The 2018 NFL draft is promising for numerous reasons. However, for the first time in years, if your team is in the market for a quarterback, the 2018 NFL draft will not disappoint with the options it presents.
Throughout the season the debate was one of the hottest topics among NFL, & NCAA fans. There never seemed to be a general consensus on who should be taken first, not to mention, very few QB rankings looked identical.
Just because ‘Joe’ had one QB at 1, while ‘Hank’ had the same guy at 5, doesn’t mean Hank’s QB is any less potent at the position. And if ‘Hank’ had a QB at 1, while ‘Joe’ had that same QB at 5, well, you get the idea…
One thing we’ve learned from evaluating the QBs in this year’s upcoming draft, is that most do have the capability of a more than productive NFL career. The differences are considerably minimal, and it all depends on what style of QB a said team would prefer.
So in no particular order, we breakdown the projected top quarterbacks, and the intangibles they bring to an NFL offense.
- Lamar Jackson (Louisville): For the most part, there is a general consensus that Jackson is number five. Heading into the season, there were talks of him being a top ten pick, but his inconsistent play has scouts reassessing his draft position to late first/early second round. Jackson shows off great arm strength, remarkable athletic ability, and outstanding mobility. Jackson has proven he can make any throw, and that includes taking advantage of the tightest of windows. His mobility makes him a quarterback that is prime to not only make plays with his feet, but dodge the pass rush, and throw a dart on the run. Jackson has assets, and ability to be a starter in the NFL within an ideal situation. While Jackson may have a promising career as a quarterback ahead of him, we actually see him making more noise as an NFL halfback. A few teams have already tried working him out as a wide receiver, and he has respectfully declined, enforcing his intent to play quarterback in the NFL. However, if you watch some of Jackson’s highlights, when he gets into the open field, he’s one of the best ball carriers we’ve ever seen. He has phenomenal vision, amazing cutback ability to make defenders miss, and his overall presence as runner is nothing short of spectacular. Jackson is not a quarterback that like to run, he’s a true halfback. Whether anyone on Louisville, or NFL scouts have taken notice remains to be seen, as they were likely preoccupied with his passing abilities. Whether we will ever see Jackson lineup as an NFL halfback is another story entirely, but it shocks us that teams haven’t taken notice. Despite what we think of his prospective halfback career, it sounds like Jackson will enter the league as a quarterback. Maybe a couple years down the line, he might reconsider relocating.
- Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma): We might receive a lot of backlash from this one, but we’re sticking to it. Baker Mayfield has a strong arm, was able to make big plays in an explosive Oklahoma offense, and has sky rocketed up NFL scouts’ charts as the 2017-18 season played out. Ok, don’t shoot the messenger, but there is a reason Mayfield will have trouble translating to an NFL quarterback, he played in the Big 12. What does that mean? It means Big 12 secondaries are notorious for their coverage (or lack thereof). If you take a moment to watch some Mayfield’s highlights, most of his highlight reel shows off a great arm, but also shows the opposing defense a good 5-10 yards behind the wideout. Go ahead, we know you’re curious now, go take a look, we’ll wait… Back? Ok, so as you can see, Mayfield padded his stats with oblivious secondary coverage a good portion of the time. Secondaries in the NFL will not let wideouts get that five yards of separation that Mayfield has become accustomed to, and especially early on, he’s going to struggle. Mayfield isn’t the first top QB prospect hailing from the Big 12 that has run into this exact issue. Vince Young, the third overall pick in 2006 was drafted out of Texas, Robert Griffin hailed from Baylor, who obtained the Heisman trophy before being drafted by Washington in 2011, Brandon Weeden came out of Oklahoma State as he was selected at 22 in 2012, and Sam Bradford’s Heisman campaign was enough to be the first pick in the draft in 2010 out of Oklahoma. Hmmm… Hmmm… You see what we’re getting at? It has now happened on a consistent enough basis where it is no longer a coincidence. The Big 12 produces a lot of great NFL talent, but producing NFL quarterbacks is clearly something they don’t have knack for. Now, we don’t want to penalize Mayfield just because he’s from the Big 12, but his college career is at least somewhat similar to the names listed above. Hopefully, Mayfield breaks the apparent trend, but we’re not counting on it.
- Sam Darnold (USC): This may shock many, but Darnold seems more like a ‘raw talent’ with great potential. We still have him at three on this list due to the dire need of NFL quarterbacks, as well as his overall ‘ceiling.’ Prior to this season, he looked to be a sure bet as the top QB in the 2018 NFL draft. This past season at USC has put nothing but doubt in scouts, and experts minds. While he is still projected to be one of the best quarterbacks within the class, he doesn’t seem as much of a ‘sure thing’ as he was prior to his sophomore season. Darnold has raw talent, above average accuracy, reads defenses well, and is certainly a potential franchise QB in the NFL. Here’s the thing, he seems so overrated. Again, take a look at Darnold’s highlight reel, yes, he is able to make plays (at the college level), he does show off prestige accuracy, but there are only a handful of throws/plays we are impressed with. Even early on in his senior year when experts had him as ‘the guy,’ we didn’t. Darnold’s most revealing flaw would be his arm strength, which isn’t the end of the world if the team that drafts him understands this, and operates a ‘west coast’ style offense. Darnold seems to have the necessary tools when it comes to translating to an NFL talent, yet there was something about him that makes one uneasy. Yes, his freshman season at USC saw one of the best QBs in the nation begin to take form, he boasted a 161.1 QB rating as he threw for over 3,000 yards, 31 TDs, and only 9 INTs. This season, while surpassing 4,000 yards, his QB rating fell to 148.1, he threw for five fewer TDs (26), as well as increasing his number of INTs to 13. His recent bowl performance in the cotton bowl was average at best, and he refused to work out at the NFL combine for some weird reason. Why would a top QB prospect refuse to workout at the combine? This not only shows he clearly has something to hide, but portrays a lack of confidence to present his services in front of NFL scouts. So again, Darnold shows flashes of brilliance, but it’s clear that his brief two years of NCAA experience might not have been enough to solidify him as a top pick in the draft in 2018. We obviously aren’t scouting for an NFL team, nor do we claim we can to the proper detail, but we have seen enough where Darnold should return to USC for his junior season. Obviously that ship has sailed, so if we were scouting for an NFL team, we would relay the potential, and prospect of greatness, but more as a 2nd or 3rd rounder, not the first pick in the draft.
- Josh Allen (Wyoming): Allen is overlooked by many due to the fact he played his college ball at Wyoming. Don’t let the generic ‘Wyoming’ persona fool you, this kid can play. Allen enters the 2018 NFL draft with durability, mobility, and an absolute cannon. It was recently reported Allen was able to hit numerous long balls surpassing 60 yards at the combine, so clearly arm strength is not an issue. Allen is also the biggest highly touted QB in the 2018 class at 6’5” and 234 lbs. This is where Allen differentiates from the other top prospects; not only does he bring sustainable durability, he brings uncommon mobility with QBs of his size. The recent criticism of Allen would be his ability to maintain accuracy. Yes, obviously important, but his other attributes make Allen a more than worthy candidate as a potential first round draft pick. If Allen’s throwing accuracy can maintain NFL standards, Allen could end up being the best QB in the draft class. Yup, we said it.
- Josh Rosen (UCLA): There are never ‘sure things’ when it comes to predicting the efficiency of an NFL QB (we’ve all learned this from Jeff George). Rosen is about as close to a ‘sure thing’ a QB can possibly be in recent years when declaring for the NFL draft. His mechanics are on point, he has a great arm, he can make throws in the tightest of windows, and he reads defenses better than any college QB we’ve seen in recent years. When comparing Rosen’s highlights to the other four QBs on this list, you can see a difference. You see an NFL ready quarterback that has the intangibles to make any NFL throw, not to mention the ability to read an opposing defense. The one true risk-factor that Rosen brings his size and durability; while the Bruins’ QB reaches a sufficient height of 6’4″, he weighs in at modest 218 lbs. This could make teams hesitant, as taking potential NFL hits at that size always puts you at a risk for injury. Teams with a subpar offensive line should be especially careful if they plan on having Rosen under center his rookie season. If Rosen’s durability can hold up, he is clearly the most talented and NFL ready QB of the draft class, and has the most potential to be a potential franchise QB for years to come.