The NFL Draft is right around the corner and all eyes will be on this year’s quarterback class that could feature as many as five signal callers selected in the first round.
While many experts believe Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield are the top three in this class, I believe that the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner will be the name everyone is talking about for years to come.
The most quarterbacks selected in the first round of the NFL Draft came in the previous decade and many draft nicks believe the record will not be broken two weeks from now.
However, while this draft class may not be the best in terms of best overall rankings, this class has the potential to break the record set in 1999.
GO FOR THE 2 – TOP 5 QUARTERBACKS EXPECTED TO BE DRAFTED IN 1ST OR 2ND ROUND
- Lamar Jackson-QB Louisville
In my opinion, Lamar Jackson is the best quarterback prospect in this year’s draft. He is my top ranked signal caller heading into the 2018 NFL Draft over both Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen.
Jackson completed 59% of his passes in 2017, passing for over 3,600 yards with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Over the past two seasons, Jackson has thrown for over 7,100 yards with 57 passing touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He also rushed for over 3,100 yards with 39 rushing touchdowns and has the ability to put pressure on opposing defenses on the perimeter.
Jackson is the best pure athlete alongside Saquon Barkley in this year’s draft. He bacame a better pocket passer this past season despite losing his top three leading wide receivers from the 2016 season.
Jackson was the one of the most sacked quarterbacks in 2015 and 2016 because he was indecisive with his reads and progressions. Louisville allowed 47 total sacks in 2016 and 44 total sacks in 2015. Last year, the offensive line allowed 27 total sacks due to Jackson’s decision making with the football.
If Tyrod Taylor can be a starting quarterback in the league, there is no reason to believe that Jackson cannot be a star in the making. That is not a knock on Taylor, however, he was not half the college quarterback at Virginia Tech that Jackson was for the Cardinals.
Jackson’s ability to break contain and keep his eyes down the field will be his biggest attribute on the next level. In today’s game, if an offense can force the defense to account for every offensive skill player in one on one match-ups it can create mismatches.
Many team’s discounted DeSahun Watson coming out of Clemson and all he did was take the league by storm before being injured last season. Jackson is a dynamic play maker that will elevate his game and cause many defensive coordinators headaches throughout the NFL season for years to come.
- Sam Darnold-QB USC
Darnold completed over 60% of his passes in back to back years for the Trojans and threw for over 7,100 yards with 37 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He led the Trojans to a come from behind Rose Bowl win over Penn State in 2016 and a PAC-12 Championship in 2017.
Darnold compiled a 19-4 overall record and made his teammates around him better. He was the leader of the offense and showed the ability to overcome adveristy in two seasons under center.
Darnold has good pocket awareness and mobility to avoid a pass rush and keeps his eyes down the field to allow his receivers to break open on routes.
At times, he forces throws into coverage but is not afraid to challenge opposing defenses vertically.
Darnold led the Trojans to a 7-4 record on the road or on a neutral field site over the past two seasons and did pass for over 300 yards in 12 of his 23 starts.
Darnold has the intangibles to come into a NFL team and challenge for a starting job immdiately. However, he is still not a pure polished quarterback. He has the advantage over players like Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen because he has played in a pro style offense the past two seasons.
- Baker Mayfield-QB Oklahoma
Mayfield could be the fiercest competitor of this quarterback class and always plays with a chip on his shoulder. While that mentality could translate to the next level, Mayfield must show maturity and poise in being able to lead an NFL team.
Over the past three seasons in Norman, Mayfield has completed over 70% of his passes for over 12,200 yards with 119 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions. He compiled a 34-6 record as a starting quarterback for the Sooners and passed for over 300 yards twenty times over the past three years.
From an attitude standpoint, Mayfield can play in the league. However, standing at only 6’1 and weighing around 219 pounds, he needs to develop in being able to read pass coverage. Playing in the Big 12, opposing defenses are not playing very much bump and run coverage against his receivers.
Mayfield struggled when the Georgia defense mixed up coverage in the second half of the game and put pressure on Mayfield from the edge.
That will happen in the NFL and Mayfield needs to be able to adjust his game much of the way Drew Brees has evolved for the Saints.
- Josh Rosen-QB UCLA
In 2015 many college football experts and analysts were handing the Heisman Trophy to Rosen after his week one performance over Virginia (350 yards with 3 touchdowns). From that point on in his college career, Rosen has failed to live up to expectations.
Over his three seasons in UCLA, Rosen has completed around 60% of his passes for over 9,300 yards with 59 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. Rosen was injured over the past two seasons with concussions which can be a concern heading to the next level.
While Rosen possesses the best arm in this quarterback class, he has struggled in leading his teammates and elevating his game to the next level. Along with that is the fact that Rosen never led his team to a PAC-12 title nor a bowl win in his career.
Rosen compiled a 5-11 road record or .312% during his tenure as starting quarterback for the Bruins. In 2017, UCLA was 0-7 on the road or on a neutral field site and Rosen was at the helm for six of those contests.
That is a characteristic that does not translate to the next level and needs to be addressed prior to the upcoming draft.
- Josh Allen-QB Wyoming
While Allen reminds me of a raw Phillip Rivers, I think he is severly overrated heading into this year’s draft along with Rosen.
Rivers was a more polished and complete quarterback coming out of NC State and led the Wolf Pack to wins over some of the better teams on his schedule.
On the other hand, Allen did not step up against some of the better teams on the Cowboys schedule last year. Against Iowa and Oregon, Allen completed 32 of 64 passes (50%) for 238 yards (119.0 yards per game) with no touchdowns and three interceptions.
Over the past two seasons, Allen has completed around 54% of his passes for over 5,000 yards with 44 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
Allen is completely a raw product that should be a fourth or a fifth round pick. However, with NFL teams deperately in need of quarterbacks, Allen is being hyped as the next elite quarterback in this year’s class.
- Mason Rudolph-Oklahoma State
Rudolph had a solid season in Stillwater and in my opinion could have a better NFL career than Josh Allen or Josh Rosen. Rudolph completed 65% of his passes for over 4,900 yards with 37 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
In his four year career, Rudolph completed over 63% of his passes for over 13,000 yards with 92 touchdowns.
He is not a system quarterback and although he forces the football into coverage at times, is a gutty performer that has played very well on the road. He is not afraid to stand in the pocket to deliver the football to his receivers while under pressure. He showed the ability to bounce back after mistakes and has a great touch on deep passes outside the hashes.
In 2017, he was 6-0 on the road or on a neutral field site and stepped in winning three of four bowl games as starter.
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