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An early look at the potential top quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft

2022 CFP National Championship - Georgia v Alabama Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Now that the 2022 Draft is over that means it’s time to start talking about next year's draft, right? The 2022 NFL Draft coming and going without the Seattle Seahawks adding a quarterback to the roster makes it very clear the team views the 2023 offseason as the time to find one, assuming they don’t view Drew Lock as the future. With the draft being a little under a year away there is a lot that could change. Over the last few seasons, we’ve seen the likes of Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Zach Wilson and Kenny Pickett rise from Day 2 or later picks to being the first or second QB off the board. Players rise and fall every year; Spencer Rattler for example went from being the favorite to be selected first overall in the 2022 draft to losing his starting job to a true freshman and then transferring to South Carolina in the space of eight months. So, keep in mind there is no guarantee the players listed below are going to be 2023 draft picks let alone be selected where they are projected to.

Bryce Young - Alabama - 6’0 - 194 pounds

Young is coming off of a stellar sophomore season in which he amassed 4,872 passing yards (which was second in the country), threw 47 touchdowns and had a QBR of 87.6 which was also good for second in the country. He was also awarded with the Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player. Young is a fantastic player but there are two concerns that we are going to hear mentioned for him with some regularity over the next 11 months. The first is that he is only 6 feet tall, despite the fact we have seen multiple shorter quarterbacks be very successful in recent memory including the likes Drew Brees, Kyler Murray, and another guy I think Seahawks fans know pretty well in Russell Wilson. The other argument is going to be that he plays for Alabama, a school some will say has not produced a great quarterback since Joe Namath.

There is a saying in the scouting community, which is do not scout the helmet, scout the player but Young is likely to fall victim to people scouting the helmet. These two negatives if you can even call them that are going to concern some teams, especially the height which does only increase the chances Seattle could scoop up him. Although, when looking past those two drawbacks it is easy to fall in love with the player, despite his age he can work through his progressions, he is a great leader and has fantastic arm talent. All things every single team needs from their franchise quarterback. Young will be in contention for the top overall pick which means Seattle would have to have a truly awful year to get him which unfortunately cannot be ruled out completely.

C.J. Stroud - Ohio State - 6’3 - 215 pounds

Stroud like Young was one of if not the best quarterbacks in all of college football last season. He totaled 4,435 passing yards, 44 touchdowns all while posting a nation’s best 91.6 QBR. He finished second in the Heisman voting only behind Bryce Young. Like Young, one of the biggest drawbacks with Stroud is he is coming out of Ohio State, where Ryan Day is able to make life very easy for his quarterbacks.

The lack of NFL success for recent first round Ohio State quarterbacks in the late Dwayne Haskins and current Bears starter Justin Fields (who’s admittedly TBD with just one season under his belt) is something that is going to be used in the argument against Stroud. However, like Young, once you look past an argument that truly does not have anything to do with him it is easy to fall in love with the player. He has the necessary athleticism to play the position, can throw from anywhere on the field and has the ability to take over games. He is not a true threat with his legs as he only totaled 32 rushing attempts during the 2021 season (many of which were sack)s but with his overall arm talent, he does not need to be elusive as a runner to become an elite quarterback in the NFL. Right now, Stroud is the betting favorite over Young by a very slight margin to be selected first overall in 2023 and if he posts similar numbers in the upcoming season, it is difficult to not see him be the first player off of the board. Seattle is almost going to have to have a very bad season to put themselves in contention for Stroud’s services, unless they use some of the draft capital they received from the Russell Wilson trade to jump up and get him.

Will Levis - Kentucky - 6’3 - 232

Levis was eligible to come out of the draft this year as he is going into his fifth year of college football and was viewed as a top ten QB prospect in most camps, but he decided to return to Kentucky. He does not have a significant amount of experience, with this past season being his first year as starter after being a backup at Penn State for three years before transferring. Levis did not post eye popping numbers during the 2021 college football season; he only threw for 2,826 yards which was 46th in the nation, tossed 24 touchdowns along with 13 interceptions with a QBR of 76.8. Even with those numbers Levis is the consensus third overall quarterback heading into the 2022 college football season.

He is not a supreme athlete, but he is someone who is going to force defenses to respect his legs as he had 107 rushing attempts last season. Something that could further draw Seattle to Levis is he played the 2021 season under offensive coordinator Liam Coen, who like Shane Waldron, is from the Sean McVay coaching tree which could make his transition to the NFL a bit easier. It is difficult to envision Levis jumping ahead of Young or Stroud in the 2023 draft but his big arm and rushing ability will keep him in contention to be one of the first quarterbacks off the board in next year’s draft. If Seattle is sitting around the eighth pick in next year’s draft Levis will certainly be a consideration for them.

D.J. Uiagalelei - Clemson - 6’4 - 250 pounds

Coming into the 2021 season Uiagalelei was one of the odds-on favorites to walk away with the Heisman Trophy in what was expected to be a massive sophomore year. Unfortunately for him this season was simply a massive disappointment. He finished the year with 2,246 passing yards and threw for only nine touchdowns paired with 10 interceptions and had a passer rating of 43.2 good for 97th in the country. If you were to build a quarterback in a lab you would make one that looks exactly like the Clemson quarterback. He has the size, athleticism and overall arm strength that every team covets when searching for their franchise quarterback. However, there are a lot of problems with his game; he has bad mechanics, his decision making is not great and he does not have great processing speed.

If he shows any type of improvement in those areas this upcoming season there is going to be a team that falls in love with him because of the unique traits he brings to the table. I’m not comparing the two in terms of talent, but if you look at Josh Allen coming out of Wyoming he had some very significant concerns with his accuracy, mechanics and decision making, but because of the rare physical traits he brought with him to the table the Bills fell in love and made him a top ten pick. Seeing Uiagalelei getting selected in the first round let alone the top 10 seems like a stretch right now. Although, it is not difficult to envision someone taking him at some point during Day 2 in the hopes that they can mold him into their franchise signal caller.