Monday Morning GM: Evaluating 2023 NFL Draft quarterbacks from Week 3

The 2023 NFL Draft is a ways away, but the scouting process started months, even years ago. This Monday Morning GM with Eric Galko details Week 3's top QBs.

Thanks in part to the partnership with Pro Football Network and the East-West Shrine Bowl, readers can now go beyond the games on Saturdays and obtain a virtual look at the scouting process for the 2023 NFL Draft.

For some, the draft takes place in April. For those initiated, the 2023 NFL Draft has already begun with preparation, film study, analysis, and now live looks at some of the top players as Week 3 has come and gone.

Below are observations and analysis from Shrine Bowl Director Eric Galko from the previous week of action.

A scout’s eye: 2023 NFL Draft quarterbacks

As we’re set to start diving into conference play for every team in the country, it was another week of out-of-conference, unusual matchups that usually bode well for quarterback evaluators. Seeing passers and offenses facing defenses and schemes they’re not used to allows for ample areas for a passing game to overcome and come out with a win.

We saw a few of the better quarterback performances come in losses for Purdue and BYU, while others showed plenty of NFL talent in emphatic victories in Utah and Washington.

Cameron Rising, Utah (vs. San Diego State)

Announced as this week’s Shrine Bowl Monday Morning Quarterback, Cameron Rising looked as confident and in control as any quarterback has this entire season. After losing a year ago to San Diego State in overtime, Rising and the Utah Utes got revenge and looked every bit the top 10 team in the country they are.

Rising was 17 of 24 in throws 20 yards or shorter, and he’s playing with NFL-level anticipation, composure, and timing as a pocket passer. He’s making NFL progressions, scanning the field with plus lower-half control, and finishing with accuracy across the field. Rising’s mastery of the Utah offense and his accuracy and ability to drive in the mid-field continues to impress NFL personnel in a crowded senior QB class.

Aidan O’Connell, Purdue (vs. Syracuse)

If not for two highly impressive late-game drives by Sean Clifford to start the year, and this week, Garrett Shrader — Purdue would be 3-0 and likely ranked in the top 15 of the country. Aidan O’Connell wasn’t perfect in this one, including an under-pressure throw that was placed directly into the defender’s chest and led to a pick-six and a 10-point deficit with just over eight minutes left in the game.

But O’Connell showcased the maturity, composure, and confidence under pressure to lead two touchdown drives to give his team a lead with under a minute yet. His 55-yard touchdown throw to Charlie Jones (one of three deep ball throws that were perfectly placed from O’Connell to Jones in the second half) coupled with a masterful drive capped off with a 12-yard TD to Payne Durham put his team in position to win after struggling to finish drives early in the game.

O’Connell — who I’ve often compared to Jimmy Garoppolo — showed he has the wherewithal and short memory to be an NFL quarterback.

Jaren Hall, BYU (vs. Oregon)

Despite the ending score, BYU’s offense put their team in position to make this game much closer than the end result ended up being. If not for missed field goals, third and fourth-down plays just short, and a few dropped passes, Jaren Hall had the BYU Cougars in position to keep this game close.

Hall was 6 for 9 on throws between 15 and 25 yards, a key area for a strong-armed passer like him. And like Zach Wilson two years ago, Hall has great feel for man-coverage throws, with timing on back-shoulder opportunities and confidence and touch on perimeter downfield throws.

Hall and the BYU offense have ample talent to score points. With his arm talent, confidence on the perimeter, and aggressiveness downfield, Hall should be in store for some big games the rest of the season.

Michael Penix Jr., Washington (vs. Michigan State)

The lefty transfer from Indiana has suffered frustrating injury luck the last two seasons, but Michael Penix Jr.‘s touch and accuracy were on display early and often in the team’s surprisingly decisive win over Michigan State.

Penix throws a clean spiral across the field and showed great placement on downfield and perimeter throws, an area he struggled at times with at Indiana. He took advantage of outstanding separation on the perimeter by his receiving unit. If Penix can continue to show this type of touch and placement on downfield throws (and a handful of strong-armed passes, including a second-quarter strike on a back shoulder), he can reemerge as an NFL quarterback prospect after he showed promise early in his Indiana career.

Garrett Shrader, Syracuse (vs. Purdue; underclassmen)

As a redshirt junior, Shrader isn’t immediately eligible for an all-star game, but his performance, especially his late-game heroics, has put him firmly on the radars of northeast area scouts. As a former Mississippi State transfer who took over the starting quarterback job early in the 2021 season, Shrader replaced Tommy DeVito and has proven to be a more than capable passer in the prolific Syracuse offense under Dino Babers.

At 6’4 and 210+ pounds, Shrader is a plus runner and a physical, subtly twitchy open-field runner who plays with body control and natural athleticism to adjust as a runner and finish off balance as a thrower outside of the pocket. But it’s his confidence, control under pressure, and perimeter ball placement that has quietly put him on NFL radars early in the season. His fourth quarter vs. Purdue may be the game that puts his NFL future — likely in the 2024 NFL Draft — into focus.

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