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The quarterback class is one that has been hotly debated since the beginning of the last college football season. Many analysts and teams have different views on the quarterbacks in this draft. On one hand, you have the ones who love upside and arm talent, and on the other side, you have the ones who believe in accuracy, footwork, and the film you see. Sam Darnold and Josh Allen get a ton of buzz for their potential, but are they the top guys? Or do guys like Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield belong at the top? What about Lamar Jackson? Teams don’t give him enough credit and often say he should change positions (they’re dumb). Also, is there a sleeper in here somewhere? Let’s take a look at my top 10 quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft.
1. Josh Rosen
Josh Rosen is the best pure passer in this draft. He consistently shows the best mechanics of anyone in the draft. Rosen has mastered every throw you could imagine, including the very difficult back shoulder throw. There are numerous examples of perfect back shoulder placement on tape. While the big arms in the draft get the noise, Rosen’s arm is plenty strong enough to make the throws. He puts plenty of zip on the ball when he needs to, and he can get the ball down the field if need be. The more games he got under his belt at UCLA, the better his anticipation, touch, and accuracy got. He is outstanding between 10 and 20 yards, something many quarterbacks need to work on. As far as mechanics go, he keeps his eyes downfield and his feet moving to the target. He’s also not immobile, as people keep believing. He can make throws on the run out of the pocket.
No prospect is without faults though. Rosen has things he needs to work on. There are times where he isn’t ready for the blitz and ends up getting rid of the ball out of bounds quickly. Another small issue with Rosen is that he sometimes lacks awareness on his blind side. The final concern from teams is the durability. He took plenty of hits at UCLA and he doesn’t have the biggest frame.
Grade: Round 1
2. Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield rose up big time during the fall and for good reason. Many weren’t sure if he could handle the spotlight after an off the field incident last winter. However, he bounced back in a big way. Mayfield looked like a hesitant thrower early in his career, but that changed drastically as time went on. His best attributes are his quick release, his downfield accuracy (he throws some of the prettiest deep balls of anyone), and his ability to maneuver and escape the pocket when he needs to. In 2017, he got passes out on time with very good anticipation. He has the quick release and zip on the ball to put it where he wants and quickly when he sees open receivers. Another plus with Mayfield that shows a lot in 2017 is him setting his feet even when he’s out of the pocket. Quarterbacks can easily just keep running and try to throw on the run, but Mayfield was very good about setting his feet and getting them to his target.
A couple things exist for Mayfield to work on. Sometimes Mayfield will hold the ball too long. This is good for keeping turnovers low, but he will sometimes take unnecessary sacks trying to do too much. There are also times where Mayfield will stare down a certain target. Teams will pick up on that immediately if it becomes a habit. Finally, Mayfield doesn’t have a ton of work under center. However, I don’t see that becoming an issue.
Grade: Round 1
3. Sam Darnold
Sam Darnold is a prospect that can be very polarizing. On the positive side, you see a guy with a rocket arm. Even though he has the zip, he can put some air under the ball and be very accurate down the field. His touch shows big time on his intermediate throws. He is excellent at buying time in the pocket and finds a way to improv out of the pocket and find open receivers. Darnold also throws extremely well on the run, something very difficult for quarterbacks. You will also get plenty of splash plays and wow throws with Darnold. Sometimes it looks like the throw should not be made, but Darnold throws the receiver open and it makes your jaw drop. Another thing Darnold does very well is his eye manipulation on leveled routes. On play action, you will see Darnold’s eyes look to the flat, sucking the linebacker down. Then, Darnold will fire a dart to a wide open receiver at the second level. This is something you see often.
Darnold does have things to work on though. He has some real bad turnovers on tape, some of which come from staring down receivers, and others come from him relying on his arm too much and throwing with his feet not pointed anywhere near the target. This will cause the ball to float and get picked at the next level. Darnold also can get antsy if his first read isn’t there. He needs to realize he can maneuver the pocket smoothly to look elsewhere in his progression.
Grade: Early Round 2
4. Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson is perhaps the most polarizing player among teams and scouts. Some have said he belongs at wide receiver, which is a complete joke. Jackson is a quarterback, plain and simple. Early on in his career, he did struggle a lot to make throws. He often looked like his mind was working faster than his body. He would recognize where the ball needed to be, but he wouldn’t get set quick enough when his mind wanted the ball out.
This changed in 2017, in a drastic way. Jackson has the ability to process and read a defense while getting the ball out on time where it needs to be. He moves around the pocket much better than in previous seasons, and he keeps his eyes downfield. Something very important you want to see is a quarterback aligned toward the target. Jackson does this very well, and he will set his feet again if he gets out of the pocket (just like Mayfield). He works the short and intermediate parts of the field very well, and he’s got plenty of zip on the ball himself.
As a runner, everyone knows how good he is. It is almost impossible to keep him in the pocket, because his speed and elite change of direction are constantly making defenders miss. He has great vision and lateral quickness when he runs.
What can Jackson work on? Deep accuracy is an issue that shows up a lot on tape. If he can get his rhythm down more, he will see an increase in accuracy down the field. Something else to watch is his feet in the pocket. He sometimes forms a really narrow base, which can get him off balance. I think fixing that can help a lot of accuracy and rhythm issues.
Grade: Early Round 2
5. Josh Allen
Josh Allen is the most polarizing draft prospect from the NFL community as a whole. Scouts and analysts love his potential and arm strength. Allen does possess the arm to make any throw on the football field. There are examples on tape where he makes throw that most quarterbacks dream of making. He sometimes makes those throws on the run as well. He is a good athlete who isn’t afraid to tuck and run with the ball. At the Senior Bowl, he showed flashes of good touch and accuracy in some tight windows.
The issue with Allen is still the accuracy. Many will point to the fact that his receivers dropped a lot of passes. In reality, Jackson and other quarterbacks had a higher percentage of dropped balls. Allen has the arm strength, but the ball ends up all over the place at times. He also looks bad with pressure in his face, and he panics and throws to receivers who are heavily covered. Against good competition, Allen folded a lot under pressure. He is a project as a quarterback.
Grade: Round 3
6. Mason Rudolph
Mason Rudolph is often the man forgotten in this quarterback class, and he should garner attention. Rudolph is the ultimate rhythm machine at quarterback. He consistently gets the ball out on time and where it needs to be, especially on short, in breaking routes. He has everything on time and accurate to the catch point. Rudolph also has the arm strength to make any throw. He has great touch and accuracy on his deep ball, which you see multiple examples of on tape.
The issues with Rudolph make him someone who needs development. He often only looks for his first read, which was open a lot of the time. Rudolph operates extremely well when things are clean, but when the pressure gets there, Rudolph often folds.
Grade: Round 3
7. Kyle Lauletta
Kyle Lauletta gained headlines at the Senior Bowl back in January. On tape, you see a good rhythm thrower with very good ball placement. Lauletta does a good job of taking what the defense gives him. He’s also good at manipulating defenders. At the Senior Bowl, Lauletta stared at the safety off of play action, knowing full well D.J. Chark would be open.
The issues with Lauletta lie in the fact that he sometimes looks like it’s tough for him to get the ball where he needs to. He is a great processor, but sometimes the ball just doesn’t get there. His arm is not very strong, and that could be an issue if he can’t get the ball where he wants to on time at the next level.
Grade: Early Round 4
8. Mike White
Mike White is a name who I was intrigued to see at the Senior Bowl. In the game, he did not disappoint. White possesses a quick release which helps him get the ball out on time and accurately. When everything is working, White looks like he can play in the NFL. His physical tools are above average overall.
His issues lie in reading defenses. He will panic if his first read isn’t there and will often look to the check down. He needs to learn how to process and work through progressions. He does flash promise, and he could find a job in the NFL if he can develop for some time.
Grade: Round 4
9. Kurt Benkert
Benkert looked abysmal at the Senior Bowl with poor accuracy and decision making. However, he does have some positives. Benkert does possess a good arm that can make throws at all levels when he has his rhythm. He exceeds when he gets his footwork moving toward the target. When that happens, you see the flashes.
However, the issue with Benkert is inconsistency. There are times where he is just off as a whole and his play just withers away. He will throw with bad footwork at times and it shows in turnovers and wildly inaccurate throws.
Grade: Mid Day Three
10. Luke Falk
Luke Falk certainly has the production for a quarterback in the draft. He does get the ball out quick and works the short and intermediate areas of the field well when things are on. When he is kept clean he does show some promise.
However, the issue with Falk is sometimes his accuracy falls completely off of the table. If he feels the slightest bit of pressure, you see him panic in the pocket and make erratic throws. I just don’t see a lot of promise when it comes to Falk.
Grade: Mid Day Three
Agree with the rankings? Comments? Who are your top quarterback in the draft? Follow Jake on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 and discuss!
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