Grading the landing spots of the top QB prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft
The 2023 NFL Draft has concluded, and the top quarterback prospects have found out what teams they will play on. Let’s grade each landing spot.
We have finally reached the end of the 2023 prospect cycle. Last Thursday, eyes were set on Kansas City as the NFL Draft took place. This year’s edition of the draft as usual, was dominated by talk about the quarterback prospects. Considering the teams with a need for a new signal caller, there was intrigue as to where the top prospects would land.
It all began with the Carolina Panthers on the clock first-overall, and in the worst kept secret, they selected Alabama’s Bryce Young. The draft really began with the second-overall pick held by the Houston Texans, who shocked the world by taking Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, proving that all the talk surrounding who they would pick was all smokescreen.
Anthony Richardson, the quarterback with the highest ceiling, was picked fourth-overall by the Indianapolis Colts. Will Levis was the story of the first night of the draft, as he fell completely out of the first round, to the shock of many. But, he heard his name called second on the second day, as the Tennessee Titans traded up to select him.
Finally, Hendon Hooker, the Tennessee quarterback recovering from a torn ACL, wen 68th overall by the Detroit Lions.
Now that we know where these quarterbacks will be playing to start their NFL careers in 2023, are they the right fits? We’re going to grade all five spots.
Previous editions of “In the Market” can be viewed at the links below:
Taking Stock: Grading the landing spots for the top QB prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft
Bryce Young, No. 1 overall, Carolina Panthers
Again, Young to the Panthers was not a shocker. This was expected to happen in the month prior to the NFL Draft. Carolina traded up multiple draft picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore to the Chicago Bears, and they needed to get the best quarterback available to lead their franchise. Sure enough, they land the best signal caller in the entire class in Young.
While Young doesn’t have the prototypical build of an NFL quarterback, he can make the throws and can stand in the pocket confidently to make said passes downfield. He did do pretty well in the SEC, and has a Heisman Trophy to his credit.
Young will join a team with a coaching staff consisting of Frank Reich as head coach, Thomas Brown as offensive coordinator, Josh McCown as quarterbacks coach and Jim Caldwell as a senior assistant. Not to mention he will have tight end Hayden Hurts, and wide receivers Adam Thielen, D.J. Chark and rookie Jonathan Mingo to target downfield. Oh, and he will have a starting running back to lean upon in Miles Sanders.
This is a great scenario for Young, as he has the pieces to help make an immediate impact in his rookie year, and potentially help the Panthers contend for an NFC South title.
C.J. Stroud, No. 2 overall, Houston Texans
Stroud going to Houston was a bit of a shock, considering all of the buzz ahead of the NFL Draft. There were the high odds that Levis would be the second-overall pick, the Texans potentially trading out of that spot, to the team taking Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson over Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. Credit to the Texans, because they threw everyone off guard and taking the second-best quarterback in the class in Stroud, who possesses the most accurate arm of all of the signal callers.
The Texans simply couldn’t run it back with Davis Mills as their QB1 for 2023. Stroud is an instant upgrade for the team. While the roster is far from perfect and is probably in the running to be one of the worst entering the upcoming season, Stroud is the kind of player who can elevate those around him. Sure, the team traded away wide receiver Brandin Cooks, but they have Robert Woods, John Metchie III, Nico Collins and third-round pick Tank Dell to target. It’s quite a competent group, alongside tight end Dalton Schultz.
Make no mistake about it, the Texans absolutely made the right pick with Stroud.
Anthony Richardson, No. 4 overall, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts were expecting to face this situation — having Young and Stroud off the board. But heading into the first night of the draft, there was so much buzz that the Colts preferred Levis over Richardson, even receiving a thumbs up of approval for Levis from former quarterback Peyton Manning. But, the Colts picked the signal caller with the highest upside in Richardson out of Florida.
Richardson didn’t have much starting experience playing for the Gators, and it showed at points throughout this past season. However, there were flashes of greatness from Richardson, whether that was his throws downfield or his ability to extend plays with his legs. Not to mention that Richardson’s wide receivers at Florida didn’t necessarily help him out much with drops. But with the right coaching at the NFL level, he could very well become one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
He joins a Colts team that has Shane Steichen as head coach. Steichen made a name for himself for his work as Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator, where he helped develop Jalen Hurts. This past season, Hurts was nearly impossible for opposing defenses to stop, whether it was through the air or on the ground. Colts fans are salivating what Steichen can scheme up for Richardson, who will have running back Jonathan Taylor and wide receivers Michael Pittman and Josh Downs to lean upon.
Now, we wait to see if Richardson will actually start early in the 2023 season. Yes, the upside is unreal, but there is work to be done to develop him.
Will Levis, No. 33 overall, Tennessee Titans
Levis was expected to be selected in the first round, which was why he attended the event in Kansas City. After that wasn’t the case, he flew back home to Connecticut with his family. He didn’t wait too long for his name to be called, as the Titans moved up to the No. 33 pick to take Levis.
When it comes to Levis, he was a polarizing prospect. He has the height and weight that teams like in their quarterbacks, and experience in a pro-style offense. But, he had an underwhelming season in 2022, highlighted by injuries. Yet, it felt like a given that Levis would be taken in the first 31 selections, which would give him a four-year contract with a fifth-year option.
When it comes to the landing spot, it’s not exactly ideal. Last year, the team traded away A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles, and their passing offense took a hit. General manager Ran Carthon is retooling the roster, especially across the offensive line. But, the team’s wide receiving corps looks pretty weak, with Treylon Burks being the obvious WR1 on the depth chart.
There is a plus to this, and it’s that Levis won’t be thrown to the wolves right away. He can learn the playbook and sit behind Ryan Tannehill. Of course, that could change if the team decides to trade Tannehill before becoming a free agent next offseason.
Hendon Hooker, No. 68, Detroit Lions
Hooker received a bump in draft stock as the event got closer. The week of, his doctor sent a letter to all interested teams that he is on track to be cleared by the first weekend of the 2023 season after suffering a torn ACL last November. Yet, that didn’t result in a first-round selection like many had expected, especially with that extra year of control. It didn’t even lead to the Tennessee quarterback being taken in the second round.
But the third round was another story. With the 68th overall pick, the Lions selected Hooker, and it may have been one of his best possible landing spots.
The Lions are in a position where they are set to contend for a playoff spot, and Jared Goff is leading the way. Goff was trending towards “bust” territory, but he rebounded since his trade to Detroit, especially last season. So, this will allow Hooker to get acclimated to the team’s offense. There won’t be a rush to throw him onto the field.
If Hooker does get a shot to play down the road and he plays like he did last season with the Volunteers, the Lions will be in good shape. But as of right now, the Lions are going to be pushing with a playoff spot in 2023 with Goff as the starter under center.
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