2023 NFL Draft: Scouting Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and different prime QB prospects

There are many causes to clarify why, over the previous 5 years, an unprecedented variety of quarterbacks — 18 complete — have been chosen within the first spherical of the NFL Draft.

The significance of the place has by no means been better. With extra subtle excessive colleges, passing camps and faculty offenses, younger quarterbacks are merely far more superior than in earlier years. The salary-cap flexibility a rookie contract permits is also a crucial issue, each in the way it permits groups to spend their {dollars} elsewhere ought to a quarterback excel, and in the event that they select to hit the reset button rapidly ought to he fail to fulfill expectations.

Most significantly, the sheer expertise of those younger signal-callers has warranted the early alternatives.

And that can once more be the case in 2023, after we may see a replay of a 2021 crop that noticed an unprecedented 5 passers chosen among the many first 15 picks.

Under is my private rating of the draft-eligible quarterbacks obtainable. Over time, I’ve developed a reasonably simple technique for evaluating this place, prioritizing what I name the “Five A’s” — accuracy, anticipation, arm power, athleticism and perspective. Incomes prime scores in every class just isn’t a requirement for NFL success, however a poor rating in any is a serious pink flag.

To quantify my midseason rankings under, I’ve offered a 1-10 rating for every of those classes (the upper a quantity, the higher). Six quarterbacks at the moment earn potential first-round grades, pending the crucial medical and interview parts of my analysis — in addition to, after all, ending the 2022-23 season on a excessive be aware.

Bryce Young, Alabama

Accuracy: Whereas not as thrilling to some scouts as a Howitzer for an arm or a splashy 40-yard sprint time, plain and easy accuracy stays the single-most-important class when I’m assessing quarterbacks. That is an space by which the reigning Heisman Trophy winner excels from each contained in the pocket in addition to on the transfer. He persistently throws his receivers, tight ends and backs open, attacking all areas of the sphere amid the best degree of competitors in faculty soccer. 

Grade: 9

Anticipation: Soccer on the highest degree requires extremely quick psychological processing, with quarterbacks adjusting on the fly as defenses and pass-catchers get into the play. The flexibility to hit the goal throughout apply (or a Professional Day) with no go rush means little or no if the quarterback lacks the anticipation for when and the place holes are opening. Young is phenomenal on this regard, bringing a component of improvisational means that few quarterbacks lately (and definitely nobody on this class) can match. His psychological and bodily means to morph right into a magician is particular, and once more, he has performed it in opposition to elite competitors, displaying the poise underneath strain that transfers nicely to the NFL. 

Grade: 10

Arm Energy: Young has loads of arm to make each NFL throw, however he doesn’t boast the RPMs of a few of the different quarterbacks on this record. This isn’t to recommend that he’s not a top quality deep-ball passer. In actual fact, the other is true as a result of his aforementioned accuracy and anticipation. Nonetheless, NFL groups that anticipate taking part in a variety of video games in windy circumstances may have some reservations about his means to drive the ball to the far sideline from the other hash. 

Grade: 8

Athleticism: Young is not the largest, quickest or most dynamic of this yr’s quarterback prospects, however he’s a kind of gamers scouts and analysts prefer to characterize as “sneaky” athletic. He eludes the go rush fairly nicely and has the wheels to harm defenses that go away him straightforward, empty grass. He performs sooner than he’ll probably time in pre-draft exercises and that could be a praise, not a priority.

Grade: 8 

Bryce Young, Caleb Williams and C.J. Stroud lead Joel Klatt’s Heisman Trophy Race

Bryce Young, Caleb Williams and C.J. Stroud lead Joel Klatt's Heisman Trophy Race

Joel Klatt displays on the school soccer season up to now and ranks his prime Heisman Trophy candidates into three tiers.

Angle: Intangibles, like management and work ethic, should not as necessary in my analysis of gamers at different positions, however they’re crucial at quarterback. At the least based mostly on what I’ve seen on tape (and heard from scouts going via Tuscaloosa), Young is off the charts on this class. He’s the unquestioned chief on a workforce filled with five-star recruits and has persistently delivered within the clutch, displaying toughness and elite competitiveness. 

Grade: 10

Overview: Whereas Young’s total grade of 45 factors tops the competitors and earns him the QB1 designation on my board, it doesn’t totally have in mind his dimension and sturdiness considerations. Young, only a junior and 21 years outdated, is formally listed by Alabama at six ft tall and 194 kilos. In fact, we have seen a number of shorter quarterbacks play at an elite degree within the NFL, however none who had been as gentle. Young has bulked up throughout his time at Alabama, however he nonetheless doesn’t possess the perfect physique armor for taking part in on the NFL degree. Take into account that the final quarterback chosen within the first spherical weighing lower than 200 kilos was Jim McMahon, manner again in 1982. The shoulder harm sustained by Young earlier this season solely provides to the priority, which clearly makes his medical analysis on the NFL Mix crucial to his closing grade. 

Draft Projection: High 5

C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

Accuracy: Whereas Young is my top-rated quarterback, Stroud is my top-rated passer. Stroud’s accuracy is exceptional, and I don’t simply imply his 71.5% completion share and ridiculous 72:10 landing to interception ratio. The ball placement is commonly merely extraordinary. On a number of events in every sport I’ve evaluated, Stroud routinely positioned the ball within the outstretched fingers of his receivers 20 to 30 yards downfield as if he had been merely handing it off to the operating again. Say what you need in regards to the Ohio State “curse” in terms of projecting quarterbacks into the NFL, however passers with this caliber of precision are virtually at all times profitable. I’ll say this: On the few events when Stroud is inaccurate, it sometimes has been over the center and barely behind his receiver. 

Grade: 9.5

Anticipation: Whereas ridiculously correct, there are moments of hesitation with Stroud as a passer which are barely regarding and function the one actual kryptonite I see in his sport. Even after dropping Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave to the NFL a yr in the past, the Buckeyes nonetheless boast the nation’s elite receiver corps, and Stroud is additional aided by a comparatively easy vertical offense and a stellar offensive line. I simply do not see the identical caliber of improvisational means — no less than not but — with Stroud that I’ve seen with Young. The 21-year outdated true junior has began solely 19 video games up to now and has proven regular enchancment in studying defenses and switching off his main goal, however he’s not totally polished on this space.

Grade: 8.5 

Arm Energy: Stroud is such a straightforward and refined passer however, like Young, he doesn’t have an enormous arm. He routinely delivers strikes to all ranges of the sphere, displaying loads of zip via visitors and on lengthy throws to the sideline. Although he sometimes is offered stellar safety and is allowed to step into his throws, Stroud additionally reveals the torque to throw it on a line together with his ft set. 

Grade: 8.5

Athleticism: Stroud is a standard pocket passer who reveals sufficient mobility to purchase time within the pocket and has sufficient straight-line pace to make defenses pay in the event that they ignore him — operating for a 48-yard landing on his solely significant snap again in 2020. That, nevertheless, is the one speeding rating of his profession. I wish to see him assault defenses together with his legs somewhat extra, however given all of the weapons on Ohio State’s offense, it’s straightforward to know why he doesn’t achieve this. He’s athletic (and correct) sufficient to deal with bootleg obligations, however his sport is best suited to the pocket. Lots of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks are simply “average” athletes, and Stroud’s doable limitations on this space is not going to preserve a workforce from fortunately investing a top-five choice on him. 

Grade: 7.5

Angle: Stroud just isn’t as demonstrative or fiery in his management as a few of the different quarterbacks on this record, however his poise and power are clearly revered by his teammates and the Ohio State teaching employees. With the Buckeyes merely outclassing most of their opponents so far in 2022, his resolve has not been as examined as a few of the different QBs, however I used to be impressed with the resiliency and willpower he confirmed in his record-breaking Rose Bowl final yr in opposition to Utah. 

Grade: 9 

Overview: Already a extra polished passer than his predecessor, Justin Fields, Stroud has emerged because the midseason favourite for the Heisman Trophy and is justifiably ranked by some as the most effective quarterback prospect within the nation. His 43 total factors in my grading scale replicate his place as a future early first-round choose and certain franchise quarterback within the NFL. 

Draft Projection: High 5

Hendon Hooker, Tennessee

Accuracy: Whereas there isn’t any denying that Hooker is aided by a artistic, aggressive and comparatively simplistic offense tailor-made to him by Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel, a former Heisman Trophy winner, the Vols quarterback has proven NFL-caliber accuracy all through his profession, relationship again to his days at Virginia Tech. 

Hooker’s completion fee has climbed every of the previous 4 years, steadily rising from the 61.1% he posted over 10 video games in Blacksburg again in 2019 to his present 70.6% this season with 18 scores. His first choose of the yr got here two weeks in the past in Tennessee’s 52-49 victory over mighty Alabama. Hooker’s accuracy to all ranges of the sphere deserves better focus. He’s among the many higher deep-ball passers on this class, throwing the ball with lovely trajectory downfield to permit his receivers to trace it and generate yardage after the catch. He can feather intermediate throws excessive of linebackers and underneath the safeties and persistently hits receivers on the perimeter or backs within the flats in stride as nicely, together with when on the run. Hooker is not as exact as Stroud however in any other case, he can match throw for throw with anybody within the nation. 

Grade: 9

Anticipation: Whereas a really correct and savvy passer, once more, Hooker’s success is influenced by Heupel’s playcalling. At occasions, he reveals a troubling tendency to face very flat-footed and stare down his main receiver. Nonetheless, he additionally reveals some savvy in “pushing” defenders together with his eyes after which attacking the holes they’ve vacated. Hooker additionally has a fast launch and is even speedier when he decides to run, darting out of the pocket. He trusts his inside play clock, which has been finely tuned with 51 video games (and counting) of taking part in time.

Grade: 8.5 

Arm Energy: Hooker has a top quality arm. He has a fast, over-the-top launch and might zip the ball via tight home windows even when he doesn’t step into his throws. He can drive the ball to the other hash and drops it within the bucket very properly on deep throws — forcing defensive backs to respect your complete discipline. 

Grade: 8.5

Athleticism: A real dual-threat passer with 1,964 yards and 23 touchdowns already to his credit score as a rusher, Hooker is arguably the most effective athlete of the highest quarterback prospects. He possesses superb straight-line pace for the place and performs sooner than he could time as a result of he’s a decisive scrambler who assaults the protection as soon as he decides to go away the pocket. He’s a bit straight-linish, nevertheless, hardly ever eluding would-be defenders together with his lateral agility or spins, as an alternative trying to barrel via opponents. I would quite see him slide than take as many large hits, however Hooker’s teammates appear to feed off of his aggression. 

Grade: 8.5

Angle: It was once seen as a pink flag when a participant (particularly a quarterback) opted to switch quite than stick it out together with his preliminary faculty workforce. However with QBs like Kyler Murray (Texas A&M, Oklahoma), Jalen Hurts (Alabama, Oklahoma), Joe Burrow (Ohio State, LSU) and Justin Fields (Georgia, Ohio State) all taking the circuitous path to success previous to the NFL, scouts are studying to understand that younger quarterbacks can mature via these transitions. Frankly, I like that Hooker has loved nice success in wildly totally different offenses, environments and competitors. He’s a poised and revered chief of his workforce and performs with emotion and grit. 

Grade: 8.5

Overview: Some will characterize Hooker because the fastest-rising senior quarterback prospect within the nation, however he entered the yr amongst my prime 20 prospects and has solely solidified his positioning since. Hooker just isn’t a match for everybody, however given what number of groups at the moment are actively looking for dual-threat quarterbacks, his probabilities at incomes a first-round choice are seemingly bettering with every passing week. Nonetheless, even together with his expertise and success, accepting an invite to a distinguished senior all-star sport (and, after all, performing nicely there) would make a variety of sense. He’ll additionally flip 25 in January, making him outdated for a prospect. However the upside is there. 

Draft Projection: First Spherical

Will Levis, Kentucky

Accuracy: Levis reveals good — not nice — accuracy to all ranges of the sphere, usually hitting his receivers in stride, however not as persistently as Young or Stroud. He possesses what I prefer to name “ballpark” accuracy — he’s usually within the ballpark, forcing receivers to barely alter their routes and impacting their means to create yardage after the catch. There are actually highlight-worthy passes by which he throws his receivers open, particularly on throws requiring velocity. Levis likes to point out off his arm, struggling a bit when he must throw the ball with extra contact. His accuracy may also wane when he sees strain and is compelled to throw on the transfer. 

Grade: 8

Anticipation: If Levis has a weak spot, it’s his anticipation or lack thereof. He’s probably the most bodily gifted of this yr’s quarterback prospects, boasting distinctive bodily traits. Nonetheless, he stays the least polished of the blue-chip passers. Levis tends to stare down his main goal, main defenders to the ball and, as his fumble in opposition to Ole Miss demonstrates, his inside clock wants tuning. Maybe it will enhance in time. He was used as virtually strictly the “running quarterback” early on at Penn State and has performed underneath 4 totally different offensive coordinators between his time with the Nittany Lions and since then at Kentucky. Levis has made strides over his profession however stays behind the others on this record on this space. 

Grade: 7.5

Arm Energy: Providing extra than simply pure velocity, Levis has the kind of arm expertise that causes NFL scouts to drool, as he combines uncooked RPMs with a lightning-quick launch. When he is working in rhythm, it’s almost unattainable for opponents to defend some routes — together with slants, a staple of each fashionable passing assault. Some quarterbacks zip passes; Levis really drives the ball, with a number of examples on tape of throws by which opposing defensive backs thought they had been in place to slap the ball away earlier than it arrived solely to whiff. Levis may add somewhat contact on his deep-ball trajectory, overthrowing his receivers too usually, however his means to assault downfield creates a variety of house in the course of the sphere for the offense to perform. This throw, with Levis drifting backward and threading the needle with legit velocity, is one which solely a handful of present NFL quarterbacks could make. It’s the purpose, rightly or wrongly, that some NFL workforce goes to speculate a really, very early choose in Levis’ upside. 

Grade: 10

Athleticism: Scouts are enamored with Levis as a result of he possesses the best mixture of arm, athleticism and expertise on this draft. He’s constructed and fights via visitors like a linebacker and possesses each the straight-line pace to run away from defenders in addition to the elusiveness (and leaping means) to keep away from them. Together with his arm expertise, nobody shall be asking Levis to change positions within the NFL, however he has the majority and athleticism to deal with the swap to a Taysom Hill-like function and even full-time tight finish, if that was what he needed to do. 

Grade: 9 

Angle: It is not simply the bodily traits which have many scouts so enamored with Levis. He seems to be, performs and carries himself like a pacesetter. From a bodily standpoint, the comparisons to Josh Allen have develop into virtually cliché at this level. The bravado with which Levis carries himself may also remind scouts of Joe Burrow, whose grit and charisma had been simply as crucial to LSU and Cincinnati’s sudden ascents as his accuracy from the pocket. These at Kentucky swear by Levis’ management, although his style in refreshments leaves rather a lot to be desired.

Grade: 8 

Overview: Upside is probably the most harmful phrase within the scouting enterprise. Yearly the notion of potential will get gamers drafted sooner than they need to be and will get coaches and normal managers fired. Levis boasts the traits that would result in him changing into an All-Professional sometime. His weaknesses should not insignificant, nevertheless, and he’s not the kind of participant prone to be taught a lot from sitting on the sideline, provided that he has already performed underneath two NFL quarterback coaches in Liam Coen (Los Angeles Rams) and present offensive coordinator Wealthy Scangerello, who beforehand coached with the San Francisco 49ers. Levis is the truest gamble on greatness of this class. Solely the daring want apply. 

Draft Projection: First Spherical

Anthony Richardson, Florida

Accuracy: Richardson’s 57.2 profession completion fee pales subsequent to the others on this record and is a serious pink flag. Those that rely strictly on spotlight reels to gauge gamers will see splashy throws just like the one under. Nonetheless, these completions are far too inconsistent to financial institution on. Statistics may be bent in all types of how to show one’s level. However this one speaks volumes: In an period of inflated numbers, Richardson has a complete of six touchdowns in opposition to seven interceptions in seven video games. 

Grade: 6 

Anticipation: One of many the reason why I’m amongst these shopping for comparisons of Richardson to a younger Josh Allen or Cam Newton is that there are thrilling glimpses of All-Professional-caliber anticipation and instincts. Take the throw under, for instance. Most NFL starters would get sacked on this play. Richardson avoids a number of defenders and has the wherewithal to know the place his receiver is (in addition to the defender) to ship a strike. The truth that his receiver then goes on to make a spectacular play and rating just isn’t as a lot the purpose as is Richardson’s means to ship a catchable go within the first place. He clearly wants extra taking part in time, however the pure playmaking means is there to be refined. 

Grade: 7 

Arm Energy: One of many best evaluations with Richardson is his arm power. He has a hose, the form of million-dollar arm that scouts can recognize and are prepared to gamble on. Because the throw above demonstrates, Richardson doesn’t have to step into his passes to create velocity, and that truth makes him an intriguing developmental prospect. His fastball does want refining. As talked about beforehand, there are extra balls than strikes. However the uncooked expertise is apparent. 

Grade: 9.5

Athleticism: Maybe the one factor of Richardson’s sport extra apparent than his arm power is his distinctive mixture of dimension and athleticism. He may very well be a a lot smaller man and his acceleration and elusiveness would nonetheless generate pleasure. Provided that Florida at the moment lists the redshirt sophomore at 6-foot-4, 232 kilos and he nonetheless possesses this sort of burst and mobility is Newton-like. Not each workforce is in search of a real dual-threat quarterback, after all, however defending really improvisational gamers like Richardson may be almost unattainable. With somewhat refining, Richardson may ascend from a backup to an MVP candidate, which is why he’ll preserve scouts (and defensive coordinators) up at night time. 

Grade: 9.5 

Angle: Richardson possesses clear management potential, however he’s nonetheless in his first full yr as a starter. His lone convention win up to now this season got here in opposition to Missouri, which checks in with the identical 4-3 file, so far, because the Gators. Richardson has performed within the highlight at occasions, starring on the large stage in an upset over PAC-12 champion Utah within the season-opener and almost matching Hooker play-for-play in opposition to Tennessee. He additionally almost handed South Florida an upset with questionable choices down the stretch in a sport the Gators ought to have chomped away. Like many different areas of his sport, Richardson’s potential is apparent, however so is his lack of polish. 

Grade: 7

Overview: Let’s be clear: Richardson ought to most likely return for an additional yr (or two) of school soccer. He’s sushi-raw by way of his processing of defenses previous to the snap, and he at the moment lacks the anticipation of an NFL starter. His anticipated begin this weekend in opposition to the defending nationwide champion Georgia Bulldogs is simply the ninth of his faculty profession. Richardson’s potential, nevertheless, may justify the danger. 

Draft Projection: High 40

Rob Rang is an NFL Draft analyst for FOX Sports activities. He has been overlaying the NFL Draft for greater than 20 years, with work at FOX, Sports activities Illustrated, CBSSports.com, USA Immediately, Yahoo, NFL.com and NFLDraftScout.com, amongst others. He additionally works as a scout with the BC Lions of the Canadian Soccer League. Comply with him on Twitter @RobRang.


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