Could one of the 2023 NFL Draft’s late-round QB prospects be the next Brock Purdy? | News, Results, Highlights, Stats and Rumours

Max DuganJeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last year, Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy was the final pick of the NFL draft. “Mr. Irrelevant” himself. As January rolled around, Purdy was far from irrelevant — he would make five regular season starts for the San Francisco 49ers and win all five. Purdy completed 67.1 percent of his passes, threw nine more touchdown passes than interceptions, posted a 107.3 passer rating, and even won two playoff games.

If not for the elbow injury that threw him out of San Francisco’s NFC Championship Game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s not hard to say that Purdy (rather than Trey Lance) would have gone into the offseason as a suspected starter for a Super Bowl contender .

Now it’s not particularly realistic to expect a Day 3 selection to step in and have the success of Purdy – the prospects fall on the final day of the draft for a reason. The expectation that a Day 3 pick will pull a Tom Brady and go from a sixth-round pick to a seven-time Super Bowl champion sails past the unrealistic and delusional.

But Brady and Purdy aren’t the only late-round picks to start a playoff game last season. Dak Prescott was a 2016 fourth-round pick from Mississippi State. Kirk Cousins ​​was a fourth-round pick from Michigan State in 2012. Skylar Thompson, like Purdy, was a seventh-round pick from Kansas State.

Well, there’s quite a gap between Brady on one end of that spectrum and Thompson on the other. Purdy is somewhere in between. But there’s no denying that finding a capable NFL quarterback on day three of the draft can be a godsend for a franchise, whether as a backup starting a game here and there or a full-time starter.

And there are a few candidates in the class of 2023 that have the potential to be the next Day 3 discount diamond.

Stetson Bennett, Georgia

If draft stock were based solely on college performance, Stetson Bennett could be the first quarterback off the board in April. All Bennett has done in the last two seasons has thrown for nearly 7,000 yards, threw four times as many touchdown passes (56) as interceptions, and led the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championships.

But of course, the draft stock is about much more than what Bennett achieved in Athens. And it doesn’t take long for the red flags to start piling up.

At just 5’11” and 190 pounds, Purdy is short by NFL standards. He’s also the Methuselah of that rookie class — he’ll turn 26 during his rookie season. Bennett was arrested for public intoxication in January. And how Ian Cummings wrote On Pro Football Network, Bennett is widely regarded as having mediocre arm talent – at best.

INGLEWOOD, CA - JANUARY 9: Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) throws a pass during the Georgia Bulldogs game against the TCU Horned Frogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on January 9, 2023 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA.  (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“The biggest argument against Bennett is his mediocre arm talent,” Cummings wrote. “His arm strength isn’t a liability, but he sometimes has trouble generating speed on his throws, and his arm isn’t the most resilient either. He doesn’t have the arm talent to layer shots into narrow windows, and that limits the number of shots he can make at the next level.

However, Bennett is experienced — he’s started 29 games for the Bulldogs over the past two seasons. He’s accurate as he completed 65 percent of his passing in college. And Bennett is certainly no stranger to pressure – in fact, he played some of his best games when the stakes were highest. In many ways, Bennett is an older, more successful version of Purdy – even to the point of being criticized for a relative lack of arm talent.

Max Duggan, TCU

Duggan was one of college football’s biggest stars of 2022. He threw for nearly 3,700 yards and 32 touchdowns while adding nine more points on floor en route to leading TCU to arguably their best season ever. At an appearance in February on The Rich Eisen ShowDuggan said (at the 5:56 mark) that he models his game after two of the NFL’s best.

“One guy I’ve also been watching a lot lately has been Joe Burrow. What he’s doing with his movements and efficient movements and how he’s in the bag,” Duggan said.

“I don’t know if I would say I play like him. Probably Jalen Hurts would probably be someone I kind of like. Such a tenacious leader. Can make the shots anytime. Can lead a group of men. Battled through adversity. things of that nature.”

TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football semifinal playoff game vs. Michigan, Saturday, December 31, 2022, in Glendale, Arizona.  (AP Photo/Rick Scutteri)

AP Photo/Rick Scutteri

Wow, Max. Let’s back it up a little.

Duggan admittedly had a great season. But if the 6’1″ tall, 204-pounder was a combination of Joe Burrows’ arm talent and ability to read defenses and Jalen Hurts’ scrambling ability, he would be the top pick. The NFL Draft Bible assesses Duggan’s talents and pro- Prospects were, um, let’s go with less effusive ones.

“Duggan is a gutsy quarterback with the agility to hit defenses and arm strength to capitalize on vertical opportunities,” they wrote, “but he lacks the accuracy, ball placement, footwork and other fundamental intangibles needed to make a to be an effective NFL player. “

This criticism has some merit. Duggan’s accuracy came and went at TCU, in part because his footwork and mechanics were inconsistent. In college, he wasn’t often asked to read opposing defenses and review his progress. He also sometimes struggled to make tight window throws or throw his receivers open.

But Duggan showed the ability to improve his game at crucial moments. His athleticism and escape will appeal to many NFL teams. He has decent arm strength and feel on vertical throws, and most of his errors are relatively common among quarterbacks entering the NFL.

Is Duggan Jalen Burrow? No. But with some development, he could easily surpass his likely draft slot.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA

If Stetson Bennett presents himself as a prospect with a high floor and low ceiling, UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson is the opposite. His floor plays in the XFL. But with his combination of arm talent and athletics, Thompson-Robinson may have the highest ceiling of any Day 3 prospect in the 2023 draft.

Thompson-Robinson’s mechanics and accuracy can be inconsistent, though his 2022 passing stats (69.6 completion percentage, 3,169 passing yards) were easily the best of his career. As Brentley Weissman wrote for the Draft Network, Thompson-Robinson’s athletic advantage and improvement as a passer make him one of the more intriguing quarterbacks in the later round.

“While there is work to be done as a passer,” he wrote, “there is no denying that Thompson-Robinson has an intriguing skill set that an NFL team might want to get their hands on. A superb runner, he excels in speed, directional changes and instincts that make him a threat whenever he decides to pull the ball down and take off. With the success that other athletic quarterbacks developing as passers have developed had to become in recent seasons, Thompson-Robinson is more than worthy of a late-rounder.”

EL PASO, TEXAS - DECEMBER 30: UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson #1 warms up before his team's game against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl game at Sun Bowl Stadium on December 30, 2022 in El Paso up, texas.  (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

Sam Wasson/Getty Images

Thompson-Robinson is on the smaller side – just 6ft 1in and 205 pounds. A crawling quarterback with that slight build is a cause for real concern. And despite extensive startup experience at UCLA, Thompson-Robinson’s decision-making and progression through his reads are both in the works.

But at least Thompson-Robinson has the potential to be a plus backup for teams with athletic starters down the middle who don’t want to scrap half the offense if the starter goes down. And if he lands on the right offense with a staff willing to exercise some patience, he could be more than that.

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