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Will a clear-cut QB1 emerge at the 2023 NFL Combine?

Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis... Who will be number one, and when will teams know who is their QB1?

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Alabama v Kansas State Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Unlike many years, there is no consensus number one quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft Class this offseason. Last year was a weak quarterback class as we didn't see a QB come off the board until Pittsburgh selected Kenny Picket from Pitt at pick number 20. The next quarterback to get selected was Desmond Ritter from Cincinnati, and he didn't go until pick number 74 to Atlanta. This year will be different as there could be as many as four quarterbacks selected in the opening round, and many analysts say three could go in the Top 10. While that may be the case, as of right now, there is no consensus number one quarterback in this Draft Class.

The Chicago Bears hold the first pick on his Draft, and regardless of some saying they are thinking of drafting a quarterback, it won't happen. The Bears have their quarterback in Justin Fields, and if they were to trade him and select a QB, they would be going backward, not forward. But that story is for another day.

What would be best for the Bears is for the quarterback class to get sorted out so that there is a consensus number one guy at the position — or at least the perception of who the number one quarterback is. That would help the Bears in trying to trade down in the first round and collect more draft capital for this year and future years.

If we went out and polled 15 clubs right now and they gave us honest answers, we would most likely see that the clubs have the quarterbacks all ranked differently. Some will have Alabama's Bryce Young as number one. Some will have Ohio State's C.J. Stroud on top, while others will rank Kentucky's Will Levis as the top guy. With the Combine happening next week, will the top of the QB class get sorted out?

The answer is no!

Why? Because clubs can't find out what they need to know at Indy. To get the best feeling or knowledge on each quarterback, the clubs with a quarterback need to have a private workout with each of the top quarterbacks. At Indy, the most important thing with QBs are the medical and the interviews. The workout on the field is almost meaningless, which is why many of the top QBs don't throw at Indy.

Why the need for a private workout? At the quarterback position, Pro Days are just about useless. Yes, they are great for the media and fans, but they don't tell the clubs what they need to know. Quarterback Pro Days are scripted events rehearsed several times before the player holds the event. NFL coaches have little or no input into a quarterback Pro Day as the workout is run by the player's quarterback guru. All the NFL coaches can do is watch the workout. Most QB Pro Days are designed to show off the players' strengths and avoid their weaknesses. The player knows well in advance how many throws he will make, when he will make them, and who he will be throwing to.

Private workouts are much different, as the quarterback has no idea what to expect from one minute to the next. The prospect could have three different private workouts, and each would be different from the others.

I have been involved with several private quarterback workouts, and they don't last an hour or two but rather anywhere from four to six hours. When a club holds a private workout with a QB, several people from the club are involved, including the General Manager, the Head Coach, the Offensive Coordinator, and the Quarterback Coach. The area scout or Scouting Director may also attend.

The day starts out in a meeting room of the football offices of the players' school. In this meeting, the player goes through an extensive interview and then a lot of board work. The coaches may ask the player to draw up several of his college plays and dissect them. Meaning the coaches want the player to go through the entire anatomy of the play. As a quarterback, he should know what every offensive player on the field should be doing. He will also be asked to describe what, if any, audibles he can call at the line of scrimmage and explain what would make him call such an audible.

Following his description of his college offense, the Offensive Coordinator may draw up several plays of the club's offense on the board and describe each play and its purpose. While this is happening, the player needs to take good notes as he will often be asked to come up and explain what he has just learned. This gives the coaches an idea of how attentive the player is in meetings and how quickly he can learn and retain the playbook.

Once the classroom phase is over, they all go out on the field and have the player throw. He will often be asked to do things he was just taught in the classroom. Again, this is to see if he can take what he learned in the classroom to the practice field and perform it correctly. It answers a lot of questions for the coaches.

It's after these workouts that both the personnel staff and coaching staff begin to have their "love affair" with a particular player. If, for instance, they worked out their top four QBs, then they can come away from these workouts and stack the group the way they see fit. It's usually the end of March before they come up with these answers, and that will help them decide if they want or need to trade up to select a certain player.

How does this help the Bears make a trade?

What would really help the Bears is if two or three of the clubs with a QB need end up similarly stacking their quarterback board. If they all perceivably want the same player, they may be more driven to make a trade. In short, it's a complex exercise, and it takes time to get all the answers, but it could benefit the Chicago Bears immensely.