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5 quarterbacks (C.J. Stroud!) worth tanking for in next year's 2023 NFL Draft

The 2022 NFL Draft is finally over.

And while there’s a bunch of analysis to sort through soon, it’s never too early to look ahead. Yes, I’m already talking about the 2023 NFL Draft. Bear with me because one part of next spring’s draft might be especially notable.

Next year will undoubtedly feature another stellar overall class where the many bad teams can sand over their many flaws. But it’s the treasure trove of exceptional quarterbacks who stand out. I would never directly advocate for tanking for a better draft pick (wink, wink), but these guys might change my mind. They could turn an also-ran into a contender overnight.

Something had to balance out the universe after the fall the 2022 QBs endured, right?

From an Alabama star to a Florida project, let’s dive into a few of the bigger names who could comprise next year’s top-tier group of franchise-changing quarterbacks.

1
C.J. Stroud — Ohio State

AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

Class: Sophomore (Redshirt)

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 218 pounds

A Heisman Finalist in his first year as a starter, Stroud showed incredible poise and playmaking ability for the Buckeyes last season. Any of the usual cliches you could think of all apply to Stroud:

  • Cerebral, with a business approach to the game? Check.
  • Leadership, as the first person in and the last one out? Check.
  • A rocket arm as a classic and technical pocket passer? Check.

As a first-year starter, Stroud broke many records for Ohio State, including an astonishing 573-yard performance in the Rose Bowl. If he produces similar results this fall — while continuing to make accurate Big Boy throws — many teams will assuredly be drooling over the possibility of giving him the keys to their car in April 2023 faster than you could blink.

2
Bryce Young — Alabama

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Class: Junior

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 194 pounds

Perhaps the smartest, most efficient quarterback to come out of this potential all-time draft, Young should take little time acclimating to the NFL. There’s a reason he’s the reigning Heisman winner.

In credit to Nick Saban (as if he needs more recognition), Young essentially already has experience with a pro scheme — lots of spread, lots of complex route combinations, lots of checks at the line, and, of course, lots of autonomy for the quarterback. And it’s never overwhelmed him in the least.

Look at how seamless that entire play is. Young never flinches, keeps his eyes downfield, and delivers a perfect strike with the flick of a wrist even in the face of pressure. With his instincts, Young could be the sort of quarterback you wait a decade, or more, for a chance to draft.

3
Spencer Rattler — South Carolina

Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports

Class: Junior (Redshirt)

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 205 pounds

Once the next heir apparent at Oklahoma, Rattler instead struggled to gain a consistent footing with the Sooners. As a result, the gunslinger is now the hopeful phenom in South Carolina.

Why do I use “gunslinger,” you ask? Let me show you.

Of each of his quarterback contemporaries, I might venture to say Rattler is in the conversation for “best deep ball” and “best thrower on the run.” The way Rattle operates out of structure — on a whim — is a unique gift that should serve him well against the many 250-pound-plus defenders who will give him chase in the NFL. He’s no slouch in the pocket and in rhythm, either — making him a tempting, complete prospect.

There might be relevant concerns about his maturity (hence part of why he’s at South Carolina!), but Rattler’s 21-years-old. So, come on. He deserves a chance to figure it out. I think he enjoys a final revitalizing season in the SEC with the Gamecocks and plays himself back into top-10 pick status.

Someone — ideally with a patient coach — will stake their career on Rattler. This guy’s too talented to overlook for long.

4
Anthony Richardson — Florida

Bob Self/Florida Times-Union

Class: Freshman (Third-year Redshirt)

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 236 pounds

Admittedly more of an ongoing project than some of the other names on this list, Richardson is, for now, someone that looks like he could be a franchise quarterback. The Gator has just 77 career snaps to his game and will need to show out over a much larger sample size for some NFL squad to invest half a decade in him.

But all the puzzle pieces are there. The size of a cyborg. Arm strength. Mobility. I repeat — The mobility.

Scouts probably have an eye on how Richardson fares once he’s asked to process a coverage 25-35 times a game. But even in that case, if Richardson proves an offense can be designed around his legs while he develops as a passer, he won’t wait long next April. There is nothing a prospective GM loves more than a tough quarterback with tools.

5
Phil Jurkovec — Boston College

AP Photo/Mary Schwalm

Class: Junior (Redshirt)

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 226 pounds

When Phil Jurkevec is ON he’s on par with anyone in the 2023 quarterback class. When he’s OFF, well, do you want to hear the horrifying truth?

Or do you want to see him sling incredible touchdowns? I thought so.

Jurkovec is the epitome of a backyard football quarterback. He thrives when asked to make chicken salad out of … that other thing … and is someone who consistently delivers big-time, tight-window, otherworldly throws.

The issue comes when Jurkovec has to play within the pocket and within himself. He struggles with patience, gets greedy, and can generally be erratic. He almost certainly trusts his arm and legs too much sometimes rather than letting the game come to him. That will obviously be a problem in the NFL, where you can’t run around like it’s pre-Thanksgiving dinner every play. It’s not a sustainable set-up, and success isn’t even guaranteed when you do.

A hand injury knocked Jurkovec out of most of the 2021 season. I wouldn’t be surprised if he took a good step back and now uses the fall as a jumping board toward a promising pro future. There have been worse, far more raw quarterbacks that went on to success in the big leagues.

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