With the 2023 NFL Draft behind us and spring football wrapped up, it’s time to fire up the hype trains for the fall. Analysts and fans are looking ahead to what might happen in the college football season, and due to the natural roster turnover at the NCAA level, that involves a lot of projection.
One popular line of thinking this offseason is that Joe Milton will pick up right where Hendon Hooker left off. After all, he did just that down in Miami during the Orange Bowl against Clemson. Milton has a lot to work with, and he seems like a perfect fit for Josh Heupel’s vertical offensive attack.
The fit was so perfect, in fact, that Milton initially beat out Hooker for the starting job back in 2021. A injury changed that situation though, and Milton has waited his turn for this one final shot in 2023.
If he puts it all together — or frankly even comes close — the NFL is going to be very interested, simply due to the tools he possesses. The NFL Draft chatter has already begun, as some have compared him to Anthony Richardson.
To get things started, Milton landed on a list of ‘draft-eligible quarterbacks to know’ ahead of the 2023 season. Here’s what PFF had to say on Milton.
Get ready for a laser show in Knoxville. Milton has the strongest arm in college football and quite frankly, it might not be very close. His 11.1% big-time throw rate easily led all FBS signal-callers with at least 100 dropbacks. He has fewer than 700 career snaps across his five seasons at Michigan and Tennessee, so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the starting job this season.
Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Quinn Ewers, Michael Penix Jr., Bo Nix, Jordan Travis, J.J. McCarthy, Jayden Daniels and Sam Hartman also appeared on the list.
Milton flashed a little more touch last season in limited playing time, which was the knock on him since he arrived in Knoxville. Those 2021 starts were littered with overthrows down the field, as the bazooka-armed Milton continued to miss wide open receivers. That did change in 2022, although it was mostly shown in garbage time. The Clemson performance does offer plenty of legitimate hope, however. That was a big moment for Joe, proving that he can beat a big time team just as five-star, top overall prospect Nico Iamaleava joins the program.
Milton has plenty of room to grow, now mainly in the pocket. If he can get a little more comfortable there and learn to keep his cool under pressure, Milton can turn himself into a big time NFL prospect. We know all about the arm, and we’ve seen flashes of touch, now we’ll see if he can grow inside the pocket.
Consistency will also be something Milton will have to prove this year. It’s one thing to give us flashes, it’s another to string those performances together in the SEC.
Milton is down to his last chance at the college level, but now in year three with Heupel, he should be more than ready to roll.