Night one of the 2022 NFL Draft has concluded and even from the start, it was widely regarded that the quarterback class wasn’t as strong as it was in years prior. With that being said the 2023 quarterback class is loaded with talent that teams can turn their attention to. These are the top 10 prospects to watch this upcoming college football season as they could be your team’s franchise quarterback of the future.
1. C.J. Stroud- Ohio State
In the first game of the 2021 season, C.J. Stroud completed 59.1% of his passes for 294 yards and four touchdowns. In the last game of the season at the Rose Bowl, he completed 80.4% of his passes for 573 yards and six touchdowns. Stroud showed immense growth from the beginning to the end of the season and from spring practice so far Stroud has continued to show growth. He has taken a bigger leadership role, is processing the field better, and has improved pocket awareness. Not to mention head coach Ryan Day has already said they plan on allowing Stroud to make his own plays and calls at the line of scrimmage which just shows how quick of a learner he is. Stroud will only continue as the season progresses and is one of the names that will be a top-five pick.
2. Bryce Young- Alabama
Bryce Young is the second quarterback already being regarded as the other quarterback to be taken within the top five. In his first season as a starter, he led Alabama to the National Championship game and finished the season with a 66.9% completion percentage, 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions. Young can make throws to all levels of the field and can maneuver in the pocket to buy time for his receivers to get open. He did this while being under pressure on over 36% of his dropbacks, so to deal with pressure like that in his first year shows how great his processing ability is. Not to mention with his athletic ability he has extreme upside and potential for a team to fully develop his skills.
3. Hendon Hooker- Tennessee
At 6’4, 218 lbs, Hendon Hooker has great size for a quarterback. Hooker can stand in the pocket where he reads the field well and has no problem being mobile either when he has to evade pressure in the pocket. He follows his field reading ability up by not forcing throws and making great decisions on where to go with the ball. He has the accuracy to reach all levels of the field, and in 2021 he completed 68.2% of his passes for 2,945 yards, 31 touchdowns, and only three interceptions. His size also allows him to gain yardage on his own and break tackles, he ran 167 times for 620 yards and five touchdowns in 2021 as well. What will be an area to watch for Hooker to improve on in 2022 is putting enough touch on his throws to let his receivers get yards after the catch.
4. Devin Leary- N.C. State
If you don’t already know the name Devin Leary, you should. Leary will be returning to play for his redshirt junior year with the N.C. State Wolfpack. Leary will be looking to build off a spectacular season where he threw for 3,433 yards, 35 touchdowns, a 65.7% completion percentage, and only five interceptions where two came from Hail Mary attempts. Over the season he showed how accurate he can be throwing to all levels of the field while also having great pocket manipulation to avoid pressure. Leary plays with confidence and is someone teams can rely on to improvise and still make great decisions. He is an NFL-ready quarterback who will only be gaining more experience and perfecting his technique even more in this upcoming 2022 season.
5. Will Levis- Kentucky
In his first year as a starter after transferring to Kentucky from Penn State, Will Levis completed 233 of 353 passes for 2,826 yards, 24 touchdowns, while also rushing for 376 yards. He showed some inconsistencies, as highlighted by his 13 interceptions, but as a first-year starter in an NFL-based system run by then offensive coordinator Liam Coen that would be expected. Levis has a great release that he pairs with his arm strength to make throws to all levels of the field while maintaining great velocity. Levis also maneuvers in the pocket well giving his receivers time to gain separation while throwing with anticipation, and his athletic upside allows him to run down field if needed. He will need to work more on not throwing the ball in contested situations under pressure but should show improvement this year.
6. Jake Haener- Fresno State
While he was eligible to enter the 2022 NFL Draft, Jake Haener decided to stay one more year. If he had declared, Haener would’ve been in contention to be among the top quarterbacks in that class with Kenny Pickett and Malik Willis. Haener has a rocket for an arm, he has the ability to throw off-platform with ease and fit the ball through narrow windows. This led to Haener having a 4,096 yard, 33 touchdown season, he did have nine interceptions though which shows he is still learning how to understand coverages. Not to mention he also has shown great leadership characteristics on and off the field, as well as great poise in the pocket while under pressure. With another year to grow, Haener will be a top prospect by this time in 2023.
7. KJ Jefferson- Arkansas
KJ Jefferson is as efficient, versatile, and as productive as they come. Jefferson decided to return for another year with the Razorbacks despite being eligible for the 2022 draft because he felt like he had more to accomplish. He already has the best quarterback efficiency rating in Arkansas football history with 168.68. When it came to passer rating against SEC opponents in 2021 it was 165.7 which was the second-best ahead of Stetson Bennett, Bryce Young, and even Matt Corral. He finished the 2021 season completing 184 of 275 passes for 2,578 yards, 21 touchdowns, only three interceptions, and ran the ball for 554 yards. His size at 6’3, 245 lbs makes it difficult for defenders to bring him down in the pocket and when he is on the run as well with his elusiveness. Jefferson does a tremendous job with throwing the ball deep, and if he can work on his consistency with the intermediate throws this year, he could see his stock rise.
8. Tyler Van Dyke- Miami
For Miami, it was D’Eriq King who started the 2021 season as the starter for the Hurricanes. After King suffered an injury that took him out for the rest of the season after game three, it was Tyler Van Dyke who got the starting nod. A year earlier than expected, Van Dyke showed he was ready as in just one half of the game that he played against Central Connecticut State he completed 10 of 11 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns. He would then go on to finish the season with 2,931 yards, 25 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. Van Dyke has the arm talent and as the season progressed he showed better poise in the pocket under pressure. While he could always return for 2023, if he decides to declare for the NFL Draft he will surely be a top prospect if he builds off the 2021 season.
9. Phil Jurkovec- Boston College
Early in the 2021 season in game two against UMass, Phil Jurkovec suffered a significant injury to his wrist and wasn’t supposed to return. Two months later in November Jurkovec returned and played on a limited basis, while the games weren’t spectacular it showed his willingness to play. Over the limited six games he played in during 2021 he finished with 52 completions for 914 yards, seven touchdowns, and four interceptions. Jurkovec has the talent, and he was even the one to break Matt Ryan’s record he set at Boston College for having the most 300-yards passing games in school history. Returning for his fifth year of college to bounce back from the injury, Jurkovec has the experience to make him a guy who can start right away.
10. Dillon Gabriel- Oklahoma
In a new school and with a new coach, Dillon Gabriel will be looking to elevate his game even further under the new coaching staff at Oklahoma. During his three years at UCF, he has accumulated 8,037 passing yards, 70 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions over 554 completions. Gabriel has the arm talent as on average over his career so far he has had 8.8 yards per attempt. He also has the ability to work outside the pocket and when he doesn’t see a receiver open he has the rushing ability as highlighted by his career 167 rushing attempts for 372 yards and eight touchdowns. Gabriel will be reuniting with offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, the two had one season together in 2019 before Lebby joined Ole Miss where he helped develop Matt Corral. If Gabriel can improve on his pre-snap reads at the line of scrimmage he could see massive improvements.
These are just 10 quarterbacks as of right now but that’s not even mentioning a potential bounce back from Spencer Rattler, Kedon Slovis, Tanner McKee, Jayden Daniels, Malik Cunningham, or Taulia Tagovailoa. The list could go on even further with quarterbacks who have a stellar 2022 season. If your NFL team doesn’t have a quarterback they are confident in after this season, the 2023 draft is filled with quarterback talent to pay attention to.
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