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Breaking Down The 4 Top QBs From The 2023 NFL Draft Class

Anthony Richardson - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

Quarterback is the most important position in all of sports. In the NFL, you either have one or you are searching for one. That is why the position is almost always the focal point of every draft class – ignoring the terrible QB class of 2022. This year will be no different as we may see four QBs go off the board in the first 10 picks of the draft.

It's not just the volume that makes this quarterback class so interesting either. The prospects are all very different and you can ask around who the best QB in the class is and you may get up to four different answers. Of course, there is a difference between how to value these QBs in fantasy football vs. real life. And landing spots will greatly impact that, but before we even start to debate them for fantasy, it is important to know about each prospect and what they bring to the table.

Now that we have the combine behind us, we are able to use athletic testing along with college production, advanced stats, and of course, tape. All of these are very useful in helping learn all about a QB prospect and lucky for you – I have already dove into each for the big four QBs!

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


The 2023 NFL Draft QB Class

Highest Upside: Anthony Richardson, Florida Gators

Height: 6’4 1/4

Weight: 244

40-yd dash: 4.43

Vertical jump: 40.5

Anthony Richardson broke the combine. He ranked first in all QBs at the combine in height, weight, 40-yard dash, vertical jump, and broad jump (10’9”). Not only did he lead the way in this class, but it was the best vertical jump and tied for the best broad jump by a QB since they started keeping track back in 2003. It was the fourth-fastest 40 by a QB in that span.

Basically, he is the most athletic QB since Cam Newton. He is taller than George Kittle, ran a faster 40 than CeeDee Lamb, jumps higher than Davante Adams, and has bigger hands than DeAndre Hopkins. Richardson is basically the cheat code from a character that you would make in a video game, except he is real.

Richardson is raw as a prospect because he has a very limited sample size in college. He started 12 games this past season, completing 176 of 327 pass attempts – good for 53.8 percent. He threw for 2,549 yards and 17 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He threw just 393 pass attempts during his entire tenure with the Florida Gators. He also ran 103 times for 654 yards and nine touchdowns this past season. His 0.4 missed tackles forced per carry was tied with Bijan Robinson for the best in college football last season.

Richardson brings the most upside arguably from a real-life perspective but certainly from a fantasy one. Richardson has a cannon for an arm, and we already went over the physical attributes he has as an athlete. On tape, there are a lot of things to like about Richardson. But you also see that he must work on his throwing mechanics, specifically his footwork in the pocket. He has to improve the touch on his passes as he tends to throw at a high velocity even when he can take some off a throw. Plus, when he airs it out, at times he can put too much air underneath.

But all the tools are there for him to be an elite QB. He draws comparisons to Cam Newton and Josh Allen for a reason. But for fantasy – none of it matters. Richardson has the highest ceiling of the bunch and it isn’t even close because of the potential he brings with his legs.

Justin Fields from 2022 is the best example I can use. Fields' worst pass EPA in the NFL was while throwing for 2,242 yards and 17 TDs in 15 games. But he finished as the QB6 overall/QB5 in PPG because he ran for 1,143 yards and eight TDs. Richardson will run whenever he gets the chance to start and that will lead to fantasy success. Any growth as a passer would just be the cherry on top. In real life, I expect him to be a top 10 pick and it is not crazy if we hear him mentioned as one of the top picks. For fantasy purposes, Richardson is the QB1 in this class and Bijan Robinson is the only competition for the 1.01 in rookie Superflex drafts.

Safest Bet: CJ Stroud, Ohio State Buckeyes

Height: 6’3

Weight: 214

CJ Stroud did not participate in the athletic testing at the combine but he still put on a show. Stroud threw at the combine and showed what everyone who has watched his tape already knew. The placement on his throws is unmatched. He has such a good touch and puts the ball exactly where it needs to be when it needs to be there. Not only did he put that on display, but he was the talk of the combine when he was throwing the ball.

Stroud completed 66.3 percent of his passes this past season for 3,688 yards and 41 touchdowns with just six interceptions. That was after completing 71.9 percent of his passes for 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns, and six interceptions in 2021. He averaged at least 10.9 air yards per throw in each season, showing he can air it out. Stroud has done nothing but put up numbers with Ohio State. He did not run much with the Buckeyes, but he did show in his final game against Georgia that he has the capability to not only extend plays with his legs but to pick up yards if need be.

The concern with Stroud is that he will not be in a situation nearly as favorable as he was in college. Ohio State had a great offensive line in front of him and even more so than that, Stroud had unquestionably the best receiver room. In 2021, that room consisted of Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Marvin Harrison Jr. Not only are all four likely to end up as first-round picks but there’s also a chance that Olave, who went 11th overall, is the latest to be drafted of all of them. Stroud also struggled when he was under pressure in college. That is the biggest concern with him heading into the NFL.

Stroud is the safest bet of all the QBs. He does not come with size concerns, he has shown us that he can command an offense at a very high level, and he has insane arm talent. He may not be the playmaker that Richardson or Young are, which is why I would argue they have higher ceilings, especially for fantasy purposes. In fantasy, I would rank him third of the bunch at QB (the landing spot can change things). But for real-life purposes, I would have no issues at all if a team decided to make him the first overall pick.

Best Combo of Ceiling/Floor: Bryce Young, Alabama Crimson Tide

Height: 5’10 1/8

Weight: 204

Bryce Young would be the unquestioned top pick if he was just a little bigger. He may still end up being the first pick, but Young’s size was a huge talking point at the combine and will be throughout the draft and likely his entire career. Young is the same height as Kyler Murray, who is the shortest QB drafted in the first round since at least 2003. But at 204 pounds, he would be the lightest QB drafted in the first round in that span. And that 204 pounds is far from his playing weight, which many anticipate is likely closer to 190 pounds.

Honestly, the fact that Young is still in consideration for the first overall pick despite his size shows you just how good of a player he is. In 2022, he threw for 3,328 yards with 32 touchdowns and five interceptions on a 64.5 completion percentage. That was after throwing for 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns, and seven interceptions with a 66.9 completion percentage in 2021.

In each of those seasons, he averaged at least 9.9 air yards per throw. Outside of him dropping deeper in the pocket, his size was never an issue in college. There is not a throw he can’t make and he has excellent pocket awareness. He reminds me of Allen Iverson on a football field. He is quick and shifty, has a deadly spin move, and I am not sure if the first defender to get through has actually ever touched him.

Young only ran for 185 yards with four touchdowns, but he has shown that he has the capability to both extend plays with his legs and pick up yardage when he has to. Young is just a playmaker, it jumps out when you watch his tape. He not only can move and keep plays with his legs, but he sees the game at such a high level that he makes plays that many QBs wouldn’t even attempt. That creativity is becoming more and more important for QBs in the modern game and no one in this class does so better than Young.

Young brings a lot of upside like Richardson, but he also comes with far fewer concerns like Stroud. The lone negative is his size. That is why I have him as the safest combination of upside and safety. I understand if a team passes up on the size concerns and goes with one of the other two QBs, but I would be hard-pressed to pass on Young if I was a GM on the clock. For fantasy purposes, I rank him second in this class behind Richardson because of what he can provide with his legs. He is closer to Stroud in the battle for fantasy QB2 in this class than he is to Richardson for QB1.

Toolsy Wild Card: Will Levis, Kentucky Wildcats

Height: 6’3 7/8

Weight: 229

Will Levis is a tough one to figure out. There is a ton to like when you just look at him. He is a big-bodied QB with a cannon of an arm, throwing the football at 59 MPH at the combine. It's why he draws comparisons to Josh Allen and Justin Herbert. However, when you watch the tape, it paints a different picture.

Levis threw for just 2,406 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on a 65.4 completion percentage. That was after throwing for 2,826 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions while completing 66 percent of his passes as a junior. He did not run at all this past season after rushing for 376 yards as a junior.

Those numbers are so-so, which is also the picture that the tape paints. Levis has the arm strength that can wow evaluators. But when you look at the last two seasons, he was the worst deep-ball thrower of the big four. He had the highest percentage of uncatchable passes along with the highest percentage of turnover-worthy throws on passes of 20-plus air yards in that span.

And I included 2021 largely because of Levis. Call them legitimate or excuses but there are more reasons to explain Levis’ down season than I care for. First, he played through a shoulder injury and turf toe. Those are legitimate reasons for the play being down. He also had a new offensive coordinator, lost three offensive linemen from the year prior, and lost his top receiver – who was Wan’Dale Robinson.

Despite all that, Levis did not have many moments that just wowed me on tape. The tools are all there and there is no denying that. But we have yet to really see him put it together at a high level in college. He doesn’t have the physical tools of Richardson or the college numbers of Stroud or Young. And that is despite being the only senior of the big four. I rank him fourth of the bunch both for fantasy and real-life purposes.


Best of the Rest:

Hendon Hooker, Tennessee

Tanner McKee, Stanford

Stetson Bennett, Georgia

Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.

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