Top QB Pro Days: 2023 NFL Draft Preview

Once the Scouting Combine ends, the next event on a prospect’s calendar is his Pro Day. In the last couple of weeks, the 4 consensus top QBs, CJ Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson, all had their Pro Days. These are scripted workouts, but team officials flock to them nonetheless. Every player should look his best because their school is doing everything it can to make him seem great. However, players still have to execute, and team interviews matter a ton. Let’s take a look at the top QB Pro Days and see how the 4 QBs projected to go in the top 10 did. They are listed in the order in which their Pro Days occurred (earliest first).

CJ Stroud, Ohio State

The words I heard most regarding Stroud’s Pro Day were “effortless” and “consistent”. He threw the ball well all day, delivering pinpoint passes to all areas of the field. Stroud’s best trait is his accuracy, and that was on full display. He hit receivers in stride and showcased his excellent footwork. Among all the teams present for the workout, none seemed more impressed by Stroud than the Carolina Panthers, who happen to possess the #1 pick. Stroud has prototypical QB size, and his pocket presence is stellar. My one concern is that he missed a few throws while on the run. If Carolina or Houston (his two likeliest landing spots) can’t give him a clean pocket, he might struggle a bit.

In terms of character, I’m told that Stroud has no red flags. Some teams would prefer if he were a more vocal leader, but I’m not sure if Carolina is one of them. The Panthers and their 14-person contingent had dinner with Stroud and supposedly did not keep their love for him a secret. Frank Reich appears to be especially interested in coaching him. The Panthers are said to be throwing up a lot of smokescreens right now, but why would they? Nobody can take the #1 pick from them, so even if they announced their selection today, nothing would change. Therefore, I’ll take the Panthers at their word: Stroud had a great performance, and he’s a serious contender for the #1 overall selection.

Bryce Young, Alabama

The other top option for the #1 pick is Young. Whichever player gets taken first, the other will be grabbed at #2 by Houston. Young worked out well, but he impressed even more off the field. Scouts LOVE his intangibles: his football IQ, his ability to read defenses, his leadership, and his pocket presence. No other QB in this class is more ready to start on day 1, and that seems to be most important for the Texans. Young’s measurables remain his biggest concern; he didn’t test again at his Pro Day, keeping his 5’10”, 204-lb numbers from the Combine. If Young were 6’3″ and 220 lbs, he’d be the clear-cut #1 overall prospect. Alas, his size is out of his control, and teams will have to decide if they are comfortable with it.

During his field workout, Young reminded everyone of his best athletic trait: his accuracy. He tossed dimes to all of his pass catchers, and unlike Stroud, Young excelled at his throws while on the move. Out of his 50 throws, I only counted 2 off-target passes from Young; his other incompletions were either drops or passes that hit the roof. This wasn’t a daring workout; most of the script consisted of practical, pro-style throws. That fits Young precisely though. He has a sufficiently strong arm but is going to win games with his ball placement and mobility. Young doesn’t look to run, always keeping his eyes downfield. However, he can do so if he needs to. If Stroud truly does end up going #1 overall, Houston is going to get a nice consolation prize.

Will Levis, Kentucky

Levis had a bit more to gain at his Pro Day than the other 3 QBs. His stock has been sliding recently because of Anthony Richardson’s rise. Some scouts are viewing the two players similarly but prefer Richardson due to his higher upside. Overall, I think Levis performed decently. He didn’t do anything to hurt himself (as is the case for most Pro Days), but he didn’t assuage my accuracy concerns either. The fast-paced workout was designed to show off Levis’ cannon arm, and that was a success. Scouts actually heard his passes hitting his receivers. Physically, there are no questions with Levis, who has prototypical size and solid movement abilities. I’ve heard no character concerns about him either.

Accuracy and decision making remain Levis’ most critical flaws. Even during this scripted workout, he sailed a few passes and was a bit off-target. The fact that he comes from a pro-style system helps his cause, but it might also mean that he has less room to improve. Levis makes a few poor decisions each game, leading to double-digit INTs in both 2021 and 2022. It’s hard to see that translating to the NFL, and at least a few teams agree. According to some sources, the Colts aren’t high on Levis, which is why they’re taking a look at trading for Lamar Jackson. Las Vegas likes him but is said to prefer Richardson. That could lead to Levis falling out of the top 10, with Tennessee at 11 serving as a possible landing spot.

Anthony Richardson, Florida

Pro Days are often generic workouts that don’t offer much in the way of viewer appeal. Once in a while though, we get a player who we expect to put on a show. Richardson is definitely that guy. He fired the ball all over the field, making a point of showing off his rocket arm. In an admitted attempt to top Will Levis, Richardson hit the ceiling on a deep ball; I must note that the ceiling is higher at UF’s stadium than the other 3. He did not care to showcase his accuracy on deep balls, routinely overthrowing WRs 70 yards down the field to demonstrate his throwing power. His main focus was on proving to scouts that he could hit the routine throws with consistency, as he often missed short and intermediate passes while a Gator. He did fine in this particular workout.

As expected, Richardson demonstrated his freakish athleticism. After a tough workout, he celebrated by doing a backflip. When a smaller guy like Tyreek Hill does it, it’s impressive. When a 6’4″, 244-lb man does it, it’s unreal. From what I understand, Richardson comes with no character concerns, and the Raiders really like him. That would give him a floor of #7, though I’m not sure how the Colts feel. If they too are interested, LV would have to trade up to #3 to get him. Coach Josh McDaniels is also the guy who drafted Tim Tebow, so he’s no stranger to polarizing Gator QBs. Someone is going to pull the trigger on all this raw talent. Who does so and when are going to be determined by whether teams think he’s a future superstar or someone whose accuracy woes will prevent him from ever being a quality QB.

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