With the 2022 NFL draft well behind us, the discussion about who will be the top quarterback selected in the 2023 draft has begun, and right now, it appears Ohio State's C.J. Stroud has a slight edge over Alabama's Bryce Young.
In a poll of 12 NFL evaluators by ESPN's Matt Miller, Stroud received five first-place votes, while Young received three. Kentucky's Will Levis also received three first-place votes.
A rival college coach said of Stroud: "He just doesn't make mistakes. Some might see him as too cautious, but he picks apart defenses with his accuracy and his patience."
An NFL scout added that Stroud is "the most polished" and "his mechanics are clean."
Miller added that Stroud's early NFL comp is Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert because he has similar arm strength and has "a similarly strong frame with a running ability that could explode in the NFL."
The 20-year-old was a 4-star prospect out of Rancho Cucamonga, California, when he committed to Ohio State in December 2019. At the time, he was the third-ranked quarterback in the 2020 class in 247Sports' composite rankings, behind only Young and Clemson's DJ Uiagalelei.
Stroud had an impressive freshman season for the Buckeyes in 2021, completing 71.9 percent of his passes for 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns against six interceptions in 12 games.
Ohio State finished the season 11-2 but failed to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. However, the team was selected to the Rose Bowl, which it won 48-45 over the Utah Utes.
After being a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2021, Stroud will be looking to take the next step in his career in 2022 and will aim to lead the Buckeyes back to a victory in the national championship game for the first time since the 2014 season.
As for Young, scouts voiced concerns about his smaller size. He is listed as 6'0", 194 pounds.
"He's not Kyler Murray, OK? Kyler is thick throughout his frame. Kyler is short, not small. Young is small," one NFL scout told Miller.
However, an opposing coach still lauded Young while speaking with Miller:
"He's a point guard. You want guys who can distribute the ball and charge the offense, and he does that. He's a magician with some of those passing angles he finds."
Miller added that Young's early NFL comp is Murray because, as shorter quarterbacks, they have a similar style of play and Young's "field vision and ability to create when the play breaks down is Murray-esque."
Young appeared in seven games for Alabama as a freshman in 2020, completing 13 of 22 passes for 156 yards and one touchdown.
The 21-year-old flourished as Alabama's starter in 2021, completing 66.9 percent of his passes for 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns against seven interceptions. He led the Crimson Tide to the national championship game against Georgia, but the team fell 33-18.
Young completed 33 of 57 passes in that game for 369 yards and one touchdown, but he also tossed two interceptions against the nation's best defense.
Like Stroud, Young will be looking to help Alabama win the national title this season before making the jump to the NFL.