The NFL offseason is flying by. Free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft are behind us, and all 32 teams are in the process of completing OTAs and mandatory minicamp. At this stage, we get a nice little break before players return to team facilities for training camp.
As you've probably noticed by now, the NFL news cycle is 24/7, 365. One of the storylines fans and journalists alike are keeping tabs on are how the rookies are acclimating to NFL life -- especially when it comes to the quarterbacks. A total of 14 quarterbacks were selected in this year's draft, including a11 in the first 150 selections.
Some of these quarterbacks are expected to be franchise players, while others are signal-callers in waiting. Let's take a look around the league at how some of them have fared thus far.
By all accounts, the No. 1 overall pick has impressed since his first day with the Panthers. Head coach Frank Reich said Young's command was "10 out of 10" in the first practice session, and new teammate Andy Dalton said the rookie pointed out an incorrectly labeled play or formation during that first week, according to WCNC in Charlotte. Other Panthers have been vocal as well. Donte Jackson says they are happy with the "dawg" they got, Brian Burns says the quarterback has a humble confidence and D.J. Chark says Young can take the Panthers to "some really high places," per ESPN.
Everyone knew Young's football IQ was going to quickly stand out, but there was more concern about his frame. He had a ball batted down at the line of scrimmage during mandatory minicamp, and a reporter Scott Fowler asked Reich if he was worried about that potential issue.
"No, Scott," Reich replied, via Panthers Wire. "It really doesn't because I actually thought we would've seen a whole lot more balls batted down -- because we're not goin' live and we're telling 'em not to hit the quarterback. So the defensive line -- they rush, then they pull off and they're standing there, you know, more guys standing with their hands up. So, to be quite honest, I expected a whole lot more balls batted down from all the quarterbacks. And so, yeah, didn't think much about it. Thought the quarterbacks are seeing the holes well."
The 2023 NFL Draft's second overall pick made a strong, first impression on his teammates, specifically 10-year veteran wide receiver and first-year Houston Texan Robert Woods. The Super Bowl LVI champion caught passes from both Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford with the Los Angeles Rams as well as Ryan Tannehill while on one of Houston's AFC South rivals, the Tennessee Titans in 2022. So far, he's enjoying working with the rookie passer.
"[He's] competitive," Woods said when asked about Stroud, via NFL Media's Omar Ruiz. "He throws a really good ball, nice touch to it. He's a good quarterback with a good touch, knows went to put a zip on the ball. Right away, standing tall in that quarterback pocket [and] making good decisions. I like where he's at already."
Stroud has also connected with another starting receiver on the other side of the NFL experience spectrum, 24-year-old Nico Collins. The Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback and the Michigan Wolverines receiver have been the top connection of minicamp when generating first downs, according to Sports Illustrated. Stroud has been the guy in terms of receiving first-team offensive reps in minicamp, and while he has played well, head coach DeMeco Ryans most appreciated the first-year pro's resilience when things didn't go well. He threw his first practice interception on the second day of minicamp, but on the next drive, he threw an 18-yard touchdown to new Texans tight end Dalton Schultz.
"For a quarterback you have to have a short memory, you can't let one bad play become three bad plays," Ryans said, per Sports Illustrated. "Put that behind you. You're going to make some bad plays, but as long as it doesn't matriculate into other bad plays, then I'm fine with that. To see him and see his resolve, the way he was able to come back, compete, drive the offense down for a touchdown there at the end of practice -- that was pretty cool to see."
Anthony Richardson, the 2023 NFL Draft's fourth overall pick and NFL Combine quarterback record-holder in the broad jump (10'9") and vertical jump (40'5"), has experienced both the ups and the downs that come with making the jump from college to the NFL with only 13 starts.
"God blessed me with that, and I'm thankful, but the game isn't always physical," Richardson said Tuesday. "Like I said earlier, we're playing against pros. Those guys are physically gifted as well. Everybody is running 4.4s, 4.5s, 4.6s [40-yard dashes]. Just because I'm fast doesn't mean I can just run around people, because they're fast as well. I just want to get mentally better every day and go out there and play quarterback, and not just be a freak athlete that knows how to throw the ball far.
"It's been everything I've dreamed of," Richardson said. "It's been a lot of work, and when I say a lot of work, I mean a lot of work. Just being in here with the vets, just watching them work and just trying to find my own routine within everything, and just grind day in and day out. Everything I dreamed of, but it's definitely a lot."
Going from facing just his fellow first-year players in rookie minicamp to facing the Colts veteran defense has been like cranking the difficulty to All-Madden for Richardson.
"It was way different from rookie minicamp," he said when he initially started facing the tenured Indianapolis defenders. "I just see guys flying around. I pulled the ball [and ran] on a zone read one time, and the [defensive] end was chasing me. He was like right next to me. I'm like, 'OK, this is different.' It was definitely going fast."
Even though his minicamp experience has been, by his own admission, uneven, Richardson is chomping at the bit to figure out ways to continue to grow as a quarterback at the highest level.
"You have to learn from mistakes," Richardson said. "I'm consistently trying to get information, learn from my mistakes just so I can do my job the best I can for the team. I'm like, 'OK, what's this? Coach, how does this relate to this? What happens if they do this?'" he said. "Just getting information and taking it in. I just love it."
However, his learning curve isn't too daunting as Richardson made sure to open his press conference with a comedic throwback to former NFL media darling, running back Marshawn Lynch.
Ryan Tannehill is QB1 for the Titans entering 2023, while Levis is QB3 behind Malik Willis for now. Many expect that to change once the regular season rolls around, although Willis put together a very solid minicamp for himself.
Levis has a special kind of arm, but there's much more that goes into being a successful NFL quarterback. He stood out in rookie minicamp, but OTAs were more up and down. There was a viral clip of Levis missing a net entirely during a position drill, but he put "hits" on video as well.
Levis didn't have a great day during the Titans' final OTA session, as he threw three interceptions. However, two of those picks were deflected at the line of scrimmage. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel discussed those deflected interceptions with reporters afterward.
"Well I mean I just think what it shows you is that it's going to take all 11 [players] to be able to protect and sometimes when you're trying to throw those timing routes on third-and-7 that you gotta be in the right spot, and then ball can't get tipped, the protection is gotta be there," Vrabel said. "When we throw the ball down the field, we gotta make sure that the receiver -- it's us or nobody. So that's another situation that's gonna get shown tomorrow morning with those rookies. It's your responsibility to make sure that that ball is not intercepted when we take a shot down the field."
Not many believed Stetson Bennett could be a legitimate starting quarterback for a big-time program, or win multiple national championships or be an NFL Draft pick. He accomplished all of this. What about being a successful NFL quarterback? By all accounts, he has impressed on the practice field.
"I've been really pleased with him," McVay said, via Yahoo Sports. "The one thing that stands out is when the ball is in Stetson's hands, the game makes sense to him. He's got a good feel for being able to get through progressions quickly. He can feel space on the back end as it relates to different coverage counters that he's seen, but he feels open areas and gets through things quickly. I love the athleticism but there's a lot of work to be done. He stays nice and steady, doesn't get too high or low, and he's fun to be around."