Over the last couple of years, it’s been moderately cut and dry to point to a guy like Carson Wentz or Deshaun Watson and say; that guy is going to be good! Reviewing film this year hasn’t been nearly as simple and most were in similar spread offenses in college, ones that typically do not translate well to the NFL game. However, there’s still some intriguing talent in this QB class going forward and anyone of them could evolve into a franchise QB, but they need to be drafted by the right team and successfully be coached up for that to come to fruition.
Of the potential first-round picks I like Rosen, Darnold, and Jackson as potential first year starters with Rosen being my favorite overall but honestly believe they all should sit in 2018. In Jackson’s case, he seriously should consider a position change to wide receiver if he struggles early on at QB and not delay the inevitable like Tyrell Pryor did when he came into the league. Josh Allen should go in the first round, probably no later than the Buffalo Bills at number twelve as he’s got ideal size, massive hands, a cannon for an arm, and has the pedigree of a cold weather quarterback. Best value in my opinion must be Mike White, a guy who was on a bad offense at Western Kentucky but still managed to put up solid numbers despite incredible adversity issued to him by his team mates.
In conclusion, after breaking down this QB class through several hours of film study I believe teams with high first-round picks should be very careful if they are going quarterback. As many of these prospect’s will need the right coach, scheme, and players around them if they are to reach their full potential quickly. Continue reading below for individual QB analysis, top five quarterbacks, as well as my bold prediction top fifteen mock draft.
Sam Darnold – USC
6’4” 225lbs, Hand size: 9 3/8
• Deceptively shifty avoiding pressure in the pocket
• Elite feel of pressure at times
• Elite QB vision and surveys field well
• Very good in transition offense
• Zips passes to the seams & flats very well
• Short memory after a mistake
• Ideal NFL size for QB
• Great at making reads on the line of scrimmage
• Sets up beautiful pump fakes
• Not afraid to challenge defenses with his throws
• Can feel pressure that isn’t there leading to a rushed throw for INT
• Holds onto the ball too long at times resulting in sack fumbles
• Often not on the same page as his receivers
• Cocks back too hard when he’s about to throw, signals defenders
Analysis: Darnold is quite the enigma, he’s tough to get a read on simply because the PAC12 is not really known for its defense yet he had so many turnovers. On the other hand, he’ll lead a long drive down field making exciting plays all the way into the end zone. He works the seams of the field incredibly well and uses it to set up his deep balls and dumps to the flats very similar to Josh McCown.
Which leads me to believe Darnold is the Jets priority after trading with the Colt’s for the third overall pick. Having McCown as their short-term starter, allows Darnold to sit and learn from a likeminded quarterback as well as a savvy veteran who could teach him how to fix his turnover issues.
A realistic scenario considering the flaws in talent at QB this year, I could easily see the Browns going with Barkley or Allen at number one and the Giants taking whichever player the Browns don’t at number two. Leaving Darnold to the Jets and looking brilliant for making a move that got them the player they wanted all along.
NFL Comparison: Josh McCown
NFL Ceiling: Phillip Rivers
Ideal landing spot: Jets, Ravens, Browns
Josh Rosen – UCLA
6’3” 226lbs, Hand size: 9 7/8
• Elite footwork and well above average pocket presence
• Experience playing from under center
• Incredibly high IQ & very efficient at disguising plays
• Finesse passer with ability to throw accurate deep ball
• High completion percentage when blitzed
• Incredible accuracy when in a rhythm
• Can throw all over the field
• When he’s feeling it he makes the players around him better
• Big problem avoiding pass rush at times & has slim frame
• Indecisive in pocket vs high pressure defenses
• Doesn’t check down enough when deep ball is not there (hero baller)
• Inconsistent with post snap reads
• Wide stance in pocket severely limits mobility under pressure
• When he’s not feeling it, mistakes happen
• Benefited from playing weak PAC 12 defenses
Analysis: Rosen’s play flat out reminds me of a young Eli Manning. Everything, from the beautifully disguised finesse deep ball for a TD all the way to the dumbfounding sack when pressure comes fast. There’s no question Rosen’s tennis pedigree has his footwork well beyond his peers in this draft class and when combined with high accuracy and IQ.
Most industry experts believe he’s the most starter ready QB in this draft class. Which I agree with, but he must go to a team that can protect him up front and has good position players in place to make his steep learning curve from the PAC12 to the NFL less difficult. Major concern when facing good pass rushes as he doesn’t see free defenders coming until it’s too late and as the game goes on his reactionary instinct can turn awful when reacting late to pressure.
While most believe he’s the most starter ready QB in this draft class, I believe for Rosen to reach his full potential in the NFL he should sit his first year behind a veteran QB as his raw skills as a potential elite NFL player are there, but his slim frame could put him in immediate danger. If his mind is set on being a great NFL player then he will do just that, if it isn’t? His game vs Washington is probably what we will see from him going forward. Absolutely one of my favorite QB’s in this draft but is also very high risk for bust potential.
NFL Comparison: Jay Cutler
NFL Ceiling: Eli Manning
Ideal landing spot: Browns, Giants, Jets, Broncos, Cardinals.
Josh Allen- Wyoming
6’4” 237lbs, Hand size: 10 1/8
• Great scrambling ability
• Powerful arm
• Ridiculous pump fake
• Good pocket presence
• Very illusive
• Plays hard
• Long release, needs to shorten in NFL but can he?
• Throws it like a baseball, making ball sail high or nose dive into dirt often
• Hasn’t proved he can win with his arm when he’s forced to pass
• Weak college competition
• Lots of read option plays in college
• Game vs Iowa causes big concern in his all-around game translating to NFL
Analysis: The more I watch Josh Allen the more I am reminded of Marcus Mariota. Who has very solid arm strength but just runs too damn much. I was not a fan of Mariota going as high as he did in the draft and I am not interested in Allen anywhere close to where he’s being talked about going at either. Who comes off as a poor man’s Mariota, quarterbacks who rely heavily on read option plays to set up the passing game. At least Mariota looks like an NFL QB when throwing the ball, Allen looks more like a starting pitcher than a prospect of American Football.
However, Allen does have a cannon for an arm to combine with elite & illusive scrambling ability. Unfortunately, when teams stop the read option and force Allen to beat defenses through the air, he struggles too adapt, just like Mariota does at times throughout his career. Although if a team can harness Allen’s untapped potential and mold him into a NFL QB, he could have Carson Wentz upside.
NFL Comparison: Marcus Mariota
NFL Ceiling: Ben Roethlisberger
Ideal landing spots: Bills, Browns, Dolphins, Titans
Lamar Jackson- Louisville
6’2” 205lbs, Hand size: 9 1/2
• Short & sweet release
• Solid arm strength on deep ball
• Surveys the field well
• Beautiful touch on lob passes
• Impossible to pursue after he escapes the pocket
• Extremely explosive as a runner
• Amazingly illusive in the pocket
• Took snaps from under center
• Twinkle toes in the pocket
• College system ran too many Read Option run plays
• Takes unnecessary contact
• Poor scrambling accuracy
• Scary slim frame (6’3 200lbs)
Analysis: First and foremost, please just stop with all the Jackson comparisons to Michael Vick because after watching his film, you can clearly see this kid tries to be him, but he isn’t and is going to be a huge injury risk with all the unnecessary contact he takes. Yes, his open field speed and sweet flick of the wrist throwing motion resembles Vick but everything else is completely different. Vick ran the ball like Bo Jackson and threw it like Brett Favre and was a once in a 100-year talent. Jackson, while great in his own right, weighs 205 pounds in pads and isn’t strong enough to break tackles when a defender has a hold on him, not to mention he has more of a finesse deep ball where Vick had a laser cannon.
Although Jackson does have this amazing gazelle like glide in his stride that reminds me allot of former University of Texas super star Vince Young. Clearly, Jackson possesses the same unique deceptive speed burst that rendered a defender’s pursuit angle irrelevant because their long strides in real time speed were impossible to figure out and it regularly makes defenders look slower then they are because of the bad angle they are deceived in taking.
Like Rosen, I think Jackson will need to sit his first year while he comes to the realization that he’s nowhere near Vicks level and only then will he be allowed to find himself as a NFL QB. If his drafted position doesn’t work out he could pull a Tyrell Pryor and switch to receiver with ease.
NFL Comparison: Vince Young
NFL Ceiling: Dak Prescott
Ideal landing spots: Saints, Colts, Seahawks, Ravens
Baker Mayfield- Oklahoma
6’0 215lbs, Hand size: 9 1\4
• Solid footwork & stands tall in the pocket
• Very competitive in nature
• Solid arm to all areas of the field with accuracy
• Good at manipulating secondary with eyes
• Gamer mentality, team mates love him
• Solid impulse reaction
• Very high completion percentage when throwing on the run
• Decorated college QB
• Holds onto the ball way too long in the pocket
• Falters under constant pressure from blitz
• BIG12 quarterback in spread heavy scheme
• Lacks size
• Dances in the backfield trying to make plays
• Limited deep ball
Analysis: Thoroughly enjoyed watching Mayfield from a gamer prospective but their offense at Oklahoma was tough to watch at times. Being a traditional, bland, and boring spread offense and if it wasn’t for Mayfield, I would have lost interest early on. He does allot of things well when it comes to running his team’s offense and his ability to extend plays and throw with accuracy all over the field paid huge dividends in Oklahoma’s success during his career.
However, he had several good players on those teams and seeing how badly they struggled versus a stout defense in University of Houston is one that really stood out to me. Especially regarding how poorly Mayfield played under constant pressure from a talented unit ripe with bruisers and playmakers. Mayfield is undersized and comes from one of the worst college systems at developing NFL QB’s so if he makes it in the pro’s it’s going to be because of his Rudy Ruettiger like heart and gamer mentality.
Those quality traits should keep him on a NFL roster for a while and may have a ceiling like fellow spread offense wizard Case Keenum but the odds say he’s going to fade into the realm of irrelevance like all undersized BIG12 QB’s do.
NFL Comparison: Case Keenum
NFL Ceiling: Kirk Cousins
Ideal landing spot: Browns, Dolphins, Seahawks, Eagles
Mason Rudolph – Oklahoma State
6’4” 225lbs, Hand size: 9 1/8
• Great pocket awareness with smooth feet
• Display’s a calm patience in the pocket letting play develop
• Quick release, can make throws all over the field
• Solid running ability for a QB
• Not afraid to challenge defenses with his throws
• Constantly developing & has improved every year in college
• Makes impulse decision throws without setting his feet
• Didn’t take many snaps under center, mostly from shotgun
• Accuracy drops when forced from the pocket
• Really needs to improve his footwork
Analysis: Rudolph is another QB from a long line of Big 12 quarterbacks that looks good in their respective offenses but hardly translates to the pro game. After breaking down his film, he looks very calm in the pocket and plays with an experienced presence there. However, his impulse reaction after feeling pressure is a legitimate concern after watching some bad decisions with the ball. I get all the Dak Prescott comparisons, but I don’t buy that simply because Dak played against SEC defenses, not BIG 12.
Rudolph’s career in the NFL will probably center around how well he can play as a backup and I could absolutely see him play well as a potential injury replacement QB for a contender.
NFL Comparison: Brandon Weeden
NFL Ceiling: Dak Prescott
Ideal Landing Spots: Patriots, Packers, and Falcons.
Mike White- Western Kentucky
6’4” 225lbs, Hand size: 9 1/2
• Poised in the pocket
• Throws with accuracy
• Former high school pitcher with 90 mph heater
• Very solid as tight window passer
• Excellent deep ball passer when he has the time
• Can make full reads all over the field
• Played behind terrible Oline, responsible for some of his TO’s
• Doesn’t pick up or read blitzes very well
• Not mobile at all
• Takes too many sacks leading to fumbles
• Needs to progress through his check downs better
Analysis: Former high school pitcher with a 9-2 record and .46 ERA, White has an elite arm and should get a shot at back up duties starting out and if he gets in the right system he could ascend into a full fledged starting NFL QB as most of his general mechanics appear to be solid outside of being slow. White must be the tough luck prospect of this draft as he suffered from a porous offensive line which is clear in his 196 drop backs vs pressure total and most among the QB’s mentioned in this article. Adding insult to injury, White’s receivers had by far the most drops (44) in this draft class also. If there’s a rag to riches story in this draft I’m putting my money on White.
He just feels like your typical Bill Belichick work in progress QB that will ball out while filling in for Brady (who he tries to model his game after by the way), only to have the Patriots trade him for a second-round pick because that’s what they do.
Obviously, I believe the Patriots take a chance on him late in the draft but who ever ends up with him likely see’s the same potential I see in him going forward.
NFL Comparison: Nick Foles
NFL Ceiling: Jameis Winston
Ideal landing spot: Patriots