2023 NFL Draft: Best Fits for Top QBs in the Class
Heading toward the midway point of the NFL season, there are plenty of teams that are finding more hope in the 2023 draft than the rest of their 2022 schedule.
While no one wants to admit their season is already over, for many clubs, the best chance of hope right now is landing a difference-maker in the next draft.
That's especially true at quarterback.
With the B/R Scouting Department dropping its initial big board of draft-eligible prospects, it's a good time to take a look at where the top talents could fit.
All seven of these quarterbacks made the top 100 and could be the reason that a struggling franchise has hope at the game's most important position.
Based on projected draft capital, current record, coaching staff and surrounding talent, here are the best fits for each of the top quarterbacks in the upcoming class.
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Overall Big Board Rank: No. 7
C.J. Stroud comes in as the No. 1 quarterback and figures to be the crown jewel of the class. While there might be other prospects who received higher marks, he's a contender to be the top pick.
Stroud has just about everything you'd like to see. He can make throws to all levels of the field, and while he doesn't always have elite velocity, he has enough to get the ball where it needs to go.
After all, he leads the Power Five in completion percentage on throws more than 15 yards downfield, per Sports Info Solutions.
He also has the athleticism to leave the pocket and make plays out of structure. He isn't going to be confused with Lamar Jackson, but he's a functional mover.
When it comes to finding a "fit" for Stroud, it's more about who is going to have a chance to get him. He's the kind of quarterback who elevates those around him and makes sense as the first signal-caller off the board.
According to Tankathon, the Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers are on pace to have the top three picks.
Any of the three would make sense for Stroud, as he is an immediate upgrade over each team's current quarterback. The Lions would be the most ideal because of an offensive line anchored by Penei Sewell that should be good for a long time.
Best Fits: Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers
Bryce Young, Alabama
Overall Big Board Rank: No. 10
Bryce Young is just behind C.J. Stroud, but he shouldn't be discounted from being a franchise building block. The 6'0", 194-pound passer has less than ideal size, but B/R's Derrik Klassen deemed him the most accurate in the class.
Young's ability to navigate the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield is special. Combined with his elite accuracy, he has the ability to extend plays and always looks in command of the offense.
He's not going to look to run the ball often, but he's shown he can do it. He had 100 yards rushing in the season opener against Utah State and has six touchdowns on the ground over the last two seasons.
Young also doesn't necessarily need a specific roster to find success. His ability to throw off-schedule and off-platform would give him a chance to succeed even on an offense going through growing pains up front.
The Panthers certainly fit that mold. They have already given up 20 sacks this season but have a No. 1 receiver in D.J. Moore who Young could lean on early.
The Texans also stand out as a possibility. Davis Mills hasn't been terrible, but he doesn't have the same upside as Young, whose mobility and accuracy give him a much higher ceiling.
Best Fits: Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Detroit Lions
Will Levis, Kentucky
Overall Big Board Rank: No. 11
C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young came into the college season as the presumed top two quarterbacks to come off the board, but Will Levis of Kentucky is making a strong case to be considered.
The 6'3", 232-pound quarterback has the ideal size to deal with the rigors of an NFL schedule and has impressed with his physical traits. Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN ranked him as the No. 4 overall player on his big board and QB2 behind Stroud.
Chris Low of ESPN noted that a personnel director compared him to Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen in terms of his size, arm strength and physical gifts:
"As [Levis] gets more comfortable and better rhythm in this scheme, I feel like he will be playing even better football at the end of the season than what he's putting on tape right now. He has all the physical traits and a lot of upside."
Watching Levis, it's easy to envision his quick release and ability to find passing windows even when under pressure translating to the NFL.
Any of the three teams that were mentioned for Young and Stroud would likely be fine with taking Levis as the odd team out. However, he's also a potential candidate for a trade-up from a team with the draft capital to take a big swing.
The scouting department named Levis the most "pro-ready" prospect in the class. That means a team like the Indianapolis Colts or Washington Commanders whose veteran additions have not panned out might want to make the move.
Best Fits: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Commanders
Anthony Richardson, Florida
Overall Big Board Rank: No. 34
There's still plenty of time for things to change with the second half of the college football season, but this is where the class seems to have a steep drop off. The top three are all in the top 12 prospects, but Anthony Richardson is a bit of a project.
Will Levis might draw some comparisons to Josh Allen, but Richardson might be a more accurate facsimile. He's massive at 6'4", 232 pounds and adds another dimension to the game as a runner, but he needs to learn to take care of the ball.
He's thrown more interceptions than touchdowns so far this season.
The Seahawks would make sense as a team to target Richardson. The Kentucky product might require some time to work on his accuracy and refine his game, and Geno Smith's play this season gives them a gap year to ease him into the NFL game.
The fact that Richardson might be available in the late first or early second round would allow them to use their early first-rounder on another blue-chip prospect. They have two first-rounders and should have an early second-rounder from the Denver Broncos.
The same could be said for the Minnesota Vikings with 34-year-old Kirk Cousins. Drafting a project like Richardson would allow them to start changing lanes and potentially take the offense to the next level under Kevin O'Connell's tutelage.
Best Fits: Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, Washingon Commanders
Tanner McKee, Stanford
Overall Big Board Rank: No. 66
Tanner McKee is a throwback quarterback prospect. He's 6'6", 230 pounds but doesn't have the mobility that most elite passers do in today's college game.
However, his ability to make all the throws from a clean pocket is enough to put him on NFL teams' radar. McKee shows good touch on his deep passes, and he can also fit the ball into tight windows.
That happens more often than not in the Stanford offense. All of the quarterbacks before McKee in the rankings have at least one offensive teammate who is in the top 100 prospects. Stanford does not.
Because of his limitations as an athlete, it would be best for him to go to a team that already has decent pass protection in place.
He's likely to be a backup at the beginning of his career. Given what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have looked like this season and that Tom Brady is 45 years old, it would make sense for McKee to wind up there. They have also only surrendered a 10.7 percent pressure rate this season.
The New Orleans Saints—who won't have a first-round pick to acquire a quarterback but need someone other than Jameis Winston or Andy Dalton next season—could benefit from McKee as well.
The Vikings' play-action-heavy offense would also make sense for McKee, as it would allow him to throw in rhythm and minimize his need to create outside of structure.
Best Fits: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings
Tyler Van Dyke, Miami
Overall Big Board Rank: No. 76
Tyler Van Dyke has not lived up to the hype he generated with his first season in Miami. After flashing NFL potential in 2021, he was benched in an early-season game against Middle Tennessee after throwing two interceptions.
Since then, he's rallied to show off his tantalizing potential with six touchdowns and just one interception in three games.
He's also dealt with multiple injuries in his receiving corps, which has impressed offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. He told Adam Lichtenstein of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
"For your quarterback to go out there and trust your backup receiver, go out and trust your fourth or fifth guy to make plays for you and put that trust and give those guys those throws, I think has been tremendous for Tyler and his leadership."
Van Dyke is a frustrating prospect because he makes a lot of NFL-level throws but also makes some high school-level decisions.
Now, his status is up in the air after he suffered a shoulder injury in a blowout loss to Duke.
Van Dyke is probably best suited for a team that has its starting quarterback for the next two seasons at least but could use a high-upside backup to develop.
The Las Vegas Raiders spring to mind, as Derek Carr is likely to be the starter for the foreseeable future. The New York Giants may need someone who could ultimately supplant Daniel Jones and aren't in a great position to take someone in the first round after starting the season 6-1.
Best Fits: Las Vegas Raiders, New York Giants, Los Angeles Rams
Jaren Hall, BYU
Overall Big Board Rank: No. 100
Few in college football can put a touch pass on the money like Jaren Hall. The BYU quarterback shows a knack for anticipation and accuracy to multiple levels of the field.
Unfortunately, his age, size and arm strength are going to be serious questions that may limit him from getting ranked much higher than where he is right now.
The 6'1", 205-pounder has the athleticism to move around the pocket and even make plays with his legs, but he doesn't have the effortless velocity generated by larger quarterbacks. Hall is much better at dropping the ball over coverage than he is at driving it into open windows.
Add in the fact that he'll be 25 years old as a rookie and it's easy to start seeing the cracks in his profile.
Still, the athleticism, touch and accuracy are enough to make him at least a serviceable backup. If his intangibles are impressive enough, he could wind up being a sleeper pick toward the end of Day 2.
A team that doesn't have the draft capital but could take a shot at a developmental quarterback makes a lot of sense for Hall.
Best Fits: New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers