College Football Draft Kit: 2023 Quarterback Rankings

College Football Draft Kit: 2023 Quarterback Rankings

This article is part of our College Football Draft Kit series.

College Football season is fast approaching and RotoWire's college football staff has written their breakdowns on the top players to target at each position. We kick things off at quarterback where there is another loaded crop of exciting players ranging from dual threats to high-volume passers who can rack up the yardage and touchdowns. 

2023 College Football Quarterback Rankings

1) Caleb Williams, USC

Although USC needs more discipline on defense, they have all the firepower they need with Williams, who is a solid repeat candidate for the Heisman. Although he lost his teammate Jordan Addison to the NFL, Williams still has plenty of targets to choose from, and he can easily make magic happen if they aren't open. He lit up the Pac-12 with 42 touchdown passes in 2022, throwing for a whopping 4,537 yards and only five interceptions. His improvisational skills resulted in 382 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground as well. Among a field of blue-chip quarterbacks in the Pac-12, Williams stands out as an exciting and dynamic playmaker. -Jeff Edgerton

2) Bo Nix, Oregon

Nix joins Michael Penix, Caleb Williams and Jayden de Laura as bonafide Heisman candidates in the Pac-12. Nix's first season with the Ducks was a rousing success, combining 3,593 yards and 29 touchdowns through the air with 510 yards and a whopping 14 touchdowns on the ground. Nix trailed only Zach Charbonnet and Xazavian Valladay in the Pac-12 rushing touchdown category. The Ducks have most of their position players

College Football season is fast approaching and RotoWire's college football staff has written their breakdowns on the top players to target at each position. We kick things off at quarterback where there is another loaded crop of exciting players ranging from dual threats to high-volume passers who can rack up the yardage and touchdowns. 

2023 College Football Quarterback Rankings

1) Caleb Williams, USC

Although USC needs more discipline on defense, they have all the firepower they need with Williams, who is a solid repeat candidate for the Heisman. Although he lost his teammate Jordan Addison to the NFL, Williams still has plenty of targets to choose from, and he can easily make magic happen if they aren't open. He lit up the Pac-12 with 42 touchdown passes in 2022, throwing for a whopping 4,537 yards and only five interceptions. His improvisational skills resulted in 382 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground as well. Among a field of blue-chip quarterbacks in the Pac-12, Williams stands out as an exciting and dynamic playmaker. -Jeff Edgerton

2) Bo Nix, Oregon

Nix joins Michael Penix, Caleb Williams and Jayden de Laura as bonafide Heisman candidates in the Pac-12. Nix's first season with the Ducks was a rousing success, combining 3,593 yards and 29 touchdowns through the air with 510 yards and a whopping 14 touchdowns on the ground. Nix trailed only Zach Charbonnet and Xazavian Valladay in the Pac-12 rushing touchdown category. The Ducks have most of their position players returning (Bucky Irving, Troy Franklin), so all signs point toward another successful season for Nix. -Jeff Edgerton

3) Austin Reed, Western Kentucky

The Hilltoppers lost record-breaking quarterback Bailey Zappe, as well as offensive coordinator Zach Kittley who reshaped the passing game with aplomb. It didn't hurt in 2022, as we got basically the B-plus version of the Zappe-and-Kittley campaign. Reed stepped in as the new starting quarterback and threw the ball 603 times in 14 games. He completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 4,744 yards, 40 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Reed also added 224 yards and eight scores on the ground. Yeah, Zappe had put up 62 passing touchdowns, but 40 had Reed tied for third most in the FBS, and his passing yards ranked first. A revamping of Conference USA should yield an easier conference schedule for Reed, which could mean numbers that are just as good, and maybe even better. Maybe you'll want him on your bench when the Hilltoppers visit the Buckeyes, but otherwise, Reed has the potential to put up video-game numbers. -Chris Morgan

4) Drake Maye, North Carolina

After sitting behind the current Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell his freshman year, Maye burst onto the scene with a massive sophomore year throwing for 4,321 yards 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Maye now comes into the 2023 season as a Heisman frontrunner and with tons of NFL Draft buzz. Maye however will be without his leading receiver from last season Josh Downs. Downs accounted for nearly a quarter of the team's 4,300+ passing yards last season. With the lack of a dependable wide receiver, Maye's numbers may slip a bit but he is as talented as any quarterback in college football. -Jake Blanchard

5) Frank Harris, UTSA

For the last two seasons, UTSA was the shining star of Conference USA, and Harris was a huge part of that. He's coming off a season where you could make a strong argument he was the best Group of Five quarterback. Seriously, Harris completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 4,063 yards, 32 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Oh, and he ran 129 times for 602 yards and nine scores. Don't call him a one-season wonder, though. In 2022, Harris completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 3,177 yards, 27 touchdowns, and six picks with 566 yards and six scores on the ground. Instead of going pro, Harris returned for another year with the Roadrunners. He's shepherding UTSA's quarterback position as it makes the move to the AAC. Is that a step up in competition? Sure. Is there any reason to be worried? Nope! Harris has the stamp of being a proven commodity. If anything, this could be Harris becoming more of a household name on a national level. -Chris Morgan

6) Michael Penix, Washington

Could Penix's Heisman-worthy 2022 season be a fluke? Only time will tell, but it's hard to ignore last year's numbers, which were about as good as eventual Heisman winner Caleb Williams. He threw for 4,651 yards, 31 touchdowns and only eight interceptions last season, and although his rushing numbers lacked the punch you'd expect from a dual threat, his poise in the pocket was unparalleled. While Penix played admirably at Indiana, he looked like a completely different player with the Huskies, showing once again how a change of scenery can transform a player's fortunes. It will be interesting to see if Penix can catch lightning in a bottle once again and make a play for the Heisman once more. -Jeff Edgerton

7) Jayden Daniels, LSU

The Arizona State transfer shined brightly in his first season at LSU under the direction of new head coach Brian Kelly. Daniels threw for nearly 3,000 yards and posted a 17:3 TD:INT. He registered multiple touchdown passes in six contests in 2022. Daniels also completed a career-best 68.6 percent of his passes. He was incredibly dynamic with his legs as well, rushing for an additional 885 yards and 11 more scores. Daniels had three 100-yard rushing outings for the Tigers. After briefly testing the waters for the NFL Draft, Daniels decided to return to LSU for his senior campaign. Leading receiver Malik Nabers also returns to Death Valley, as the duo formed a potent combination with 72 connections for 1,017 yards a season ago. Daniels will not only be considered one of the most productive quarterbacks in the country heading into the season, but also a dark horse for the Heisman trophy. -Jesse Siegel

8) Joe Milton, Tennessee

Milton has had to wait his turn under center each of the last two seasons behind Hendon Hooker, but he did get some reps at the position each of the campaigns, completing 64.6 percent of his 82 attempts last season for 971 yards and 10 touchdowns. Milton possesses a rocket arm and is primed to take over under center for one of the most electric offenses in college football, putting him in a position to be a sizable fantasy contributor in 2023. While he does lose top pass catchers Jalen Hyatt and Cedric Tillman from last season, Bru McCoy returns and there is a handful of talented wideouts ready to take over in Ramel Keyton, Squirrel White and Dont'e Thornton. Milton has the team context and tools to be among the better quarterback fantasy producers in 2023. - Chris Benzine

9) Jordan Travis, Florida State

After finishing the 2021 season on a high note, Travis came into 2022 with high expectations to continue the trend. Travis met those lofty expectations throwing for over 3,000 yards with 24 touchdowns to just five interceptions. Following an impressive 2022 campaign Travis is now a pre-season Heisman front-runner and the Seminoles are top-10 in National Championship odds. With a talented backfield led by Trey Benson who had a monster finish to the 2022 season, an explosive receiving corps that brings back last year's leading receiver Johnny Wilson and adds a massive talent from Michigan State in Keon Coleman, Travis is poised for another big season. -Jake Blanchard

10) Tyler Shough, Texas Tech

Shough is finally healthy and ready to have a career year at Texas Tech. He impressed in the Red Raiders' bowl game with 3 total touchdowns and 111 rushing yards. In his second year with offensive coordinator Zach Kittley, Texas Tech returns 11 starters on the offensive end. The offense had its ups and downs in 2022 due to inconsistent offensive line play, but that should be bolstered this season with Rusty Staats coming over from Western Kentucky where he was familiar with Kittley's system. The team was quite productive last year with 461 yards and 34.2 points per game considering they started three different signal callers. Gettings some continuity with Shough at the helm will help one of the most talented receiver groups in the conference. -Nick Grays

11) Jalon Daniels, Kansas

If not for a midseason shoulder Injury, Daniels was on track to be one of college football's most pleasant surprises in 2022. In Kansas' first four games of the year, Daniels racked up 15 total touchdowns. Even though he saw action in just nine games due to the injury, he ranked second in the conference with 425 rushing yards among quarterbacks. He wasn't too bad through the air either with 8.76 yards per attempt (YPT) which ranked third in the conference for signal callers with at least 100 passing attempts. Daniels was masterful in the Liberty Bowl with 544 yards and six total touchdowns, expect a huge year for the standout quarterback. Back-up Jason Bean also returns who led the conference with 9.41 YPT which just goes to show you how explosive this offense can be. Kansas doesn't lose much on that side of the ball with 10 returning starters, including one of the more experienced offensive lines in the nation. -Nick Grays

12) Riley Leonard, Duke

Riley Leonard was one of the best surprises of the 2022 season, seemingly coming from nowhere to throw for 2,967 yards, a sterling 20:6 TD:INT ratio, while also gashing defenses for 699 yards and 13 scores with his legs. Can he provide an encore? Leonard's legs should keep him from bottoming out, but the passing success was sporadic throughout his breakout, four times going for 290 yards or better but six times being limited to 173 yards or fewer. That may make him better suited as a matchup play than a top option to anchor squads nationally. And it's not a knock on Leonard, but much of his success is scheme-based by head coach Mike Elko and offensive coordinator Kevin Johns. That's not going to change in 2023, but Duke still has a lack of overall dynamic weapons around Leonard. In no way are we expecting Leonard to bust in 2023, but asking for a repeat of last season may be the best-case scenario, while growing statistically is a long shot. -Chris Bennett

13) Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma

Gabriel will be the unquestioned starter during the 2023 season and when you consider that Oklahoma averaged 37 points per game and 510 yards per game in his 11 starts, it makes sense why. In the two games where he did not start, the Sooners averaged just 12 points per game and 275 yards per game, a huge dropoff in production. The Big 12's Newcomer of the Year was sensational last season with 25 passing scores and six rushing touchdowns. On the flip side, Gabriel did lose his top targets in Marvin Mims and Brayden Willis, so he will need to rely on Jalil Farooq to make a leap or to get contributions from Michigan transfer Andrel Anthony at wide receiver. The Sooners are stacked at running back and the offensive line, so this should be a balanced offense in 2023. Gabriel has the upside to be the best quarterback in the conference and potentially one of the best in the nation. -Nick Grays

14) KJ Jefferson, Arkansas

The Razorbacks had a down season in 2022 as compared to 2021, but an argument can be made that Jefferson was actually better, at least individually. He completed a career-high 68-percent of his passes, tossed 24 touchdowns as compared to five interceptions, and also rushed for a career-high nine touchdowns. Jefferson amassed over 3,200 total yards for the second-straight season. The issue heading into his senior campaign will be the dearth of returning receivers. Bryce Stephens is the leading returning wideout, having caught nine passes for 109 yards a season ago. The Razorbacks brought in a slew of transfers to help replace the production lost by the departures of Matt Landers, Jadon Haselwood and Trey Knox, though. 6-7 Tyrone Broden from Bowling Green has averaged over 16 yards per grab for his collegiate career while finding the end zone 12 times over the last two seasons. Andrew Armstrong was plucked from the FCS ranks, and at 6-6, amassed over 1,000 yards receiving at Texas A&M-Commerce last season while scoring 13 touchdowns. Division II transfer Isaac TeSlaa transfers from Hillside College, where he had 68 catches for 1,325 yards and 13 touchdowns. TeSlaa is the shortest of the trio at 6-4. How quickly those wideouts are integrated into the offense could go a long way toward determining Jefferson's ceiling in 2023. -Jesse Siegel

15) Garrett Shrader, Syracuse

Shrader enters his redshirt-senior season looking to take another leap from a solid junior campaign. Last season Shrader saw his passing numbers take a big leap from 1,445 passing yards to 2,640 yards and 52.6 completion percentage to 64.7 percent and nine touchdown passes to 17. With the loss of star running back Sean Tucker more of the load will fall onto Shrader's shoulders in 2023. Shrader is a very capable runner as well, expect the Orange to rely more heavily on Shrader in all aspects of the offense. -Jake Blanchard

16) John Rhys Plumlee, UCF

Plumlee's career arc from quarterback to wide receiver at Ole Miss and back to quarterback with UCF is one of the more interesting ones to follow, but he settled in under center as a dual-threat weapon for the Golden Knights last season, compiling 2,586 passing yards and a 14:8 TD:INT ratio while completing 63.0 percent of his passes and running for another 862 yards and 11 touchdowns on 159 carries in his 13 games under center. Plumlee has the ability to top 100 rushing yards on any given week and finished over or near 300 passing yards five times. Unfortunately, he did lose top pass catcher Ryan O'Keefe to Boston College, but Javon Baker, and Kobe Hudson return and the team added Marshall transfer Corey Gammage to bolster the wide receiver unit, leaving UCF with a strong passing unit again to go along with Plumlee's ground contributions. -Chris Benzine

17) Brennan Armstrong, NC State

The Wolfpack saw their starting quarterback of three years Devin Leary transfer to Kentucky. With the loss of Leary, the Wolfpack went out and brought in Armstrong from Virginia. Armstrong had a rough season last year with a new offensive coordinator but has shown immense potential in the past. Prior to last year's dismal season where Armstrong completed 54.7 percent of his passes for 2,210 yards, seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions, Armstrong set the ACC on fire and was a candidate for conference Player of the Year as he threw for 4,449 yards, 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 65.2 percent of his passes. Armstrong will look to find his 2021 form as he will immediately have an upgrade to his offensive line but will deal with an inexperienced wide receiver corps in 2023. -Jake Blanchard

18) Cade Klubnik, Clemson

Expectations and pressure alike abound for Cade Klubnik as he enters his first season as the Tigers' starting quarterback. The national power has had uneven quarterback play over the past few seasons, and the former top recruit is being asked to return it to elite levels. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising given limited 2022 chances, but Klubnik was uneven in his initial opportunities, shining against North Carolina in the ACC Championship game before limping a bit in the Orange Bowl against Tennessee. Klubnik's arm talents aren't a concern, and he offers capable mobility with his legs, giving fantasy managers a bit of a bump there too. The excitement comes from the addition of new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley, who turned TCU QB Max Duggan into a Heisman Finalist and brings a far more dynamic scheme than former OC Brandon Streeter. Clemson however hasn't had elite receivers of late either, and we know they'll be able to run successfully. All in all, the opportunity and system are in place for a major breakout, even if it comes with some week-to-week inconsistency due to a possible lack of game-changing pass catchers. -Chris Bennett

19) Kurtis Rourke, Ohio

Rourke certainly lived up to the family name in Athens last season, combining for 29 touchdowns through the air and on the ground in just 11 games, missing the last three after tearing his ACL. Fortunately, the senior is seemingly healthy heading into 2023 and should be slated for another big season operating Ohio's offense. Rourke was on pace to top 3,500 passing yards a season ago, and he's particularly safe with the football, tossing a combined 11 interceptions between the last two campaigns. All of Ohio's top three wideouts and star back Sieh Bangura, a solid pass catcher in his own right, return in 2023, setting up Rourke for a senior season that could prove to be his best to date. -Chris Benzine

20) Chevan Cordeiro, San Jose State

Cordeiro didn't skip a beat in his transfer from Hawaii to San Jose State, posting his best season to date with 3,251 passing yards and a 23:6 INT ratio while racking up a career-best nine rushing touchdowns. While top target Elijah Cooks has moved on to the NFL, Justin Lockhart returns and should be flanked by Charles Ross, who missed a chunk of last season due to injury but posted solid efforts when healthy. Kairee Robinson also returns in the backfield alongside Cordeiro and presents another pass-catching threat, hauling in 26 passes a season ago. Cordeiro's dual-threat ability should be on full display again in 2023, potentially even more so with the wide receiver unit drained slightly of its star power. -Chris Benzine

21) Dequan Finn, Toledo

Finn's dual-threat abilities under center have been on full display each of the last two seasons with the Rockets, topping 500 rushing yards in each (600 last season) and scoring nine touchdowns apiece. There's little reason to anticipate a major deviation from a game plan that led Toledo to a MAC championship last season, Jerjuan Newton and Devin Maddox return to head the team's receiving corps again in 2023, and Jacquez Stuart, Micah Kelly and Peny Boone all return to flank Finn in the backfield. Given Finn's track record of success and the continuity on offense, Finn should be able to match or better his numbers from previous campaigns. -Chris Benzine

22) Donovan Smith, Houston

Smith held the starting job for much of the early portion of 2023 after Shough left the season opener with an injury and sat out until Week 9 against Baylor. Smith eventually lost his starting gig under center to Behren Morton, but he heads to Houston as the obvious candidate to take over for the departed Clayton Tune, who compiled 4,074 passing yards and a 40:10 TD:INT ratio last season. That said, gone is Tank Dell, who was the clear leader of the wide receiver group with 109 grabs for 1,398 yards and 17 touchdowns. Matthew Golden is expected to take up the mantle as the go-to receiver for Houston, while Samuel Brown also returns to the fold after a solid season in his own right in 2022. Even with the loss of Dell, Smith should compile a healthy fantasy output in 2023.  -Chris Benzine

23) Mitch Griffis, Wake Forest

Griffis has the tall task of taking over for Sam Hartman, a fantasy darling the last two seasons who parlayed his efforts into a starting gig at Notre Dame in 2023. Griffis looked impressive in the spring game for the Demon Deacons, but the wide receiver room takes a couple of hits with A.T. Perry gone, and the news of Donavon Greene expected to miss the next 3-to-5 months due to a knee injury suffered in fall camp. Even so, Jahmal Banks is scheduled to take over as the head honcho in the receiving room and should give Griffis a massive red-zone target at 6-foot-4, while Taylor Morin should provide another reliable option in the slot. Griffis should be viewed as a volatile fantasy option, given the wideout turnover, but he has plenty of upside, especially in formats that include six-point passing touchdowns. -Chris Benzine

24) Jayden de Laura, Arizona

De Laura had his first taste of a starting role in Pullman with Washington State but had a tumultuous end to his tenure that resulted in De Laura transferring shortly after the team's bowl game following the 2021-22 season. De Laura landed in Tucson with the Wildcats and took a step forward in his fantasy production last year, finishing with career highs for passing yards (3,685), passing touchdowns (25), rushing yards (122) and rushing scores (four). Given that the team returns nearly all of its production from last season, While Dorian Singer transferred to USC, both Jacob Cowing and Tetairoa McMillan return to head the receiving room, and reliable target Tanner McLachlan resumes his duties at tight end, giving the Wildcats a veteran-laden passing offense. -Chris Benzine

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Chris Bennett
Bennett covers baseball, college football and college basketball for RotoWire. Before turning to fantasy writing, he worked in scouting/player development for the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos. He's also a fan of the ACC.
Chris Benzine
Chris is a sports editor for various sports on the site and also a consistent contributor in the college sports arena.
Jake Blanchard
Jake attended college at the University of Alabama, where a childhood love for college football truly blossomed. During his time in college, Jake started his own blog, where he wrote about all sports, but it mainly focused on college football, NFL and MLB while also giving gambling advice. Jake now covers college football for RotoWire.
Jeff Edgerton
Jeff has provided sports content for numerous sports outlets and has played fantasy sports since scores had to be tabulated via newspaper. He started working with RotoWire in 2017. Originally from South Carolina, he's a lifelong Clemson fan now enjoying the sun in Los Angeles.
Nick Grays
Grays covers college football for RotoWire by night and is a Financial Analyst by day.
Chris Morgan
Chris Morgan is a writer of sports, pop culture, and humor articles, a book author, a podcaster, and a fan of all Detroit sports teams.
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