The 2023 NFL Combine has wrapped up defensive drills, and on Saturday, the offense will be on-field for televised drills. As is tradition, one group began by running the 40-yard dash, then shifted into position drills, while another group completed agility drills and measured jumps.
With quarterback being such a pivotal position, and the Detroit Lions in need of a reserve and/or possibly a future starter, let’s take a look at all 15 of the prospects at this year’s Combine.
- 7 defensive tackle standouts
- 10 edge rusher standouts
- 10 linebacker standouts
- 12 cornerback standouts
- 7 safety standouts
Projected 1st round picks
Anthony Richardson, Florida, 6-foot-4, 244
40: 4.43, vertical jump: 40.5, broad jump: 10-foot-9
Everyone knew Richardson was a physical freak, and he was expected to test well, but his actual physical measurables were outstanding and exceeded even the loftiest of expectations. When he stepped up to run his 40, he looked focused and ready. Then after nailing his time, Richardson smiled and joyfully skipped off the field, readying himself for on-field drills.
Richardson’s on-field drills were nearly equally as impressive. He displayed a big arm, with a lot of pop on his throws, and simply flicked the ball 60+ yards down the field. Outside throws need to be more accurate, but he showed nice anticipation on breaking routes and crossers over the middle.
Richardson had an opportunity in front of him at the Combine and it went about as well as he could have wanted.
Bryce Young, Alabama, 5-foot-10 1/8, 204
Young opted to only be measured, meet with teams/media at this year’s Combine, and will perform his drills at his Pro Day on March 23. His height checked out as expected, but he crossed an important threshold with his weight.
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State, 6-foot-3, 214
A near-perfect event for Stroud. Everything was smooth and easy, leading to accuracy at all levels of the field. He quickly found his rhythm, showed a strong base and was fluid in his mechanics. His only hiccup came on his first deep throw, and when they called for quarterbacks to jump back into the drill for the remaining wide receivers, Stroud was quick to show his competitiveness and throws a few more shots—which were excellent.
For those worried about Young’s height and Richardson’s inexperience, Stroud could easily climb to the top of their quarterback rankings.
Will Levis, Kentucky, 6-foot-4, 229
The ball jumps out of Levis’ hand and he had nice accuracy throughout the day. On the short to medium routes, Levis was noticeably more efficient and natural than the other quarterbacks in his group, though throwing left did prove a little more labor-intensive.
In addition to having an absolute gun for an arm, Levis showed the ability to drive the ball down the field, kept his weight balanced, and had the ability to adjust his throws after a miss. The biggest display of his arm was on the “go routes.” He underthrew the first attempt, then quickly made the adjustment to wait until the receiver was 10 yards past the “throw marker” before he uncorked his throws—and his accuracy returned.
The physical intangibles boxes were checked for Levis but he is QB4 among the top group for me.
Day 2 hopefuls
Herndon Hooker, Tennessee, 6-foot-3, 217
Hooker was not able to participate due to ACL surgery, but he was in attendance, listening to all the quarterbacks' instructions, and looked to be having a relaxing time with the other prospects. His group leadership was brought up on the broadcast.
Day 3 reserves
Tanner McKee, Stanford, 6-foot-3, 231
I had high hopes for McKee heading into the Combine, and he definitely looks the part, but I ended the event less than impressed with his performance. His body and arm looked out of sync and his mechanics were slow, creating labored throws throughout the process. His tape shows the skills can be there but he looked disjointed at the Combine.
Aidan O’Connell, Purdue, 6-foot-3, 213
A less-mobile version of Jared Goff, O’Connell is a pure pocket passer who showed solid timing and accuracy throughout the Combine. His mechanics are easy and his platform is solid, but he needs to put his body into the deeper throws down the field. If the Lions are looking for a reserve on Day 3, he fits the mold.
Jake Haener, Fresno State, 6-foot-0, 207
Haener understands his arm limitations and makes the proper adjustments to convert throws. He has an easy release and showed nice placement/anticipation on short to medium throws, but his accuracy waivered as the throws got further down the field. As the routes got deeper, Haener leaned on his legs more to generate power.
Jaren Hall, BYU, 6-foot-0, 207
Solid arm and he can move it around the field with ease. Nice drive on his throws, especially to the outside, and anticipation was on point. His deep throws lacked air underneath the ball, which made things harder to catch.
Stetson Bennett, Georgia, 5-foot-11 1/2, 192
Bennett looked almost lackadaisical at the start of the event, but as things progressed, his competitive nature pushed forward and his participation level improved. He was accurate on mid-range and deep throws, and when the crowd cheered during the go-routes, his focus seemed to increase. Far too often, Bennett let his technique get sloppy in the run-of-the-mill throws and only looked under control when the competition level was raised.
He has the skills to be a backup quarterback in this league, but I have legitimate concerns that his focus will waiver if he’s not challenged, which could be a problem for a player projected to be a reserve.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA , 6-foot-1 1/2, 203
One of the winners from the quarterback group. Thompson-Robinson was borderline undraftable coming into this event but I think he solidified his spot on Day 3. He started the day behind, but he improved on each of his throws in every drill. Once he settled in, he displayed a quick release with fast throws. His biggest inconsistencies came when throwing deep.
Late round/UDFA options
Clayton Tune, Wyoming, 6-foot-2 1/2, 224
Tune has a long history of production but at the Combine, he looked slow to process and his arm speed was labored. He did a nice job of shifting weight on deep throws, but overall, his lack of arm strength showed.
Max Duggan, TCU, 6-foot-1 1/2, 207
Duggan is competitive but his accuracy issues showed up early and often at the Combine. He got better as the day went on, and his go-route ball had plenty of air to help his receivers.
Tyson Bagent, Shepard, 6-foot-3, 213
Bagent’s accuracy improved as the Combine progressed and he got more comfortable, but he often needed to throw early which compromised his accuracy. He would throw a dime on one route, then the next would be off by a fair amount. There’s enough to work with for NFL teams to be intrigued, but he needs time.
Malik Cunningham, Louisville, 6-foot-0, 192
The ball floated on Cunningham far too often on Saturday. On quicker inside routes he had some accuracy issues, while outside throws were accurate but slow to develop. The go ball was there and he wasn’t going to let even the fastest receiver outrun his throws.