The 2022 NFL Draft is over and teams are getting comfortable with their new draft picks. The next class of players is getting prepared now for another year of college football. Each position will be analyzed in the coming days. Here is the 2023 NFL Draft prospect watchlist: Quarterbacks.
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Brennan Armstrong, Virginia Cavaliers
Armstrong didn’t play much for the Cavaliers in his first two years on campus, but did play in 2020. He passed for 2,117 yards, 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on 58.6 percent completion. His play helped Virginia go 5-5. In 2021, Armstrong passed for 4,449 yards, 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on 65.2 percent completion. He also rushed for 251 yards. Virginia went 6-6 with Armstrong at the helm.
His name may be a little misleading, as he doesn’t have great arm strength. Armstrong does have the ability to extend plays with his legs and is good on broken plays. He can hit receivers underneath, but has trouble being accurate consistently downfield. His accuracy is also affected by pressure and he needs to work on hanging in there in the pocket, even if he can escape it.
Phil Jurkovec, Boston College Eagles
After being a backup at Notre Dame for two seasons, Jurkovec decided to transfer to Boston College. He took over the starting quarterback role in 2020. Jurkovec passed for 2,558 yards, 17 touchdowns and five interceptions on 61 percent compleiton. His play helped the Eagles go 6-5. He was only able to play in six games in 2021 due to a hand injury. Jurkovec passed for 914 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions on 54.2 percent completion. Boston College went 6-6 in 2021.
First and foremost, Jurkovec needs to prove he is healthy in 2022. He has a big frame and solid arm strength. His ability to find receivers downfield is unique, but he does struggle with feeling out pressure. He can improve his ability to hit receivers in stride to give receivers more room to run after the catch. Jurkovec can read the whole field, although he sometimes can get caught on his first read. A consistent 2022 season with no injuries could have Jurkovec end up as a first-round pick.
Devin Leary, NC State Wolfpack
Leary has played a lot at NC State, as he has seen the field since his freshman year. He passed for 1,219 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions on 48.1 percent completion. In a shortened 2020 season (due to injury and COVID), Leary had 890 passing yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions on 60 percent completion. In a full 2021 season, Leary had 3,433 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and five interceptions on 65.7 percent completion. The Wolfpack went 9-3 for a solid season.
His decision-making and ball placement are really good. Protecting the football is a must at the NFL level and Leary can do that. He can also extend plays and is solid at throwing on the run. His arm strength isn’t the greatest and he is a shorter quarterback, but he had a great 2021 season to build on. Leary will be without some key players on offense in 2022, but if he plays well, he is in play to be a first-round pick.
Will Levis, Kentucky Wildcats
Levis started his career at Penn State, where he backed up Sean Clifford. He was named the starter at Kentucky in 2021, throwing for 2,826 yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on 66 percent completion. He helped the Wildcats win 10 games in 2021.
While he has the build of an NFL quarterback, Levis needs to work on reading the whole field. A lot of times he locked in on Wan’Dale Robinson and did not spread the ball around. He is capable of running the ball and making any throw asked of him with his good arm strength. Unfortunately, Levis also makes some head-scratching throws as well. Levis needs to up his production and consistency in 2022 if he wishes to be drafted as high as he is in many early mock drafts.
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State Buckeyes
Stroud redshirted in his first season at Ohio State, then exploded in 2021. He passed for 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns and six interceptions on 71.9 percent completion. After several fans and media personalities called for his benching early in the season, his play helped the Buckeyes win the Rose Bowl.
He will need to add some more weight to his frame to prevent injury. Stroud also isn’t the most mobile. He does have solid arm strength and great accuracy. There are some passes where he drops the ball in a bucket with a lot of touch and anticipation. Stroud is the frontrunner to be atop the 2023 NFL Draft quarterbacks when all is said and done.
Tyler Van Dyke, Miami Hurricanes
After redshirting in his first year on campus, Van Dyke was thrust into the starting lineup in 2021 when D’Eriq King was injured. Van Dyke proved to be one of the best quarterbacks Miami has had in years. He passed for 2,931 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions on 62.3 percent completion. Miami won seven games in 2021 and with Van Dyke at quarterback have some higher expectations for 2022.
Van Dyke needs to have a healthy season to get some more reps, but he looked very good in 2021. He has good arm strength and accuracy. His mobility isn’t the greatest, but his arm will get him a lot of looks in the 2023 NFL Draft. He does get flat-footed in the pocket and can improve his reading of the whole field, but Vand Dyke has all the tools necessary to be a good draft prospect.
Bryce Young, Alabama Crimson Tide
Young played sparingly as a freshman, but took the reins of the offense in 2021. He won the Heisman after passing for 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 66.9 percent completion. His play helped Alabama get to the National Championship Game, although they lost to Georgia.
In his one season as a starting quarterback, Young showed good accuracy and anticipation. He doesn’t have the best build or arm strength for the position, as some balls can hang in the air. Young does have the ability to extend plays as a solid athlete. His lack of arm strength and size will likely keep him behind Stroud for QB1 in this class, but Young will likely be drafted not too soon after.
Other Prospects to Watch
Jaren Hall, BYU- Hall did a great job of showing off his athleticism and taking over for Zach Wilson in 2021. If he can build off of that, he can rise up draft boards.
Hendon Hooker, Tennessee Volunteers- Tennessee’s offense took a big step forward after Hooker took over. He has the size and arm strength to be a good draft prospect, but needs to be more consistent.
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina- McCall runs a unique offense in Coastal Carolina, but he has demonstrated good mobility and accuracy. His play helped put the Chanticleers on the map.
Tanner McKee, Stanford- McKee has the size of an NFL quarterback, but needs to start attacking downfield more, as he only averaged 7.4 yards per attempt in 2021. Another season under center will help evaluators get a better feel for him.
Spencer Rattler, South Carolina- Rattler was projected to be a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but had a rough season for Oklahoma. Now, he is at South Carolina, where he’ll need a bounce-back season to recoup some of his draft value.
Anthony Richardson, Florida- Richardson has the size, arm strength and athleticism to check a lot of the boxes for NFL teams. The problems are that he didn’t play a lot in 2021 and didn’t play that well when he did play.
Jeff Sims, Georgia Tech- Sims battled injury in 2021, but has shown over his career that he has solid mobility. He can make some nice throws, but has to do it on a more consistent basis and stay healthy in 2022.
Kedon Slovis, Pittsburgh- Slovis transferred from USC to Pittsburgh. He doesn’t have the biggest arm, but does have solid accuracy. His draft value won’t be too high, so he needs to have a big season, much like Kenny Pickett did in 2021.
D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson- Uiagalelei had a very bad 2021 season after a lot of hype. He still has good arm talent, but the offense and his play need to improve in 2022 for him to climb back up draft boards.
Cameron Ward, Washington State- Ward put up some ridiculous numbers for Incarnate Word and is now the quarterback at Washington State. He can be one of the 2023 NFL Draft quarterbacks who takes a huge step in 2022 after transferring up from the FCS, much like Bailey Zappe. Ward has an unorthodox motion, but will be fun to watch at Washington State this season.
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