INTRIGUING. That accurately summarises the quarterback class of 2018. With no bonafide star available, teams will be doing their homework on the top pro prospects in the hope of landing a true franchise changing play caller. My rankings help to dissect the best talent on offer as draft night etches closer.
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1. Sam Darnold, USC
Numbers that matter: 6’3″, 225 pounds, 23 career starts
2017 stats: 4,143 passing yards (63.1%), 26 TD’s, 13 INT’s
82 rushing yards, 5 rushing TD’s
DARNOLD was the consensus No. 1 pick at the start of the season. Instead of declaring for the draft last year, the third-year sophomore returned to USC to improve his draft stock and skill-set. It kind of worked. For all the good he did turnovers were an issue as Darnold surrendered 13 interceptions and 11 fumbles leaving front office executives concerned about his ball security.
THERE’S no denying though that Darnold offers a huge ceiling though. He reminds me slightly of Andrew Luck with an NFL ready body and having showcased his incredible arm accuracy almost every game. An athletic gunslinger with the tools to thrive in almost any NFL scheme makes Darnold the creme of the QB crop in this draft.
2. Josh Rosen, UCLA
Numbers that matter: 6’4″, 218 pounds, 30 career starts
2017 stats: 3,756 passing yards (62.6%), 26 TD’s, 10 INT’s
-97 rushing yards, 2 rushing TD’s
IF an NFL team covets pocket passing in this draft then Josh Rosen is hands down the best option. His arm talent and vision helped him throw for 59 touchdowns (with 26 interceptions) during his UCLA career climbing his way up draft boards with every completion. Rosen might be the safest QB pick in the draft because you know what you are getting with him. A polished passer with great footwork, who, with time can develop into a competent starter in the league.
HE will need to learn how to read the defenses and take what they give him in the pro’s and there are questions about his leadership qualities. Still, at just 21 years old, if a team can afford to give him a year or two on the sidelines then they could have an All-Pro talent on their hands.
3. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Numbers that matter: 6’1″, 220 pounds, 46 career starts
2017 stats: 4,627 passing yards (70.5%), 43 TD’s, 6 INT’s
311 rushing yards, 5 rushing TD’s
SAY what you want about Baker Mayfield’s height, there’s no denying he has a huge heart. This year’s Heisman Trophy winner leaves college as one of the most decorated quarterbacks ever both on and off the field. Mayfield’s polarizing behaviour is both a strength and weakness as he captured headlines around the country for his fiery demeanour.
WHILE his attitude is deemed as a problem by some, there’s no denying that playing with a chip on his shoulder helps elevate Mayfield to another level. That other level was on full display in Oklahoma and there are doubts that he can reproduce these numbers outside of OU. Historically small quarterbacks from spread schemes have had limited success in the league, but I have faith Mayfield can still deliver in a big way for one lucky NFL franchise.
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4. Josh Allen, Wyoming
Numbers that matter: 6’5″, 233 pounds, 26 career starts
2017 stats: 1,812 passing yards (56.1%), 16 TD’s, 6 INT’s
204 rushing yards, 5 rushing TD’s
A lack of big game experience and decent opposition have hurt Josh Allen’s stock slightly. He does have all the prototypical skills to be a good NFL quarterback, but his 56% completion percentage is concerning. Still, once surrounded by adequate receivers and NFL coaches who can help his development there’s no reason why his great arm can’t take him places.
LOOMING as the biggest boom or bust prospect, Allen will still likely find his way to a team in the top 40 selections. He needs to learn how to get out of a bind rather than hurling balls and making mistakes. Ticking most of the boxes though, if a coach falls in love with Allen then he will likely hear his name called in the first round.
5. Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Numbers that matter: 6’3″, 210 pounds, 33 career starts
2017 stats: 3,660 passing yards (63.1%), 27 TD’s, 10 INT’s
1601 rushing yards, 18 rushing TD’s
THE highlight machine that is Lamar Jackson leaves Louisville as a college football legend. He set the world on fire with his 2016 Heisman Trophy winning season and picked up where he left off in 2017. The do-it-all quarterback doesn’t fit the traditional mould and has shown how he can use his athleticism and feet to his advantage.
AS versatile and dynamic as Jackson is there are concerns over his passing game. His accuracy and technique under center remain spotty and uneasy, making Jackson a high risk, high reward type of player in this draft. His rare blend of speed and playmaking makes him an fascinating prospect but with a weaker arm than his peers, he remains below them on the food chain.
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Best of the Rest
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
UNIVERSALLY regarded as the 6th best QB in the draft behind the above-mentioned players, Randolph will find an NFL home in the middle rounds, most likely on Day 2. Having shown annual improvement in the passing game there’s a real chance he starts as a backup and becomes an above average starter throughout his NFL career.
Riley Ferguson, Memphis
FERGUSON has his work cut out for him to become a relevant NFL player. He should get drafted as a team takes a late flyer on him, but his thin frame and inconsistent ball placement make him no better than a third-stringer once he arrives at camp.
Luke Falk, Washington State
LAST but not least is the confident passer Luke Falk of Washington State. After throwing for 3,593 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in 13 starts, Falk can expect to hear his name called in the 3rd-5th round of the draft as teams continue to be attracted to the Cougars senior.
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