When the Eagles traded one of their three 2022 first-round picks to secure an additional first-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, it was hard not to think how they may be looking forward to next year’s quarterback class. This year’s crop is relatively underwhelming compared to previous years and it makes little sense for the team to move on from Jalen Hurts this spring when the alternatives are anything but a sure thing. Howie Roseman essentially made the call to give Hurts one more year, which is a chance Hurts deserves. However, if Hurts cannot take a step forward in his second full year starting, the team has the ammo necessary to make a play for one of the 2023 quarterbacks.
“Next year’s class is better” is a common and tired refrain when talking about draft classes, especially as it relates to QBs. After all, no time is like the present, and who was good in 2021 might not carry that success over to 2022. However, this is the rare case where that forward looking attitude is true. No quarterback in the 2022 class can stack up to even pessimistic outlooks for next year’s top passers.
Bryce Young, Alabama
Over the last decade, Alabama has transitioned from being a hard-nosed running team into consistently fielding some of the most dynamic quarterbacks in college football. From Jalen Hurts to Tua Tagovailoa to Mac Jones to now Bryce Young might be the best stretch of starting quarterbacks in recent memory. Young is the latest, and maybe the greatest prospect of the bunch.
Young balled out in his first year as a starter in 2021. The sophomore passer threw for over 4,800 yards, tossing 47 touchdowns compared to only seven picks. Those are absurd numbers in the SEC, especially for such a young player (20 years old) in his first year starting. Young’s success as a passer comes from an advanced feel for the game. At only 5’11” and 200 pounds soaking wet, Young does not have elite physical tools in terms of size or arm strength. Instead, he has great awareness in the pocket, incredible touch and accuracy on passes to all levels of the field and decision making far beyond what such a young, green player should have.
Young operated Alabama’s offense like a maestro in 2021 and showed off exactly the type of mental ability teams will want from their starting quarterback. Heading into next year, Young will have to adjust to a new group of receivers with Jameson Williams and John Metchie now off to the NFL. He will need to continue to prove that he can overcome physical drawbacks with his veteran skill set.
CJ Stroud, Ohio State
Similar to Bryce Young, CJ Stroud had big shoes to fill in 2021 after his predecessor — Justin Fields — was a first round pick in the draft prior. Stroud responded by throwing 44 touchdowns, over 4,400 yards and only six picks.
Stroud has great size and arm strength, flashing elite accuracy and poise under pressure. Sure, he was throwing to four receivers in 2021 that could eventually be first-round picks, but that does not negate the way he was placing the ball, the courage he had to sling it and where on the field he was able to hit.
Stroud was absolutely phenomenal in 2021 and will vie with Young for QB1, the Heisman and probably for the National Title next year. Stroud’s biggest obstacle will be becoming more consistent, even has he loses so much talent around him to the NFL Draft.
It will be exciting to watch these two quarterbacks grow next season, and it is clear the Eagles will be keeping tabs on both of them.
Other Names to Watch
Spencer Rattler, South Carolina: Once thought as a potential first overall pick, Spencer Rattler struggled last year at Oklahoma and transferred to South Carolina. Rattler has not lost any of his talent, still possessing a huge arm and great mobility. Hopefully a change of scenery will mean he can get himself back on track towards being an NFL signal caller.
Anthony Richardson, Florida: Anthony Richardson has the highest upside of any starting quarterback in college football. Richardson looks like Cam Newton-lite standing at 6’4” and over 230 pounds. Richardson runs like a wide receiver and has an arm that can hit any level of the field. He was used sparingly at Florida last year but the team could be finally ready to let him loose.
Sam Hartman, Wake Forest: Sam Hartman led Wake Forest to an outstanding season in 2021 and stayed in school to potentially finish what he started. Hartman is a smart, accurate passer with good size and mobility at the position. He could be the best quarterback in the ACC next year.
Will Levis, Kentucky: It has been a while since Kentucky had a good quarterback prospect (see: Tim Couch), but Will Levis has grown into a nice player for the Wildcats. Levis is tough in the pocket, has a big arm and has had the poise to make Kentucky a relevant player in the SEC for the first time in a long time.
DJ Uiagalelei, Clemson: A few years ago DJ Uiagalelei looked like the heir apparent to Trevor Lawrence’s throne. The former five star recruit looked great in relief of Lawrence, but struggled last year when he got the starting job full time. Year Three will be huge for Uiagalelei. At 6’4” and 250 pounds, he has all the size and ability to be an excellent passer. Consistency throwing the football and more confidence in the pocket will go a long way to get himself back in the NFL conversation and help Clemson reclaim relevancy.
Jayden Daniels, LSU: Jayden Daniels had an up and down career at ASU and now he is looking to reinvent himself in the SEC. Daniels has a big arm and good movement skills as a passer. While he is not the biggest, he has big play potential. Now with a new look Brian Kelly led LSU team, Daniels could take a big leap in college football’s toughest conference.