Scouting the Signal Callers: 2023 Quarterback Prospects

By John Laub
John Laub



   Scouting the Signal Callers


             2023 Quarterback Prospects




As an older man and history teacher much closer to retirement than college graduation, I always try to impart the joy of the journey over the destination in life to my students. I did not embrace this simple philosophy in my twenties. Yet, in my forties, I began to see the brilliance in enjoying every day and moment along the path.


Ten years ago, I decided to jump into NFL Draft analysis for fantasy diehards like myself after thirty years watching and studying college prospects. Looking back, I had a baseline of knowledge and a confidence in my skills that allowed me to start the journey. Along the way since, I have learned so much more in regard to scouting and data analysis…plus, the journey is far from over.


I’ll never forget my first Class (2014) of quarterback prospects: Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppollo. A decade later, the Heisman winner and the top signal caller selected are no longer earning an NFL paycheck. It is a tough league for sure, and even the best scouts and coaches make mistakes scouting the position.


Throughout my journey, I have had hits and misses and always try to reflect on my process to ensure better analysis moving forward. In 2016, I was extremely bullish on Dak Prescott and ranked him among my top 5 quarterbacks while very down on Christian Hackenberg and Connor Cook. The next year, I had Mitchell Trubisky behind Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes in the rankings. 


In 2020, Jalen Hurts stood in the No. 4 spot in my ratings ahead of Jordan Love, and implored all of my Dynasty readers and fantasy diehards to select Hurts in drafts, which I did on three teams. 


Without question, my biggest blunder over the past decade was Bills’ star Josh Allen. My model did not like his production at Wyoming, and I was not willing to project him at his absolute ceiling based on physical traits as a dual-treat field general. And I cannot forget my swing and miss on Josh Rosen coming out of UCLA.


2023 Gridiron Scholar's Quarterback Model

(Click the link above to see the QB model and players’ statistics.)


Accounting for, and incorporating, all that I have learned, I have put together a strong QB model to assess a player’s production on the gridiron to identify potential NFL starters. I also watch the film of college signal callers to pinpoint athletic skills and physical traits that I value at the next level. I have broken down the tape, plugged the career statistics into my model and provided a draft grade for the top five prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft…Enjoy my fellow diehards!


1. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

Prospect Resume

Two-time Heisman Trophy Finalist, Graham-George Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Griese-Brees Big Ten Quarterback of the Year (2021 & 2022). In 2022, Second Team All-American. Walter Camp Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien and Maxwell awards finalist. Team Captain. Surpassed 40 passing touchdowns for second consecutive season and eclipsed 3,500 passing yards. In 2021, Third Team All-American and Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Named Big Ten Freshman of the Week seven times and twice Offensive Player of the Week. Passed for over 4,400 yards and posted a 44-6 TD:INT Ratio. First Buckeyes’ quarterback to throw five aerial strikes without an interception in back-to-back games. In high school, five-star prospect and No. 2 pro-style signal caller. Earned MVP honors at Elite 11 Finals. College career: Established 16 school passing and total offense records. Established three Big Ten passing records: In conference games only, season passing yards (3,193) and touchdown passes (34) as well as career passing efficiency (182.4) in all games. Logged back-to-back campaigns with over 40 aerial strikes. In the Rose Bowl, set five records versus Utah.


Key Statistics

Games Played: 25

Passing Efficiency: 182.4

Completion Percentage: 69.3%

Yards per Attempt: 9.8

TD:INT Ratio: 85-12

Rushing Equity: 4%

Escapability Grade: C


Film Breakdown and Skills

At 6’3“ and 215-pounds, pro-style passer with good pocket maneuverability. Rhythm thrower with a live and strong arm, who attacks defenses down the seam and outside the numbers. Accurate passer to all levels of the field. Makes excellent decisions with football. Excels in a clean pocket with natural feet and feel for pass rushers. Absorbs big hits. Underrated athleticism. High football IQ and great leader. Reads coverage well and calls audibles. Very good anticipatory passer. Shined in structure. At Ohio State, did not use legs often. Yet, displayed the ability to scramble versus Georgia in CFP semifinal loss. Needs to manage a messy pocket better and remain focused when pressure arrives. Does not make a lot of plays off script. Profiles as a franchise quarterback and a top-five selection in the Draft.

Scholar’s Grade: First Round



2. Bryce Young, Alabama

Prospect Resume

In 2022, Second Team All-American and SEC quarterback. Sugar Bowl MVP with 321 passing yards and five touchdowns. Davey O’Brien and Maxwell awards semifinalist. In 2021, Heisman Trophy winner. First Team All-American and SEC. Set Alabama single-season records for passing yards (4,872) and touchdowns (47). SEC Offensive Player of the Year. Team Captain. College football’s Player of the Year by the AP and Sporting News. Named the Davey O’Brien and Maxwell award winner as the nation’s top quarterback. In high school, country’s top-ranked dual-threat quarterback and five-star recruit. Played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and was named Offensive MVP in the game. Two-time MaxPreps Player of the Year at Mater Dei High School in California. College career: Only player in program history to pass for over 3,000 yards twice (2021 & 2022). Second all-time at Alabama for career passing yards (8,356) and touchdowns (80). Five times tossed five aerial strikes in a game, becoming the school leader.


Key Statistics

Games Played: 27

Passing Efficiency: 165

Completion Percentage: 65.8%

Yards per Attempt: 8.8

TD:INT Ratio: 80-12

Rushing Equity: 7%

Escapability Grade:


Film Breakdown and Skills

Natural leader with high football IQ. Accurate passer who excels in rhythm with a quick release. Anticipatory thrower. Touch passer with an excellent deep arm. Great feet and technician in the pocket. Effortlessly escapes the pocket and remains focused downfield. Makes plays off script and finds the third option in progression. Attacks all three levels of the field. Problem solver. Clutch performer who remains calm and focused when playing from behind. Menacing scrambler: Throws well on the run. Remains poised and finds an open target. Undersized signal caller at 5’10” and 204-pounds. Endured an AC joint injury in throwing shoulder in 2022. Can he succeed despite size concerns and small frame? One franchise will embrace risk and bank on traits, athleticism and leadership. A franchise signal caller as a professional.

Scholar’s Grade: First Round



3. Anthony Richardson, Florida

Prospect Resume

In 2022, SEC Offensive Player of the Week against Utah: 168 passing yards, 106 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Finished season with 2,549 passing yards and 17 touchdowns. Second on the team in rushing touchdowns (9) and third in rushing yards (654). Totaled 515 yards of offense at No. 11 Tennessee: Third all-time in a game in school history. In 2021, All-SEC Freshman Team as a redshirt. Appeared in eight games. Finished campus tenure with over 1,000 rushing yards, averaging 6.9 ypc. In high school, four-star recruit and No. 9 dual-threat quarterback prospect. 2019 Elite 11 finalist and featured on the Netflix series QB1: Beyond the Lights. Finished his four-year varsity career at Eastside with 4,633 passing yards and 37 touchdowns, along with 1,633 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns. Senior season ended due to injury.


Key Statistics

Games Played: 19

Passing Efficiency: 133.6

Completion Percentage: 54.7%

Yards per Attempt: 7.9

TD:INT Ratio: 24-15

Rushing Equity: 25%

Escapability Grade: A-


Film Breakdown and Skills

At 6’4” and 244-pounds, idyllic NFL size, traits and athletic ability. Modern dual-threat signal caller. Redshirt sophomore with limited game experience. Off-the-charts measurable and traits: Named to Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List at No. 50. Impressed onlookers at the Manning Passing Academy last summer. Incredible arm strength with a quick release: Flick of the wrist passer. Fantastic fastball and places pigskin in small windows. Throws well on the run. Excels throwing deep passes, stretches secondaries vertically. Extends plays when protection breaks down. Runs over smaller defenders and easily breaks tackles. Gains first downs with legs. Inconstant passer with wild production swings from game to game. Underdeveloped mechanics. Poor accuracy: Misses easy completions at times. Occasionally, holds onto the ball too long. High-ceiling and low-floor prospect. One franchise will love traits and draft on upside projection as a passer.

Scholar’s Grade: First Round


4. Hendon Hooker. Tennessee

Prospect Resume

In 2022, SEC Offensive Player of the Year: 3,135 passing yards, 430 rushing yards and 32 total touchdowns. All-America Second Team and First Team All-SEC. Walter Camp Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien, Manning, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm and Maxwell awards finalist. Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year semifinalist. In 2021, took over the reigns of the offense in Week 3 and started 11 games. Fourth Team All-SEC. Davey O’Brien semifinalist. Twice named Manning Award Star of the Week at Missouri and Kentucky. Shattered two school single-season records: passer efficiency rating (181.4) and completion percentage (68%). In 2021-22, First-year SEC Academic Honor Roll. At Virginia Tech, started 15 games and played in 18 (2018-2020). In 2019, one of five P5 quarterbacks with 300 or more pass attempts with a TD:INT ratio of 6.50 or higher. In high school, four-star prospect and three-time all-conference competitor. Also, played basketball and scored over 1,000 career points.


Key Statistics

Games Played: 42

Passing Efficiency: 172.2

Completion Percentage: 66.9%

Yards per Attempt: 9.5

TD:INT Ratio: 80-12

Rushing Equity: 22%

Escapability Grade: A-


Film Breakdown and Skills

At 6'3'' and 208-pounds, redshirt senior who played at Virginia Tech and Tennessee. Six-year college competitor. Some analysts will downgrade and discredit the former Volunteers’ signal caller as an older prospect. Do not ignore the high-end production over the past two seasons: Numbers are eye-popping spectacular. Big-armed pitcher who throws nice spirals. Attacks secondaries vertically. Accurate passer, who can drive football outside the hash marks with velocity. Places the ball into buckets. Good scrambler and runner. Moves the chains with feet. Avoids pass rushers and throws darts when play breaks down. Dangerous playmaker in open field as runner. Team leader who commands respect. Guided Tennessee back onto the national stage. Intelligent signal caller. Creative competitor outside of structure. College career ended after suffering a season-ending ACL injury at South Carolina last year. Not asked to make progression reads at Tennessee. Poor footwork and throws off balance occasionally. Succeeded in coach Josh Heupel’s high-flying passing game. Is he scheme dependent? An organization’s answer will determine final big board ranking for each team.

Scholar’s Grade: Second Round


Twitterverse on Fire!

After C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young, Who Ya Got as the No. 3 quarterback prospect in the Class of 2023?

Will Levis, Kentucky: 36%

Anthony Richardson, Florida: 42%

Hendon Hooker, Tennessee: 20%

Other: 2%

“I have to go to Anthony Richardson. Based on the landing spot and draft capital, I may take him as quarterback No. 1. We play fantasy football, and he has the tools to outscore anyone in this class even if his bust rate is higher than the other guys.” @FabFalco

“Twitter followers already know that it is Will Levis for me. Coming from an NFL offense, quick release, can take a hit, 6'3” & 232-pounds, prototypical NFL quarterback. Seems people are realizing that he didn't have a run game the first five weeks, bottom end offensive line, and new offense with three freshmen wide receivers!” @NinoBrown_T2T

“I’m absolutely dumbfounded how people look at Anthony Richardson’s statistics and think he’s an NFL quarterback. Can’t tell me he is a better prospect than Malik Willis from last year. He isn’t a franchise signal caller.” @jarodgray


5. Will Levis, Kentucky

Prospect Resume

In 2022, named Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Top 10. In 2021, twice named FBS National Offensive Player of the Week. Two-time Manning Award Quarterback of the Week. Honored as the Walter Camp Connecticut Player of the Year. Logged 3,202 yards total offense: Seventh player in school history to surpass 3,000 yards in a season. First-Year SEC Academic Honor Roll (2020-21). As a starter at Kentucky, finished a stellar collegiate career with a 17-7 record and two-time Team Captain. College career: Sixth on Kentucky’s all-time passing list with 5,233 passing yards. Totaled 43 career touchdowns passes—fifth on the school’s career list. Accounted for 54 total touchdowns as a Wildcat (43 passing and 11 rushing). Third QB in program history with at least four games of 365-plus passing yards. In high school, three-star prospect and the No. 2 player in Connecticut. Named the Hartford Courant's Offensive Player of the Year. Lettered in basketball.


Key Statistics

Games Played: 32

Passing Efficiency: 145.6

Completion Percentage: 64.9%

Yards per Attempt: 8.0

TD:INT Ratio: 46-25

Rushing Equity: 14%

Escapability Grade: B+


Film Breakdown and Skills

At 6’3” and 232-pounds, possesses the physical tools, athleticism and skills of a franchise signal caller. Quick release and stupendous arm strength. A dual-threat skill set: Very good runner. At times, illustrates anticipation and accuracy. Played behind a poor offensive line in the toughest conference in the nation. Took snaps behind center and in shotgun. Stupendous scholar with a 4.0 GPA. Earned a Finance degree from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business and a master’s degree in finance from Kentucky’s Gatton School of Business and Economics. Limited ability to traverse progressions. Gets rattled in pocket and inconsistent. Some national media members, and team scouts, are bullish on a successful leap to stardom. Rankings based on traits and potential as a NFL starter not production at Kentucky. The QB model illuminates some red flags as a prospect. Can he put it all together as a professional? Without question, one team will take the risk and pluck the former Wildcat playmaker in the First Round of the Draft. 

Scholar’s Grade: Second Round