I am starting a new Thursday series where I re-rank the 2023 NFL Draft class by position group through the first half of the season. This week I am reviewing the quarterback position and to be honest, there are only four rookie quarterbacks who have really made an impact for their team through the first eight weeks of the season, but there are a few more who have seen some time and could be a couple more making their NFL debuts in Week 9. So, for this position group, I will be ranking the top five at the position for the mid-year review.
Re-Drafting The 2023 QB Class
- C.J. Stroud: Knowing what we know now about both of them today and their skill sets, I believe we could have a debate here about C.J. Stroud or Anthony Ricardson coming off the board as the number one quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft. But as of now, Stroud would be my top-ranked rookie quarterback so far this season. The Houston Texans front office had a relatively easy decision drafting Stroud with the second overall pick after the Carolina Panthers drafted Bryce Young with the first pick of the draft. So far this season, Stroud looks like a stud at the quarterback position. He has all the traits that NFL teams are looking for in a starting quarterback. He currently ranks as the fantasy QB15 through the first eight weeks of the season. He has completed 60.3% of his passes for 1,800 passing yards, nine touchdowns, and just one interception this season. He has also added a little value with his scrambling ability with 68 rushing yards and a touchdown as well. I will be shocked if he does not finish the season as QB15 or better this year, and start in Houston for many years to come.
- Anthony Richardson: The Indianapolis Colts selected Anthony Richardson with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and he looked like a special player at the quarterback position. He has an outstanding arm, and his rushing ability is something we have not seen at the quarterback position, especially given his size at 6’4” and 244 pounds. I gave Stroud the slight edge over Richardson in my rankings because Stroud is more polished as a passer thus far in their young careers. Richardson needs to work on his throwing accuracy and reading the defense pre-snap; if he can get better in those two areas, he could easily be a top-five fantasy quarterback every year. An unfortunate part of his game is the part fantasy players like the most, and that is his ability to run with the football on designed runs or second-reaction plays, as that makes him take more hits. As we saw in the first four weeks of the season, he could miss time with injuries as a result. Currently, Richardson is out for the season with a right shoulder injury, so we will have to see if that affects him at all next season. Even though he only played four games this season, he still produced good numbers, completing 59.5% of his passes for 577 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception; he also added 136 rushing yards with four rushing touchdowns. I still believe if Richardson had not gotten injured this season, he would have finished as the fantasy QB10 or better this year.
- Bryce Young: I wonder if the Carolina Panthers have any regrets about making the big offseason trade with the Chicago Bears to move up to the first overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft to select Bryce Young over Stroud or Richardson. The Panthers traded two first-round picks, two second-round picks and starting wide receiver D.J. Moore to move up to get Young, and I think they gave up too much to get him. Young is one of the smallest quarterbacks in NFL history at 5’10” and 204 pounds, and I think that will lead to him missing time at the NFL level because of the number of hits you take at the position. He already missed one game this season due to an injury, and given his size, I expect he will have one or two games missed each season. Except for size, Young has all of the traits teams are looking for in an NFL quarterback. He has excellent leadership ability and can make all the throws. Young currently ranks as the QB27 on the season. He has completed 64.3% of his passes for 1,202 passing yards, seven touchdowns, and four interceptions this season. I believe if he can stay healthy, he will finish the season as QB20 or better this season, but he hasn’t shown enough to remain at the top of this list above Stroud or Richardson.
- Will Levis: Will Levis was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the second round with pick number 33 in the 2023 NFL Draft. He was the fourth quarterback selected in the 2023 draft class. Unlike the first three quarterbacks on this list, Levis did not start Week 1. He got the chance to sit and watch veteran quarterback Ryan Tannehill start the first six games of the season, and that might have helped Levis as he was not learning as much on the fly to start his NFL career. I really liked Levis coming into the 2023 draft. He is a bigger guy at 6’4″ and 230 pounds who can make all the NFL throws and has good rushing ability as well. Tannehill injured his ankle in Week 6 so Levis got his first start last week, and he looked impressive. He completed 65.5% of his passes for 238 passing yards and four touchdowns last week. It was a very impressive first NFL start, and hopefully, he can continue that success for the rest of the season, as I don’t see why the Titans would go back to Tannehill at this point. I believe Levis has the ability to be the second-best quarterback from this draft class when we look back at it in ten years, but the question is, can he put it all together to make that happen?
- Aidan O’Connell: Aidan O’Connell was drafted by the Las Vegas Raiders in the fourth round with pick number 135 in the 2023 NFL Draft. O’Connell was the eighth quarterback selected in the draft class, but he got a chance to start this year because of an injury to Raiders starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 3. O’Connell played his college football at Purdue University, and he is a bigger quarterback at 6’3” and 213 pounds. He is going to get a big opportunity now that Head Coach Josh McDaniels was fired this week and the Raiders announced that he will be the team’s starting quarterback for the rest of the season. In his first start this season, O’Connell completed 65.4% of his passes for 313 passing yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. He has the ability to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, so I am excited to see what he can do for the rest of the season.
These are the top five rookie quarterbacks that have had significant playing time or starts so far this season, although we have also seen starts from Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Tyson Bagent, as well as most of a game from Tommy DeVito. We have a couple more rookies who might be making their first starts this week in Jaren Hall of the Minnesota Vikings and Clayton Tune of the Arizona Cardinals. So, we will see if they get their first starts and, if so, how they fare in the NFL. The only other rookie I wanted to mention is Hendon Hooker of the Detroit Lions. Don’t forget about him if you play in Dynasty leagues, as he will miss the entire 2023 season recovering from a knee injury, but I am excited to see what he can do in 2024.