Arch Manning is reaching rarified air in regard to his college football recruitment.
With most players — even those rated as highly as Manning is — the biggest questions often are how they’ll adjust to the college game, or how big of an impact they can have, even as a true freshman.
But Manning, the No. 1 overall player in the class of 2023, isn’t your typical recruit. He’s the latest prodigious quarterback in the most prestigious family in football.
MORE: NFL mock draft 2023
And so, we look beyond Manning’s pending collegiate career and peer instead into the NFL Draft, where it is a virtual certainty college and NFL fans both will hear his name called. So it goes for the nephew of Peyton and Eli Manning and grandson of Archie Manning.
To be sure, a lot could happen between Manning’s first year in college at Texas and his decision to enter the NFL draft. But if history serves as any sort of precursor, then the question must be asked.
When is Arch Manning eligible for the NFL Draft? The Sporting News has the answer to that question and more for one of the most anticipated recruits in recent memory:
When is Arch Manning eligible for the NFL Draft?
The earliest Manning can enter the NFL Draft is 2026, which would come after either his redshirt sophomore or junior season in 2025. (That is due to an NFL rule that mandates players spend at least three years in college before entering the league).
Assuming Arch produces like his uncles Peyton and Eli did at Tennessee and Ole Miss, respectively, it’s more than likely he leaves college early for the NFL, though the advent of NIL deals may make it easier for him to stay an extra season.
Assuming Manning enters the 2026 NFL Draft, his most likely competition as the first quarterback off the board seems to come from the 2022 and 2023 recruiting classes. Below are the five-star quarterbacks who will challenge Manning to be first off the board in 2026:
Arch Manning NFL Draft projection
Even with Manning’s pedigree, it’s simply too early to project how the rising high school senior will fare in the NFL Draft. To date, only two players who ranked at the top of their respective classes from 2000 onward have gone onto become the top overall pick of the NFL draft.
Manning does, however, have the incredible advantage of relying on his family not only for his development as a player, but also how to navigate the NFL Draft experience. Peyton and Eli Manning were both standouts in college whose talent translated to the NFL.
Both went No. 1 overall, in the 1998 and 2004 NFL drafts, respectively — a lofty legacy for Arch to live up to, but certainly within reach for the latest Manning quarterback.
Top overall recruits in the NFL Draft
Manning has good news when it comes to the NFL Draft: All but one recruit who ranked at the top of his respective class (per 247Sports’ Composite rankings, dating back to 2000) has been drafted in the NFL. The exception was Trenton Thompson. The top overall recruit in 2015, he went undrafted out of Georgia in 2018.
Thirteen of the 19 top-rated players since 2000 have been drafted in the first round, including nine in the top 10. However, only two such players went No. 1 overall: Jadeveon Clowney (2011) and Trevor Lawrence (2018). They went first in the 2014 and 2021 NFL drafts, respectively, and were widely projected to go that high even before entering college.
Six players who ranked No. 1 in their recruiting class elected to stay four years before entering the draft. Nolan Smith, the No. 1 player in the 2019 class, is the latest player to exhaust his eligibility; the Georgia linebacker returned for his senior season instead of entering the 2022 NFL Draft. The next-most-recent recruit to play four collegiate seasons was Florida defensive end Ronald Powell; he went in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Below is a rundown of how each of the top overall recruits have fared in the NFL draft, dating back to 2000:
|Class||Player (position)||College||Year drafted||Round (selection)|
|2000||D.J. Williams (LB)||Miami||2004||1 (17)|
|2001||Kevin Jones (RB)||Virginia Tech||2004||1 (30)|
|2002||Vince Young (QB)||Texas||2006||1 (3)|
|2003||Ernie Sims (ILB)||Florida State||2006||1 (9)|
|2004||Adrian Peterson (RB)||Oklahoma||2007||1 (7)|
|2005||Eugene Monroe (OT)||Virginia||2009||1 (8)|
|2006||Andre Smith (OT)||Alabama||2009||1 (6)|
|2007||Joe McKnight (RB)||USC||2010||4 (112)|
|2008||Da’Quan Bowers (SDE)||Clemson||2011||2 (51)|
|2009||Matt Barkley (PRO)||USC||2013||4 (98)|
|2010||Ronald Powell (WDE)||Florida||2014||5 (169)|
|2011||Jadeveon Clowney (WDE)||South Carolina||2014||1 (1)|
|2012||Dorial Green-Beckham (WR)||Missouri||2015||2 (40)|
|2013||Robert Nkemdiche (SDE)||Ole Miss||2016||1 (29)|
|2014||Leonard Fournette (RB)||LSU||2017||1 (4)|
|2015||Trenton Thompson (DT)||Georgia||2018||Undrafted|
|2016||Rashan Gary (DT)||Michigan||2019||1 (12)|
|2017||Jaelan Phillips (WDE)||UCLA||2020||1 (19)|
|2018||Trevor Lawrence (QB)||Clemson||2021||1 (1)|