Only three quarterbacks were taken in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft: Alabama's Bryce Young at No. 1 to the Carolina Panthers, Ohio State's C.J. Stroud at No. 2 to the Houston Texans and Florida's Anthony Richardson at No. 4 to the Indianapolis Colts. Kentucky's Will Levis and Tennessee's Hendon Hooker both were drafted on Day 2, demonstrating how quickly even the most gifted players can fall from first-round consideration.
In CBS Sports draft expert Ryan Wilson's early USC's Caleb Williams and North Carolina's Drake Maye, the most well-known at their position heading into the fall. Texas' Quinn Ewers, Oregon's Bo Nix and Washington's Michael Penix Jr. highlight the other projected first-round picks according to Wilson., five quarterbacks are projected to go in the first round. Headlining the group are
There are many players at the position who could see their stock rise this fall with strong performances, but these seven quarterbacks have a chance to boost their stock the most and jump into the conversation with the other five quarterbacks as potential first-round picks.
Daniels started his college career at Arizona State and began receiving some draft buzz after a standout freshman season in which he passed for 2,942 yards with 17 touchdowns to only two interceptions. He started four games in a sophomore season derailed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but the following season he showed his versatility as a dual threat and rushed for 710 yards on top of his 2,381 yards passing. After transferring to LSU, his 885 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns last season were the most by a Tigers QB in program history. Daniels showed promise in his first season under Brian Kelly and elected to come back to school for a final season when he hopes to raise his draft stock while helping LSU take the next step by pushing the ball down the field more.
Joe Milton lll, Tennessee
Could Milton have the same rise at Tennessee that Hendon Hooker did last season? Milton has a cannon of an arm, and that's why he will be considered a riser among NFL brass heading into the fall. Milton will have a chance to thrive under Tennessee coach Josh Heupel and new offensive coordinator Joey Halzle, who most recently worked as the quarterback coach with the Vols before his promotion. Milton and Hooker battled it out heading into the 2022 season before Hooker ultimately won the starting job and led Tennessee to its best record in 21 years. Milton will have to win another QB competition against star freshman Nico Iamaleava, but it appears he is the leader in the clubhouse.
McCarthy came into last season in a quarterback battle with former teammate Cade McNamara before ultimately winning the starting job and leading Michigan to a Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff berth. McCarthy heads into this season as the undisputed starter after McNamara transferred to Iowa during the offseason. In Michigan's CFP loss to TCU, McCarthy made a handful of questionable decisions, including throwing two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Those turnovers ultimately swung the game in TCU's favor in Michigan's 51-45 loss. The Wolverines will be ranked as as the team returns 84% of the total production from last season on offense. Michigan, on paper, may be even better this season, especially if McCarthy improves his decision-making in his second full season as the starter. Roman Wilson and Cornelius Johnson both return and should give McCarthy two reliable targets to throw to this season. McCarthy has great size for the position at 6-foot-3 and showed flashes of why he can be a top draft pick. McCarthy threw for a career-high 343 yards in his last game of the season. How he builds on it will determine when he hears his name called next spring.
Once upon a time, Rattler was considered a first-round lock. Then Caleb Williams stepped foot on campus at Oklahoma, won the starting job halfway through the 2021 season and Rattler transferred to South Carolina. After a 3,000-yard passing season with the Gamecocks, Rattler elected to return for a final season in Columbia, South Carolina, to resurrect his stock. The biggest question heading into the fall is whether Rattler will show the traits this season that made scouts fall in love with him early in his career at Oklahoma, such as his ball placement. Rattler will be working with a new offensive coordinator, Dowell Loggains, who most recently worked at Arkansas as the TE coach. Loggains also has experience in the NFL ranks as an OC and/or QB coach with the Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. Can Loggains and South Carolina coach Shane Beamer unlock the 2020 Rattler? If they do, he will once again be considered a first-round pick.
Travis is generating buzz as a Heisman Trophy candidate after accounting for more than 3,600 yards of offense and scoring 31 touchdowns in 2022. He started his collegiate career at Louisville before transferring to Florida State in 2019, and his breakout season came during last year's 10-3 run. Expectations for Florida State and Travis will be even higher in 2023. Travis has shown proficiency in going off script and pushing the ball downfield at times, but that's something that he will have to continue to improve upon.
Uiagalelei transferred to Oregon State for a fresh start this offseason, and this will be the highest-rated quarterback Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith has worked with in his coaching career. Smith was the OC/QB coach at Washington from 2014-17 and worked with another former top QB, Jake Browning. During the 2016 season in which Washington reached the CFP, Browning had the best season of his college career under Smith's watch and played like a Heisman Trophy candidate. Even though Oregon State won 10 games last season, QB play was one of its biggest weaknesses. He won't be throwing to four- and five-star wide receivers like he did at Clemson, but he still has weapons such as RB Damien Martinez, WR Anthony Gould, WR Silas Bolden and transfer TE Jermaine Terry ll at his disposal. Oregon State will be the better fit for him because he won't be under the microscope to succeed like he was at Clemson the moment he was handed the starting position. This is the year Uiagalelei turns it around and shows why he was a highly ranked prospect coming out of high school. If he can do that, Oregon State will compete for a Pac-12 title and his draft stock may skyrocket.
Similar to other quarterbacks on this list, Van Dyke came into the 2022 season as someone who was expected to take a big leap after an impressive 2021 season. A potential Day 1 pick because of his strong arm, Van Dyke missed some time with a right shoulder injury and Miami struggled mightily in Mario Cristobal's 5-7 debut season. In the offseason, the Hurricanes replaced former OC Josh Gattis with Houston QB coach Shannon Dawson. Van Dyke mentioned recently he is throwing the ball "even better" than he was before his injury. Returning to school allows him to elevate his draft stock back to the level it once was. If Van Dyke means what he says about his arm, he will be in the running to be a Day 1 pick.