Did Kentucky’s Will Levis tank his NFL Draft stock in Week 9? Take a look at the latest edition of “In the Market.”
Just like that, October has come and gone, and we are officially in November. That means there is less than a month remaining of the regular season before the conference championship games begin, and then bowl season.
In Week 9, top teams had the chance to make their case on the very first College Football Playoff rankings of the season, which was released on Tuesday. There were four top quarterback prospects who played this past Saturday. There were performances from some who helped their stock, and others who may have experienced a drop based off of their play.
There were two quarterbacks who did not play in Week 9. Alabama’s Bryce Young was on a bye, while Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke did not get the start due to a right shoulder injury suffered in Week 8.
Let’s take a look at how the top quarterback prospects performed in Week 9 in the latest edition of “In the Market.” Previous editions can be found in the links below:
Taking Stock: How top 2023 NFL Draft QBs fared in Week 9
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Last week, C.J. Stroud had a rough first half when facing the Iowa Hawkeyes, but then rebounded in the second half to lead Ohio State to a 54-10 win. Stroud followed that exact same formula in Week 9 when the Buckeyes took on the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Stroud did put up solid numbers in the first 30 minutes of the game, but they could only get one touchdown and two field goals out of it. Much like against Iowa, Penn State’s mistakes gave Ohio State a chance to further cushion their lead.
One of Stroud’s best throws of Saturday afternoon arrived in the fourth quarter when he connected with wide receiver Emeka Egbuka for a huge 42-yard gain to set them up near the goal line. The placement of the pass is one to truly marvel at.
Stroud finished the day completing 26-of-33 pass attempts for 354 yards and one touchdown. The accuracy was there for the junior quarterback, but he did not put up the video game-like touchdown totals like earlier in the season.
Next Game: at Northwestern on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Noon ET
Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
Hendon Hooker may be the favorite to win the Heisman over Stroud considering the performance he had in Week 9. Taking on the No. 19 Kentucky Wildcats, Hooker had a duel against fellow top quarterback prospect Will Levis. Hooker won the battle, by leaps and bounds. Seriously, it was not even close.
The senior quarterback set the tone early. He noticed star wide receiver Jalin Hyatt break away from defensive coverage, and Hooker threw what has become his signature, beautiful deep pass to him for the easy walk-in touchdown.
From there, the Volunteers built upon their lead and didn’t look back. Seriously. Tennessee did not trail the game at all.
On the night, Hooker completed 19-of-25 pass attempts for 245 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 23 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Next week, Hooker has the chance to possibly clinch the Heisman Trophy and increase his NFL Draft stock if he is to put up a strong showing and defeat the Georgia Bulldogs, the reigning College Football Playoff national champions.
Next Game: at No. 1 Georgia on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Will Levis, Kentucky
Well, this was a rough week for Will Levis. The Kentucky Wildcats were ranked 19th in the nation, but they had to take on undefeated Tennessee. What was expected to be a duel between Levis and Hooker turned out to be a one-sided blowout in favor of the Volunteers.
Levis could barely do anything against Tennessee’s tough defense. He was only able to throw for 98 yards on the night. That was it.
He did throw three interceptions, one of which was not his fault. He connected with wide receiver Dane Key, who got hit hard by defensive back Doneiko Slaughter. The impact caused Key to let go of the ball, which flew in the air and into the hands of Juwan Mitchell. His second pick was a bad one, as he threw it right to defensive back Brandon Turnage, which you can view below:
Levis did have a good throw in the first quarter when he dropped a dime pass to tight end Jordan Dingle.
Still, it was not a great showing by Levis. This likely will not affect his draft standing, as he has the traits and intangibles that NFL teams love. He’ll be a first-round pick, but maybe not a top-five selection.
Next Game: at Missouri on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 12:00 p.m. ET
Anthony Richardson, Florida
Anthony Richardson returned from the bye week, but they had a tough task in facing the Georgia Bulldogs.
On the very first play, Richardson was banged up after landing awkwardly on the sidelines after getting hit in the thigh by a Bulldogs defender. It looked as though the injury did hurt his ability to make plays. However, he did make an impressive pass to Justin Shorter along the sidelines.
Richardson and the Gators trailed 28-3 at halftime, but he helped lead the team to a third-quarter surge. The Gators decreased their deficit to 28-20 near the end of the third quarter on a three-yard touchdown run by Trevor Etienne, a 26-yard field goal by Adam Mihalek, and a 78-yard touchdown pass from Richardson to Xzavier Henderson.
Once the clock struck triple zeroes, Richardson had thrown 18 completions for 271 yards and one touchdown on 37 attempts.
Next Game: at Texas A&M on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 12:00 p.m. ET
One 2023 NFL Draft QB sleeper who turned heads in Week 9
Bo Nix, Oregon
Welcome Bo Nix back to the column for the second consecutive week. He had a tremendous showing against the UCLA Bruins in Week 8. Could he follow it up in Week 9 against the California Golden Bears.
Nix completed 27-of-35 pass attempts for 412 yards and three touchdowns while throwing two interceptions. The statistics are not finished there, as he ran for 59 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries. That’s right, Nix had six total touchdowns, one more than what he put up against UCLA the week prior.
One of Nix’s touchdown runs saw him figuratively break the ankles of a Cal defender to reach the end zone.
Nix will look to top himself once again in Week 10 when the Ducks take on the 1-7 Colorado Buffaloes.
One 2023 NFL Draft QB who needs to show teams more after Week 9
Will Levis, Kentucky
Even though Levis is heavily expected to be one of the first three quarterback prospects selected at the NFL Draft in Kansas City next April, his performance against Tennessee left a lot to be desired. He was outshined by Hendon Hooker, who no doubt increased his draft stock.
Levis has the chance to rebound next week when Kentucky takes on Missouri.
Who are buyers in the NFL?
Here’s what the top 10 of the 2023 NFL Draft would look like if the season ended today, via Tankathon:
- Detroit Lions (1-6)
- Houston Texans (1-5-1)
- Carolina Panthers (2-6)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)
- Las Vegas Raiders (2-6)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)
- Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans Saints (3-5))
- Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns (3-5))
- Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos (3-5))
The Detroit Lions are in the driver’s seat to have their choice of taking one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL Draft. Following their 31-27 loss to the Miami Dolphins, the team fired defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant. Then, at the trade deadline, they dealt top tight end T.J. Hockenson to the rival Minnesota Vikings.
Detroit’s main competition for the No. 1 pick is likely to be the Houston Texans, who were run over for the second week in a row, this time by Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans.
The Carolina Panthers nearly would have dropped down the first-round draft board, as they almost defeated the Atlanta Falcons. But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by wide receiver D.J. Moore pushed the Panthers back, and Eddy Pineiro missed the go-ahead extra point. Then in overtime, Pineiro missed a 33-yard field goal, and the Falcons capitalized. The Panthers are way more competitive with interim head coach Steve Wilks at the helm, and could very well steal some wins down the stretch.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the newest team to enter the top 10, as they are having a surprisingly bad season. If things continue to spiral out of control, the Buccaneers should consider drafting their quarterback of the future, especially if Tom Brady retires again any time soon.