The quarterback position in football is widely regarded as the most crucial position on the field. As the 2023 NFL Draft commences on Thursday evening, it is expected that at least four to five quarterbacks will be selected in the first round.
The over/ under for QBs selected in the first round is 4.5, right between the numbers projected by most pundits. But I strongly feel it will be four and not five, and history would support my thought. Let’s look at the potential First Round QBs taken and the best bets involving QBs for the First Round of the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday night.
The Potential First-Round QBs
Most mock drafts have five QBs coming off the board in Thursday night’s first round of the NFL Draft. Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, and Florida’s Anthony Richards are guaranteed first-rounders. The first two could likely be the first two picks of the 2023 draft. Kentucky’s Will Levis and Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker are the two that are fringe first-rounders. I like Levis and see him fitting in with the Rams and Titans in their late-first-round picks. It’s not that I don’t like Hooker. I do. He was excellent this year and took excellent care of the football. But a few things point to him not being selected in the first round, historically. Let’s focus on a few of those.
Hendon Hooker Is Very Old For A College Quarterback
Age is a significant factor when evaluating draft picks, particularly regarding potential upside and development. At 25, Hooker is already considered extremely old for a first-round draft pick. This means that much of his potential for growth and development may already be realized, limiting his potential upside.
Hooker will turn 26 before the end of the upcoming football season. Comparatively, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, and Joe Burrow are already 26, while Justin Herbert is 25 and Jalen Hurts is 24. These players have already achieved significant success in the NFL such as MVP awards and Super Bowl berths, while Hooker has yet to take a single snap in the NFL.
If Hooker does not make an immediate impact in the league, he may be in his 30s by the time he signs his second contract.
This is a significant concern for teams looking to invest in a young quarterback with long-term potential.
To further illustrate the importance of age in the drafting process, consider this chart of the oldest quarterbacks ever drafted in the first round:
Here’s the age of first round QBs since 1967 (excluding Weeden) as of September 1st of their draft year. Also included Burrow, Tua, Herbert, and Love at the end of the chart.
Burrow checks in as older than Wentz but younger than Tannehill as of their draft years. pic.twitter.com/HyLdP3kirv
— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) April 17, 2020
It’s worth noting that Hooker’s age is a significant outlier compared to other quarterbacks selected in the first round of the NFL draft. In fact, he would be the second-oldest quarterback ever to be drafted in the first round.
To further illustrate the point, ESPN Stats and Information have found that only three quarterbacks aged 25 or older have been selected before the sixth round in the entire history of the draft. These three quarterbacks – Brandon Weeden, Chris Weinke, and John Beck – went on to have a combined record of 8-44 as NFL starters.
Hendon Hooker Is Coming Off A Significant Injury
Hooker suffered a torn ACL in his left knee back in November. While such injuries are no longer career-threatening, they pose some challenges for players. Many athletes have successfully recovered from torn ACLs and gone on to have productive careers.
However, Hooker’s injury did have some negative impact on his draft prospects. He missed the usual opportunities to showcase his skills at pro days and other workout events, which could have helped him to impress scouts and secure a higher draft position. Additionally, his injury may prevent him from participating in summer training camps and even the preseason, limiting his chances to make an immediate impact as a rookie.
Even if Hooker fully recovers from his injury, it is worth noting that players typically take a couple of years to get back to their best form following an ACL tear. This means that Hooker’s first-round contract may not yield optimal returns during the initial years of his career, particularly given his age.
Hooker Won’t Be A First Rounder
When you consider the age and the recent injury, I just don’t see Hooker going in the first round. Again, I like his game. And I am in no way saying that I don’t think he can be a winning QB in the NFL. This is strictly about the mentality of NFL teams and how they look at first-round QBs. So how can we bet this?
Betting The First Round
Given everything we’ve already stated, I really do love the Under for total QBs taken in the first round. Do I think Will Levis will go in the first round? Yes. Is there a chance he slips to the second? Absolutely. But I really do think Hooker slips here. We’re going to play this under.
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The Pick: Under 4.5 QB’s Taken 1st Round (+165)
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When I look at this, the only team that gives me even the slightest scare is the Vikings at 23. The Rams who could target a first-round QB sit at 25 and the Titans pick 31st. I would be very surprised if the Vikings target a QB that will have to sit for a bit here in the draft, but it is possible. I personally think the Vikings try to sure up their D-line with either Calijah Kancey or Lukas Van Ness, but this is the only spot I could see Hendon going to spoil this bet. It’s absolutely worth a play though.
The Pick: Hendon Hooker Drafter After 24.5 Overall (-115)