2023 NFL draft QB class and the lessons of perspective

·2 min read

Exactly one year ago I wrote an article about the potential of the 2022 NFL draft quarterback class. To say it doesn’t hold up well through the prism of time is an understatement.

It’s a stern rebuke of the “just wait for next year” philosophy regarding the draft and quarterbacks. At this point last year, the “next year” was the class of 2022 — one that turned out to be one of the worst in NFL history in terms of draft stock.

Last July the headliners were Sam Howell and Spencer Rattler. Howell went in the fifth round, No. 144 overall. Rattler lost his starting job at Oklahoma and fled to South Carolina. He’s nestled near the bottom of most preseason watch lists for the 2023 class, and it’s nearly always in the tone of the author feeling obliged to mention him on the off chance Rattler salvages any NFL hope.

Kenny Pickett was the last name I listed a year ago. The Pitt QB was the only signal-caller selected in the first two rounds in April. Pickett’s advanced age and tiny hands made him a divisive prospect too.

Most draft evaluators, myself included, soured quickly on the class. The NFL agreed. All the potential bantered about by folks who wanted nothing to do with Trey Lance, Justin Fields or Mac Jones in the 2021 draft wound up fizzling badly. Last year turned out quite a bit better than next year in draft terms in 2022.

There’s a lesson here, of course. One that’s not just for me as an analyst but for fans too:

Pay attention to the quarterbacks and lists for next year, but don’t buy fully into the hype or hope. The college football season will unequivocally alter the perceptions of the presumptive top QB prospects in both the fan and NFL eyes. C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, Bryce Young and others have a lot of potential right now, but that doesn’t mean it will manifest into something the NFL covets in the next draft.

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