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2023 QB Consensus Rankings
Seaside Joe 1228: C.J. Stroud to Grayson McCall
We are seven weeks shy of the first college football games of 2022. It’s possible that August 27th slate will include a quarterback who gets drafted into the NFL one day, but at first glance there are no notable prospects expected to play in Week 0.
However, Drake Maye, a fringe five-star recruit in the 2021 class, is expected to replace Sam Howell at UNC and should start against Florida A&M; Tar Heels receiver Josh Downs could be a first round pick and potentially a target of the Seahawks if they’re looking for a player to eventually replace Tyler Lockett.
Elsewhere, Western Kentucky is expected to use the entire offseason to find a replacement for quarterback Bailey Zappe, a fourth round pick of the Patriots, and the Hilltoppers are facing Austin Peay in one of the first college football games of the year.
Those two programs are the best I can offer for pre-Week 1, but then from September 1-5, the full slate of action begins and so does Seaside Joe’s regularly-updated QB Top-10 (sometimes top-25) for the 2023 draft.
The Seattle Seahawks have so rarely been in the position where fans could come to expect that the franchise is in preparation mode to welcome a franchise quarterback. It hasn’t happened since Russell Wilson entered the chat a decade ago and there won’t be a shortage of “Who? Why? How?” with this newsletter until that decision is definitive.
I am a fan of the website NFL Mock Draft Database for one reason above all others: It is a database.
The rankings, the order, the opinions that get injected into the analysis, those are all secondary compared to the mere fact that NFLMDD compiles the names that we will want to monitor from now until April. The following order is a “consensus big board” that NFLMDD displays based on what others are saying and it will not at all reflect my opinion. It does not even reflect any one person’s opinion. And just because it is the consensus of some people, it is not the consensus of all people, and it is not the consensus of the NFL.
Here’s all we need to know: These are the names of quarterbacks who are currently being considered for the 2023 NFL Draft. Many of the names will fall off entirely. Others will emerge.
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1 - C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
First game: Notre Dame at Ohio State, September 3
He’s not my number one, but that is not a knock. There will probably be multiple quarterbacks in the 2023 draft who are good enough to be number one overall pick. Stroud has more to prove than Young.
For what it’s worth, Notre Dame is holding a competition between sophomore Tyler Buchner and junior Drew Pyne to replace Jack Coan.
My advice to Stroud: Throw 70 touchdowns, because most people won’t give you enough credit if you only throw 50
2 - Bryce Young, Alabama
First game: Utah State at Alabama, September 3
Young is my number one. It’s no secret how high I am on Zach Wilson and Young is setup to be a better prospect than Wilson and Trevor Lawrence. This opening matchup means Young probably won’t see the second half, but then Alabama takes on Texas on September 10 and the winner of that game will be a CFP favorite.
Sidenote: What the hell does this “Can someone please photoshop a jersey on him?” do for people? It’s fan fiction for football fans? This is truly bizarre. You take people who you wish were on your favorite team and then you draw your favorite team’s jersey on him? Is it only for the fantasy or is it more like manifesting in The Secret?
My advice to Young: Sit out the year. Your stock can only go down. But I think it’s more like a Sam Bradford situation, in that there’s nothing that can really slow down your ascent. If Young sat out the year, I still believe he’d be the top pick in 2023.
3 - Will Levis, Kentucky
First game: Miami (OH) at Kentucky, September 3
Though I understand why some people are high on Levis, he is going to be a 24-year-old rookie in 2023 and he still has to fix some major issues in his passing game, including the two most-concerning in accuracy and the turnovers created by inaccuracy and poor decisions:
As a thrower, Levis can be more precise at times. Especially over the middle, he sometimes fails to lead receivers and forces high-difficulty adjustments in congested areas. He’s still learning to mix velocity and touch, and he sometimes puts too much heat and too little loft on passes. His release is fast but can be concave at times, pushing passes high as a result.
Elsewhere, Levis’ pressure detection can fluctuate both ways. He can be spooked into prematurely dropping his eyes and running. Conversely, he occasionally has lapses in pressure detection and takes hard hits on the blind side. He can be rushed into making non-ideal decisions by pressure and sometimes fades back as he throws, eroding his mechanics.
I am not rooting against Levis. I am rooting for him to fix those problems to give the draft yet another first round prospect at the position. I just don’t think that the NFL projects him be in that class yet.
Levis has very exciting tools as a passer and a creator. The Kentucky QB stands at 6’4″, 230 pounds, with a strong, dense frame that can withstand contact. And with his frame, Levis brings elite arm talent to the fold. He generates elite velocity on throws with visible ease and has a quick, crisp 3/4 sidearm release. His velocity carries well to all levels of the field and travels with immediacy in the short and intermediate ranges.
Levis has a supremely strong arm — strong enough to generate high levels of velocity even when off-platform and rolling against his dominant side. But beyond that, his arm is also noticeably elastic. The Kentucky QB is very natural and comfortable throwing from different arm angles, and he can generate high levels of velocity from various arm angles. He’s able to throw with pace and accuracy off-platform, and he can correct incongruent mechanics with his arm talent.
My advice to Levis: Take every NIL deal.
4 - Tyler Van Dyke, Miami
First game: Bethune-Cookman at Miami, September 3
Van Dyke also has more to prove, but he’s only entering his third college season. Not his fifth. Teams will value that Van Dyke, the prototype in many ways, has already played well at the college level before getting an entire offseason to be QB1. A good year will solidify Van Dyke as a first round pick, and a great year will put him in the top-10.
My advice to Van Dyke: Fans love a gunslinger. Keep doing that, but better…
*Per PFF, when Van Dyke is pressured, his completion percentage drops from 67-percent to 45-percent. But what's interesting is in facing pressure, the freshman's average depth of target goes up three full yards and his turnover-worthy pass percentage drops two full percentage points. Translation: Van Dyke escapes trouble with bombs downfield that are out of bounds or out of defenders' reach.
5 - Anthony Richardson, Florida
First game: Utah at Florida, September 3
Everyone has their own method and that’s fine. My method does not allow me to put a player this high on a board if he’s only thrown 66 passes over his first two college seasons—and managed six interceptions. This isn’t to say that quarterbacks don’t break out after several years in college (Zach Wilson was not good for three full seasons prior to his senior campaign), it’s only speaking of rankings; what’s the rush?
There is plenty to be excited about, otherwise these players wouldn’t be getting any buzz at all. Said Todd McShay:
“Now, Richardson is a huge projection — the 6-foot-4, 236-pound passer played in just eight games and started once last year — and has some turnover issues. But he’s extremely talented and poised for a breakout season in his first as a full-time starter.”
Utah QB Cam Rising is #20 on the consensus big board.
My advice to Richardson: We’re all looking for more reasons to watch college football games of teams we don’t necessarily like or care about, and there is rarely a better reason than a quarterback who scores four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns per game. Please go be one of those reasons.
6 - Tanner McKee, Stanford
First game: Colgate at Stanford, September 3
McKee gets attention because he was a big deal in the 2018 recruiting class, ranking just behind Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields before going on a two-year mission with the LDS church. He started his college career in 2020 but didn’t become Stanford’s starter until 2021 and he was okay. Definitely better than could be expected after three years without playing football.
At 6’6”, 226 pounds, he has great size and quickness. Very light feet in the pocket. He also has a killer arm and an ability to make NFL-level throws by throwing in tight windows. There are just some throws he makes that set him apart from other quarterbacks.
I still think McKee is another example of what amazes me about prospect analysis: So many people who have an opinion about these quarterbacks don’t seem to place much value in whether or not they have actually played great football above the high school level. I am not saying it is a prerequisite, and a lot of the best college quarterbacks could not hack it in the NFL, but you’re really just okay ranking players based on HEIGHT and “How many stars did they get out of high school?”?
Not only does McKee need to improve, he needs to do so at a time when Stanford could be one of the worst programs in the Pac-12. Pac-10? Pac-8? Pac-it-up-and-go-home?
My advice to McKee: You’ve almost thrown as many career touchdowns as Davis Mills. But Mills only had 18 and look at him now, “franchise quarterback” of the Texans*. I guess… keep it up?
*emphasis on “of the Texans
7 - Spencer Rattler, South Carolina
First game: Georgia State at South Carolina, September 3
Rattler’s ability to be a great college quarterback was clearly overestimated coming out of high school. The top-ranked quarterback in the 2019 class, Rattler was fine in 2020 and then lost the starting job to freshman Caleb Williams in 2021. Williams followed Lincoln Riley to USC, Rattler departed Oklahoma for South Carolina, and the new starter at Oklahoma is UCF transfer Dillon Gabriel.
Do I hate the transfer portal? No, I don’t hate the transfer portal.
I do place some value in quarterbacks who can be “the guy” early and hold that role for three or four years. Zach Wilson. Justin Herbert. It’s not everyone, we know that Joe Burrow transferred, but Rattler’s exit was much more than him being “blocked.”
My advice to Rattler: Do a great football season.
8 - Jaren Hall, BYU
First game: BYU at USF, September 3
Hall has had 12 starts in four years and he will be 25 as a rookie if he makes it into the NFL. I just don’t know how to rank him ahead of Grayson McCall. I wouldn’t know how to do that.
My advice to Hall: I’ll phone NFLDraftBuzz.
Has struggled with his decision-making and needs to improve his pre-snap recognition skills to read defenses and see blitzes. Doesn't decipher information as quickly as you would like, but does see the entire field and understands coverage.
Too often fails to give receivers a chance to make a play after the catch. High completion percentage padded by many quick screens.
9 - D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson
First game: Clemson at Georgia Tech, September 5
Lawrence and Deshaun Watson were so successful at Clemson under Dabo Sweeney that somehow Uiagalelei seems to be getting just as much credit as his predecessors. He threw nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season, widely considered one of the worst starters at a Power 5 program. Why?
Like Rattler, he was the top-ranked quarterback in his class. The fact that the majority of highly-ranked QB recruits don’t make it to the NFL seems to be a non-factor for many until they actually see the person not get drafted.
Me personally, I’ll take NCAA’s best QB over the last two seasons over at least the seven players on this list ranked ahead of him.
My advice to Uigalelei: Win and keep Clemson’s starting job.
10 - Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
First game: Army at Coastal Carolina, September 3
We have a saying at Seaside Joe: “Trust in Grayson McCall. His reputation as a football player, among those who know him, is of the highest regard. Among those who do not know him yet, they will come to know this of him. If we all stepped into our lives like like Grayson McCall steps onto the field, the world would be a perfect place. A heaven that you can smell. An oasis that you could drink. An Eden that didn’t have a single snake. If you put even one drop of McCall’s DNA into the ocean, that single molecule would be enough to turn the entire Pacific into a pool of perfect crystal spring liquid. A fisherman could dip a ladle into the sea and drink straight from it, but even the fish and aquatic wildlife would continue to thrive in ways they’ve never felt before. Not a single living organism would be worse off and in fact the entire world would reform into a utopia that we would call “McCalliota.” Trust in him.”