2023 NFL Draft: Hidden Quarterbacks Who May Move Up To Become The Next Joe Burrow, Zach Wilson

Class 2022 was an anomaly at the quarterback position. Only one passer taken in the first round. In each of the previous six NFL drafts, there was a quarterback ultimately selected in the top three overall picks who was barely on the radar or completely off the radar before his final college season.

In 2021, it was Zach Wilson, the year before, Joe Burrow. In 2019, Kyler Murray. In 2018, Baker Mayfield. Mitchell Trubisky was that guy in 2017. And in 2016 it was Carson Wentz. While not a top-3 pick, the only first-round player, Kenny Pickett, was a consensus prospect on Day 3 before his final season in Pittsburgh.

So it’s wise practice to scan the college football landscape in August to spot potential quarterbacks emerging from the obscurity before their ascension begins.

Remember, too, that none of the quarterbacks listed above were necessarily “known” draft prospects who many believed could be top first-round picks. They had consensus Day 3 ratings before their final college seasons, so this year’s article picks should be viewed the same way.

Let’s go deeper. Very deep. That’s where we’re most likely to find the next Wilson or Burrow. (Yes, the transfer portal has become a great drug.) Meet the Day 3 candidates for this year’s Top 3.

Jaren Hall, BYU

Recruit Ranking: No. 20 Double Threat (2016)
Best statistical year: 63.9% completions, 8.7 yards per attempt, 20 touchdowns, five interceptions

Ok, so you’re not supposed to explore the hull, but in Hall’s case, go ahead and make your Wilson comparisons. He is a smaller, creative BYU quarterback with springy athletic features and a nimble throw. The style of play is strange between Hall and the quarterback he followed in the Cougars’ program, who was No. 2 overall in the 2021 draft.

Now, the big, and I mean HUGE, difference between the two: Hall is already 24 years old. He will be 25 years old when he is recruited. That matters. Wilson played his final season in Provo, Utah, when he had just turned 21.

If you want to rule out Hall being close to being able to rent a car legally, his 2021 movie was exciting. The ball routinely jumped out of his hand, his maneuvers were calculated and efficient, and he rarely put the ball in danger. Hall topped 300 passing yards four times and held his own in the bowl game against USC with two touchdowns, a pair of interceptions, his first since Oct. 9, while completing nearly 63% of his shots and racking up 276 yards to the end. The air.

Hall will have a great 2022. He will be on the radar. If teams, or really, just one team, can ignore his age, it’s conceivable he’ll land high in the first round.

Jake Haener, Fresno State

Recruit Ranking: No. 25 Pro Style (2017)
best stat year: 67.1% completions, 8.4 yards per attempt, 33 touchdowns, nine interceptions

Another older prospect, already 23 years old, Haener made some noise in 2021 with a gritty and highly productive season. While not a quarterback who will be a weapon designed for the running game in the NFL, the Fresno quarterback is nervous and has a knack for the unlikely completion when protection breaks or he needs to dig deep into a play to find something. a streetball style option.

He cooked down the stretch with two games with a completion rate of over 75% that was combined with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Haener’s smaller size, athleticism, guts in the pocket and improv skills give him a light Bryce Young vibe. Rightfully.

Haener entered the transfer portal but ultimately decided to stay with the Bulldogs, and Fresno State should be the best team in the Mountain West, which, in theory, should attract more attention. His age and his lack of stature are clear concerns on his résumé, but Haener can turn it around and his energy will go a long way with many NFL evaluators.

Cameron neighborhood, Washington state

Recruit Ranking: Zero stars (!) in 2020
Best statistical year: 64.4% completions, 8.1 yards per attempt, 38 touchdowns, 10 interceptions

Now we are deep. very deep Whenever you can include the Incarnate Word in an article, you have to do it. Ward roasted the competition at the University of the Incarnate Word last season, en route to a second-round appearance in the FCS playoffs. Ward racked up over 4,700 yards with 47 total touchdowns (running and passing) with just 10 interceptions. But it’s not just the numbers that earned Ward a spot on this list. His movie did.

Quick and precise release. Quality, if not spectacular arm strength, required athleticism and a dash of fast-paced brilliance to bounce into the pocket when the screen disintegrates. He closes it effortlessly from arm angles that are awkward for most passers-by. Ward transferred to Washington state, where he will join former coach Eric Morris, who runs the Wildcats’ plays as offensive coordinator.

Ward can move up the boards, yes, all the way to the first round, with another high-volume season in the Pac-12, on a Cougars team that will be competitive in the conference.

Michael PrattTulane

Recruit Ranking: No. 47 Pro Style (2020)
Best statistical year: 57.6% completions, 7.3 yards per attempt, 21 touchdowns, eight interceptions

Sometimes at the start of looking at a prospect, a play makes you sit back in your chair. With Pratt, the first few pitches I saw had that effect, just because of the way the ball came out of his hand. Pratt is the quintessential prospect for this article. A true junior, the Tulane quarterback looked like he did in his first college season.

Only Pratt’s arm is NFL worthy, and through two seasons as Tulane’s starter, he has 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Sure, his completion rate is below 60%, not great. All that means is that there is room for Pratt to improve his ball placement. If he can show a marked improvement in his accuracy, and it’s combined with his powerful arm, Pratt will gain a small cult following in the draft community that could materialize into widespread adoration among NFL decision-makers. .

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA

Recruit Ranking: No. 2 Double Threat (2018)
Best statistical year: 62.2% compensation, 8.5 yards per attempt, 21 TDs, six interceptions

Thompson-Robinson, the most wanted high school recruit on the list, has technically been on the draft’s radar since he was 18 years old. He is also the most experienced of this group, with 35 starts to his name to date.

For me, Thompson-Robinson’s steady improvement is the most encouraging aspect of his profile as he enters his fifth season with the Bruins. He went from 6.8 yards per attempt as a freshman to 8.5 last season, and he took much better care of the ball with just six interceptions.

Not some imposing physical specimen with a cannon attached to his shoulder, Thompson-Robinson has enticing athletic features and a quality arm. On what should be a solid UCLA team this fall, more development from Thompson-Robinson and some big outings in contests against USC, Utah, and the bowl game could turn into a draft many expected when he graduated from high school. .

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