There were a handful of quarterbacks taken in the first few rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. Which of these signal-callers will play in year one? A few of these choices might be obvious given the current circumstances of their new teams, but it’s not all a guarantee that the top QBs selected in the 2023 NFL Draft will play in year one.
There is a great debate surrounding young quarterbacks who are trying to develop in the NFL. Should teams sit them for a year and let them “learn” under whoever is playing? Should Bryce Young learn for a year under Andy Dalton before taking meaningful snaps?
Should CJ Stroud learn for a year under Davis Mills or Case Keenum?
Some may think this is the best path forward as there’s no pressure for them to play immediately and maybe them watching from the sidelines is best for them, but others think that playing immediately and exposing them to the speed of the NFL is best for their development.
There is no right answer. Let’s do our best to predict who will play, perhaps even take meaningful starts in year one.
2023 NFL Draft: Which quarterbacks will play in year one?
Bryce Young was the #1 overall pick and should be the week one starter if he’s able to beat out Andy Dalton. I think the Panthers have a playoff ready roster and they do have an advantage playing in the NFC South, so some may think that Dalton should take snaps to see if he can will them to the postseason.
However, I think the opposite. Bryce Young should play. He’s surrounded by a great roster of players and an excellent coaching staff. Unless something crazy happens, Young should start his entire rookie season.
I think the same for CJ Stroud. I think we’re looking at 2024 for the year the Houston Texans compete for a playoff spot, but I like their roster and think that Stroud would immediately be entering a solid situation.
He should get exposure and develop chemistry with his teammates because their 2024 season could be encouraging.
Levis isn’t nearly as good of a prospect as Stroud and Young, and the Tennessee Titans do have Ryan Tannehill in the mix still, who turns 35 years old in 2023. I’m not sure Levis starts week one but I also do not think the Texans are going to finish better than third in the division.
Levis might take some time to get caught up to the speed of the NFL and I think we’d see him around midseason. I’d be shocked if he didn’t play to some extent in year one.
Anthony Richardson has the highest ceiling of any QB taken in the 2023 NFL Draft and just got drafted onto a rebuilding Colts’ team. I think the Colts are likely finishing third or fourth in the AFC South with a poor roster and a new coaching staff.
We’ll see Richardson in year one, but Gardner Minshew will start for them and my guess is we see Richardson the final chunk of the season, almost like how Drew Lock started five games at the end of his rookie season with the Denver Broncos back in 2019.
If there’s a chance that someone at the top of this QB class from the 2023 NFL Draft doesn’t play in year one, it’s Hendon Hooker, who is returning from a torn ACL and will be firmly behind Jared Goff on the Detroit Lions’ depth chart. The Lions finished 9-8 last year and just barely missed out on the playoffs.
With an improved defense in 2023, the Lions should be able to compete for the NFC North. In fact, they’re my pick to win the division. There is no chance that Hooker plays in year one unless Goff collapses or gets injured.
And even then, if Goff leads the Lions to the playoffs, I’m not sure Hooker would see any legitimate starting action with the Lions, as they’d surely want to lock Goff up.