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it took over 50 picks before another signal-caller was taken. The 2022 class, on paper, is the worst one since EJ Manuel came off the board in round one in 2013.

The good news? This year’s crop features a few first-round locks at quarterback. You know the most popular names like Bryce Young and CJ Stroud, but a handful of others in this class have starting quarterback traits. Who are the guys that sit middle of the pack? Who are the sleepers? Let’s dive in and find out!

1. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

QB1 in the 2023 NFL Draft is Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback, Bryce Young. Young arrived in Tuscaloosa as a heralded five-star recruit from California. Many expected Young to seize the starting role as a true freshman, but Mac Jones had other plans. Serving as the backup on an undefeated national title team, Young learned the ropes in 2020 before taking over the mantle in 2021.

The 2021 season saw Bryce Young exceed his lofty expectations. Young won the Heisman Trophy, en route to a national championship appearance of his own as the starter. Alabama lost its rematch to the Georgia Bulldogs, sending Young and his teammates home with a heartbreaking L.

Young is playing very well in 2022, but his weapons are noticeably weaker than the year prior. Gone are Jameson Williams and John Metchie. Jermaine Burton, a Georgia transfer, is not the type of guy to dominate a game, nor is Ja’Corey Brooks or anyone else in the WR room. This lack of support has led to a disastrous season for the Tide.

Although things have been ugly on the team side, Bryce Young is doing all he can to keep his group afloat. Young’s biggest knock is his size, and while I share that concern, one look at the tape shows that his size does not hamper him much. Will that change in the NFL with all the added size? Potentially. But right now, it is a non-issue.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of Bryce Young’s game is his calm demeanor. The arm talent, mobility, and improvisation ability rank high on the list too, but I have never witnessed anything like Young in crunch time. He keeps the poise no matter what, even with defenders barreling down on him.

I have a top-five grade on Bryce Young and firmly believe he is a franchise quarterback at the next level, size be damned.

2023 NFL Draft Grade: Top 5 (Early Day 1)

2. CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State

These next two guys are closer to Bryce Young as a prospect than they are to the rest of the list. First up, Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud. Similar to Young, Stroud was once a vaunted recruit from the state of California. Rancho Cucamonga, to be exact.

Stroud sat his first season on campus behind Justin Fields but assumed the top spot on the depth chart when Fields opted into the 2021 NFL Draft. Stroud was a bit slow out of the gate, even if the numbers do not show it. By October, the star quarterback settled in and dominated the remainder of his schedule.

Stroud finished fourth in Heisman voting, with many tabbing him as the favorite to win the award in 2022. Well… Stroud is on his way to doing so. He is the current betting favorite at +100 (no one else is closer than +400). His play hasn’t always been up to snuff this season, highlighted by his four-game streak with an interception, but Stroud is a legit prospect at QB.

The second-year starter in Columbus boasts the prototypical size for a franchise quarterback in the NFL. The arm strength that Stroud brings to the table is more than adequate to hold up on Sundays, and the anticipatory throws are a thing of beauty. Stroud’s timing and ball placement are impeccable on a majority of snaps.

The cause for concern with Stroud is two-fold. First off, Stroud routinely deals with slow starts. Whether it be nerves or something else, it has followed him throughout his time with the Buckeyes. Another part is how poorly he performs against pressure. He lacks the ability to sense pressure, and when he does, too often his mind goes blank and errant throws are made.

You would also love to see Stroud create more off-schedule plays, but an NFL team should be able to give him a clean pocket, making this only a minor concern. If my team needed a quarterback and they had a top 10 pick — I would run the card up for CJ Stroud.

2023 NFL Draft Grade: Top 10 (Early Day 1)

3. Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Will Levis is far and away the most polarizing first-round prospect at quarterback that I can personally remember. Some people claim he is a perfect prospect and others claim he is a terrible prospect — neither of which is true. The truth, as usually is the case, falls somewhere in the middle.

Levis began his career at Penn State, used in goal line packages to capitalize on his ability to run through traffic. Unfortunately, Levis failed to win the starting gig over Sean Clifford, causing the youngster to announce intentions of transferring to the Kentucky Wildcats. This decision proved to be the best one of his life.

With the Wildcats, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops paired his new quarterback with a brand new play-caller. Liam Coen, a long-time understudy of Sean McVay, stepped away from the Rams in 2021 to take the position of offensive coordinator in Lexington. The duo implemented a pro-style offense in the same ilk as McVay runs in Los Angeles.

Levis ran the offense at an elite clip, showing a deep understanding of such an advanced scheme. Unlike most quarterbacks in this class, Levis has ample experience under center, running a zone-heavy run scheme. He excels at selling play-action fakes and uses a motion man pre-snap to identify the formation of the defense.

Coen returned to McVay and the Rams this past offseason, becoming the offensive coordinator and taking a step closer to being an NFL head coach in the near future. Levis entered 2022 with another new play-caller (Rich Scangarello) and several supporters in the NFL Draft community.

Levis is built like a brick house. His right arm is a bazooka attached to his shoulder, and he is an underrated athlete. With all of these physical traits, paired with his experience in a complicated scheme, it is easy to see why people love Levis.

The red flags are far from minor, though. Levis’ decision-making is not good at times. For someone with such a high football IQ, he makes some of the most bone-headed throws I have ever watched. Levis has thrown 22 interceptions in his last 24 games, a number that will elicit groans from talent evaluators. He is also a bit older than NFL GMs would like, as he will be 24 on week one of the 2023 season.

Will Levis fits the cliche saying of a “boom-or-bust” prospect. He will make some people look brilliant, and others look silly. It remains to be seen which side will get the last laugh. I would feel good taking him in the middle of day one and developing his already impressive arsenal of traits.

2023 NFL Draft Grade: Top 15 (Mid Day 1)

4. Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee

Hendon Hooker has witnessed a similar rise in quarterback rankings. Like Levis, Hooker began his career elsewhere. Unlike Levis, Hooker earned a decent amount of playing time during his stint with the Virginia Tech Hokies. With VaTech, Hooker was much more of a run-first quarterback. But with the Volunteers, that has changed considerably.

Josh Heupel took the position of head coach at Tennessee before the 2021 season. He convinced Hendon Hooker to transfer, promising that he would develop Hooker’s arm talent rather than using him as a gadget type of player. That was enough for Hooker to make the move, and boy has it paid off.

Hooker burst onto the scene in 2021, displaying his trademark risk-averse play style, leading to a pristine 31:3 TD:INT ratio on the campaign. Hooker nearly doubled his career-high in passing attempts, while also setting a career-high in rushing attempts. He was responsible for 3500+ all-purpose yards, earning a bowl appearance for his new squad.

In 2022, Hooker has only gotten better. He is completing over 70% of his passes and owns a 24:2 TD:INT ratio. The Volunteers, aside from one game against Georgia, have been cruising all season long. They own a dominant victory over LSU and their first victory vs. Alabama in over 10 years.

So why isn’t Hooker an early first-round grade? While Hooker’s frame, mobility, and arm talent are NFL caliber, a few things hold him back during the evaluation. First off, risk-averse is great for limiting turnovers, but it is also great for limiting offensive output. It is working on the collegiate level, but the hesitancy Hooker shows in the pocket will get him eaten alive in the NFL.

Furthermore, the scheme that Hooker runs is the antithesis of what Will Levis runs. It is primarily shotgun and one-read plays. It is hard to pick on Hooker for doing what the coaching staff tells him (at a high level at that), but there will be a steep learning curve for gifted QB at the next level. Plus, he will be 25 years old during the NFL Draft, which would make him only the ninth QB taken that age or older. There is a lot to like, but these concerns knock him down to the late day-one range.

2023 NFL Draft Grade: Top 30 (Late Day 1/Early Day 2)

5. Cam Ward, QB, Washington State

These next two quarterbacks are incredibly raw and incredibly young. Both would benefit immensely from another year in college. If they do enter the 2023 NFL Draft, though, teams could be getting a mega steal if they exhibit patience with their development.

The first name is Washington State quarterback Cam Ward. Ward is a former FCS standout at Incarnate Word. He followed his former head coach Eric Morris to Washington State this offseason, and the OC-QB duo has performed well in 2022.

Ward has NFL arm talent in droves. His velocity is top-tier, and the distance he covers with the deep ball rivals any of his peers in this NFL Draft class. His most intriguing trait is how often he creates something out of nothing. Ward extends plays with his underrated athleticism and is even a threat to run the ball on rollouts and broken plays.

The biggest concerns with Ward come from his inexperience against top talent and his rawness when it comes to footwork and overall technique in the pocket. He can use many different throwing motions, but these lead to inconsistency with accuracy and ball placement.

The tools are all there; he just needs an NFL team that believes in him and is patient enough to let him grow. If Ward returns to Washington State, look out for him in QB1 discussions in 2024 if he can smooth out his rough edges.

2023 NFL Grade: Top 40 (Early Day 2)

6. Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Anthony Richardson is the other of the two. He is an even better athlete than Cam Ward and might have a stronger overall arm. That being said, he is even rawer than Ward is at quarterback.

Richardson wins with athleticism as a runner. He features ideal size and reminds me of Cam Newton a little when he lowers his shoulder or when he is out in space breaking off long gains. There are a handful of throws on Richardson’s tape that make you believe in his potential as a No. 1 overall pick.

Unfortunately, there are more than a handful of throws on Richardson’s tape that make you believe he is a day-two prospect. He is only completing 55% of his passes, and we can say, “Josh Allen did that too!”, but there is A LOT of projecting involved to convince yourself that Anthony Richardson is the next Josh Allen. Throws like this sure help the case though…

The physical traits make the comparison reasonable, but Richardson looks like the first-year starter that he is. He needs to put the work in on his game this offseason and return to Florida, because if the arm talent can be honed in, Richardson will come off the board early in the 2024 NFL Draft. He might even be able to find a team willing to take the shot on him during day one of the 2023 NFL Draft. It is hard to read right now.

2023 NFL Draft Grade: Top 40 (Early Day 2)

7. Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford

Tanner McKee is an NFL Draft darling in some circles. The Stanford quarterback was a highly-sought after recruit out of high school, but after signing on with Stanford, he took two years off from the sport on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

McKee looks like an NFL quarterback in pads. He stands tall at 6-foot-6 and is built pretty well. McKee runs a pro-style west coast scheme with Stanford, which will be a big selling point for him as a prospect. He can reach every level of the defense with his arm and is a deceptive athlete when he decides to tuck the ball and scramble.


The issues with McKee center around his overall accuracy and ball placement. McKee has not quite learned how to put the proper touch on the ball, both on short-timing routes and deep balls. He is completing less than 60% of his passes this season, and while the lack of talent around him is a valid point, McKee still demonstrates too much inconsistency behind center.

Given his build, arm talent, and experience in the west coast system, it is worth taking a shot somewhere on day two for a team with a track record of developing talent at quarterback. McKee is a higher-upside version of Davis Mills.

2023 NFL Draft Grade: Top 60 (Mid Day 2) 

8. Grayson McCall, QB, Coastal Carolina

Another polarizing quarterback checks in at No. 8 on this list. Grayson McCall has manned the top spot on the depth chart for three seasons, completing over 70% of his passes throughout his career. He also has a mind-boggling 75 passing touchdowns to only SEVEN interceptions during his time with Coastal Carolina.

Our own Shaunak Harit grades McCall in the top 40, citing his arm talent and dual-threat capabilities as the primary reason. Additionally, Harit says McCall has improved as a processor and in pre-snap situations in 2022. I agree with these sentiments, but a few concerns cause me to push McCall further down the board than my colleague.

McCall, while improved as a processor, simply is not asked to process much in the Chanticleers’ offense. He has little experience getting through progressions and will have to show that he can do so when the pre-draft workouts begin. Furthermore, McCall can get throws to every level, but I still question his velocity on throws into tight windows.

McCall thrives on being accurate — as is highlighted by his sparkling completion percentage — but his misses are really bad at times. Overthrows and poor placement kill his pass catchers’ momentum, even if they can haul in the pass. This issue makes the 70% number a bit inflated.

McCall profiles as a developmental quarterback and one that I would feel comfortable taking late on day two or early on day three. In the right situation, with proper patience, McCall could develop into a low-end starter in the NFL.

2023 NFL Draft Grade: Top 100 (Late Day 2/Early Day 3)

9. Devin Leary, QB, NC State

Devin Leary has not appeared in a game for the Wolfpack since Oct. 8 due to a torn pectoral. He has been ruled out for the remainder of the year, and with another year of eligibility, Leary likely returns to NC State to rebuild his NFL Draft image that has taken a hit over recent weeks in his absence.

Leary played at an extraordinary level in 2021, recording 3433 passing yards and 35 touchdowns with only five interceptions. In 2022, Leary was on pace for numbers well below these figures. The injury helps explain his fall down boards, but the play itself was subpar for the most part this season.

Leary’s arm talent is not particularly special — and neither is his frame. Where Leary wins is with his brain. He reads the field very well and consistently makes good decisions with the football in his hand. Leary is very likable and will be able to win over teammates with his work ethic, but the limited upside makes him a day-three pick if he declares for the 2023 NFL Draft.

2023 NFL Draft Grade: Early Day 3

10. Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State

Jake Haener entered the season as one of my biggest sleepers in the 2023 NFL Draft class. The Fresno State signal-caller put together one of the best seasons in program history last season, eclipsing the 4000-yard mark and tossing 33 touchdowns.

A Derek Carr-ish rise was supposed to be in the cards; an early season injury halted this plan, but Haener returned to the lineup a few weeks ago and is on a tear. In three games since returning from injury, Haener has completed 79.6% of his passes for 1034 yards and 10 touchdowns!

Haener is displaying the pinpoint accuracy that made me fall in love with his potential, and his arm looks livelier than it has in previous viewings. Still, the arm talent looks mostly capped out at this point, leaving little reason to believe it will improve enough to vault him up the 2023 NFL Draft. Still, he is worth monitoring, as Haener should have a chance to showcase his talent against some of the best in this class at the Senior Bowl.

2023 NFL Draft Grade: Early Day 3

2023 NFL Draft Honorable Mentions:

-Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

-Jaren Hall, QB, BYU

-Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami

-Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia

-Phil Jurkovec, QB, Boston College

-Frank Harris, QB, UTSA