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Texans NFL Draft
NFL Draft

NFL Draft: How To Approach Polarizing 2023 QB Class

  • Joe Marino
  • December 8, 2022
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If there’s anything the last 10 years of evaluating quarterback prospects in the NFL draft has taught us it’s to be open-minded. For all the doubters that Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, and Jalen Hurts had, the support for the likes of Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Baker Mayfield was significant.

The 2023 NFL Draft class of quarterbacks promises to produce wide-ranging evaluations and projections to the next level. 

Bryce Young has proven to be a dynamic and instinctive playmaker at Alabama but doesn’t come close to providing the desired size for an NFL quarterback with concerns over how his game translates to the NFL.

C.J. Stroud’s production and flashes of ball placement are exciting but is he maxed out? Can he make the mechanical adjustments necessary to find more consistency? Will he ever weaponize his legs to become a more dynamic playmaker? 

Will Levis has all the physical ability you can dream of but his play has been erratic for two seasons at Kentucky. Anthony Richardson matches the physical ability of Levis but is only a one-year starter with uneven results.

How teams and evaluators rank and value this crop of quarterbacks won’t come close to producing a consensus. With that in mind, the conversation surrounding these prospects is also likely to be all over the place.  For me to organize my own thoughts on this quarterback class, I’m keeping three things at the forefront of my mind.

  1. The Skill Set

Well, this seems straightforward, right? But indulge me for a moment before you call me Captain Obvious. 

The four projected top quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft all offer different top traits and limitations. By studying the prospects, I want to gain a full understanding of what they offer and what they lack. From there, I will have the information necessary to project them to an NFL offense.

How dynamic of an offense can I run with each of them at quarterback? Am I comfortable with how they will limit the scheme? What can they become at the next level? While the resume and accomplishments of these quarterbacks in college matter, ultimately the NFL cares most about what type of quarterback they can develop into for them. 

I’ve already seen plenty of questions like “What has Will Levis or Anthony Richardson done in college to be a first-round pick?” While a fair question, examining these quarterbacks from that vantage point doesn’t paint the full picture. There are endless highly-accomplished college quarterbacks that don’t take a snap in the NFL. Ultimately, it’s about what they can become in the NFL.

The college resume provides clues, but it’s not everything and I’m certainly not going to dismiss the upside of Levis or Richardson because I wish they accomplished more in college. Consider me unsurprised, they lack the resumes of Young at Alabama and Stroud at Ohio State with the program stability they enjoyed while Richardson and Levis both had different offensive coordinators in each of their two seasons at Florida and Kentucky respectively. Perhaps it’s fairer to imagine Stroud and Young at Kentucky or Florida over the past two seasons while placing Levis and Richardson and Ohio State or Alabama and considering how much different the resumes would look.

Being keenly aware of the skill set each quarterback offers and the impact of it on the offense an NFL team can run is a critical layer to how I plan on ultimately valuing each quarterback prospect. 

  1. Leadership and Intangibles

The leadership and intangibles of a quarterback are just as important as the skill set they offer. Digging into any and every detail possible about what teammates, coaches, and people around the programs say about their character, work ethic, and leadership is essential. 

Utilizing connections and personal exposures to this NFL draft class of quarterbacks to develop an understanding of the leadership skills and intangibles of each player will weigh heavily on how I value them.

  1. Situation 

I wish I could rank the quarterbacks after knowing what team they are on after the NFL draft instead of before because so much of their ability to succeed in the NFL will be contingent upon how they are set up for success at the next level. There’s a lot that goes into a quarterback developing into a legitimate franchise player and some of that is out of the quarterback’s control. So while we can study the skill sets and develop an understanding of the makeup of each quarterback, the situation they enter into will be paramount for their success. 

There have been plenty of highly-doubted quarterback prospects that have become NFL superstars. Keep an open mind when considering the rising crop.

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Joe Marino