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Top 10 college football quarterbacks: Jayden Daniels is the cream of the crop

Who is the best quarterback in college football today? There’s still a lot to be determined as the 2023 college football season continues while ranking the top quarterbacks in the nation. Some usual suspects return, such as USC’s Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye. But we’re also seeing a new crop of talented college football quarterbacks emerging, with a few others falling off the map.

These updated college football quarterback rankings are refreshed each week of the 2023 NCAA football season. Even though there are more games ahead, here are the best college football quarterbacks in 2023.

Best college football quarterbacks: Honorable mentions

  • Drew Allar, Penn State
  • Jaxson Dart, Ole Miss
  • Jordan Travis, Florida State
  • Michael Pratt, Tulane
  • Austin Reed, Western Kentucky
  • Joe Milton, Tennessee
  • Gunnar Watson, Troy
  • Kaidon Salter, Liberty
  • Seth Henigan, Memphis
  • Chandler Rogers, North Texas

Stay up to date with every game on the schedule with the College Football Games Today

10. Jalen Milroe, Alabama (Last week: Honorable mention)

jalen milroe
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
TD: INTPass yardsComp ratePFF grade
Jalen Milroe stats21/62,526 (10.6 YPA)
439 (12 TD rush)

With Bryce Young graduating to the NFL, now it’s Jalen Milroe’s time to shine. Even though he was briefly benched at the start of the season, the Alabama sophomore QB has been excellent, limiting mistakes while keeping defenses guessing with his dual-threat ability. Milroe’s been inconsistent at times, but his arm talent is evident too, like when he completes all these deep bombs downfield.

Related: College Football defense rankings 2023: Best defenses in college football right now

9. Shedeur Sanders, Colorado (LW: 7)

NCAA Football: Colorado at Texas Christian
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
TD: INTPass yardsComp ratePFF grade
Shedeur Sanders stats27/33,230 (7.5 YPA) 69.3%88.7

Shedeur Sanders, who transferred to Colorado after two seasons playing at the FCS level with Jackson State, absolutely dominated in his FBS debut. But this wasn’t some cupcake opponent. Sanders led his team to 45 points against a TCU squad that only had two games last season where their opponent topped 44 points. The rest of the season has gone much differently.

After forcing his way into the Heisman conversation early on, Sanders is nowhere near the top candidates anymore. Few players have improved their draft stock more than Sanders this season, but adversity finally hit against Oregon where he finished with just 159 yards. Seeing Sanders go toe-to-toe with the Trojans after a slow start shows that he doesn’t shy away from big moments, which should serve him well in the long term. Yet, five consecutive losses aren’t a good look for anyone. His inconsistent play will raise concerns.

Related: Colorado football player claims team could have gone undefeated if not for selfish play of others

8. Carson Beck, Georgia (LW: 9)

carson beck
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
TD: INTPass yardsComp ratePFF grade
Carson Beck stats22/63,495 (9.4 YPA)72.4%91.7

Stuck behind Stetson Bennett for the past three seasons, Carson Beck is finally getting his chance to run the Georgia offense. Like last season, the Bulldogs are scoring roughly 40 points per game, but Beck’s leading a more efficient attack. Even though he has a limited sample size, Beck’s put himself on the map of NFL Draft scouts.

Related: NFL mock draft 2024: Who gets to draft Caleb Williams and Drake Maye?

7. J.J. McCarthy, Michigan (LW: 8)

j.j. mccarthy
Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK
TD: INTPass yardsComp ratePFF grade
J.J. McCarthy stats19/42,483 (9.7 YPA)74.3%91

It’s obvious that J.J. McCarthy doesn’t quite have the career numbers of some of his peers on this list, but the results are hard to argue. McCarthy has proven to be a leader, putting the entire team on his back when it matters most.

McCarthy aced his first two starts, delivering nearly perfect performances, emerging with just seven total incompletions. Then came a three-pick effort against Bowling Green. Otherwise, the junior QB has mostly looked poised, accurate, and has even impressed by making throws displaying seemingly improved arm strength. He’s one of the best QBs in college football and has led Michigan to fewer than 30 points just once this season. The biggest reason he’s not ranked higher is because the other QBs shoulder more of the offensive burden than McCarthy, who isn’t asked to do as much for Michigan, and as we saw against Maryland, perhaps that’s a good thing. Bigger tests are ahead.

6. Drake Maye, North Carolina (LW: 5)

drake maye
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
TD: INTPass yardsComp ratePFF grade
Drake Maye stats24/93,608 (8.7 YPA)
449 (9 TD rush)

Last year was the first season Maye threw more than ten passes, but he executed like a seasoned senior. Expect to see Maye among the top five picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, but for now, he’ll continue perfecting his craft with North Carolina.

With two of his top targets no longer with the Tar Heels, Maye’s season has presented some challenges. But that hasn’t prevented him from making several impressive throws that have left social media buzzing. Not only does Maye hang in and deliver strikes, but he also displays advanced pocket awareness while reminding that he’s mobile enough to buy himself more time to drop dimes too. He’s the complete package at QB but has had several up-and-down performances this season, including his two interception day against North Carolina State.

5. Michael Penix Jr., Washington (LW: 2)

michael penix jr.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
TD: INTPass yardsComp ratePFF grade
Michael Penix Jr. stats32/83,899 (9.1 YPA)65.6%90.8

What Penix did last season was incredible. Constantly battling injuries across four years at Indiana, Penix arrived at Washington having never topped 1,700 passing yards in a single season. But the now-senior QB suddenly led the nation in passing yards by topping 300+ yards in 10-of-12 games played.

Related: Best college football stadiums 2023: Ranking the NCAA best and biggest stadiums

Few players stepped up more than Penix in 2022, and he’s back to showing why he deserves a place among the top quarterbacks in college football. Being able to make throws like this, it’s hard to argue the rocket-armed lefty’s placement among the best. He also outdueled the projected No. 1 pick best, defeating USC even after tossing an interception while being nearly flawless otherwise. Second in the nation in passing yards, Penix has definitely been one of the best college football QBs this season and he even showed he could still get it done in a torrential downpour against Oregon State, even if the final stat line wasn’t pretty, where he completed just 46 percent of his passes.

Related: College Football offense rankings 2023: Best offenses in college football right now

4. Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma (LW: 6)

Syndication: The Oklahoman
TD: INTPass yardsComp ratePFF grade
Dillon Gabriel stats30/63,660 (9.5 YPA)
373 (12 TD rush)

In his second season with the Oklahoma Sooners after transferring from UCF, Dillon Gabriel’s 2023 debut couldn’t have gone any better, missing just three passes all afternoon. In Week 3 we saw a similar story, where Gabriel actually had more touchdowns (five) than incompletions (three). Then he took down one of the best teams in the nation, going off for 398 yards and two scores in a clutch victory over Texas. Losing to Kansas and Oklahoma State won’t help his stock, but Gabriel’s eight-touchdown day against West Virginia shows his success as a dual-threat QB can not be ignored. Oklahoma has one of the best offenses in college football, and Gabriel continues to show why.

Related: College Football Playoff 2023: CFP championship odds, CFB Playoff projections

3. Caleb Williams, USC (LW: 4)

NCAA Football: San Jose State at Southern California
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
TD: INTPass yardsComp ratePFF grade
Caleb Williams stats30/53,633 (9.4 YPA)
142 (11 TD rush)

If the 2024 NFL Draft started tomorrow, Caleb Williams may very well be the No. 1 pick. The dual-threat USC quarterback can do it all, often drawing play-style comparisons to Patrick Mahomes. Whether it’s manipulating the pocket, making throws on the run, or adjusting his release point, he makes the impossible look easy.

Having scored four or more touchdowns in eight of his 13 games in 2022, Williams picked up where he left off, reminding why he’s one of college football’s best QBs in 2023. It took Williams five games before he threw his first interception, yet he’s also among college football’s passing touchdowns leaders. This kid’s special, but he showed signs of being human against Notre Dame, tossing three first-half interceptions in his worst game as a member of the Trojans.

Then Williams stumbled against Utah again, failing to find the end zone through the air for the first time in 24 starts. USC has suddenly lost five of their past six games, and Williams isn’t scoring nearly as much as before, with 13 touchdowns in that same stretch, compared to 28 in his first six games of the year. He’s been slipping big-time.

Related: NFL QB Rankings: Who’s the best and worst quarterback in the NFL today?

2. Bo Nix, Oregon (LW: 3)

NCAA Football: Holiday Bowl-North Carolina at Oregon
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
TD: INTPass yardsComp ratePFF grade
Bo Nix stats37/23,906 (9.7 YPA)78.6%92.9

Transferring from Auburn was a wise career move for senior QB Bo Nix, where he produced career-highs in completion rate, passing yards, and rushing yards last season. Nix’s year went so well that he even briefly landed in the Heisman conversation.

But it’s a new year, and several QBs are performing well, including Nix, who had no trouble helping Oregon run up the score, putting up 81 points against Portland State in the season opener. Nix is back to being special for the Ducks, where he leads the nation in completion rate and passing yards.

1. Jayden Daniels, LSU (LW: 1)

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Missouri
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
TD: INTPass yardsComp ratePFF grade
Jayden Daniels stats40/43,812 (11.7 YPA)
1,134 (10 TD rush)

Daniels has been in college since 2019, but he’s never had the success we’re seeing as he progresses through his second year with the LSU Tigers. Daniels has soared past his previous career-high in touchdowns, yet he’s also connecting on bigger plays while being the most efficient version of himself we’ve ever seen. Daniels has been on an absolute tear as of late, accounting for a total of 1,470 yards and 17 touchdowns over his past three games, showing why he’s college football’s best QB. LSU boasts college football’s highest-scoring offense, and Daniels is the main reason why.

Related: LSU QB Jayden Daniels has greatly boosted his NFL Draft stock this season according to pro scouts

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