2023 NFL Draft QB Prospects: Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud set to battle for QB1 all year

It's a great time to be a QB-needy NFL team, as the 2023 NFL Draft quarterback prospects are plentiful, led by Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud.

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Other 2023 NFL Draft quarterback prospects to know

With the top tiers sorted, here are names you may know and need to know. Not only are these players solid college football QBs, but they’re also athletes that could soar up draft boards next season.

Some gaudy statistical outputs, perhaps the best middle-of-the-field thrower, and raw upside litter this group of quarterback prospects to know for the 2023 NFL Draft.

Sam Hartman, Wake Forest

Sam Hartman considered the 2022 NFL Draft but instead opted to return to Wake Forest for one more go. He has some terrific skills in his arsenal but certainly has some things to work on. Navigating the middle of the field better will be step one for Hartman, who has shown the ability to make special throws to the boundary. If he can improve his progressive reads and his MoF ability, Hartman vaults into the top-10 conversation.

Malik Cunningham, Louisville

An incredibly athletic quarterback, Malik Cunningham returns to Louisville after compiling 2,619 rushing yards and 8,096 passing yards in his career thus far. He has a great deep ball and some superb placement to all levels. But he’s rather inconsistent at times.

Cunningham has some elite-level tools, bringing all-too-easy comparisons to Lamar Jackson. As good as Cunningham is with his legs, it’s not his bread-and-butter, as his arm is much more talented. If he can improve his reads and make a concerted effort to pass first, the savvy veteran quarterback can rise.

DJ Uiagalelei, Clemson

There is absolutely no denying the fact that DJ Uiagalelei has elite arm talent. He has it in spades, to be precise. But there’s also no denying the fact that DJU struggled with consistency, accuracy, poise, pocket presence, and a handful of other intangibles necessary to be an NFL signal-caller.

Uiagalalei has spectacular traits and poor outings. It’s a rare anomaly that still breeds hope. Can he revive his career in Clemson this coming season? Or will he Spencer Rattler himself to another school in the near future, giving way to an incredibly-gifted five-star true freshman QB in Cade Klubnik?

The decision is ultimately up to Uiagalalei. It comes down to how he performs on the field, handles himself in the spring, and leads the program.

Grant Wells, Virginia Tech

With some of the top middle-of-the-field throws over the past two seasons, Grant Wells has NFL talent just waiting to be harnessed. He’s extremely intelligent and throws with great anticipation. In-breaking routes are his specialty. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean he can hit throws breaking away from him and towards the sidelines.

Wells is a great athlete and can buy plenty of time in the pocket if necessary. He’s had a solid supporting cast, but he’s now transferred to Virginia Tech. Wells will have to build new trust with his team in Blacksburg. But our money is on him doing so after the Hokies take one look at some of his throws during practice.

Tanner McKee, Stanford

Amid lofty expectations for Tanner McKee, the Stanford Cardinal had an utterly disappointing 2021 season. McKee has prototypical size and the arm to match his 6’6″, 228-pound frame. But he rarely trusts his arm to make the throws necessary to showcase his arm talent. He only averaged 9.0 or more yards per attempt in two games a season ago. Moreover, it seemed like McKee really stopped testing the waters downfield as the season wore on.

The Stanford QB has arm talent for days, but the program’s pro-style system rarely executed with him at the helm. The return of WR Brycen Tremayne in 2022 may pay dividends for McKee as he has a legitimate deep threat back in the lineup. If not, backup QB Ari Patu will be in these discussions in the near future.

Hank Bachmeier, Boise State

Standing tall in the face of pressure more often than not, Hank Bachmeier may have the country’s most fearless tape in 2021. With his offensive line taking a decline this past season, Bachmeier showcased an ability we previously hadn’t seen: an aptitude to quickly diagnose defenses and route combinations. He was a quick decision-maker in 2021, mainly because he had to be. But at times, it worked to his advantage.

He threw for 3,000 yards for the first time in his career, nearly doubling his previous career worth of touchdowns as well. Bachmeier has a ton of tools and is no stranger at targeting balls downfield. The loss of Khalil Shakir will hurt in 2022. But if Bachmeier can showcase the ability to find a new preferred target, his stock will rise.

Bo Nix, Oregon

Despite his Auburn legacy, Bo Nix is headed west for Eugene, Oregon. The former Tigers signal-caller has a lot to prove in 2022. He’s always been a great athlete, but the pocket presence has never really matched up with the arm talent for Nix. The Oregon system under new head coach Dan Lanning and new offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham may pit to Nix’s strengths in 2022. Yet, those strengths are on the ground, with his legs.

Nix has a long way to go to becoming a viable 2023 NFL Draft quarterback prospect. If he can showcase an NFL arm and prove that he’s capable of stable play, he could creep into the discussion. His special plays are already there — it’s the boneheaded mistakes and costly turnovers that have drowned Nix’s highlight-reel moments.

Brennan Armstrong, Virginia

Anytime you throw for nearly 4,500 passing yards, you’ll garner plenty of attention. Brennan Armstrong did just that and, impressively enough, cut down on the turnovers compared to last season in the process. Despite nearly doubling his dropbacks and pass attempts, Armstrong threw one fewer interception in 2021 than he did in 2022. He catapulted himself into the nation’s top quarterback discussion and firmly into the 2023 NFL Draft discussion.

However, Armstrong struggled with accuracy at times and seemed too reliant upon the highlight-reel play. Making those NFL throws to the boundary and increasing down-to-down accuracy will go a long way. He has the intermediate and deep throws down — it’s gaining confidence in his arm on critical downs and distances that will be crucial to his next step.

Devin Leary, NC State

Devin Leary put forth perhaps the quietest 3,400-yard, 35-touchdown quarterback performance in some time. He was lights out in 2021. Leary hit every level of the field brilliantly and threw just 5 interceptions compared to those 35 touchdowns.

He was accurate, disciplined, and incredibly consistent. With few holes in his game, Leary can firmly place himself in the draftable conversation with another year of the same level of play. Increasing his reads across the middle of the field would only make him that much better.

Tanner Mordecai, SMU

With an unshakeable Baker Mayfield quality to him, Tanner Mordecai proved once and for all in 2021 why he was once a highly sought-after quarterback recruit. He tossed 39 touchdown passes and over 3,600 passing yards. Mordecai may, at times, flee the pocket too quickly, but it hardly becomes a predicament as he’s a tremendous athlete with the ball in his hands.

For the next level, however, finding his passing lanes from within the confines of the pocket will be crucial. Mordecai must also prove that this past season wasn’t just a product of flash-in-the-pan success, or due to a talented receiving corps. Doing that will certainly keep his name at the tips of our tongues.

Will Rogers, Mississippi State

What else can you say about one of the more accurate quarterback performances in recent history? Will Rogers was dominant inside of the QB-friendly Air Raid offense under Mike Leach. Aside from a relatively putrid bowl game performance, Rogers was accurate and sharp with his decisions, routinely finding his second, third, or even fourth receivers with ease.

Like all Air Raid quarterbacks, however, Rogers will have to showcase the ability to find receivers on the end of NFL throws. The Air Raid doesn’t typically offer up those situations, but if Bailey Zappe can transcend the offensive scheme, Rogers certainly could do so in 2022.

Clayton Tune, Houston

A big-armed magician with the football, Clayton Tune looks at times like a spry Ben Roethlisberger. With an impressive background and extensive body of work, Tune has seen it all. He returns to college football in 2022 with the chance to eclipse 10,000 career passing yards.

Tune won’t quite wow you with his athleticism, but he certainly has plenty of arm strength and enough escapability to find time in the pocket or move the sticks with his legs. He took the next step in 2021 and could emerge as a surefire draft pick with another year of consistent success.

Jeff Sims, Georgia Tech

A talented passer with gifted athleticism, Jeff Sims now has to battle it out with a transfer quarterback to keep his job. Sims can rely on his ball placement and power on his throws in the meantime, but he really could step his game up by showcasing better decision-making processes and an ability to maneuver the pocket. He’s a great athlete with a pass-first mentality. Keeping that and focusing on resetting before releasing will be big for his game this fall as he fights to start for the Yellow Jackets.

Don’t forget about these quarterbacks

Last but not least, the final tier of potential 2023 NFL Draft quarterback prospects. This group showed flashes of brilliance either with their arm talent or their athleticism.

Gunnar Watson, Troy

As tough as they come, Gunnar Watson has battled through below-average offensive line play during his time at Troy. With prototypical size at 6’3″, 214 pounds, Watson stands tall in the pocket and delivers accurate passes with ample arm strength. He had some bad interception luck in 2021 but still made multiple impressive throws throughout the season. Under new head coach Jon Sumrall, little is known about what the Trojans’ offense will look like, so the expectations for Watson may be tempered just a bit to start in 2022.

Adrian Martinez, Kansas State

A change of scenery may be just what Adrian Martinez needs to revitalize his career. Or, excuse me, vitalize his career. Despite entering what feels like the past four seasons at Nebraska with Heisman hopes, Martinez has never been able to live up to the hype. He’s wildly inconsistent as a passer but still presents challenges for defenses to stop at times.

What it all boils down to is if Martinez can make a developmental step forward at Kansas State with his aerial assault. If he can do that, he’s a legitimate athlete with a future in the NFL. Otherwise, he’s pigeon-holed himself into a Taysom Hill role at the next level.

Gavin Hardison, UTEP

Get to know the name and get to know the head of hair that Gavin Hardison presents on the field on Saturdays. After a terrific 2021 season that saw him throw for 3,227 yards and 18 touchdowns, Hardison enters the fold due to his prototypical traits. He’s a big man at 6’3″, 205 pounds, but somehow plays bigger.

He loses his top threat in Jacob Cowing at receiver, so his 2022 season will be all about distribution. In doing so, we’ll see if Hardison can make the next step in his development by finding his receivers through his progressions and taking what the defense presents.

Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland

An intriguing prospect not just because of his name but because of his potential. Taulia Tagovailoa, the younger brother of Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa, has had his ups and downs at Maryland. He started the 2021 season on fire, leading some to believe he could declare for the 2022 NFL Draft. But after a rough stretch against stout defenses, Tagovailoa has ultimately decided to return to school and hone his craft.

If his bowl game performance against Virginia Tech is any indication, we’re seeing the next Tagovailoa brother who will ultimately make the NFL leap. He’ll have to improve his consistency and his ability to hit every level of the field consistently, but Taulia’s pocket presence and ability to move the pocket are innate. He’s a natural quarterback with great mobility who always looks downfield. Consistency will be key for Tagovailoa in 2022.

Michael Pratt, Tulane

A gamer, Michael Pratt wills his team to win. An athletic pocket passer with an above-average arm, Pratt ultimately relies on his smarts to weave passes into tight windows. He also has great anticipatory throws on his résumé through two years at Tulane. Pratt doesn’t wow with any trait, but he is far from average at just about everything.

Cameron Rising, Utah

It isn’t quite the prettiest football, but Cameron Rising just wins as a leader of the Utah Utes on offense. There are some great throws in his arsenal, but he also has some lows at times. He rallied late in the year and is set to lead the Utes into the 2022 season as the favorites to win the Pac-12. If he can showcase a drive on his footballs and more distinguished decision-making, Rising can find himself much higher on these 2023 NFL Draft QB Rankings.

Transfer quarterbacks to remember

The last tier to discuss revolves around raw potential, as each QB remains in the transfer portal ahead of the 2022 season.

Zach Gibson, Georgia Tech

The former Zips signal-caller was lights out for Akron in 2021. Zach Gibson finished the season with 10 TDs and 0 INTs. He barely attempted 150 passes but still looked as impressive as he has in his career. Gibson transferred to Georgia Tech and now has to battle Jeff Sims for the starting role this fall. Sims himself is on this list as a player to continue to watch due to his athletic profile. This duo makes up an interesting quarterback battle to monitor all year.

Casey Thompson, Nebraska

Casey Thompson could slide into one of the aforementioned tiers above, but there’s so much unknown around his game. He’s got an impressive arm and a larger-than-life persona at times. Thompson struggled with ball placement, leaving meat left on the bone. Still, he’s got a bevy of intriguing traits to build on. Nebraska is an interesting fit for Thompson as he now needs to be a bit more reliant on his arm talent to get the ball to the perimeter in Scott Frost’s offense.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

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