By: Toby Martin-Kohls
With the 2022 NFL Draft in the rearview, I’ll be taking a way-too-early look at the top two draft prospects for the 2023 draft.
This year’s draft was considered a poor class for quarterbacks by many experts and analysts. Only 1 QB was taken in the first round, which is rare in today’s pro game. QB is considered the most valuable position, so many are picked early.
In next year’s prospective draft class, two quarterbacks are expected to be the first two picks of the NFL draft.
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Stroud is a sophomore QB for Ohio State, a football powerhouse that plays in the Big 10 conference. He is expected to go pro after this upcoming season.
He was a 4-star prospect coming out of Rancho Cucamonga, CA in the class of 2020. He had a mesmerizing senior season throwing for 3,878 yards and 47 touchdowns in just 13 games under Coach Mark Verti. He was the 42nd best prospect in the class and had other offers from other major programs such as: Michigan, Georgia, Oregon, and USC.
Stroud possesses all the intangibles NFL evaluators are looking for in a pro QB. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has praised his work ethic and professionalism. He is capable of making throws all over the field but struggled a small bit with accuracy his freshman year.
Another thing to watch for is his injury history. Stroud suffered a separated joint in his throwing shoulder during the first week of the 2021 season. While this might be a small concern, QB is so valuable to NFL scouts that his talent should overrule his injury history in this case.
Stroud set an Ohio State and Rose Bowl single-game record with 573 passing yards in a come from behind victory over Utah and finished the season with 4,435 passing yards, along with 44 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Young is a sophomore QB for Alabama, which is currently the best dynasty in college football. Like Stroud, he is expected to go pro after this upcoming season.
According to the 24/7 Sports Composite rankings, Young was a 5-star prospect and No. 2 nationally, coming out of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA. He chose Alabama over offers from a variety of other big programs such as: USC, Auburn, Georgia, Miami, Ohio State, Oregon, and Texas.
Young won the Heisman Trophy for best QB in college football in 2021 and also won the Maxwell Award, given to the all-around most outstanding player. He earned the starting job after sitting behind, now pro QB, Mac Jones (New England Patriots).
He set the Alabama single-season marks for passing yards with 4,872 and 47 touchdowns. Evaluators say he is a smart, athletic passer that has a great arm and has the intangibles. He served as team captain for Alabama last season. He has a natural feel for the pocket, has scrambling ability, and doesn’t make many mistakes. His leadership combined with his football knowledge is a great combination to get picked early, especially at a premium position.
The knock on Young will most likely be his size. He is not the size of a prototypical QB. He stands at 6’ 0” and 194lbs. However, NFL execs and scouts say his athleticism and competitiveness outshine this physical attribute. This size and combo have worked in the NFL before at a high level, with the likes of 9-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson and 2020 NFL Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray.
It will be interesting to see how mock drafts change over the course of this next season, and which teams will pick these two talented signal-callers.