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Busts & Breakouts of the 2023 NFL Quarterback Draft Class

After a busy and chaotic weekend, the NFL Draft has finally come to a close. With 12 quarterbacks selected within the first five rounds, the most in NFL history, and 14 total, it was a historic draft for the league’s most valuable position. But which quarterback will have the most success? Only time will tell, but here are some predictions.

First, the quarterbacks will be separated into tiers, depending on how likely they will succeed in the NFL. From backups, and future starters, to even potential Hall-of-Famers, there is a lot of potential from all 14 signal-callers.

Unlikely To Do Much/Career Third-String/Backup

The quarterbacks in this tier are Sean Clifford (GB), Tanner McKee (PHI), and Max Duggan (LAC). McKee, who is from Stanford, will have a tough time making the roster with superstar quarterback Jalen Hurts already securing the starter spot, and reliable mobile backup Marcus Mariota behind him. It is likely Philadelphia only keeps two QBs, leaving out McKee.

TCU’s Duggan may have had led TCU to its best season in program history, but it’s unlikely he does much in Los Angeles, with star quarterback Justin Herbert awaiting an extension, with veteran backup Chase Daniel behind him.

Penn State’s Clifford wasn’t even in the Top 300 in most rankings, but the Packers selected him in the fifth round to mentor starter Jordan Love. He is known as one of the smartest quarterbacks in college football and is a few months older than Love. But don’t expect him to get much playing time, especially if a veteran backup is brought in.

Solid Career Backup/Could Start Some Day

The quarterbacks in this tier are Jake Haener (NO), Stetson Bennett (LAR), Aidan O’Connell (LV), Dorian Thompson-Robinson (CLE) and Clayton Tune (AZ). Haener, who is the first quarterback from Fresno State drafted since Derek Carr, now has the chance to backup Carr. The fourth-round pick has a chance to be an eventual starter someday as Carr is getting up there in age.

UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell are sitting behind established starters in DeShaun Watson and Jimmy Garoppolo, but have the chance to play if either quarterback struggles throughout the season. Although Watson was traded for three first-round picks, he struggled last season coming back from his suspension. Garoppolo also has history of turnover problems.

Georgia’s Stetson Bennett and Houston’s Clayton Tune, now NFC West rivals, have the best shots to start. Bennett sits alone in the Rams’ quarterback room behind starter Matthew Stafford, who missed a lot of the season injured. If another injury forces Stafford to the bench, the back-to-back National Champion Bennett could turn some heads. Tune might have the easiest path to start. With starter Kyler Murray likely to miss the start of the season recovering from injury, he might be able to start Week One. If he can beat out veteran Colt McCoy, Tune could get his chance to prove he can be a starter in the NFL, after a solid college career.

Future Starter/Possible Star

The two quarterbacks in this tier both fell out of the first round. Kentucky quarterback Will Levis was projected to be selected within the first four picks, but fell to Tennessee Titans in the second round. With rumors of starter Ryan Tannehill on his way out, it could be Levis’s time to shine in Nashville.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker might have been a first-round pick, if he didn’t suffer a torn ACL, which ended his season. But now the former Volunteer is now a third-round pick of the Detroit Lions. With Jared Goff likely to start, Hooker will have to wait, as he rehabs his injury and looks to start in 2024. The main concern is age, as Hooker is three years older than 28-year-old Goff, but has a lot more potential in the NFL.

The Next Superstars

Finally, the top three NFL quarterbacks are the next superstars. First overall pick Bryce Young is a Heisman winner, and has been one of the best quarterbacks in college football. Although he is one of the smallest quarterbacks in the NFL, the Alabama product is mobile and has elite accuracy and throw power. With comparisons to Russell Wilson and Drew Brees, Young could be the next superstar in Charlotte.

Ohio State’s CJ Stroud wasn’t expected to do much in college. Fans were upset when he was named the starter over Quinn Ewers, who later transferred to Texas. But Stroud lit up the scoreboard the past two years, with this season throwing for over 40 touchdowns. Now he is a top-two NFL pick by the Houston Texans and will be the leader to turn around the culture in Houston, Texas.

The fourth overall pick, Anthony Richardson is very athletic and unlike most prior Colt quarterbacks. From Ryan, Wentz, Luck, and Manning, none had the mobility like Richardson brings. Although he is a project and needs to work on accuracy and his passing game, he has the most potential in the class and if he reaches his peak, he could dominate the AFC South for years to come.

With a very bright rookie class, it will be interesting to see how many quarterbacks will succeed. Who will be the next quarterback to be a Hall-of-Famer? And who could be the next underdog story like Brock Purdy? Three years from now, we should know who turned out well in the NFL, and who didn’t pan out.

 
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