Meet the 2023 NFL draft's quarterback class: 20 passers to know, including five potential first-round stars

by Ricardo Gutierrez - Will C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young be the No. 1 QB in next year's draft? Who are the other top names to know? And which teams might be looking for a new signal-caller in 2023?

Meet the 2023 NFL draft's quarterback class: 20 passers to know, including five potential first-round stars

7:15 AM ET Jordan ReidESPN Need a quarterback? Look no further than the 2023 NFL draft class. After we saw just one first-round passer -- and no other QBs taken before pick No. 74 -- in 2022, next year's class promises to have more talent at the position. Ohio State's C.J. Stroud and Alabama's Bryce Young are already being discussed as the potential No. 1 overall pick, and at least three other quarterbacks have Round 1 upside. Numerous others could make a big jump during the 2022 season and emerge as Day 1 or 2 candidates. We're more than 10 months out, and a lot can change. But there is a ton of talent with this group of passers. So who are the top names to know for 2023? Where do the best quarterbacks stand out, and where do they still need to improve? And who are the best of the rest -- passers to keep an eye on over the coming months and the course of the upcoming college football season? We took a closer look at 20 passers who could be in the draft discussion next spring, including an in-depth breakdown of how the top five stack up. Plus, we answered big quarterback questions, from who will go No. 1 to which teams might be targeting a signal-caller in April. The top five to know C.J. Stroud , Ohio State Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 215 pounds Class: Redshirt sophomore Where he excels: Stroud got off to a shaky start in 2021 as a first-year starter, but he continued to get better as the season progressed. His growth from the opening week to the miraculous Rose Bowl victory has scouts enamored with Stroud's potential. That same type of ascension is expected during his second season under center for the Buckeyes. The old saying that one should "scout the player, not the helmet logo" applies for Stroud. A lot will be made of Ohio State quarterbacks failing to produce at the next level, but each presents a different case. Editor's Picks Meet the 2023 NFL draft class: No. 1 pick predictions, top QBs and under-the-radar prospects 36d Jordan Reid and Matt Miller 2 Related Where he needs work: Scouts want to see that Stroud understands the difference between ball placement and accuracy. He completed nearly 72% of his passes last season and consistently put the ball in the strike zone, but there were times when receivers had to dig the ball out or jump for it. Placing the ball in better areas and putting less stress on receivers at the catch point would bring another dimension to his game and could help him unlock the next stage of his development as a passer. Some other skills Stroud could improve on: manipulating defenders more with his eyes and creating more by using his legs. Why I'm intrigued with his first-round potential: Instincts, continued growth and high-end decision-making make Stroud a contender for the No. 1 overall selection in April. Despite losing first-round wideouts in Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson , the Ohio State offense is expected to be explosive. Stroud will be making his 13th career start, but he has improved in each one, and he finished last season with a career-high 573 passing yards against Utah . Bryce Young , Alabama Height: 6 feet | Weight: 194 pounds Class: Junior Where he excels: Poise. It's the singular trait that could set him apart from the other QB prospects in the 2023 class. Look at the comeback victory in overtime against Auburn. Think about how he continued to attack in the national championship game against Georgia despite losing his top two targets in John Metchie III and Jameson Williams in consecutive weeks. There wasn't much that seemed to faze Young during his first season as a starter. Where he needs work: Size will be constantly brought up regarding Young and will remain a question mark for teams that rely heavily on size thresholds. Kyler Murray , Russell Wilson and Drew Brees are among the shortest QBs we've seen go on to have success at the next level, but all of them have a significantly thicker build than the slender Young. Even so, durability hasn't been an issue to this point for the Crimson Tide star. On the field, pocket maneuverability is a consistent issue. The ability to all step up into the pocket and create throwing windows inside it stood out for Murray, Wilson and Brees, but Young has a propensity to get stuck at the apex of the pocket without consistently looking to climb into it and deliver on throws. He instead looks to escape out of side exit doors to try to create off-script plays. If Young can become consistent with working up into the pocket, navigating and distributing the ball in that fashion, size won't be such a concern. Why I'm intrigued with his first-round potential: The competitive fire and calmness he plays with isn't normal for a prospect of his age, especially considering he took over under center in Tuscaloosa for two first-round selections. Young has plenty of arm strength and the high-level accuracy to succeed in the NFL. His ability to win within the pocket and create plays outside of the normal confines of the playbook places a tremendous amount of stress on opponent defenses. play 1:49 Alabama quarterback Bryce Young wins Heisman Freshman quarterback Bryce Young is awarded the 2021 Heisman Trophy, giving Alabama football back-to-back winners. Tyler Van Dyke , Miami Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 224 pounds Class: Redshirt sophomore Where he excels: Although he was only a redshirt freshman last year, Van Dyke appeared in 10 games (nine starts) and immediately became the leader of the Hurricanes' attack after D'Eriq King went down with a shoulder injury. Operating from a strong and balanced throwing base, Van Dyke has a strong enough arm to get the ball to each level of the field. He is at his best in the red zone, where 16 of his 25 touchdown passes came from last season (with one interception). He displays great touch and feel when layering the ball. Where he needs work: Van Dyke was heavily reliant on run-pass option throws as a freshman, and he completed 77% of those types of passes. But he must display more comfort with progression-based passes. Last year's matchup with North Carolina offered a snapshot of who Van Dyke is as a prospect. He continued to battle until the waning moments of the fourth quarter, but his sight and anticipation for non-RPO passing concepts just weren't there. Why I'm intrigued with his first-round potential: A lot is expected of Van Dyke now that he is the unquestioned starter. He is a well-built pocket passer with enough mobility to get out of harm's way. Now under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, the second-year signal-caller could make significant strides in 2022. The past two Miami quarterbacks selected before the third day of the draft were Steve Walsh (first round of the 1989 supplemental draft by the Dallas Cowboys ) and Vinny Testaverde (No. 1 overall in the 1987 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ). Will Levis , Kentucky Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 232 pounds Class: Redshirt senior Where he excels: After three seasons at Penn State, Levis elected to graduate transfer to Kentucky. Under then-offensive coordinator Liam Coen, he played from a variety of different pre-snap platforms with the Wildcats, experiencing success from under center, in the shotgun, from the pistol and even on designed rollouts. Levis has a snappy three-quarter release, and the ball comes off his hand with energy and velocity. He is at his best when he can turn his back to the defense on play-action passes, reset his eyes and assess the defense. And Levis is also a competitive runner who is fearless when escaping the pocket. Early look at the 2023 NFL draft • McShay's way-too-early mock draft » • Kiper's opening 2023 Big Board » • Meet the QBs » | Prospects to know » • Projected order » | More coverage » Where he needs work: Decision-making and lower-body stiffness are areas where scouts want to see growth this season. A lot of his deficiencies center around a lack of back hip rotation, which results in erratic accuracy. Levis has only three games over 13 starts in which he didn't throw an interception. He needs to show more confidence with exhausting all options on progressions, as he tends to prematurely give up on passing concepts and immediately turn into a determined runner. When breaking containment, he loses sight of targets and falls back on his running ability. Levis depends on overpowering and challenging tacklers, but also he needs to better protect himself when working outside of structure. I'd like to see him keep his eyes looking for reappearing targets while on the run. Why I'm intrigued with his first-round potential: Although the ingredients are there, Levis is a raw prospect. Kentucky has a new playcaller in Rich Scangarello this season, but a lot of similar concepts are expected to remain intact for the Wildcats' offense, so it will be interesting to see how Levis makes the next step in the system. Anthony Richardson , Florida Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 236 pounds Class: Redshirt sophomore Where he excels: Richardson has a lot of traits evaluators like to see at the position, but he only has 66 career passing attempts and 58 rushes, and he piled up 556 passing yards in 12 games played. He has a stocky and sturdy build, and despite a loopy arm motion, the ball comes off his hand with plenty of energy. But he also understands when and how to put touch on his passes. And with his downhill rushing ability and vision as a ball carrier, he can be an extension of the running game. Where he needs work: Richardson rotated every other series last season with now-Arizona State quarterback Emory Jones , so he hasn't had many opportunities to remain on the field for an extended period of time. And Richardson had five interceptions in the eight games during which he saw action. His decision-making centers around confidence in his arm strength, which can get him into trouble often. Being more decisive and demonstrating more comfort and consistency when playing within the confines of the pocket are things that scouts want to see next season. Why I'm intrigued with his first-round potential: Richardson will be in a new offense under new coach Billy Napier as he enters his redshirt sophomore season as the unquestioned starter. And Richardson has the potential to generate excitement because of his high-end traits. But right now, it's simply only that. Best of the rest These 15 quarterbacks are listed alphabetically. Brennan Armstrong , Virginia Armstrong posted school records for passing yards (4,449), completions (326) and passing touchdowns (31) in 2021. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound left-handed thrower has made strides with his footwork and mechanics. He also can make things happen on the ground. Now under the tutelage of first-time head coach Tony Elliott, Armstrong will be the nucleus of what has the potential to be a highly explosive offensive attack. Malik Cunningham , Louisville Cunningham has a slender 6-foot-1, 200-pound frame and shows suddenness as both a passer and rusher, but he is a development QB prospect. I saw his seven-touchdown performance (five passing, two rushing) against Duke live last season and got a glimpse at his potential. Cunningham's playing style forces defenses to defend every blade of grass; he is a game-changing player who can create and assemble explosive plays in bunches with his arm and his legs. Catch up on the 2022 NFL offseason • Free agency: Grades » | More » • Draft: Grades » | Top picks » | More » • Coaching changes: Tracking moves » • 2022 schedule » | Power rankings » • Barnwell ranks all 32 teams' offseason » Jake Haener , Fresno State Haener's career began at Washington, but he transferred to Fresno State in 2019. In 13 starts last season, he finished with 4,096 passing yards, 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Haener is a fearless risk-taker who has the confidence that he can fit a football through a coin slot when testing throwing windows. His tape shows lots of high and low moments, but that comes from his playing style. While he won't meet many size thresholds for some teams (6-foot-1, 195-pounds), he has similar traits to some of the more successful smaller backup QBs in the league, including Case Keenum and Taylor Heinicke . Jaren Hall , BYU Hall finished last season with 2,583 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns to only five interceptions and 307 rushing yards in 10 starts last season. He was formerly a member of the Cougars' baseball team (2019 and 2020), and a lot of his throwing mechanics are reminiscent of an outfielder. At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, he has bouncy and active feet in the pocket. Hall's consistency will need to improve in 2022, and I'd like to see him stay on the field after he battled through cracked ribs and an ankle injury last season. Sam Hartman , Wake Forest The 6-foot-1, 208-pounder is at the center of an unconventional offense focused on run-pass options, and Hartman's specialty is reacting after putting defenders in a bind. He displays an average arm and is at his best when able to attack the underneath areas of the field. But his 57.2% career completion rate suggests he needs to become more consistent with his ball placement and touch on deep passes. Hendon Hooker , Tennessee After making appearances in 21 games (15 starts) while at Virginia Tech, Hooker elected to transfer to Tennessee before the 2021 season. At 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds, he is a calm and mechanically sound passer in coach Josh Heupel's spread, hurry-up and shred offense -- which allows Hooker to play freely with a lot of one-step dropbacks. He recorded career highs in passing yards (2,945) and touchdowns (31), and he set the single-season program record for completion rate (68.2%). Hooker will be a 25-year-old rookie at the start of his NFL career. KJ Jefferson , Arkansas A stoutly built prospect at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, Jefferson is still refining his game and figuring out the details of playing the position. He closed last season with 2,676 passing yards, 21 passing touchdowns and four interceptions while adding 664 rushing yards and another score on the ground. As a passer, Jefferson generates a lot of his power from his upper body, which helps him get plenty of zip on throws. But that causes his accuracy to be hit or miss in stretches. Jefferson is a high-level competitor, but he often tries to escape and execute rather than take the play that is given to him. play 2:23 Jefferson leads Hogs past Penn State in Outback Bowl KJ Jefferson runs for 110 yards and a touchdown, helping No. 21 Arkansas secure a 24-10 win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl. Phil Jurkovec , Boston College After transferring from Notre Dame following the 2019 season, Jurkovec started in 10 games in 2020 at BC. Many were excited to see him make a leap in 2021, but the 6-foot-5, 226-pound passer suffered a fractured right wrist during Week 2, which sidelined him for the next eight games. Jurkovec has a lot of physical traits and shows rhythm and timing in the short to intermediate areas, but his deep accuracy will need to improve. His vertical throws tend to flutter. Jurkovec is mobile enough to evade and pick up yards in vacated areas, but his decision-making has to get better. Devin Leary , NC State A 6-foot-1, 212-pound conductor of the spread attack for the Wolfpack, Leary flourished during his first season as the full-time starter. His 35 touchdown passes broke the team's previous single-season mark set by Philip Rivers (34) in 2003. Leary is decisive, has an explosive throwing motion from the pocket and isn't afraid to attack the intermediate and deep areas outside the hashmarks. Many NC State coaches rave about his competitiveness. Grayson McCall , Coastal Carolina The maestro of one of the most creative offenses in the country, McCall has thrived during his career with the Chanticleers. Their scheme works tirelessly to tie the eyes of defenders in knots, and McCall is efficient in making the right decisions at the right time. McCall finished last season with 2,873 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He has below-average arm strength, but the 6-foot-3, 210-pound QB takes advantage of voids created in the defense. Executing pro-style concepts and reads will continue to be the biggest hurdle for McCall. Tanner McKee , Stanford McKee came off the bench during last season's opener against Kansas State and quickly claimed the starting role for Stanford. He finished with 2,327 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and he tied a freshman record (Steve Stenstrom in 1991) for single-season TD tosses over his 10 games (nine starts). At 6-foot-6 and 228 pounds, McKee is an in-rhythm and on-time passer who has experience from various different pre-snap platforms. Spencer Rattler , South Carolina Rattler went from the 2022 draft's QB1 race to a backup on his own team at Oklahoma. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder transferred to South Carolina to play with the Gamecocks and attempt to recreate the buzz that surrounded him prior to last year. A talented passer and savvy mover in the pocket, Rattler lets the ball go with a quick flick of the wrist, showcasing plenty of arm strength and accuracy. Rattler's biggest issue has always been his all-or-nothing approach, and he needs to develop patience and discipline in some places. play 1:00 Who are Mel Kiper's best players of the 2023 draft? Mel Kiper Jr. breaks down which players teams should keep their eye on for the 2023 NFL draft. Kedon Slovis , Pittsburgh A touch, timing and anticipation passer with limited arm strength and mobility, Slovis is comfortable when working inside the framework of the offense. He thrives off taking advantage of the underneath areas. After transferring from Southern California to Pitt after last season, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound passer will now be in a new yet similar offense with Pat Narduzzi. Dorian Thompson-Robinson , UCLA Thompson-Robinson contemplated declaring for the NFL draft this year, but he elected to return for his fifth season. He has started 27 games over the past three seasons, and he holds a spot in the top five in program history for passing yards (7,541), completions (594) and touchdown passes (61). The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Bruins senior is a powerful thrower who has struggled with consistency. Last year's matchup with USC provides a synopsis of his career as a whole: A six-touchdown performance (four passing, two rushing) began with two interceptions in the first quarter. Cameron Ward , Washington State A wild card to keep an eye on during the upcoming season, Ward was one of the best-kept secrets in Texas during the 2020 recruiting cycle primarily because he played in the wing-T offense in high school. He joined Incarnate Word and lit up the FCS ranks during his two seasons there, setting program records in career passing yards (6,908) and touchdowns (71) in only 20 games played. He is a 6-foot-2, 223-pound passer with a sudden sidearm release. Scouts are already intrigued by his skill set but want to see how he performs against better opponents after moving to Washington State. Big questions Will Young, Stroud or someone else be the first QB off the board? It's still early, but if I had to make the call right now, I'd say Stroud. With his high-end traits and upward trajectory, it's easy to see why a team could fall in love with the Ohio State signal-caller's game and make him the first player at the position off the board. Young and Stroud will likely be attached at the hip throughout the season and pre-draft process as QB1 candidates, similar to what we saw with Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota in 2015. How many QBs will go in Round 1? Coming out of summer scouting, Young and Stroud are the only two QBs I see as likely first-round selections. How many first-round QBs we'll see is dependent on how many of these prospects take the next step in their development. It is certainly possible that many will, but it's not guaranteed. Levis and Richardson are toolsy passers with first-round traits, but they both still need to go out and prove it over the duration of a season. We'll see who else emerges over the next 10 months. play 0:52 Why Kiper has Bryce Young ahead of C.J. Stroud on his Big Board Mel Kiper Jr. breaks down Alabama quarterback Bryce Young's talent and why he has him as the top quarterback on the board for the 2023 draft. At this point in the process, what NFL team most needs to draft a QB to build around? Seattle Seahawks . They are content with a QB competition between Drew Lock and Geno Smith for 2022, but it's clear the team doesn't have a long-term solution under center. And considering Seattle is still in the early stages of a rebuild, it's hard to imagine it not being in position to address quarterback in April. General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll appear fully invested in seeing how this season goes with the current group and then looking at the 2023 class if they're not satisfied. What is a sleeper team to watch in the QB conversation for April? Philadelphia Eagles . Jalen Hurts is the unquestioned starter in 2022, but a lot of this season hinges on his continued development as a passer. GM Howie Roseman gave the franchise plenty of flexibility after a pre-draft trade with the New Orleans Saints provided Philadelphia with an extra first-round pick in 2023, and he isn't one to be shy when pursuing a signal-caller. If Hurts is stagnant this fall, look for the Eagles to be at the center of the race for a QB next spring.