In pro football, the most important position on the field is always the quarterback. And in the NFL Draft, a premium passer can change a franchise’s fortunes almost instantly.
This year will be one of the most important when it comes to selections under center because it’s widely believed that three quarterbacks will be taken in the top five picks. That clearly includes the first overall selection. The Carolina Panthers probably didn’t swing a blockbuster trade with the Bears for that pick in order to draft a punter.
Ohio State‘s C.J. Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Young, and Florida’s Anthony Richardson are the trio of talent at the top. They are followed by Hendon Hooker of Tennessee and Will Levis from Kentucky. All of those names will almost definitely be gone in the early rounds of this year’s NFL Draft.
However, there’s still some value later on down the line. A team that doesn’t need someone to step in and be the head honcho of the huddle right away might be able to find a project player. Especially when you look at proven winners from big-time NCAA programs.
Here’s a look at Three Quarterbacks who could end up being steals in the 2023 NFL Draft
Clayton Tune – Houston Cougars
Houston’s Clayton Tune may not end up being much of a dark horse after all, as it’s widely believed some teams have him valued much higher on the board than expected.
There’s good reason for that, as Tune threw for over 7,500 yards and 70 touchdowns, following in the footsteps of former Cougar quarterbacks like Andre Ware and Case Keenum. East Texas appears to be a great place to pitch around the pigskin, at least based on the kind of numbers that UH has accumulated for generations.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Tune posted a 4.64-second 40-yard dash and a 37.5″ vertical, with a 10’2″ broad jump. So, he’s a complete athlete to go along with that live arm. It’s impossible to say where exactly he will land in the 2023 Draft, but he’s got as much ability as any signal-caller available.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson – UCLA Bruins
Probably the most seasoned starter out of the entire pass-throwing crop, Dorian Thompson-Robinson is leaving Los Angeles with career marks of 10,945 passing yards, 88 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions.
The 61″, 205-pound senior also has good speed, clocking in at 4.56 seconds in the 40-yard dash. That might be what helped him become a dual threat: He had 1,827 career rushing yards and 28 rushing TDs.
Thompson-Robinson can play in the NFL, especially if he’s put in a system that allows him some creative freedom. He can keep plays alive with his feet and has above-average accuracy.
DTR has also been ‘the man’ at UCLA for a while, so the idea of stepping into a leadership role won’t phase him. While this Pac-12 passer is falling to being a late-round pick, he will be a great one to bet on.
Stetson Bennett – Georgia Bulldogs
Saving the most intriguing name for last, the Bulldogs’ championship-winning leader isn’t considered a blue-chip prospect at the next level. In fact? Had it not been for his heroics on the grand stage, a guy like him probably wouldn’t be selected. He’d likely end up being an undrafted free agent, just hoping to make a practice squad.
Stetson Bennett has been waiting a while for this opportunity, and he’s a graybeard compared to most amateur hopefuls. At 25, he’s even older than Philadelphia Eagles MVP runner-up Jalen Hurts and standout starters Joe Burrow of the Bengals, the Chargers’ Justin Herbert, and Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa.
He’s also considered too small (5’10” and 190 lbs.) and doesn’t have a strong arm. In most cases, Bennett would be patted on the back for a great college career and invited to future alumni dinners. But they don’t get drafted.
Bennett could be, however. His winning ways in the world’s toughest conference could be enough to get teams to take a flyer on him in the sixth or seventh round. He could end up being a steal or merely just serviceable. But he’s definitely worth a shot late on the final day of the NFL Draft.
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