With the combine behind us, we now have a little under two months until the 2023 NFL draft. Nothing is set in stone, but we’re getting a better understanding of this upcoming class. After an underwhelming 2022 quarterback group that included only one first-round selection, this year’s class promises to be much more interesting. The race for QB1 is heating up, and there still isn’t a consensus top option. But the QB class is deep, too.

So how do the quarterbacks stack up? I ranked every passer with a draftable evaluation in my fourth edition of the QB Hot Board, an in-depth list that provides a look at 15 signal-callers. We’ll hit brief breakdowns of strengths and weaknesses, current draft stock and even potential team fits. A lot can still change, but here’s how top draft-eligible options rank right now.

HT: 5-foot-10 | WT: 204 pounds
Projected range: Round 1

Young is a poised dual-threat thrower who plays the game with the same heartbeat no matter the magnitude of the situation. His sufficient arm strength is coupled with great accuracy to all parts of the field. Young is slippery in the pocket and can maneuver outside of structure to create throwing windows.

At 5-10, his height will be talked about leading up to the draft. We’ve seen passers on the shorter side, such as Kyler Murray, get drafted early in recent years, though Young’s frame makes for a unique evaluation. But he entered the season as my QB1, and that hasn’t changed to this point. Young had 3,328 passing yards, 32 touchdown throws and 5 interceptions in 2022, and he finished his college career with a huge five-TD day against Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl.

Potential team fit: Houston Texans. The inconsistency of Davis Mills places the Texans in the hunt for another quarterback. Houston holds the No. 2 overall pick and has plenty of draft capital, and new coach DeMeco Ryans could look to fill the QB1 spot immediately. Young would provide the team a young passer with loads of potential to build around.

HT: 6-foot-3 | WT: 214 pounds
Projected range: Round 1

Stroud is a smooth distributor with a clean and fluid throwing motion, and his feet are routinely tied to his eyes. I love the way he dissects and attacks any type of coverage, as he always seems to have a plan. And Stroud isn’t afraid to trust his targets in one-on-one situations.

He threw for 3,688 yards and 41 touchdown passes with six interceptions, and his 88.9 QBR was third in the nation. His best game came in the College Football Playoff, in which Stroud threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns against a dominant Georgia defense. Stroud is a true pocket passer who uses his running ability only when necessary, but scouts still want to see him outside of structure a bit more when plays don’t operate as planned. He started to do so during the Buckeyes’ stretch run.

Stroud looked smooth, poised and accurate while throwing at the combine — three traits that also explain his career at Ohio State. “Everything is natural and in-sync with him,” texted one scout after watching Stroud’s throwing session in Indy. “I think he’s the best one of this year’s bunch because of his [high] floor.”

Potential team fit: Carolina Panthers. After hiring Frank Reich, the Panthers have created a nest of coaching experience with quarterback ties. They also have former NFL head coach Jim Caldwell and 16-year NFL veteran Josh McCown, who can both help develop a young quarterback. Stroud fits the mold of what the Panthers need, and with an improved offensive line and a dynamic receiver in DJ Moore, he could provide the franchise with its first homegrown option under center since drafting Cam Newton in 2011.

HT: 6-foot-4 | WT: 244 pounds
Projected range: Round 1

The phrase “boom or bust” is often used for prospects who have a lot of traits but lack positive game film. That’s Richardson. The redshirt sophomore started only 13 career games at Florida and is a roller coaster of highs and lows. He had nine interceptions last season and completed only 53.8% of his throws, a result of inconsistent decision-making and spurts of inaccurate passes. He finished the 2022 season with 26 total touchdowns (17 passing, nine rushing), and he is a competitive runner with a strong build (654 rushing yards). Richardson releases the ball with an easy flick of the wrist. But his game is still raw in every sense of the word.

Richardson put on a show at the combine, setting QB records for the vertical jump (40.5 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-9). He also turned in a scorching 4.43-second 40-yard dash, and during the throwing portions Richardson’s arm strength and physical tools were on a different level from his counterparts. The ball came out of his hand with controlled velocity, and his footwork and timing looked improved.

Potential team fit: Indianapolis Colts. The key to Richardson’s success at the next level will be a team having patience, belief in him as a prospect and coaching staff consistency. After engineering the development of Jalen Hurts, new Colts coach Shane Steichen could be the perfect match for Richardson. Indy could put an emphasis on using Richardson as a rusher in the game plan and taking shots downfield with his strong arm. And because Richardson needs experienced coaching and a proven QB developer, the combination with Steichen could pay off down the road.



QB Anthony Richardson impresses at NFL combine

Anthony Richardson impresses at the combine with a 4.43 40-yard dash and a 40.5-inch vertical leap.

HT: 6-foot-4 | WT: 229 pounds
Projected range: Round 1

A well-built and powerful thrower, Levis was already doing a lot of the things inside of the Wildcats’ offense that will be asked of him at the next level. He often operated from under center and out of the shotgun, and he is at his best when an offense centers around play-action (68.5% completion rate and 9.7 air yards per attempt out of play-action).

Levis finished the season with 2,406 passing yards, 19 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. Coming into the season, turnovers sat atop the negatives column on his scouting report. That hasn’t changed; Levis recorded a fumble or interception in all but three starts last year. Avoiding turnovers and improving his ball security will be something to watch.

Before his combine workout, Levis confidently said, “I’ve got a cannon, and I want to show it off.” His arm strength didn’t take long to show up on the field, as he threw the ball with conviction. His physical traits are right at the top of this year’s crop of signal-callers — with Richardson — and he has already gained experience in pro-style concepts.

Potential team fit: Las Vegas Raiders. With Derek Carr now headed to the New Orleans Saints, there’s a massive hole under center for the Raiders. Levis has all of the physical traits necessary at the position, and coach Josh McDaniels is the ideal guy to help nurture his development. With high-end targets around him in Davante Adams, Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs, Levis could step into a favorable situation.

HT: 6-foot-3 | WT: 217 pounds
Projected range: Late Day 2

The pilot of a high-flying offense, Hooker was one of the biggest risers of the 2022 season. He has above-average arm strength, and his accuracy improved over the past two seasons. A poised passer who can decipher and deliver with anticipation, he finished the season with 3,135 passing yards, 27 touchdown throws and only 2 interceptions. He’s also an underrated runner (430 rushing yards, five more scores), showcasing timely scrambles outside of the pocket that help him take advantage of voids in defenses.

Hooker tore the ACL in his left knee in November, which makes him an interesting case. How will teams weigh the injury and recovery? We heard positive medical reports regarding his recovery at the combine, and he’s expected to be ready by NFL training camps. Hooker experienced a career resurgence since transferring from Virginia Tech following the 2020 season, but how effective can he be outside of Josh Heupel’s simulated offense?

Another point to know: Considering Hooker will be a 25-year-old rookie in the NFL, age will be a constant talking point here, too. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, only eight quarterbacks have been drafted at 25 years old or older, and only three were selected prior to the sixth round.

Potential team fit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Tom Brady now officially retired, the team has serious questions under center for the foreseeable future. Kyle Trask, a 2021 second-round pick, remains unproven but the team has been adamant about giving him an opportunity to prove that he can be the long-term solution. This fit makes a lot of sense for Hooker, though, because of his maturity and the average age of the roster. It would be ideal for him to step into an environment with a roster built to contend as opposed to a rebuilding scenario. The Tampa Bay offense still has a set of vertical playmakers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and Hooker’s skill set fits well with newly hired offensive coordinator Dave Canales’ scheme.

HT: 6-foot-2 | WT: 203 pounds
Projected range: Early Day 3

Thompson-Robinson played like a completely different player last season, in better control of Chip Kelly’s offense. The biggest difference? He played within the scheme and didn’t try to do too much (besides in the bowl game against Pitt). DTR often found himself playing hero ball in the past, but he operated one of the most efficient attacks in the country. In 13 starts last season, he totaled 3,154 passing yards, 27 touchdown throws and 10 interceptions. The ball comes off the senior signal-caller’s throwing hand with purpose behind it, and Thompson-Robinson was a much more accurate passer last season — his completion rate jumped to 69.6% from 62.2% in 2021.

Thompson-Robinson also showcased his dual-threat ability this past season with 646 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. He adds another dimension to a team’s offense with his ability to scramble and pick up first downs on designed QB runs. During the week of practices at the East-West Shrine Bowl and at the combine, DTR displayed good velocity and timing on routes, and his mobility stuck out right away.

Potential team fit: Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles’ diverse run game and play-action concepts heavily involving their tight ends fit with Thompson-Robinson. Jalen Hurts appears to be the answer moving forward, but with Gardner Minshew becoming a free agent, the franchise could look to draft a developmental player here.

HT: 6-foot | WT: 207 pounds
Projected range: Early-to-mid Day 3

Haener’s career started at Washington in 2018, but he transferred to Fresno State after one season. His best season came in 2021 when he totaled 4,096 passing yards, 33 touchdown throws and 9 interceptions. In 10 starts last season, his production wasn’t nearly as good (2,896 passing yards, 20 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions).

Haener is considered undersized at the position, but he plays the game with moxie and toughness. He is able to overcome average arm strength because he’s a high-level anticipator when attacking throwing windows in the intermediate and deeper areas of the field. He’s unafraid to make those passes because he can see targets come open. Taylor Heinicke has been a common comp for him among NFL scouts, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him carve out a similar career path.

Some scouts at the Senior Bowl felt Haener was the most consistent of the QBs in Mobile, Alabama. The structured environment didn’t shine a lot of light on his skill set, but his “gamer” mentality was on display during the competitive periods.

Potential team fit: Green Bay Packers. With Aaron Rodgers possibly out the door and the team then likely turning to Jordan Love, a viable backup option would be needed. In an offense that’s predicated off of rhythm and timing, Haener would fit well in Green Bay. He has a limited arm but plenty of mobility and playmaking traits, so being in a Matt LaFleur offense could help him develop into a serviceable No. 2 option in the NFL.

HT: 6-foot-6 | WT: 231 pounds
Projected range: Early-to-mid Day 3

A polished passer who has experience from a multitude of pre-snap platforms, McKee displays great patience in the pocket. He is efficient and exhausts his progressions. In an offense that’s a bit of a mixed bag with its scheme, he has been exposed to a lot of different concepts, and he appears very comfortable in all of them. McKee’s greatest asset, though, is his touch. He is great with how he takes pace off of the ball and lofts it within the strike zone of his targets — but he can also put zip on it and fit throws into tight windows.

McKee threw for 2,947 yards and 13 touchdowns with eight interceptions this past season. Pressure exposes his flaws a bit, though — he’s a pocket passer who doesn’t like to be forced off his spot.

Potential team fit: Minnesota Vikings. I’m looking at McKee’s ability off play-action and comfort from multiple pre-snap platforms here. He’d be a great fit for Kevin O’Connell’s offense. He is a quick decision-maker who operates well from a clean pocket, and while Kirk Cousins is the team’s locked-in starter moving forward, McKee would be a developmental prospect who could become a solid backup option in a scheme that suits his strengths.

HT: 5-foot-11 | WT: 192 pounds
Projected range: Mid-to-late Day 3

Bennett will forever be etched into the storied history of Georgia’s program after a magical run to its first national title in 40 years. But what does his draft stock look like? Bennett will turn 26 years old during the early stages of his rookie season, which might concern some teams. He also won’t meet a lot of teams’ threshold for size at the position.

But there is no arguing that he’s a gamer, playing with instincts and savvy. Bennett seems to always figure out a way to come out on top in crucial moments. He is an efficient processor who can play within structure, but he can also create when things break down. A surplus of talent at Georgia helped uplift his deficiencies, but he has enough arm strength for the next level. Case Keenum has been a common comparison for him among NFL scouts. Bennett threw for 4,127 yards and 27 TDs with seven interceptions en route to his second national title.

Bennett threw the ball well at the combine, too. It’s easy to see a team falling in love with his skill set as a late-round option.



Stetson Bennett at a loss for words after 2nd title

Stetson Bennett discusses his second championship at Georgia and how much it means to him.

Potential team fit: Miami Dolphins. Bennett is one of the most highly decorated college passers ever. With a full supporting cast, he was able to showcase his decision-making and accuracy. A similar situation in Miami and an offense that stresses execution in the middle of the field suits his best traits well. The odds are heavily against Bennett being a long-term solution for any team, but he’s worth a shot as a well-accomplished late-round hopeful.

HT: 6-foot-3 | WT: 213 pounds
Projected range: Mid-to-late Day 3

A former walk-on, O’Connell made the most of his final two seasons as the Boilermakers’ QB1. In 12 starts last season, he passed for 3,490 yards and 22 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. O’Connell has a quick, over-the-top release, and he’s a timing-based passer who gets the ball out in a hurry. Despite an average arm, he shows the ability to anticipate when throwing to the intermediate areas and quickly process pre-snap reads to attack the underneath areas.

During practices at the Shrine Bowl, O’Connell was sharp in getting through his reads and placing the ball in adequate spots for his targets. He displayed efficient footwork and was often able to marry it up with concepts that were asked of him. If O’Connell improves ball placement consistency, he could be a popular target for teams in the fourth or fifth round.

Potential team fit: Los Angeles Chargers. O’Connell needs to be in a scheme that keeps him on schedule, and the Chargers are an ideal fit because of their propensity to rely on getting the ball out quickly. O’Connell’s at his best when he can make quick decisions and keep pass-rushers from bearing down on him.

HT: 6-foot-2 | WT: 207 pounds
Projected range: Late Day 3

Duggan was a do-it-all player in Sonny Dykes’ scheme. He threw for 3,698 yards and 32 touchdowns with eight interceptions while also rushing for 423 yards and nine touchdowns. Duggan makes plays from both inside and outside the pocket, and in an offense that’s in attack mode all of the time, he operated out of the pistol formation with a lot of comfort. And he thrives when taking chances throwing to big targets on the perimeter.

His biggest hurdle at the next level? He needs to show that he can consistently exhaust multistep progressions in a timely manner.

During Senior Bowl practices, he progressively improved each day and answered some questions about his ability to play within structure and take what’s given to him. He was at his best during the situational periods of practice, as he’s a prospect who performs better during in-game situations. At the combine, Duggan showed off his speed, running a 4.52-second 40-yard dash.

Potential team fit: New York Jets. It’s not a secret that the Jets are all-in on the pursuit of Aaron Rodgers. Zach Wilson simply hasn’t worked out, and while Mike White was a bit of a season-saver last year, he is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. Acquiring Rodgers — or another high-end veteran — would put the Jets in a two- or three-year win-now window. Duggan is an ideal developmental project who would enter as a possible No. 3 option.

HT: 6-foot-3 | WT: 220 pounds
Projected range: Late Day 3/UDFA

A fifth-year senior, Tune is an experienced passer who shows a lot of maturity in his game and operated well out of Dana Holgorsen’s wide-open offense. He’s a quick decision-maker with enough arm strength. And in 13 starts last season, Tune had 4,074 passing yards, 40 passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions. An added element to his game last season was his effectiveness as a runner — he recorded 546 rushing yards and five scores there.

Potential team fit: New York Jets. The hope with Tune is that he starts out as a No. 3 on the depth chart and eventually turns into a secondary option. And his game translates to the Jets’ rhythm- and timing-based offense.

HT: 6-foot | WT: 207 pounds
Projected range: Late Day 3/UDFA

Since he took over in 2021, Hall was in full control of the BYU offense, displaying plenty of arm strength and improved accuracy. He plays with a quiet lower half and distributes the football around the offense. In 12 starts last season, he recorded 3,171 passing yards, 31 TD throws and 6 interceptions. And his completion percentage was up from 63.9% in 2021 to 66% last season.

Eye manipulation is the one area Hall must continue to improve. He tends to lock onto his targets, hoping they come open rather than manipulating defenders with his eyes and moving them where he wants them to go. During practices at the Senior Bowl, Hall’s ability to decipher and attack coverages was clear, but his eyes and accuracy still need improvement.

Potential team fit: New Orleans Saints. Since the retirement of Drew Brees, the Saints haven’t been very aggressive in finding a quarterback of the future. That all changed with the pursuit of Derek Carr, who is now the clear QB1 in New Orleans. But the Saints could still look for a late-round developmental option, and Hall fits that billing.

HT: 6-foot | WT: 192 pounds
Projected range: Late Day 3/UDFA

After a fast start to his career as a full-time starter in 2019 (22 TD passes), Cunningham became one of the most electric playmakers in the country. He ran coach Scott Satterfield’s offense at an efficient clip and surprisingly returned for his senior season after recording 2,941 passing yards, 39 total touchdowns (20 rushing, 19 passing) and 6 interceptions. Injuries hurt his output significantly in 2022, though (only 1,568 passing yards and 20 total touchdowns).

Cunningham was at practices at both the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and Senior Bowl, and we saw an average arm there. But we also got an up-close glimpse of how dangerous he can be as a runner.

Potential team fit: Baltimore Ravens. The Lamar Jackson contract situation will be the talk of the offseason after the Ravens placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on him. Tyler Huntley has proved to be a viable No. 2 option, but Baltimore could be in search of depth at the position. The Ravens recently hired offensive coordinator Todd Monken, and we can expect a system that values quick decision-makers and mobility under center. Cunningham checks those boxes.

HT: 6-foot-3 | WT: 213 pounds
Projected range: Late Day 3/UDFA

The Harlon Hill Trophy winner in 2021 as Division II’s MVP, Bagent was once again a finalist for last year’s award and is getting some buzz as a potential late-round draft sleeper. He has a polished, over-the-top delivery, he’s decisive and he displays efficient footwork.

Bagent broke the Division II record for touchdown passes (159), and in 2022, he threw for 4,580 yards and 41 TDs with eight interceptions while helping the Rams to a 13-2 record. Evaluators are always intrigued to see how small-school prospects adjust to the speed of the pro-level game, and Bagent got off to a slow start against Senior Bowl competition. But throughout the third day of practices, the game appeared to slow down for him. The arm strength was apparent, and he wasn’t hesitant to test tight windows in spurts.

Potential team fit: Denver Broncos. It’s fair to say the first year of Russell Wilson in Denver was a massive failure. It would be wise for the Broncos to invest in a cheap developmental option who potentially could ease the blow in the future if things continue to go poorly. Seen as a long-term developmental project, Bagent has a bit of a steep learning curve coming from the Division II ranks. But he has the touch and anticipation necessary, though his decision-making has to happen at a faster pace. Bagent fits well in a Sean Payton offense that stresses utilizing space and executing quick perimeter routes.

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