The 2023 NFL Draft is loaded with quarterback talent. There are all sorts of body types, playing styles, and production profiles. Which quarterback will have the best career in the NFL, and who is overrated in 2023 NFL Draft quarterback rankings?
Note: This is the author’s evaluation of talent and not a prediction of draft order or draft capital spent.
2023 NFL Draft Quarterback Rankings: The Top 5
1. Anthony Richardson, Florida
Holy smokes. There is not a more polarizing prospect in the draft process than Anthony Richardson. For box score scouts, Richardson is already a bust. A 53 percent completion percentage is not an alluring number. Paired with his 17 to 9 touchdown to interception ratio, why would he be this high? Is he another Jamarcus Russell?
For teams drafting for ceiling and tools, Richardson is head and shoulders above the competition. Especially considering he is 6’4″, 235 pounds, and looks like Derrick Henry. Additionally, he throws 55-ard passes off of his back foot under pressure. This dude could be Josh Allen but faster if completely unlocked.
Anthony Richardson's @GatorsFB highlights are electric ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/2eZ4zV598Y
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) February 24, 2023
It is more likely that he is somewhere in between. In a league filled with superstar quarterbacks, teams cannot afford to draft for safety. Richardson can truck SEC linebackers, throw the ball sixty yards with ease, and is underrated in his pocket presence and processing ability. Let the nay-sayers scream, but if teams are looking for a horse to hitch their wagon to, Richardson is a Clydesdale.
Anthony Richardson NFL Draft Profile
2. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Different from Anthony Richardson, Stroud is the safe pick. He has the frame. He has the college production. But was his exceptional college career a result of playing with first-round picks all over the field? Or was he the orchestrator of one of college football’s most fun offenses?
Compared to most quarterbacks in this class, Stroud has elite production. His 37 to 6 touchdown to interception ratio is exceptional and his counting stats are higher than Trevor Lawrence’s when he declared. There were questions this season about whether or not Stroud could execute outside of structure and create on his own. All of those questions were answered in the Georgia game, where Stroud displayed the athleticism scouts yearned for and put up 41 points on college football’s best defense.
C.J. Stroud is the number 1 QB on some draft boards and his final CFB game is a large reason why.
Stroud showed he can be an improviser in his final game, controlling the pocket, and throwing on the run with accuracy. #NFL #NFLTwitter #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/4eXPupeEB9
— Daniel Adams (@danie1adams) February 25, 2023
For teams looking for a signal caller to process the defense, zip the ball to playmakers and not make simple mistakes, Stroud is their guy. His floor is incredibly high, and his ceiling is in the Joe Burrow range. This could be a case of a prospect being so good that it is almost boring to watch.
3. Bryce Young, Alabama
For teams looking for the top playmaker in the pocket, Young is their guy. He scored 80 passing touchdowns compared to only 12 interceptions in his college career. A former Heisman winner, Young is at the top of many analyst boards. Unfortunately for his transition to the NFL, Young weighs about as much as a high school sophomore (195 soaking wet) and may not be able to survive in the backfield.
When Tua Tagovailoa kept going down with head injuries this year, one of the major factors was his size and mobility in the backfield. Tua was a full 20 pounds heavier than Young will be when entering the league.
Beyond the physical limits, Young also played behind an exceptional offensive line. Was his ability to dissect defenses because he was not touched for the first five seconds of any play? Or was it truly his ability to maneuver and make people miss? There is a narrative around Young that Alabama’s roster was porous, and he elevated them above where they should be. Jermaine Burton was a four-star transfer from Georgia. Jacorey Brooks was a five-star junior. Were the wide receivers bad or was Young not tall enough to see them?
Bryce Young sliding up in the pocket and shooting it downfield pic.twitter.com/faTlapD5fF
— John Brennan (@jbrens20) February 17, 2023
4. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
Hooker is old enough to rent cars and has a torn ACL. But sheesh is he good at football. In NFL Draft quarterback rankings he is not going to get the same love the others on this list will receive, but he is going to wow during the interview process and has the work ethic to succeed in the NFL.
One NFL coach told Pete Thamel he thinks Hendon Hooker can be a "quality NFL starter."
This rep is a good example of why. Processes the defensive shift presnap, converts it in post, snaps his eyes to the frontside when his first read isn't there, and drops a dime.
— Evan Crowell (@evanvcrowell) February 23, 2023
The offense in Tennessee did not ask Hooker to do a lot. In most situations, it cut the field in half, and Jalin Hyatt was singing the Dixie Chicks “Wide Open Spaces” on every other route. But Hooker executed the offense in front of him, improved every year, and did not make mistakes. When a team finally gets to see Hooker on the field, they will be pleased with the production but he will not elevate a roster above what they should be.
Hendon Hooker NFL Draft Profile
5. Will Levis, UK
Some prospects have one stellar year after a string of mediocrity and shoot up draft boards. Somehow Will Levis went in the opposite direction in production but is still shooting up draft boards. He has a cannon of an arm and can move around the pocket, but once his offensive coordinator left and Wan’Dale Robinson declared for the draft it all went downhill.
2021 Levis had some super fun tape. He launches the ball sixty yards with ease, he makes defenders miss while moving, and can roll left and flip his hips almost like a lacrosse player. He was careless with the ball at times but played with the confidence of a young Brett Favre. Even his highlight tape set to “Danger Zone” is fun.
Will Levis is the gunslinger of the 2023 class. Here are his biggest throws set to the “Danger Zone” from Top Gun. pic.twitter.com/7OIhezYKWI
— Kyle Lindemann (@LuckIsMadeFF) February 26, 2023
But then in 2022 Levis put together one giant question mark campaign. He still clearly possesses the tools but would miss wide-open receivers and showed no ability to work through a progression. While some quarterbacks show their eyes move through one to three reads, Levis would look up and if the receiver was covered, he would bail. Or worse he would try to throw the ball through a defender. With the right coaching staff he could put it all together, he just doesn’t have a high enough ceiling to gamble on the low floor.
Main Photo: Corey Perrine – USA Today Sports