With this year’s QB draft class being underwhelming it leaves for some big names to dominate the college landscape this upcoming season. I expect many to solidify their rankings and make a play for the 2024 NFL Draft. This is a list of my top 5 QBs for the upcoming 2023 NCAA season.
The obvious choice for the top returning Quarterback is Caleb Williams from USC. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner is back and may have an even better offense than he did last year. Last year he completed 67 percent of his passes amassing for 4,537 yards, 42 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions while also adding 382 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing. With this being his third year in Lincoln Rileys offense he should have full understanding of the offense and may even exceed those numbers on his way to potentially breaking records. With only the departure of Jordan Addison, USC reloaded on offense and then some with the additions of 5 star recruits Zachariah Branch and Makai Lemon to go along with Dorian Stringer who transferred in from Arizona. If these additions can click with their QB early I wouldn’t be surprised if Caleb Williams becomes the first player since Archie Griffin to win the Heisman back-to-back.
My next QB really took a leap forward last year and I expect him to continue that this season. That quarterback is Bo Nix (Oregon). After spending his first 3 years at Auburn under Gus Malzahn, a lot of scouts and followers wrote off Nix, as he really couldn’t show off his talents in the read option type offense that was run there. Last year when Nix transferred to Oregon we got to see the talent that made him a 5 star quarterback coming out of high school. In Lanning’s offense Bo was able to increase his passing yards by 1300 yards from the year prior finishing with 3593, and nearly tripled his touchdowns ending his year with 30 in the air to go along with 500 yards and 14 touchdowns rushing. With almost every weapon returning to school this year as well as the addition of Alabama transfer Traeshon Holden and 4 and 5 star recruits like Ashton Cozart and Jurrion Dickey, I expect Bo to be one of the top Quarterbacks in the country and challenge Caleb Williams for a PAC-12 championship and a College Football Playoff spot.
The 3rd QB on my list really came on strong at the end of the season and showed everyone that his team may be a force to reckon with in 2023. This team is Florida State and is led by Quarterback Jordan Travis. Last season Travis up’ed his completion percentage to 64% and more than doubled his season passing yards from the year prior finishing with 3,214 yards and 24 passing yards. While this may seem very average numbers for a quarterback, it’s how the team finished. Travis finished the season on a 6 game winning streak, including their bowl game, and a completion percentage of 70 percent during that streak and beating their rivals Miami and Florida as part of that run. Another reason why I believe Jordan Travis will be a top 5 Quarterback this year is because the team is returning every single weapon from last year. Key Wide Receivers like Mycah Pittman and Johnny Wilson will be important as they have the report with Wilson and will continue to grow together. The weapon that will take Travis to the next level is South Carolina transfer and utility man Jaheim Bell. While the school has him listed as a Tight End he can be placed anywhere on the field and get open – this is something that wasn’t really there last year. I’m expecting Jordan Travis and Florida State to challenge Clemson for the Atlantic Division and potentially an ACC crown.
The 4th QB is Drake Maye (UNC). I originally had Maye higher on the list but I believe he may fall due to the same reason Sam Howell fell in the 2022 draft – a lack of weapons. Last year and his only year as a starter Maye shot up boards with an incredible year, passing for 4,321 yards and 38 touchdowns paired with 700 yards rushing and 7 touchdowns on the ground. This year however he has to build chemistry with an all new wide receiver corps. With Josh Downs heading to the next level Maye will need incoming 4 star recruits Chris Culliver and Christian Hamilton to come in and learn the offense quickly so they can help this offense be effective, otherwise we will see the passing numbers drop and the rushing numbers rise much like his predecessor. If the offense is able to gel, expect North Carolina to make it to the ACC championship game and face the likes of Clemson or Florida State.
The 5th QB is Devin Leary (Kentucky). Leary transferred out of North Carolina State after an injury riddled career. Many have him lower on their list due to this but if Leary is able to stay healthy he has the athleticism to skyrocket up draft boards. In his best season at NC State, he had 3400 yards and 35 touchdowns in the air. With the move to Kentucky he becomes paired with Offensive Coordinator Liam Coen, who is back for his 2nd stint at the position. Coen is credited for putting potential QB1 in the upcoming NFL Draft, Will Levis, on the map. Another reason Leary will skyrocket up draft boards is because of homerun threats Barion Brown and Tayvion Robinson. If he can get them both cooking the Wildcats offense will be in great shape. While I don’t see Leary leading Kentucky to a SEC Championship game I would be shocked if they don’t win 8 or more games.
Other QBs to watch: Sam Hartman (Notre Dame), Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), D.J. Uiagalelei (Oregon State), Michael Pratt (Tulane), Will Howard (Kansas State), and Shedeur Sanders (Colorado)
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