2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Stanford QB Tanner McKee

From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I’ll be profiling Stanford QB Tanner McKee.

#18 Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford (JR) – 6062, 231LBS

NFL Combine


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Tanner McKee 6’6 231lbs 9 3/8 32 7/8 N/A
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone  
DNP DNP 4.41 7.22  
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press    
9’6″ 33.0 DNP    

The Good

Doesn’t have a cannon but has the arm strength to make every NFL throw
Strong, quick release of the football – a bit winding but still drives torque up from his back hip and drives on his front foot to generate power through his arm
Frame is NFL-ready and is capable of taking hits and staying healthy
Very accurate in a clean pocket, delivers the ball with precise timing and anticipation
Can squeeze passes into tight windows over the middle
Stays on his toes and works his feet well in the pocket; is far from a statue in the pocket and is able to maneuver through the trash with varying levels of success
Serviceable under pressure from the defense; keeps his mistakes to a minimum and delivers the ball in the face of danger
Capable of scrambling from the pocket to find open receivers or pick up a few yards before sliding or hitting the sideline

The Bad

Lack of team success is concerning; can he make a team around him better?
While many turnovers come from tipped balls and the like, his turnover-to-touchdown ratio is concerning
Accuracy dips outside the numbers
Struggles to control touch passes and is inconsistent in deploying touch passes at the right time
Inconsistent spiral, prone to throwing some wobblers
Throws the occasional hospital ball over the middle under pressure
While he’s athletic enough to move around in the pocket, he can’t consistently overcome a truly bad offensive line with his feet
Although experienced in pro-style schemes, Stanford moved to a one-read, RPO-heavy offense in 2022 that cut down his opportunities to traditionally read coverages


Born: April 27, 2000 (23 years old at the draft)
Four-star recruit out of high school in California in 2018, the same recruiting class as Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields
Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; missioned in Brazil for two years before enrolling at Stanford in 2020
Cancer survivor at age 16
Career Stats: Started 21 games for Stanford over two seasons. Completed 473 of 748 passes (63%) for 5,336 yards and 28 touchdowns to 15 interceptions with six scores on the ground.

Tape Breakdown

Tanner McKee is another in a line of Stanford quarterbacks that brings intriguing tools and underwhelming production with which to tease NFL front offices. He comes stocked with an NFL-ready arm and a strong 6’6” frame. However, the Cardinal saw little to no team success with McKee under center, as the offense transitioned to an RPO-style scheme to compensate for fairly awful offensive line play. Couple in untimely turnovers and the nearly-23-year-old prospect is cautiously tantalizing.

Hilariously enough, 15 to 20 years ago, McKee is probably an unquestioned top-10 prospect. Plays like this one against Washington are exactly why. It’s fouth down and McKee has seemingly been sacked dozens of times in a blowout. McKee takes the snap, stares down the safety to confirm the coverage before turning to his matchup. He strikes the pass over the middle to his receiver through a tight window to pick up the first down.

This next throw against USC is probably my favorite. McKee knows the coverage and recognizes his favorable matchup in the seam. He unleashes this hummer as his receiver gets even with the hook-zone defender, leading the receiver inside away from the lurking safety, resulting in a safe reception and more YAC. You can also get a good look at his footwork and throwing motion here, which are really exaggerated to just the right degree to show how intentional he is with his mechanics.

While the Cardinal transitioned to an RPO-heavy offense in 2022, McKee still had opportunities to run pro-style concepts that played to his strengths, again leaning into the “prospect of yesteryear” qualities he possesses. Here against Arizona State, McKee is under center and runs some play action. He scans the high-low read and finds his crossing receiver wide open and delivers the pass beautifully while taking a rib shot from a defensive lineman – a rep to warm the hearts of old school scouts and coaches everywhere.

McKee doesn’t have a cannon, though his arm is strong enough to make every NFL throw. But can he deliver with touch? Well, yes and no. Even his touch passes don’t have much arc to them, and under the worse circumstances, he really struggles to control the destination of his touch throws.

This example in the red zone is really concerning to me. It appears like he doesn’t really understand how to get the ball up and down for the goal-line fade, laying the ball up closer to the goal line than the back pylon for an interception.

Still, he can put forth a good throw on occasion. This touchdown against Washington shows off some touch with urgency. He snaps the safety back with a tight pump fake before resetting his feet and getting some air under this one. Again, not the most rainbow arc you’ll ever see, but he’s got a ground floor to improve on.

Judging by his size and the number of sacks McKee ate in 2022 (39 for those keeping track), it’s easy to assume before watching his tape that he’s probably a statue in the pocket. That’s not the case at all. It was actually rare that he was sacked without first evading some kind of pressure or beginning to tuck and run because no one was open. It goes without saying, Stanford’s offensive line was doing him no favors, so as the season progressed, McKee was designed to move the pocket and get the ball out on the move, which he does fairly well. Here’s an example against Arizona State. With a designed rollout and a free defender bearing down, McKee gets the ball out in front of the receiver without allowing the coverage defender an opportunity to make a jump on the pass.

McKee can scramble for positive yardage, though he quite clearly would rather stay in a clean pocket and deliver the football down the field. Still, he can escape pressure or see his receiving options are blanketed and pull the ball down for a handful of yards. He always slides or hits the sidelines, seeing as he takes enough punishment in the pocket. This scramble against USC is the longest run I saw from him. Simple tuck and run to pick up the first down, sliding soon after he gets the line to gain.

In the three games I watched, the bulk of the turnovers were a result of his teammates or were great plays by the defense, so I chose not to include clips. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio is bad and it gets worse when fumbles are included. 

What can’t be shown through film but still remains my biggest hangup with McKee is that I’m not sure he has the playmaking qualities that make his teammates better. Wins aren’t a QB stat, I know, but going 6-16 as a starter before heading to the NFL is a red flag.


It’s Davis Mills 2.0. A lot of people like Mills, and he’s played about as well as Houston could expect for a second-round quarterback on an abysmal team. McKee, like Mills, has tools to salivate over, but he doesn’t possess one elite quality that helps him get into the conversation with the top five quarterbacks of this class. That said, I’m fairly comfortable with the idea of him being the best quarterback of the second tier.

Having the arm to make all of the throws, the toughness and maneuverability to manage the pockets he had to deal with, his anticipation is solid and oh, by the way, he’s 6’6”. There really is a lot to like here, and plenty more to develop.

Of course, the Steelers won’t be in the market for McKee. His stock is too high, and the Steelers are likely only interested in seventh-round options at the position. However, McKee has the tools to stick around in the league as a quality backup with the possibility of developing into a player worth the opportunity to be a starter down the road wherever he lands.

Projection: 3rd Round

Depot Draft Grade: 8.0 – Potential Starter/Good Backup (3rd Round)

Games Watched: USC ‘22, Washington ‘22, Arizona State ‘22

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