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Saturday, May 18, 2024

2023 NFL Draft top quarterback picks

The 2023 NFL draft features a strong QB class but no clear #1 pick

 

By PATRICK FIGUEROA — sports@theaggie.org

 

The top four quarterbacks (QB) in the 2023 NFL Draft Class are University of Alabama QB Bryce Young, Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud, University of Florida QB Anthony Richardson and University of Kentucky QB Will Levis. Unlike other draft classes, though, there is no consensus among analysts as to who the best of these QBs is. 

 

Bryce Young 

Young is a decorated quarterback who has won multiple collegiate awards. In his first year as a starter, he won the Heisman Trophy after throwing for 4,322 yards and 43 touchdowns in the 2021 regular season. In the following season, Young led the University of Alabama to a Sugar Bowl victory, in which he threw for over 300 yards and five touchdowns. 

Young’s best asset is the way in which he can extend plays. He has often been able to turn potential sacks into explosive plays. This ability was most prominent throughout the 2022 season, as star Alabama receivers Jameson Williams and John Metchie III departed for a career in the NFL. 

Despite elite production and play extension ability, Young has major size concerns. Relative to other NFL QBs, Young is much smaller. At the NFL Combine, he measured 5’10” and weighed 204 pounds, which is below average for an NFL quarterback. This leaves cause for concern about whether Bryce Young will be able to stay healthy in the NFL. 

 

C.J. Stroud

Like Young, Stroud is an accomplished collegiate quarterback. With some of the best precision-passing abilities of any college quarterback, Stroud was a Heisman Trophy finalist in both of his seasons as a starter at Ohio State. He also threw more than 40 touchdown passes in both seasons. 

Stroud also has an incredible story leading up to his remarkable college career. Prior to his senior year of high school, Stroud was a modest three-star QB recruit that remained uncommitted to a college. However, after winning the Elite 11 MVP Award — an award given to the QB who performs best in a competition among other top QB recruits — and a spectacular senior year, Stroud ranked as the third-best high school quarterback in the country. He committed to Ohio State, and the rest is history. 

Despite showing the ability to overcome adversity, there are concerns as to how good Stroud can become. Unlike Young, Stroud is not the best at extending plays. He plays much better inside the pocket. Despite some flashes of play extension, Stroud struggled to create plays on his own throughout his Ohio State career. In the modern NFL, quarterbacks must be able to use their mobility to extend plays if they want to be elite.

 

Anthony Richardson

Richardson is the most physically gifted quarterback in this year’s draft class. He showcased elite athleticism at the NFL Combine, running a 4.43-second 40-yard dash and breaking the records for highest vertical jump and longest broad jump by a QB in NFL Combine history. He also has elite arm talent, as he completes passes deep down the field and through tight windows with ease. 

Even though Richardson possesses incredible physical talent, he lacks experience. Throughout his three years at the University of Florida, Richardson did not get on the field consistently until his final season. In addition, Richardson has less than 400 career passing attempts at Florida, while both Young and Stroud have more than 800 passing attempts throughout their college careers. 

Because of this, Richardson is a major gamble. If he reaches his potential, he can become one of the best quarterbacks in football. However, due to the lack of experience in comparison to the other quarterbacks in the draft class, NFL general managers could lose their jobs if Richardson does not work out. 

 

Will Levis

While Richardson comes close, Levis possesses the best arm talent in this year’s draft class. He also played much of his senior year with several injuries that harmed his production. In addition, it did not help that the University of Kentucky had arguably the worst surrounding offense relative to the other quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. Because of this, it is possible that Levis could drastically improve his production in the NFL. 

Despite an incredible arm and a tough situation during his senior season, there are still concerns regarding his on-field performance. Levis struggled to make accurate passes even when his wide receivers were open. His pocket presence was also concerning, as he failed to sense and evade blitzing defenders. If Levis is to succeed in the NFL, he will need to improve in these areas.

With the NFL draft scheduled to begin on April 27, there is still no clear answer as to which of these quarterbacks will be selected first. The Carolina Panthers have the first overall pick, and they are very likely to take a QB in hopes of turning their franchise around. The big question is which QB they think gives them the best chance to do so. 

 

Written by: Patrick Figueroa — sports@theaggie.org