2023 NFL Draft Position Review: Quarterbacks

Charlie lays out an overview at the top players from each position for the 2023 NFL Draft. For further information, check out our in-depth analysis of 2023 NFL Draft Prospects by Position.

By Charlie Campbell.
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This page was last updated March 23, 2023. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

Quarterback Class
Early-round talent: B
Mid-round: D
Late-round: D
Overall grade: C-

Merging the 2023 and 2022 prospects
Bryce Young
C.J. Stroud
Kenny Pickett
Anthony Richardson
Will Levis
Desmond Ridder
Matt Corral
Malik Willis
Sam Howell
Hendon Hooker
Tanner McKee
Malik Cunningham
Jaren Hall

Just to be clear, this article and series is all my opinion based off my own study and information I’ve gotten from general managers, directors of college scouting, national scouts, area scouts, and NFL coaches who know way more than I do.

The 2023 NFL Draft features a weak class of quarterback, with just two who are legit first-rounders in Young and Stroud. Richardson and Levis did not play like true first-round picks during 2022, but they probably will go in Round 1 based on their skill sets and the number of teams desperate for a young quarterback. Young and Stroud are better prospects than Pickett was a year ago, but Pickett was a better prospect than either Richardson or Levis is.

Things get complicated after those players. In my opinion, Sam Howell was worth a second-round pick, and it made no sense that he slid to the fifth round. I think Howell was a better prospect than Hooker, McKee, Cunningham or Hall.



Safest Pick: C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Previous Picks:
2022: Kenny Pickett
2021: Trevor Lawrence
2020: Joe Burrow
2019: Daniel Jones
2018: Sam Darnold
2017: Pat Mahomes
2016: Carson Wentz
2015: Jameis Winston
2014: Derek Carr
2013: Geno Smith

This year, my choice was pretty easy because Stroud is the safest of the quarterback prospects to turn into a quality starter. He is an accurate passer with mobility, size and a quality arm, plus he will make both good decisions and clutch plays. I went with him over Bryce Young because of the size and durability concerns about Young.



Biggest Bust Potential: Anthony Richardson, Florida
Previous Picks
2022: Desmond Ridder
2021: Mac Jones
2020: Jordan Love
2019: Kyler Murray
2018: Mason Rudolph
2017: Mitch Trubisky
2016: Connor Cook
2015: Brett Hundley
2014: Johnny Manziel
2013: Mike Glennon

Richardson is the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect. He has amazing athletic ability with rare speed and power as a runner. Alongside dynamic running ability, Richardson is a big quarterback with a cannon for a right arm. However, he is extremely raw, possessing terrible accuracy, field vision, and struggles in terms of pocket passing. Richardson offers big-time risk, but he presents huge rewards if he pans out.



Quarterback Rankings by Attributes


Accuracy:
NFL prototype: Joe Burrow, Bengals
  1. Bryce Young
  2. C.J. Stroud
  3. Tanner McKee
  4. Hendon Hooker
  5. Will Levis
  6. Anthony Richardson


Recap: The most important characteristic for any quarterback in the NFL is accuracy. Not only do accurate quarterbacks reduce turnovers and maintain time of possession, they increase the opportunities for skill-position players to make a bigger impact. Thus, accurate signal-callers will give their teams more return on their dollars with high-priced wide receivers. It takes an accurate quarterback to be a weapon as a pocket passer, and the elite quarterbacks are able to beat good coverage with precision passes into tight windows.

Young is an accurate passer who can lace some beautiful passes into tight windows to beat good coverage. With timing and precision, Young does a superb job of hitting his receivers on the run and leading them to rack up lots of yards after the catch. Many college quarterbacks don’t have Young’s confidence to throw into tight windows, much less his skill at doing it. Young is an an accurate passer in the short to intermediate part of the field, and he has excellent ball placement while throwing deep. Young is an astute and dangerous point guard to distribute the ball to rip up a defense.

Routinely, Stroud shows very good precision with his ball placement, leading his receivers to make receptions and hitting them on the run to produce big gains after the catch. Stroud will drop passes in some tight windows and beat defenses with his ability to thread a needle. While Stroud could stand to put more air underneath some passes, he throws a very catchable ball for his wideouts in general.

McKee shows steady accuracy with solid mechanics. He has nice footwork while showing a smooth delivery and release. Those lead to McKee throwing a very catchable ball and having the ability to loft in touch passes down field. With nice timing and anticipation, McKee can beat good coverage by dropping in passes to his receivers.

Overall, Hooker has good accuracy and his deep-ball precision is very impressive. Consistently, he lofts passes downfield to lead his receivers over the top of coverage. Hooker also shows the ability to function in the quick-passing game in the short part of the field, firing some quick bullets into smaller windows to move the ball. For the NFL, Hooker could stand to improve his footwork, which will make him more accurate.

Hooker really improved his accuracy and ball placement as a senior. In 2022, he showed that he can push the ball vertically downfield and has the ability to be accurate to all levels. He showed good timing and precision on his throws to lead receivers to yards after the catch. Aided by that accuracy, Hooker is able to loft in throws into wideouts downfield and help them to get over the top. Hooker is not a finished product yet and still has work to do, but he made big strides in 2022.

Levis is not the most accurate of quarterbacks, and his accuracy needs to improve for the NFL. While Levis needs improvement, he’s not terrible, just inconsistent. At times, he throws some perfect passes downfield, showing off a strong arm to hit receivers in stride or lead them to runs after the catch. Levis will have some throws get away from him, but in his defense, the Kentucky offensive line went from very good in 2021 to terrible in 2022 while also losing its best receiver in Wan’Dale Robinson to the NFL. Levis has the potential to become accurate enough to be an effective starter.

Richardson’s accuracy is horrible, especially in the short to intermediate part of the field, and he consistently misses badly on far too many routine completions. In 12 years as a draft analyst, and 15 seasons total working in the NFL media, Richardson is probably the most inaccurate early-round quarterback prospect who I have ever seen. He has a habit of overthrows and throwing passes too high, which is problematic in the NFL for throwing interceptions. Richardson also regularly fires missiles too hard for his receivers to control. He has to learn to take something off some of his passes to lead to more completions. From the feet up, Richardson needs a ton of development to be an accurate passer.



Arm Strength:
NFL prototype: Josh Allen, Bills
  1. Anthony Richardson
  2. C.J. Stroud
  3. Will Levis
  4. Bryce Young
  5. Tanner McKee
  6. Hendon Hooker


Recap: A quarterback having the strongest arm doesn’t always mean that much, but there are throws that powerful-armed quarterbacks can make that average quarterbacks can only dream of making. So a massive arm is another weapon that can lead to points, wins, and miserable days for defenses.

Richardson has the strongest arm in this draft class, but not by a large margin over Stroud and Levis. There is no doubt that Richardson has an absolute cannon. The ball explodes out of his hand and effortlessly rips through the air downfield. Richardson has an elite arm that can make all the throws required with the ability to beat good coverage with the velocity of his passes. He instantly will be one of the stronger-armed quarterbacks in the NFL.

Stroud and Levis have strong arms and can really spin their passes. That was clearly seen by area scouts at the combine, where both players impressed with the power of their throws. Stroud can really spin his ball and has the arm to make all the throws in the NFL. He can flat out throw the heck out of the ball. Levis also can really fire some fastballs into tight windows.

Young does not possess a cannon like Richardson, but his arm looks plenty strong enough for the NFL and should not be a problem for him. McKee has a strong arm as well and is capable of going vertical to challenge defenses downfield. Hooker has a quality arm for the next level, possessing the ability to loft the ball deep down the field.





Field Vision:
NFL prototype: Pat Mahomes, Chiefs
  1. Bryce Young
  2. C.J. Stroud
  3. Will Levis
  4. Tanner McKee
  5. Hendon Hooker
  6. Anthony Richardson


Recap: Field vision is one characteristic that separates the elite quarterbacks of the NFL. Quarterbacks who throw a lot of interceptions are inclined to lock onto their primary reads and stare down receivers. Signal-callers with good field vision can quickly work through their progressions and see more than a receiver on a route. They also can help get wideouts open by looking off safeties and playing games with their eyes. Many college quarterbacks enter the NFL with subpar field vision and have to improve this at the next level.

As a passer, Young is superb, possessing very advanced field vision. He demonstrates excellent instincts and feel. Showing impressive intelligence, Young knows where all his receivers and check-down options are, and that makes him very dangerous to work all levels of the field. He is calm in the pocket and is fast with his eyes to work through his progressions. Young is extremely advanced in terms of field vision for a college player entering the NFL.

Stroud also sees the field very well. He is advanced at working through his progressions and takes his time to let his receivers come open. On top of that, Stroud flashes some anticipatory throws. He has room for growth, but the potential is there. Stroud is very composed in the pocket and stands tall. He does not get rattled by the rush. With defenders bearing down on him, Stroud keeps his eyes downfield and will step into a hit to complete the pass to his receiver.

Levis stands tall in the pocket and works through his progressions. Fearlessly, he will hang tough in the pocket and give his receivers time while he scans his options. He showed a nice ability to know where all of his receivers were going to be when he started to feel pressure. While Levis works through the defense and reads the field, he does hold the ball too long regularly, so the speed of his internal clock to get the ball out has to improve as he looks through his options.

With his thick build and good height, McLee hangs tough in the pocket, standing tall and surveying the field with advanced vision. McKee works off his primary read and sees the field well.

In the pocket, Hooker shows the ability to work off his primary read and does not panic when that read is covered. Hooker’s timing, anticipation, accuracy, and field vision are on point to be an effective pocket passer. Speeding up his reading of defenses and working through his progressions faster will help him at the pro level.

Richardson flashed some field vision to work through his progressions, but he was streaky and inconsistent. Sometimes, he seemed confused with coverage and did not look confident in the play scheme. There were times where he worked beyond the primary read, but at other times, he would lock on or look to run too soon. Improving his field vision is vital for Richardson.



Decision-Making:
NFL prototype: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
  1. Bryce Young
  2. C.J. Stroud
  3. Hendon Hooker
  4. Tanner McKee
  5. Anthony Richardson
  6. Will Levis


Recap: Young is superb at taking care of the football, and his decision-making is very advanced. He skillfully avoids turnovers and is not reckless with the football. Recording only 12 interceptions over two seasons while throwing the ball a ton – for 8,200 yards – is phenomenal. Young also protects the ball well overall while on the run. Decision-making is another asset to his game.

Similar to Young, Stroud is a good decision maker. He had six interceptions in each of the past two seasons while attempting a lot of passes in Ohio State’s aerial offense. Stroud is smart about not throwing into traffic and places the ball well where either his receiver can make the catch or it falls incomplete.

Hooker’s decision-making was vastly improved as a senior. McKee was a decent decision-maker overall. He needs to cut down on some interceptions. Richardson needs to improve his decision-making as well. He easily could have had more than nine interceptions in 2022 given some of the risky passes he threw.

Levis has to improve his feel because the lack thereof leads to him holding onto the ball way too long, throwing some terrible interceptions, and taking way too many sacks. Levis must cut down on the picks. He is a gunslinger who competes, but he has to do a better job of protecting the ball. He has to get the ball out faster and not hold onto it so long in the pocket. Levis puts a lot of pressure on his offensive line, and NFL defenses will not allow him the time that he wants in the pocket. He could help himself by throwing with more anticipation rather than waiting to see the receiver break open before pulling the trigger. Levis can throw passes a little late too, and that causes receivers to hold up to wait on some balls. Team sources have said labelled Levis’ decision-making as poor.



Mobility:
NFL prototype: Lamar Jackson, Ravens
  1. Anthony Richardson
  2. Bryce Young
  3. Will Levis
  4. C.J. Stroud
  5. Hendon Hooker
  6. Tanner McKee


Recap: Mobility is important to help a team’s offensive line and wide receivers. As read-option, spread-offense, and up-tempo concepts continue to grow in the NFL, mobility will continue to be a sought-after attribute for pro quarterbacks. The top-five quarterbacks in this group all have good mobility. McKee is really the only signal-caller in the group who is not a capable runner.

Richardson is an amazing runner. He is a great athlete for dodging sacks in the pocket, yet is also dynamic with the ball in his hands. He cuts around defenders and has breakaway speed to rip off yards in chunks. Along with his speed and athleticism, Richardson is big with a strong build that provides him power as a runner. His running ability is similar to a faster Cam Newton. There is no doubt that Richardson is a rare and special player with his size, speed, and running ability.

Young is a good athlete who offers dangerous mobility and superb escapability. He does a nice job of climbing the pocket, keeping his eyes downfield while getting pressured, and throwing well on the run. When plays break down, Young can run for yardage to move the chains, but he wisely looks to throw while scrambling. With his mobility and feet to run around, Young is capable to make plays off script and ad lib to create big plays.

Levis’ running ability is an additional part of his skill set that makes him dangerous. He has some athleticism to dodge defenders in the pocket and a second gear to rip off yards while scrambling upfield. His size comes into play because he can use his strength to finish off runs, and there is no doubt that Levis is tough player. He takes hard hits and stays in the game while showing fearlessness as a runner, hurdling and running through defenders. Levis might need to slide more as a pro, but his relentless attitude and physicality are special.

Stroud has some functional mobility, and he can use his feet to buy time. While Stroud is not a statue in the pocket, he does not present a dangerous running threat. After escaping pressure, Stroud keeps his eyes downfield and looks to get rid of the ball while not showing any fear of getting hit. He is not inclined to run a lot, and in the NFL, he could help himself by being a little more aggressive on third-and-manageable to pick up first downs with his feet when nothing is open.

The biggest knock on Stroud from team sources is that he does not use his feet enough to make plays when he has that ability. Stroud seems to want to just operate as a pocket passer. He does not show creativity to scramble and ad lib his team into a positive play. However in the college football playoff game versus Georgia, Stroud did create some big plays for the Buckeyes by using his feet and ad libbing some huge scoring plays. Given that he showed that ability, it makes one wonder where it was previously. If Stroud does more of that as a pro, he could be a deadly quarterback.

Hooker is a good athlete with enough quickness to get yardage on the ground. With mobility and athleticism, Hooker is able to buy time and escape sacks. He is a capable runner with the ability to dodge defenders, but he is more of a pocket quarterback who only runs when he has to and he is not an aggressive runner in the open field.

McKee isn’t a terrible athlete, but he is not a running threat against the speed of NFL defenders.



Intangibles:
NFL prototype: Joe Burrow, Bengals
  1. Bryce Young
  2. Will Levis
  3. Anthony Richardson
  4. Tanner McKee
  5. Hendon Hooker
  6. C.J. Stroud


Recap: Team sources rave about the intangibles with these quarterbacks. Sources say they all interviewed well and are known to be hard workers, students of the game, good teammates, and leaders. Young, Levis and Richardson have drawn rave reviews for their intangibles from team sources.

McKee and Hooker are said to have good intangibles. Stroud is said to not be a bad kid or worker, but some team sources say that he is more of a reserved and quiet type. Some NFL teams are fine with that while others want their quarterback to be a vocal leader.




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