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Seahawks QB Survivor: Who entered the 2023 NFL Draft?
Grayson McCall is pulling a Rodney Dangerfield: Seaside Joe 1403
After much debate in-season of whether the Seattle Seahawks would be in the market to draft a quarterback in 2023, from a 100-percent certainty prior to Week 1 to maybe a low point somewhere around Geno Smith’s short-lived MVP candidacy (22 TD, 6 INT, 72% completions after beating the Rams), I think most fans have settled back into the “I’m open for business” business.
Welcome back to QB Survivor. Sorry for the wait.
What am I talkin’ about here?
First note: Wednesday’s bonus Regular Joes article detailing a blockbuster trade proposal between the Seahawks and Broncos was so popular that I decided to unlock it this morning. If you didn’t see the details, go read now.
QB Survivor was my idea to whittle down a cast of 24 2023 NFL Draft quarterback prospects down to one SOLE QB SURVIVOR who would make perfect sense for the Seahawks. This is different than being the top-ranked quarterback in the class, it is different than saying that Seattle would need to use their first pick on the winner, and it is different than CBS’s Survivor…although this year’s cast does have a former Seahawks practice squad player on it.
First of all, my sincere apologies to anyone who was hoping for a weekly segment during the college season, like I was, especially those of you who participated in the beginning and especially to Coach Doug for helping keep track of their stats each weekend. I did not anticipate that the Seahawks would be keeping us so busy with their 2022 season and then the 2023 draft class kind of puttered out quicker than I expected. The first edition of QB Survivor has been a learning process…one that may not matter if the Seahawks draft a franchise quarterback in 2023 and don’t stay in the market for a quarterback in 2024.
Second, I want to do a quick recap on the quarterbacks who were still on the cast prior to my last QB Survivor update: Who is entering the draft, who is going back to school, who is transferring, and who had their stock plummet?
There is much to cover! And we will be back into keeping track of these QB Survivor hopefuls once draft season kicks into gear. Please subscribe to Seaside Joe to keep track and share with fellow Seahawks fans who may be interested!
Grayson McCall’s update will be longer than most, I assure you.
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina - Back to school
Grayson finished the season 207-of-297 (70%) for 2,700 yards, 24 TD, 2 INT, and six rushing touchdowns. For the third time in three years, he finished ranked in the top-five nationally in passer rating efficiency. His career TD:INT ratio is now 78:8 and he’s rushed for 17 touchdowns. Following the season, Coastal head coach Jamey Chadwell accepted the job at Liberty and Grayson opted to enter the transfer portal to test his strength on the “it’s not free agency” free agent market. After flirting with the likes of Auburn and other SEC schools, but still opting to help his team in the bowl game against East Carolina and then getting hurt on a rushing score, Grayson opted to withdraw from the portal. He announced on Instagram his intention to “run that shit back” with Coastal Carolina’s new head coach Tim Beck.
On the bright side, Grayson continues to be college football perfection and with Beck, who was OC at NC State for the last three years, he gets an opportunity to separate himself from Chadwell’s triple-option offense and prove if he can still execute with a different system. On the downside, Grayson won’t prove himself against better competition (there are rumors that he was having issues with credits and it may have meant that he would have not been eligible next year) and he goes back to a school that had a terrible supporting cast around him in 2022.
We know that Seaside Joe is Grayson’s biggest fan, so of course I’m disappointed that he won’t be in the NFL Draft this year. But I remain just as optimistic because Grayson has yet to give me reason not to be…only reason to be patient.
Bryce Young, Alabama - Top-5 draft prospect
The top recruit in the 2020 class, Young finished the season with 32 touchdowns and five interceptions, completing 64.5% of his passes. He had 321 yards and five touchdowns on only 21 throws in the bowl game against Kansas State. Young should be in the running to go first overall to the Texans.
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State - Early draft prospect
I wrote about Stroud’s rising stock on Sunday. In some way, losing the game was the best case scenario for C.J. Stroud. He doesn’t have to have another game—in which he could play poorly or worse, get hurt—and he gets to enter the draft on a high note instead of a low note. It’s the consensus opinion that Ohio State’s loss to Georgia was the best game of Stroud’s career, so it’s probably better for him that he doesn’t have to play again. He could go first overall and many will mock him to the Seahawks, I’m sure of it.
Will Levis, Kentucky - First round prospect
I think the most polarizing prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft, even more than Anthony Richardson. Levis finished the season 185-of-283, 2,406 yards, 19 TD, 10 INT, and -107 rushing yards with two scores. In his final game, Levis went 11/19 for 188 yards with two touchdowns against Louisville. He will be projected anywhere from first overall to day two.
Devin Leary, NC State - Transferred to Kentucky
Doesn’t have the tools of Levis, but I was more intrigued by Leary going into the season after he had 35 touchdowns, five interceptions as a sophomore at NC State (in Beck’s offense). Leary only played in six games and had a bad year prior to his torn pectoral injury. He has transferred and will replace Levis at Kentucky, potentially uniting with current Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen, if Coen goes back to the Wildcats as some are speculating.
Cameron Ward, Washington State - Back to school
The Cougs lost OC Eric Morris to North Texas. Ward is returning to the Cougs after having sat out their bowl game loss. Ward is the youngest player in this group and he has a high ceiling, but a low floor.
Michael Penix, Washington - Back to school
For the first time in five years, Penix didn’t suffer a major injury. He played in 13 games and had 31 touchdowns, eight interceptions for Washington. He will come back to school for a SIXTH year and will be 24 at the time of the 2024 NFL Draft. This isn’t always an issue and the lefty could still win a Heisman and become a first round pick.
D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson - Transferred to Oregon State
It may be the most interesting QB year in the history of the fourth Northwest football programs. The former five-star Uiagalelei lost his job with the Tigers (62%, 22 TD, seven interceptions, 7 rushing TDs) and will replace Chance Nolan at Oregon State.
Bo Nix, Oregon - Back to school
He didn’t make the cut for the final four vote-in ballot, but then I had to put Bo Nix into the cast just before we put the show on hiatus because he was playing so well. Nix finished with 72% completions, 8.8 Y/A, 29 TD, seven interceptions, and 14 rushing touchdowns. There is a wide range of possibilities for Nix as a 2024 draft prospect, from contending for the first overall pick to not being picked at all, but he has raised his stock considerably in the last three months.
Anthony Richardson, Florida - Top-50 prospect
Richardson’s draft stock is immensely difficult to project, with predictions ranging from day two to going first overall. As I mentioned recently, I’m more of a fan of that Richardson’s tools than I expected because he may actually have a strong grasp on how to manage a pocket and going through his progressions. Richardson is a legitimate target for the Seahawks.
Sam Hartman, Wake Forest - Probable transfer to Notre Dame
Despite four full college seasons and a fifth year with four games, Hartman will return for a sixth campaign and is likely transferring to Notre Dame. Hartman is visiting Notre Dame on Wednesday after throwing 77 touchdowns in the last two seasons at Wake Forest.
Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma - Undecided
One of the few QBs I have no answer to yet, the lefty had 25 touchdowns and six interceptions after transferring from UCF. He may be questioning if it is better to test the draft, which likely leaves him as an undrafted free agent, or take the risk to go back to school which could either result in a breakout or a benching.
Tyler Van Dyke, Miami - Back to school
He has little choice as TVD’s season was such a disaster that he is not a draft prospect or much of a transfer portal interest.
Hendon Hooker, Tennessee - Day 3 prospect
Hooker’s performance against Alabama could be the cream of college football’s crop of games in 2022, but there’s a long list of reasons to be considered. The injury history, the age, the offense, and frankly the flat-footed nature of his throwing motion. Hooker may be the steal of draft or all the red flags could be legitimate and we don’t hear from him again.
Tanner McKee, Stanford - Day 2-3 prospect
PFF’s Mike Renner was projecting McKee as a top-10 pick early in the season, I have no idea why. He spent two years away from football and when he returned, there wasn’t much to see, but some are fans of his frame and arm and think he was held back by Stanford. Former teammate Davis Mills could be a value comparison as a round three pick who can temporarily fill a starting role for a team.
Max Duggan, TCU - Day 3 prospect
You voted Duggan into QB Survivor in our most recent article, but then the game went on hiatus. Duggan’s stock has never been higher following TCU’s 51-45 win over Michigan to reach the national championship game. There are questions of his football ability, but not of his character or leadership.
K.J. Jefferson, Arkansas - Back to school, I think?
I can’t quite pin down a declarative statement but it seems like K.J. Jefferson will be going back to Arkansas. If not, he may be a day three prospect. Charley?
Jaren Hall, BYU - Day 3 prospect
Like Hooker, Hall is 25. Debating the two prospects is interesting. Hall had 31 touchdowns, six interceptions, and rushed for 350 yards in 12 games.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA - Day 3 prospect
When I say “Day 3 prospect” for anybody, it does mean that they could also go undrafted. Many quarterbacks will go undrafted. When you consider how few quarterback jobs there are in the NFL, including backup roles, it means that teams are usually drafting a player who they expect to start for them in the future (those guys go early) and then they start divvying out backup jobs to the longshot players. But those guys have to compete with the likes of Andy Dalton and Drew Lock and Chase Daniel to maybe have one of two quarterback spots on the entire roster. That’s why I think if you don’t get drafted in the first three rounds, the odds increase that you won’t be drafted.
DTR may be an undrafted free agent.
Will Rogers, Mississippi State - Back to school
Cameron Rising, Utah - Back to school?
I couldn’t find a definitive answer on Rising, but it seems like without a strong draft projection that he would go back to school with Utah just reaching the Rose Bowl this year.
Jalon Daniels, Kansas - TBD
I think Daniels is going back to Kansas. If I’ve learned anything from writing this article, it’s that college last 17 years apparently. I am withholding my urge to once again write about everything that I find wrong with college football. Daniels 565 total yards and six touchdowns in the Liberty Bowl.
Stetson Bennett, Georgia - Will declare for draft
Finally, someone who has no other choice! Bennett will be attempting to win his second straight national championship in the final game. If Bryce Young has question marks about his size, Bennett has even more. But there will be a lot of momentum from fans begging their teams to pick Bennett in the fifth round.
Garrett Shrader, Syracuse - Back to school
Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland - TBD
Jake Haener, Fresno State - Day 3 prospect
Three more players who didn’t do much of anything to raise their stock, although Haener might get his name called at some point.
Out of 24+ QBs in the Survivor cast this season, it appears that only 10 are locks to be in the 2023 NFL draft pool. That’s a learning lesson for Seaside Joe but maybe the Seahawks won’t be swimming for quarterbacks in 2024.