Even before Brock Purdy’s sensational rookie season is over with the San Francisco 49ers — the first-year quarterback and the 49ers play the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship on Sunday — the question is already being asked about who could be the late-round find at the position in the 2023 NFL draft.
Could it be BYU’s Jaren Hall, who declared for this April’s draft after spending the past two seasons as the Cougars’ starter?
The Athletic’s Andy Staples identified seven quarterback candidates in this year’s draft who are projected as late-round picks whose experience could help elevate them once they enter the pros — much like Purdy, who was the final selection (dubbed Mr. Irrelevant) in the 2022 draft.
Purdy’s story is well-known now — the former Iowa State quarterback started the season as San Francisco’s third-string signal-caller, but after injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garappolo, he was thrust into the spotlight as the team’s starter.
With the help of the league’s top-rated defense and offensive playmakers like Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk to throw to, Purdy has gone unbeaten as a starting quarterback this season since taking over in early December.
He’s a finalist for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
And now Purdy is one win away from helping the 49ers advance to the 2023 Super Bowl.
Could Jaren Hall be a late-round steal?
So, why would Hall classify as a potential late-round gem?
Staples explains — and a lot of it comes down to Hall’s efficiency as a passer even as BYU dealt with injuries at the wide receiver position this past season.
“Hall started two seasons at BYU, and it’s impressive that his completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio went up (with only a slight dip in yards per attempt) when you consider that his No. 2 receiver from the previous year (Gunner Romney) played only two games because of injury and the player who was leading the Cougars in receiving in October (freshman Kody Epps) was lost for the remainder of the season to injury in game eight,” Staples wrote.
“Hall still averaged 8.4 yards per attempt and threw 31 TD passes with six interceptions despite never having the kind of weapons around him that he’d expected going into the season. He spread the ball around to good receivers, but more talent around Hall could produce bigger numbers.”
Hall finished his BYU career completing 65% of his passes for 6,174 yards, 52 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also ran for 798 yards and nine touchdowns in his Cougars career.
Staples’ list for the next potential late-round find at quarterback includes names like TCU’s Max Duggan and Georgia’s Stetson Bennett — the two starting quarterbacks in this year’s national championship game — as well as western U.S. quarterbacks like UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and Staples’ own pick for this year’s Purdy, Fresno State’s Jake Haener.
What is next for Jaren Hall?
Hall is projected as a mid- to late-round pick this early in the draft process, likely a Day 3 pick, with the 2023 draft three months away (April 27-29).
How he stacks up in the 2023 quarterback class varies, depending on who you ask. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Hall as the No. 6 overall quarterback this year, while The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has him at No. 13.
Hall will get his chance next week to practice and play in front of NFL personnel during Senior Bowl week.
He will be joined there by two fellow Cougars, offensive tackle Blake Freeland and wide receiver Puka Nacua.
Six of the quarterbacks Staples identified as potential late-round finds, excluding Bennett, will be at the Senior Bowl.
Hall is seen as one of the top quarterbacks to watch at the Senior Bowl.
“The veteran signal-caller from BYU, Jaren Hall has arguably the most to gain with his time in Mobile. There aren’t many knocks on Hall’s on-field ability, but recency bias with Zach Wilson’s NFL decline and Hall’s age are his biggest deterrents,” Pro Football Network’s Cam Mellor wrote.
“For Hall, the biggest impact for his draft stock at the Senior Bowl will be in his ability to process the full week of practices and adjust to life in the NFL. His adaptation to the playbook will be under close eye.”