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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Luke Easterling

Updated early QB rankings for the 2023 NFL draft

We’re heading into the homestretch of the 2022 college football season, which means we’ve seen enough film of this year’s top quarterback prospects to start updating our rankings for the 2023 NFL draft class.

Here’s how we restack this year’s crop of top passers at this point in the year:

1. Bryce Young | Alabama

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Even in Bama’s two losses so far this season, you could see all of the reasons why Young is the best quarterback in this class. He’s got all the physical traits to be a superstar at the next level, but perhaps more importantly, he’s got the mental prowess, leadership abilities, and intangibles that separate the great quarterbacks from the decent ones. He’s got that ultra-competitive streak that wills his team to win (see Texas this year, Auburn last year), and none of that should be ignored just because he doesn’t have ideal size.

2. C.J. Stroud | Ohio State

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch

Don’t be fooled by his awful stat line in Saturday’s swirling windstorm vs. Northwestern. Stroud checks every box for a franchise quarterback prospect, from arm talent to anticipation to the ability to process coverages and find the open man. And don’t make the mistake of parroting tired narratives about Ohio State quarterbacks (Justin Fields made that look silly Sunday, too). Scout the player, not the helmet. Stroud is a stud.

3. Anthony Richardson | Florida

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

If you like a tidy box score, Richardson won’t be your guy. But if you’re willing to take a swing on a guy who could easily be somewhere between peak Cam Newton and Josh Allen, Richardson is the only guy in this group that comes anywhere close to that kind of playmaking potential. He’s got rare athleticism for his size, all the arm talent in the world, and makes the kinds of ridiculous plays that leave mouths agape and jaws on the floor. He’ll take some time and patience, but Richardson has the rare skills to be a game-changer at the next level.

4. Hendon Hooker | Tennessee

Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday’s loss to Georgia wasn’t his best look, but it shouldn’t cause people to throw out what he’s done throughout the rest of the season. Hooker has launched the Vols into the playoff conversation with his play, and he’s the best deep-ball thrower in this group. He’ll be older than most quarterback prospects (turns 25 in January), but if he turns into the franchise quarterback he’s capable of becoming, that won’t matter much.

5. Cameron Ward | Washington State

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re not paying close attention to the quarterback play in the Evergreen State this year, you’re missing out. After putting up video-game numbers at Incarnate Word, Ward transferred all the way up to the Pac-12, and is still proving to be a dynamic playmaker. He’ll need some refinement at the next level, but he’s got great instincts and feel for the game, and he’s still just scratching the surface of his potential.

6. Michael Penix Jr. | Washington

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Much like Ward, Penix Jr. still seems to be flying under the radar as a prospect after transferring from Indiana. The crafty lefty leads the nation in passing yards, with 23 touchdown tosses to just five interceptions, throwing four touchdown passes in a game four times so far this year. He’s a confident passer who can make all the throws, and he’s coming off a game-winning drive to knock off a top-25 opponent in Oregon State. Penix might be the most underrated prospect on this list.

7. Will Levis | Kentucky

(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

I know we’re all used to seeing Levis in the top five of most mock drafts, but I just haven’t seen that player yet. He’s got a big arm, and the toughness you love to see at the position, but the consistency and decision-making issues that plagued him last year don’t look like they’ve improved yet in 2022. It won’t be surprising if a team values him in the first round simply because he “looks the part” of a franchise quarterback, but the film to this point shows a mid-round talent who still needs plenty of work.

Best of the Rest

Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

Jaren Hall | BYU

Tanner McKee | Stanford

Lindsey Scott Jr. | Incarnate Word

Tim DeMorat | Fordham

Sam Hartman | Wake Forest

Devin Leary | North Carolina State

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