By: Kenneth Harrison
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
The 2023 NFL Draft is later this month. Let’s take a look at the top quarterback prospects.
Bryce Young, Alabama: In his two seasons as the starter in Tuscaloosa his record is 23 – 4.
In 2021 he won just about every accolade you can imagine. He won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award, AP College Football Player of the Year, Sporting News College Football Player of the Year, Consensus All-American, SEC Offensive Player of the Year and SEC Championship Game MVP.
He’s thrown for 8,356 yards, 80 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and he completed 65.8% of his passes in his career. Young is 5’10, 204 pounds so he does not have the prototypical height for the position.
At his pro day he threw 50 passes and completed 44 of them. Four of the incomplete passes were not his fault. He has exceptionally good accuracy and he’s expected to be the top pick, going to Carolina.
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State: I think he’s the best prospect in the draft. Stroud is 21 – 4 in his two seasons as a starter. He’s 6’3, 214 pounds so he has the height to see over defenders and offensive lineman in the pocket.
In his career he passed for 7,775 yards, 81 TD’s, 12 picks with a 69.3% completion rate. He played the best game of his career in his final game in the College Football Playoff against Georgia.
It says a lot about his character that he was able to play his best on a national stage against the best team in the nation. He should be picked No. 2 by the Houston Texans.
Will Levies, Kentucky: After the first two quarterbacks I think there’s a precipitous drop off in talent. Levis started his career at Penn State from 2018 to 2020.
He redshirted his first year, then spent the next two as Sean Clifford’s backup. He transferred to Kentucky in 2021, after graduating that May with a bachelor’s degree in finance from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business.
In his two season’s starting in Lexington his record is 18 – 8, which is impressive for Kentucky. He’s thrown for 5,876 yards, 46 scores, 25 interceptions and he completed 64.9% of his passes.
He’s thrown double digit interceptions in both seasons so he does turn the ball over. Some people make the argument that the Wildcats lacked talent so he had to force some throws.
He is 6’4, 232 lbs. so he has good size. He’s now projected to go later in the first round, possibly as late as the No. 19 pick to Tampa Bay.
Anthony Richardson, Florida: He’s the example of possessing all of the measurables but the film does not match that. He’s 6’4, 244 pounds so scouts fell in love with his size. Then he ran a 4.43 40-yard dash and had a 40.5 inch vertical jump.
Now for what he’s done on the field. He’s only started 13 games, with a 6 – 7 record.
He’s passed for 3,105 yards, 24 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and completed 54.7% of his passes. He did rush for 1,116 yards and 12 scores.
He struggles with accuracy and turning the ball over. He also does not have much playing experience. He’s going to be drafted high based on his potential.
He has been projected to be drafted as high as No. 4. I think he will be picked in the top 10 by a desperate franchise, even though he is expected to be a backup as a rookie.
By: Robert Craft
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Florida Gator football started out strong in its season opener against Utah on Saturday, in which the Orange and Blue put up a gritty, 29-26 win.
The victory represents the first for the program in the Billy Napier era, while extending the Gators’ longest-active home-opener win streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision, which stands at 33 straight games.
With the big win now in the rearview mirror, Napier and company turn their attention to their SEC opener against the Kentucky Wildcats at home this coming Saturday.
The ‘Cats, led by Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Will Levis, represent another top-25 matchup for the Gators that will test their revamped squad.
The main concern the Cats have going into Gainesville, however, will be the play of the running back and the offensive line.
Let’s first start with the running backs. With the absence of Chris Rodriguez due to suspension, I didn’t think the Cats’ running backs would struggle against Miami of Ohio. On the night Kavosiey Smoke led the rushing attack with seven carries for 32 yards, while the other trio of Ramon Jefferson, JuTahn McClain, and La’Vell Wright all combined for 11 carries and a total of 36 yards.
That won’t be enough to help push the Cats over Florida. Here’s why:
For the offensive-line, it seemed their youth played a huge role against Miami of Ohio. After giving up four sacks on the night, the question now changes to; can they hold up against the Gators front seven?
It will be interesting to see, but Coach Zach Yenser has his work cut out for him this week as he tries to help the young O-line process through the different schemes and stunt recognition they will see Saturday night.
Defensively, it comes down to whether the Cats can contain the run game or not.
Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson stole the show in week one. The highly-touted recruit from Gainesville was only used sparingly as a true freshman under Dan Mullen.
In his first start for Napier, Richardson completed 17-of-24 passes for 168 yards, while he rushed for a team-high 106 yards and 3 touchdowns.
For Florida to reach their ceiling, the young quarterback has to carry the team.
Utah was unable to slow Richardson down and wasted a solid offensive performance due to the defense’s inability to limit quarterback runs.
Kentucky must find a way to make the NFL prospect play strictly from the pocket. With that being said, it’s way easier said than done.
In many ways, the game on Saturday will come down to Kentucky limiting Florida’s ground game. That is only done if the Wildcats can get Anthony Richardson on the ground.
The Gators O-line performed well opening holes for the running game and allowing no sacks.
Florida went 31 years without suffering a loss to the Kentucky Wildcats but has a 2-2 record in the last four games. Credit to Mark Stoops. He took over a program that was second-fiddle to basketball and has built a culture that they recruit and play to consistently win. Stoops has two 10-win seasons and more wins over Florida than his six predecessors combined.
With that said, it is going to be a battle on Saturday night. The crowd, weather (heat, rain & humidity) and overall team talent leads me to pick the Gators by 2 scores.
Florida 31 Kentucky 20