An Imposter among the Top Draft Quarterbacks

Apr 28, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Draft prospects take the stage before the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft at the NFL Draft Theater. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings currently employ Kirk Cousins as their starting quarterback. He has been a pillar of consistency in that role but has also taken up a substantial amount of the team’s overall cap space. In the final year of his deal, it seems necessary for Minnesota to comb the draft market for a quarterback. But which one?

At this juncture, there appears to be only a handful of quarterbacks worthy of a first-round selection in 2023. With the 23rd overall pick, it will be relatively difficult for Minnesota to position themselves for one, but they’ll also need to make sure they choose the right guy.

An Imposter among the Top Draft Quarterbacks

Barring an unprecedented miracle, neither Bryce Young nor C.J. Stroud will wear purple. In some order, they are projected to be the top two picks, and this organization doesn’t have the assets to get there. Truthfully, it’s more than fair to argue neither is worthy of the Vikings putting together a crazy package to land them either.

Vikings Have Official
Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) salutes while carrying a bag of Skittles in his mouth while walking on Steve Spurrier-Florida Field during Gator Walk at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, September 10, 2022. © Doug Engle / USA TODAY NETWORK.

That brings us to combine darling Anthony Richardson. The Florida prospect was considered raw by some evaluators but has impressed throughout the scouting process, and his tools would bring an elite athlete to the Vikings. At one time, it seemed plausible he could make it out of the top ten, but that ship has all but sailed. Maybe the Vikings can grab him outside the top five if they truly want him, but it would take some slipping on his own.

The only quarterback even thought to sniff the possibility of being available at 23 is Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker. He is an older prospect at 25, coming off a season-ending injury. He has looked the part of a very strong NFL talent when healthy, and that could be enough of a perfect storm for the Vikings to make a more modest move in jumping up for him.

An Imposter
Mar 4, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (QB07) looks on at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Notably missing from the names here is Kentucky’s Will Levis. The consensus is that he is the fourth-best prospect available, behind Young, Stroud, and Richardson. However, it is worth wondering if that evaluation may be a bit rich and doesn’t cause a slight fall. Kentucky is not a traditional collegiate powerhouse, and while he has the makings of a pro-style quarterback, the upside could be more limited than any other first-round signal caller.

Transferring from Penn State following the 2020 season, Levis played two years for the Wildcats. He did throw for over 2,400 yards each year and completed roughly 66% of his passes, but his touchdown to interception rates were somewhat concerning. Not dealing with the same elite playmakers other schools have could account for some of that, but it’s fair to wonder if the luster here is about size and type.

Kentucky quarterback Will Levis (7) throws during an NCAA college football game in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl against Iowa, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. © Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Each draft cycle, evaluators fall in love with the traditional pro-style quarterback. Although it is fair to question the durability of a Kyler Murray or Lamar Jackson style, the prototype for an NFL quarterback has drastically changed. Having a big arm still matters, but there should admittedly be less focus on being 6’3” and weighing 230 pounds.

Levis may present the best opportunity for a safe floor and a developmental type, but looking to hit a home run on the position in the first round, he’s maybe got the least upside of any other comparable.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.