The first batch of 2023 rankings will be released this week and there was a heated debate about which quarterback should lead the way in the rankings.
Below, Rivals National Recruiting Director Adam Gorney and South-Central Recruiting Analyst Sam Spiegelman make the case for a particular quarterback and give reasons as to why their pick makes more sense early in this rankings cycle.
GORNEY’S VIEW: Malachi Nelson
Betting against any quarterback in the Manning family might be seen as foolish – until you see Malachi Nelson play the position because he is special in so many ways and epitomizes what elite colleges and the NFL are looking for in a 21st century quarterback.
The arm talent is there. The ability to put touch and loft on his passes is there. The skill to accurately throw off-platform is there. There is a coolness in the pocket when Nelson is running the show that the offense just seamlessly moves down the field uninterrupted and Nelson orchestrates another touchdown drive. And he did all this as a freshman quarterback.
Remember, California just started playing in the last few weeks so Nelson is only a few games into his sophomore season which will be cut short because of a truncated schedule. Still, Nelson has already shown all the tools of a super elite quarterback not only with his arm but how he sees the field and sees the game, it’s pretty impressive to watch his mind work when dissecting defenses.
We saw some of Zach Wilson’s throws at his BYU Pro Day on Friday and now it looks like he will be a top-two pick in the NFL Draft. Nelson has that kind of ‘wow’ ability to make those impossible throws look easy and I wouldn’t be surprised at all as he continues to mature in the coming years if Nelson is talked about as one of the best quarterbacks in college football and beyond.
SPIEGELMAN’S VIEW: Arch Manning
Arch Manning should get the nod as the No. 1 quarterback for the blend of on-field abilities paired with impeccable football genes. As a sophomore last season, Manning completed almost 72 percent of throws for 19 touchdowns and added another eight touchdowns with his legs. His game includes traces of both of his uncles, but most resembles his grandfather, Archie.
What should give Manning the edge is the way he sees the field and reacts. He’s surgical in his approach — with the ability to go through his progressions, make precise throws and consistently make smart decisions. Manning is fantastic in the pocket and is athletic enough to extend plays and make throws outside as well. He’s also a legitimate threat to make plays with his legs. Paired with the fact that football is engraved in his DNA, Manning packs a ton of upside at the most important position on the field.