2023 NFL Draft Stock Watch: Rough week for top quarterbacks

Just when we thought we couldn’t top Week 1’s action, Week 2 saw three top-10 teams go down! It was a wild weekend overall, but not a great one for many of the top quarterbacks in this class. Bryce Young had a lackluster performance, thanks in large part to a rough day from his offensive line and his receivers. More on them in a bit.

I had a chance to watch a bunch of games over the weekend and there were a bunch of players who really impressed me and several others who fell short of the mark. I won’t pretend I watched every game, but here was my watch list so far from the weekend:
Alabama at Texas
Kentucky at Florida
Baylor at BYU
South Carolina at Arkansas
USC at Stanford
Syracuse at UConn
Tennessee at Pittsburgh
Southern Miss at Miami

I still have several more that I want to watch, including App State-Texas A&M, Washington State-Wisconsin and Marshall-Notre Dame.

Each week, I am going to write this column to highlight which players I think boosted their draft stocks and which players are trending in the wrong direction. Not every player that I liked is going to get a shoutout and not every player that I was underwhelmed by will be mentioned. I am also limiting this to draft-eligible players for 2023. So while Raheim Sanders and Chase Roberts really caught my eye this week, they will not be on the list.

Without further ado, here is my stock up and stock down after Week 2. If you missed last week’s entry, you can find it here.

Stock Up

Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
3rd-year junior
Week 2 stat line: 11 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 pass deflection
Sanders was everywhere in Week 2! He dominated South Carolina, flying to the football and showing up in pass coverage as well. This was just an all around impressive performance. The Alabama transfer looked like a complete player, rushing the passer, stuffing the run and making an impact in coverage. He does still overrun some plays, but he has real sideline-to-sideline ability. I knew his name already, but I will be keeping a much closer eye on Sanders moving forward.

Jordan Addison, WR, USC
3rd-year junior
Week 2 stat line: 7 receptions, 172 yards, 2 TDs
Addison was already largely considered to be a first-round talent, but wow this was quite a performance. He took basically whatever he wanted against a solid Stanford defense. His versatility to take the top off the defense or operate as more of a possession receiver is impressive and invaluable. It certainly helps that he has caught passes in his career from Kenny Pickett and Caleb Williams, but I think the fact that he is having success in two different systems only boosts his value. He is going to have to learn another offense when he reaches the NFL. With quiet starts to the season for both Kayshon Boutte and Jaxson Smith-Njigba, it seems like Addison is closing the gap in the race to be WR1.

Anthony Cook, S, Texas
5th-year senior
Week 2 stat line: 9 tackles, 2 tackles for loss
There are a lot of players I could highlight on this Texas defense for the performance they put on against Alabama. I am focusing on Cook though. He made a number of key stops, including the fourth-down run that ‘Bama failed to convert that led to Texas’ go-ahead field goal. He showed he can be a solid open-field tackler as well, crashing down on swing passes out of the backfield and screens. I will say, I need to watch more of him in coverage to figure out if he is simply a box safety or if he has a bit more depth to his skill set. Overall, impressive performance against a talented opposition.

Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
3rd-year junior
Week 2 stat line: 8 receptions, 103 yards, 1 TD
How much higher can Mayer’s stock really go? I’ve only had a chance to watch some highlights from this game so far, but Mayer’s performance is wildly impressive to me. In a game where Notre Dame only managed 221 yards passing, Mayer accounted for nearly half of them. He is a well-rounded prospect who has a legitimate chance of being drafted in the top 20 of this upcoming draft. We will have to see if Mayer’s target share or production is impacted by Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner’s season-ending injury, but I have a feeling Drew Pyne will probably still look to Mayer plenty.

Stock Down

Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami
3rd-year sophomore
Week 2 stat line: 21/30, 263 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
The stat line for Van Dyke might not look too bad at first glance. However, it was a bit of a sloppy performance for the Miami quarterback against low level competition. The Canes offense struggled pretty much the entire first half. They finally got into a rhythm once they took the ball out of Van Dyke’s hands and started running it. Van Dyke missed on a few throws and simply looked a big off target for most of the game. It would be a bit more understandable if this type of performance came against Clemson or Florida State, but this was a bit underwhelming.

Emil Ekiyor Jr., G, Alabama
5th-year senior
Week 2 stat line: still not sure what to put here
It was not a great week for the Alabama offense. Bryce Young was consistently running for his life and Texas’ defensive line was living in the ‘Bama backfield. One of the biggest culprits was Ekiyor, who had a decent amount of draft hype entering the season. He routinely got pushed back into Young’s lap and the running game was nonexistent. Ekiyor simply looked overmatched and missed a number of blocks. He is lucky he has a mobile quarterback to bail him out. Most of Alabama’s line falls into that category.

Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
3rd-year sophomore
Week 2 stat line: 14/35, 143 yards, 2 INTs, 6 carries, 4 yards
These first two weeks of the season perfectly encapsulate Richardson as a prospect. His upside is through the roof with incredible arm strength and electric open-field ability. He is also wildly inconsistent throwing the ball downfield and struggles to put touch on his passes. Week 1 showcased the good. Week 2 featured all of the bad. Kentucky forced Richardson to beat them with his arm and he could not do it. Two bad interceptions, including the go-ahead pick-six for the Wildcats, sunk the Gators. Richardson mixed in a few special throws, but they were few and far between. I am eager to watch his development as the season rolls on, but this was a major bump in the road.

Jerome Carvin, G, Tennessee
5th-year senior
Week 2 stat line: We really need some stats for offensive linemen
Another interior lineman who struggled in Week 2, Tennessee’s Carvin had a rough day in Pittsburgh. Hendon Hooker was forced to move off his spot quite a bit because of the constant pressure from the Panthers defensive line. He was sacked three times, but it really could have been more. Carvin really struggled in pass protection and had an uneven day as a run blocker. The Vols lacked efficiency on the ground in general, managing just 2.7 yards per attempt.

Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina
4th-year junior
Week 2 stat line: 24/39, 376 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 12 carries, -23 yards
Maybe this is a bit harsh for Rattler to end up here. He did throw for the sixth-most yards of any FBS quarterback this week, but much of it came with Arkansas playing prevent defense with a sizable lead. Rattler spent much of the game running for his life as the Razorbacks’ defense got after him early and often. While that does not all fall on Rattler, his limited mobility made matters worse. He missed downfield throws on a number of occasions and was lucky he only threw one interception in this game. These are the types of games where he needed to show up and play at a high level. He needed to prove himself against SEC competition. So far, he is falling short of that mark.

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