Ranking the Top 10 QBs in the 2023 NFL Draft
The 2023 NFL Draft is just about a month away, and in preparation for this draft, we here at PurplePTSD will be putting together lists ranking some of the top prospects at each position to help you get to know some of the big names. To start things off, here are the prospects that should be considered the top 10 QBs in the 2023 Draft.
1. Bryce Young
Bryce Young may not have the perfect size for an NFL quarterback, but he has every skillset that you want in a prospect. He has the torque on his arm to make just about every throw, he delivers the ball accurately with a quick delivery, and he’s mobile in the pocket. He is comfortable moving outside of the pocket and making pinpoint throws on the run to evade pressure.
The biggest concern with Young has nothing to do with his talent. Instead, it is injuries. If he falls down the slippery slope towards soft-tissue injuries by taking hits from massive defensive linemen, it could spell a difficult NFL career for the Alabama product.
In my mind, his talent is still worth those risks at the top of the draft. Fans of whichever franchise he goes to will certainly cringe every time he takes a big hit, though.
2. C.J. Stroud
If C.J. Stroud had displayed more mobility throughout his career at Ohio State, he’d be the consensus QB1 in this draft. He progresses through reads well and displays incredible poise in the pocket. He also arguably has the most polished deep ball in this class.
Stroud just doesn’t consistently show the same elusive abilities that the rest of this top four, and that is a notable element that he lacks for a QB in the year 2023. This skillset finally flashed during Ohio State’s CFP game against Georgia, but it’s hard to say that this one game should outweigh the rest of the season where he simply seemed to be going through the motions much of the time.
It’s also worth noting that Stroud has benefited from some of the best wide receivers in college football throughout his career in guys like Marvin Harrison Jr., Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Garrett Wilson.
3. Anthony Richardson
Anyone telling you that Anthony Richardson is a sure-thing at the NFL level is lying to you. Likewise, anyone telling you that Anthony Richardson is a guaranteed bust is also lying to you. There are so many variables with the Florida product that could impact how he develops at the NFL level, and ultimately, his fate could be sealed depending on where he gets drafted and how much success that team has by building a roster around him.
Richardson is as incredible an athlete as anyone we’ve ever seen at the QB position. He can be a wizard with the football, pulling off Lamar Jackson-esque shiftiness on some of his runs, displaying a Patrick Mahomes level of creativity on some of his throws, all while being the size of Josh Allen.
There are moments where Richardson is a cheat code, but there are just as many where he makes some of the silliest mistakes. He fumbles the ball in the red zone while trying to mount a comeback, he throws a screen pass three feet over the head of his intended target, or he delivers a deep ball into triple coverage.
If Richardson cuts down these mistakes, we could be looking at a generational talent at the QB position. If he doesn’t, he may never maintain a starting job in the league.
4. Will Levis
If putting prospects at 3A/3B were allowed on this list, that’s probably how I would rank Anthony Richardson and Will Levis at this point. They share a number of the same athletic abilities and arm strength. However, in terms of that athleticism, it really feels like Richardson’s ceiling is higher than Levis’, so that drops the Kentucky product down to No. 4.
Meanwhile, all the same concerns that were given with Richardson also apply to Levis. He’s had some troubles with accuracy throughout his collegiate career, and there are moments where it feels like he is just trying to do too much rather than making the simple read. His decision-making is questionable at this point, and it even extends into off-the-field life (can you really trust a guy who puts mayo in his coffee?).
Regardless, Levis has high potential if he works out some of the kinks, and he’s been lauded for his leadership skills by many within the Kentucky program. He put his leadership and toughness on full display in 2022 by battling through injury for much of the year. This is the type of profile that gets a prospect drafted in the first round.
5. Clayton Tune
I’ve thought about it and thought about it some more. I can’t quite figure out why there aren’t more people that are excited about Clayton Tune as a prospect. Sure, he’ll be 24 by the time the draft gets underway, so he’s on the older side. However, that’s going to be a common theme for much of the rest of this list.
Tune has a capable arm that may not be the strongest in the class, but he can certainly make most throws. I’d even argue that he’s a more polished passer at this point than either Levis or Richardson. He may not have the same athletic profile as those guys, but it isn’t as if he’s a statue in the pocket, either. He accrued 544 rushing yards for Houston this past season.
On multiple occasions Tune showcased a capability to roll outside of the pocket, either left or right, and deliver strong, accurate throws on the run. He certainly needs to be more consistent in this area as he threw a number of turnover-worthy balls throughout the 2022 season, but again, this class is ripe with gunslingers that likely will tally high interception totals early in their careers.
Perhaps it’s a Power Five bias that is knocking Tune down draft boards, or maybe I’m just dead-wrong on what he can do on a football field. Regardless, I think the Houston Cougar is the best prospect of the QBs likely to be drafted outside the first round. If Hendon Hooker leads the Minnesota Vikings to a Super Bowl three years from now, I’m happy to be exposed for this take.
6. Hendon Hooker
Speaking of Hendon Hooker, he comes up next on this list, and is the last prospect that I think would be worthy of a Day 2 pick by a team. Hooker was on his way to a marvelous 2022 season with the Tennessee Volunteers before an ACL tear derailed both his and the program’s season as a whole.
Like many of the prospects on this list, when he’s healthy, Hooker is a terrific athlete that can certainly scramble with the football when need. Combine that with an absurd TD:INT ratio of 58:5, and he has many of the tools necessary for being a starting QB.
The questions start to pile up, though, when you look at the type of offense Tennessee has run with him at the helm. It was very much an “air-raid” style that rarely required him to read through his progressions. He’s also coming off that significant injury, and if he spends his rookie season as a backup, he won’t take a starting job until he’s at least 26 years old.
Overall, there has been some buzz in recent days about the Vikings taking Hooker with the 23rd overall pick. Personally, the more I think about it, I’m not entirely convinced that this would be a smart decision when Tune or some of the others on the back-end of this list likely can be had with Day 3 picks.
7. Jake Haener
The most notable trait about Jake Haener as a prospect is his accuracy. In his final season at Fresno State, the QB could not miss on his throws, completing a ridiculous 72% of them. At the Senior Bowl back in February, this accuracy was on full display as he put together the strongest showing among all the QBs at the event, which also included prospects like Jaren Hall and Clayton Tune.
However, Haener brings with him the problem of size once again, standing at just 6’0 and weighing 207 pounds. His frame is very slight, and there is no real giddy-up on his throws. The margin for error is extremely small because of his lack of arm strength, particularly when he is forced to push the ball downfield.
If the Fresno State product is going to find success at the NFL level, it is going to have to be because of his mind and poise in the pocket. He doesn’t have elite rushing ability, nor does he have the arm talent that some other prospects do.
8. Tanner McKee
Tanner McKee is the most statue-like passer in this group of prospects. This lack of mobility causes some problems when he faces any kind of pressure. He didn’t necessarily close his final season at Stanford on a strong note, either, throwing for just 3 touchdowns over the final five games, all losses.
However, McKee does have a strong arm, and he can fit the ball into tight windows on occasion. At 6’6, he also has the ideal size that many former Stanford QBs had NFL success with before him (John Elway, Andrew Luck).
The lack of mobility for McKee may be a bit overstated as well. He is plenty capable of shifting around in the pocket; we just won’t see him scramble outside of the pocket to pick up yards on broken plays.
Overall, though, we have to evaluate the prospect as a whole. There are inconsistencies in his accuracy, and many of the prospects above him can at least be a threat to run with the ball. McKee looks like a very similar prospect to Davis Mills right now.
9. Jaren Hall
When building a prospect like Jaren Hall, all you have to do is imagine Zach Wilson, but without quite as ridiculous of arm strength. For better or worse, that’s what we have with Hall. He oozes of confidence in the pocket, and he is plenty capable of progressing through reads. He may not run as often as other players on this list, but there is plenty of mobility in his game as well.
However, just as we’ve seen with Wilson early on in his career, Hall has problems as a prospect as well. If we’re going to mention Haener’s size, we also have to talk about Hall, who again, stands at 6’0 and weighs only 207 pounds.
To his credit, though, unlike Wilson at times, Hall knows when to make the smart play rather than the big one. He gets rid of the ball to avoid sacks, and if his primary options are covered, he is fine with dumping the ball off to a running back rather than forcing a ball into coverage.
Overall, this confidence and poise in the pocket could carry him to the NFL level. However, without quite as much zip on his fastball and being undersized, his transition becomes a bit tougher. He trends towards being a capable backup QB.
10. Dorian Thompson-Robinson
Much of Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s appeal right now comes from his ability with his legs rather than his arm. When going against some of the top programs, he ran into trouble, particularly against zone defenses. He falls for bait far too often, leading to some bad interceptions.
However, especially on shorter passes, Thompson-Robinson is capable of delivering sharp, accurate passes that lead receivers. If he gets a few shifty route-runners on his side in the NFL, there’s a pathway to him finding success on the field.
Additionally, as aforementioned, mobility is the true calling card for Thompson-Robinson as a prospect. He has 29 career rushing TDs, and his quick acceleration and elusive running ability makes him a weapon in the open field. To see the UCLA product’s true potential on display, his performance against Arizona State is worth a watch.
Unfortunately, Arizona State’s defense gave up 31.4 points per game in 2022, ranking 107th out of 131 FBS programs. There aren’t going to be many games against NFL teams where the talent is lacking that much on the defensive side of the ball. Thompson-Robinson has a long way to go before he gets onto an NFL field, but if he figures things out some of his consistency issues, don’t sleep on him in this class.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.