Now that the collective mocking of the 2022 NFL Draft’s quarterback class has finished, let’s turn our attention to the 2023 crop of signal callers. At first glance, the QBs who could wind up in next year’s draft are more promising than those in this year’s group, which finished with a grand total of one QB selected in the first two rounds combined.
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler recently released his first 2023 mock draft, and it features five first-round quarterbacks. Below are scouting reports on each these prospects and other QBs to keep an eye on as the 2022 college football season nears.
It cannot be emphasized enough that we are very early in this process. From year to year, college QBs can improve by leaps and bounds or see their development stall. A few of these players have only a season of starting experience, and while their draft stocks might be pointing up going into the 2022 season, things will change. But as the chatter starts, it’s good to paint a picture of each prospect, even if it’s with a broad brush.
CJ Stroud*, Ohio State (6-3, 218)
Brugler’s mock: No. 1 to Houston Texans
Stroud is solidly built and a smooth mover for the position. His game improved mightily throughout the 2021 season, with his early flashes of accuracy becoming more consistent as the year progressed. His Rose Bowl performance against Utah was an exciting exclamation point on the season, featuring the game-winning throw to cap off his year of growth.
Late in the season, Stroud hit big-time throws down the field with more regularity.
Stroud can shorten his motion to throw underneath, making him a viable thrower on RPO plays. His accuracy helps create yards after catch for his receivers, even if they are tightly covered.
Stroud is a good player in his own right, but Ohio State’s surrounding talent certainly made his job easier. In addition 2022 first-round receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, Stroud also leaned on likely 2023 first-rounder Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who plays like a CeeDee Lamb clone.
Stroud has the bouncing footwork similar to Justin Fields when he was playing in Ohio State’s offense. This shows up often, as Ohio State’s offense likes to attack vertically and involves wide receivers adjustments — two things that take time and result in long footwork from quarterbacks.
Stroud’s arm strength is more good than great, but he has more than enough to drive throws and attack downfield. Quickening his footwork will open up his room for error, especially if his receivers aren’t as dominant as the ones he played with last season. Getting the ball out quicker, which is directly related to footwork, gives receivers more room to work with and can result in safer misses.