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Written by: Nicholas Mullick
We are now 30 days away from the NFL Draft and for the hype up to the draft I am going to do something different. I will be giving Top 5 Sleeper prospects to keep an eye on during the 2023 NFL Draft. So, the Top QB’s Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson (Although I myself am not a fan of Richardson Overall),Will Levis and other notable prospects expected to be higher draft picks will not be on this draft list. So let's get into the list,
5. Holton Ahlers (East Carolina)
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I am shocked, not a lot of people are mentioning Ahlers as a prospect to keep an eye on in the late rounds of the draft. Especially as he is very athletic with his speed, elusiveness, and explosiveness. He can be very mobile moving in and out of the pocket along with having smooth footwork. He also has solid mechanics throwing the ball and has a great posture as well.
A big problem with Ahlers is that he is not the most accurate passer and does not have a rocket arm. His field vision is not the greatest either as he can miss wide open receivers at times and it is especially showcased with deeper throws.
To me there are more pro’s and con’s with Ahlers. My pro comparison of Ahlers is Taysom Hill. I can see why others view him as a Tim Tebow type of player, but to me he has a ton of potential and can be versatile with how he is utilized. I have a feeling too that if the Broncos do take a QB in this class, the most likely player they will take in this draft is Holton Ahlers.
4. Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA)
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Thompson-Robinson is a name that is starting to get a lot of attraction as a sleeper prospect and it is hard not to see why. A key strength with Thompson-Robinson is got an great arm. Not a rocket arm level, but a step below it. He has smooth mechanics and has a quick release of the football. Thompson-Robinson is very poise in the pocket and can adapt to pressure. It helps that Thompson-Robinson has athletic upside and can be a scrambler. He is explosive, elusive, can be a leader, and plays with a lot of toughness.
There are a few obvious weaknesses with Thompson-Robinson. Of course being 23 years old is not the greatest as he is on the older side of QB prospects in this class. He is not the most accurate thrower and is inconsistent with his ball placement. His footwork can get sloppy at times and he does not have the greatest posture when making throws.
There have been a lot of people comparing Thompson-Robinson to being a Kyler Murray light player, which is absolutely ridiculous. To me Thompson-Robinson reminds me of QB Matt Barkley on the Buffalo Bills. I have Thompson-Robinson as a mid round draft pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
3. Clayton Tune (Houston)
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I will be honest, I have had my eye on Tune for the past few years as watching him play has been a joy. What stands out the most with Tune is his athleticism and it is shown with how elusive, explosive, and agile he is. He has smooth footwork and can move well both in and out of the pocket. As a passer he has a smooth release and can be accurate throwing the ball in both short and intermediate lengths. Tune is also poise in the pocket as well and can adapt when in pressure.
Now there are weaknesses with Tune. He does not have the greatest arm strength and is very limited as a passer. When looking at his ball placement, he is very inconsistent. He needs to be quicker with his decision making as at times he holds onto the football too long and fails to react quickly. It also is clear that he struggles to adapt when adapting to pressure. The obvious weakness is that he is on the older side of prospects in this class being 24 years old.
Shoutout to fellow Blitzalytics writer/Scout Joseph Yun here as in his article “2023 NFL Draft - Quarterback Big Board” he compared Clayton Tune to QB Tyrod Taylor of the New York Giants. I 1,000% agree with Joseph’s comparison here. I also see Tune as a 6th round prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft Class.
2. Aidan O’Connell (Purdue)
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O’Connell may not have a rocket arm, but he has solid arm strength compared to other prospects. He has the ability to make a big play, has great ball placement, and is very accurate especially with short and intermediate throws. The thing that is clear with O’Connel is that he is a pure pocket passer and has smooth mechanics. His release of the football is also pretty quick as well. He plays with a strong level of competitiveness, grit, and is a leader on the team.
A big issue with O’Connel is that he lacks mobility and does not move that well in or out of the pocket. It also does not help that he is very sloppy with his footwork. He must do a better job with his ability to adapt in pressure and improvise during plays. His decision making definitely needs improvement and has inconsistent field vision.
To me O’Connell reminds me of two quarterbacks in current Miami Dolphins QB Skylar Thompson and QB Trevor Siemain. I have O’Connell going in the late round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, as he is going to need a bit of time to clean up his weaknesses.
1. Jake Haener (Fresno State)
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I got to say looking at all the QB prospects available, I am really intrigued with Fresno State QB Jake Haener. There is a lot that I like in regards to him as a prospect. The thing that stands out to me is how accurate he can be and with how consistent he is with his ball placement. He is very accurate throwing the ball whether it is short or deeper balls. Haener is very athletic and can move well in and out of the pocket. Haener is a great scrambler and can be very mobile. He plays with a high level of grit and toughness. It is shown with how he battles through injuries and fights for extra yards. He can be a leader and has a high football IQ.
Now there are a few issues with Haener. Lets address the obvious, he is 24 years old which means he is an older rookie compared to other options. He is very lean and does not have the greatest posture, along with him being a bit undersized can be an issue. His arm strength is not the greatest as he does not have a rocket arm.
As a pro comparison, boy there are a lot of names that can be thrown here, but to me Haener reminds me of QB Andy Dalton. Now I don’t see him being drafted the same spot Dalton was, but I can really see teams utilize a mid round pick on Haener as he has a ton of potential. I can even see a scenario where Haener goes on Day 2 of the draft.
So, those are my Top 5 sleepers QB prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. Do you agree? Let me know in the comment section on who you believe are the Top 5 sleeper QB prospects.