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2023 NFL Draft: Under-the-radar quarterbacks who can rise to turn out to be the subsequent Joe Burrow, Zach Wilson


The 2022 class was an anomaly on the quarterback position. Just one passer taken in the primary round. In each of the six NFL drafts before it, there was one quarterback ultimately chosen inside the top three overall picks who was barely on or completely off the radar before his final college season. 

In 2021, it was Zach Wilson, the yr before that, Joe Burrow. In 2019, Kyler Murray. In 2018, Baker Mayfield. Mitchell Trubisky was that dude in 2017. And in 2016 it was Carson Wentz. While not a top 3 selection, lone first-rounder Kenny Pickett was a consensus Day 3 prospect before his final season at Pittsburgh.

Subsequently, it’s a sensible practice to scour the school football landscape in August to discover possible rise-from-obscurity passers before their ascension begins. 

Remember, too, not one of the quarterbacks listed above were necessarily “well-known” draft prospects many believed could possibly be high first-round selections. That they had consensus Day 3 grades before their final collegiate seasons, so the selections this yr’s article need to be viewed the identical. 

Let’s dive deep. Real deep. That is where we’re probably to seek out the subsequent Wilson or Burrow. (Yes, the transfer portal has turn out to be a hell of a drug.) I present to you this yr’s Day 3 to Top 3 candidates.

Jaren Hall, BYU

Recruit rating: No. 20 dual threat (2016)
Best statistical yr: 63.9% completion, 8.7 yards per attempt, 20 touchdowns, five interceptions

Okay, so you are not alleged to scout the helmet, but in Hall’s case, go ahead, draw your Wilson comparisons. He’s a smaller, creative BYU quarterback with springy athletic traits and a quick release. The play style is uncanny between Hall and the passer he followed within the Cougars program who went No. 2 overall within the 2021 draft. 

Now, the large — and I mean, HUGE — difference between the 2: Hall is already 24 years old. He’ll be 25 when he’s drafted. That matters. Wilson played his final season in Provo, Utah as a just-turned 21 yr old. 

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If you must dismiss Hall being near being legally allowed to rent a automotive, his 2021 film was a thrill ride. The ball routinely jumped out of his hand, his scrambles were calculated and efficient, and he rarely put the ball in harm’s way. Hall went over 300 yards passing on 4 occasions and absolutely held his own within the bowl game against USC with two touchdowns, a pair of picks — his first since October 9 — while completing nearly 63% of his throws and amassing 276 yards through the air. 

Hall goes to have an enormous 2022. He will be on the radar. If teams — or, really, just one team — can ignore his age, it’s conceivable he lands high in the primary round. 

Jake Haener, Fresno State 

Recruit rating: No. 25 pro-style (2017)
Best statistical yr: 67.1% completion, 8.4 yards per attempt, 33 touchdowns, nine interceptions

One other older prospect — already 23 — Haener made some noise in 2021 with a gritty, highly productive season. While not a quarterback who’ll be a designed run game weapon within the NFL, the Fresno quarterback is twitchy and has a flair for the improbable completion when protection breaks down or he must go deep right into a play to seek out an option streetball style. 

He cooked down the stretch with two games with over a 75% completion rate that paired with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Haener’s smaller size, athleticism, courage in pocket, and improvisational skills give him a Bryce Young lite vibe. Legitimately. 

Haener entered the transfer portal but ultimately decided to stick with the Bulldogs, and Fresno State ought to be the very best team within the Mountain West, which, theoretically, should get him more attention. His age and lack of size are clear-cut concerns on his resume, but Haener can spin it and his moxie will go a great distance with many NFL evaluators.  

Cameron Ward, Washington State

Recruit rating: Zero stars (!) in 2020
Best statistical yr: 64.4% completion, 8.1 yards per attempt 38 touchdowns, 10 interceptions

Now we’re deep. Really deep. Each time you possibly can get Incarnate Word into an article, it needs to be done. Ward roasted the competition at The University of Incarnate Word last season, en path to a second-round appearance within the FCS playoffs. Ward amassed over 4,700 yards with 47 total touchdowns (running and passing) to simply 10 interceptions. However it’s not only the numbers that earned Ward a spot on this list. His film did.

Quick, accurate release. Quality — albeit not spectacular arm strength –requisite athleticism and a sprinkle of scrambling brilliance to bounce around within the pocket when blocking disintegrates. He effortlessly zips it from arm angles which are awkward for many passers. Ward transferred to Washington State, where he’ll join his former coach Eric Morris, who’s calling plays for the Wildcats because the offensive coordinator. 

Ward can ascend boards — yes, all of the approach to the primary round — with one other high-volume season within the Pac-12, on a Cougars team that’ll be competitive in conference. 

Michael Pratt, Tulane

Recruit rating: No. 47 pro-style (2020)
Best statistical yr: 57.6% completion, 7.3 yards per attempt, 21 touchdowns, eight interceptions

Sometimes, on the outset of watching a prospect, one play makes you sit up in your chair. With Pratt, the primary few throws I saw had that effect — just because the best way the ball erupts out of his hand. Pratt is the quintessential prospect for this text. A real junior, the Tulane quarterback looked the part from his freshman collegiate season.

Pratt’s arm alone is NFL worthy, and thru two seasons as Tulane’s starter, he has 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Sure, his completion rate is under 60%, not great. All meaning is there’s room for Pratt to sharpen his ball placement. If he can show marked improvement in his accuracy, and it’s combined along with his powerful arm, Pratt will get a small, cult following within the draft community that might materialize into widespread adoration amongst NFL decision makers. 

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA

Recruit rating: No. 2 dual-threat (2018)
Best statistical yr: 63.8% comp, 7.3 yards per attempt, 12 TDs, 3 INTs (Bowling Green, 2017)

Essentially the most wanted highschool recruit listed, Thompson-Robinson has technically been on the draft radar since he was 18. He’s also essentially the most experienced of this group, with 35 starts to his name up to now. 

For me, Thompson-Robinson’s regular improvement is essentially the most encouraging aspect of his profile entering his fifth season with the Bruins. He’s gone from 6.8 yards per attempt as a freshman to eight.5 last season, and he took a lot better care of the football with only six interceptions. 

Not an imposing physical specimen with a cannon attached to his shoulder, Thompson-Robinson does have tantalizing athletic traits and a high quality arm. On what ought to be a sturdy UCLA team this fall, more development from Thompson-Robinson and a few big outings in contests against USC, Utah, and the bowl game could possibly be parlayed right into a draft stock many expected when he graduated from highschool. 

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