The Elite 8: College Quarterback Edition

The 2018 NFL draft class of quarterbacks could easily mirror the likes of the 2004, 2012, or dare I say, the 1983 quarterback draft class. Just to name a select few.

With as many as 4 (possibly more) quarterbacks slated to go in the first couple of rounds, I will take the top 8 quarterback prospects and compare them to NFL players, current and non-current. Let’s dive into the action.

1. Josh Rosen (UCLA)
6’4″, 218 LBS.
2017 passing stats: 11 games played – 282/451 passes, 62.5% completion, 3,717 yards, 8.2 YPA, 26 TD’s, 10 INT’s

NFL Comparison: Jay Cutler, Miami Dolphins

Take a trip back to the 2006 NFL draft with me for a second.

Jay Cutler was by far the most polished and NFL ready quarterback. However, he didn’t get the exposure that Matt Leinart and Vince Young got simply because Vanderbilt only won 5 games in 2005. Leinart and Young played each other in the National Championship that year.

Josh Rosen’s situation this year is eerily similar. The Bruins stumbled to a 5-6 finish amidst injury and lack of talent. He’s a guy that can make every NFL throw with consistency and throws his guys open, something a lot of college QB’s struggle to do when coming into the NFL.

While his talent was never in question, his ability to lead a football team, body language during games, and somewhat narcissistic attitude always has been. Much like his comparison.

He has turned a couple of QB needy teams off for his comments regarding the NFL draft. He openly stated that he would rather be a later pick and on the right team than to be a high pick on the wrong team.

I don’t see him falling out of the top 10 in the draft, shall he not go No. 1 (or 4) to Cleveland. The Giants at No. 2, Denver at No. 5, and the Jets at No. 6 remain very feasible options for the soon to be a 21-year old passer.

2. Sam Darnold (USC)
6’4″, 220 LBS.
2017 passing stats: 14 games played – 303/480 passes, 63.1% completion, 4,143 yards, 8.6 YPA, 26 TD’s, 13 INT’s

NFL comparison: Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins

Sam Darnold has had NFL euphoria for quite some time. While he’s notably regressed, particularly with his decision making and inability to hold on to the football, he played well enough this season to contain a lot of that euphoria into this year’s draft.

Darnold admitted he struggled with confidence at times during the season. Three of his starting linemen left for the NFL, causing him not to trust his protection, which led to a lot of turnovers. 22, to be exact (11 total fumbles, 9 lost).

He is a very athletic and physical quarterback who isn’t afraid to bust out if the pocket and make magic. However, he’s somewhat of a project because of his slow, unorthodox release.

His performance at the Cotton Bowl against Ohio State did him no favors. Greg Schiano’s NFL style defense proved too much for the young QB as pressure flew from all angles. He didn’t react very well to the pressure. He completed 26/45 passes for 356 yards, but with no TD’s and 1 back breaking INT.

Nonetheless, this is a guy who threw for over 7,200 yards and 57 TD’s while in college. Not to mention, he ran for 722 yards and scored 7 TD’s. He’s completed nearly 65% of his passes, won 21 of his 27 starts at USC, and was a huge piece in restoring that program’s winning culture.

I believe that he will be a solid professional, if in the right system.

 3. Josh Allen (Wyoming)
6’5″, 237 LBS.
2017 passing stats: 11 games played – 152/270 passes, 56.6% completion, 1,812 yards, 6.7 YPA, 16 TD’s, 6 INT’s

NFL comparison: Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

The biggest wild card amongst quarterbacks entering the draft is Josh Allen.

He has the size, the rocket arm, the attitude – pretty much everything you’d want out of a starting quarterback. He has the look of the next Carson Wentz or dare I say, Ben Roethlisberger due to his size alone. Big, strong, sturdy in the pocket and is very athletic.

Where are his flaws, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

His biggest issue is by far his accuracy. He completed around 56% of his passes his entire tenure at Wyoming. Another key stat that works against his favor is his underwhelming 6.7 yards per pass attempt.

6 quarterbacks (Blaine Gabbert, Pat White, Christian Hackenberg, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, and Chad Henne) within the last 10 years averaged under 7 yards per pass attempt in their final collegiate seasons…..AND THEY WERE ALL BUSTS.

I’m not saying that he has bust written all over him, but he is a project and should not be thrown to the wolves early. If so, it could get ugly.

4. Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
6’1″, 224 LBS.
2017 passing stats: 14 games played – 285/404 passes, 70.5% completion, 4,627 yards, 11.5 YPA, 43 TD’s, 6 INT’s

NFL Comparison: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Let’s get one thing straight. Baker Mayfield was the best quarterback in college football this past season. Now whether or not that translates to the NFL landscape remains to be seen.

The Heisman trophy was more than well deserved. He put the University of Oklahoma on his back and carried that team until it was all over after a crushing double OT loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in the Rose Bowl.

On the flipside, for his behavior on and off the field; whether it be him getting arrested for disorderly conduct, planting the flag on the O at the Horseshoe, or the infamous crotch grab (which doesn’t bother me at all), he will always have people looking down on him and expressing concerns of maturity.

I personally have a hard time doubting a guy who’s played 48 collegiate games (winning 39), walked on to 2 Division 1 college football programs and found success, and threw for nearly 15,000 yards and 131 TD’s (with a 4.1:1 TD to INT ratio). But then again, that’s just me.

5. Lamar Jackson (Louisville)
6’3″, 212 lbs.
2017 passing stats: 13 games played – 254/430 passes, 59.1% completion, 3,660 yards, 8.5 YPA, 27 TD’s, 10 INT’s

NFL comparison: Michael Vick *(Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers)

A year after winning the Heisman trophy, the most electrifying man in college football improved his game and set career highs in completed passes, pass attempts, yards, completion percentage and most surprisingly, rushing yards. He compiled 1,601 yards on the ground and 18 TD’s, mind-blowing numbers for a quarterback.

However, there are still very notable flaws that he must correct. His accuracy still leaves a lot to be desired. He completed 57% of his career pass attempts at Louisville and was a run-first quarterback a majority of the time.

Now while his work in the pocket has improved substantially, he must get better at going through his progressions and not getting happy feet when in the pocket. He is yet another quarterback who should be seen as a project.

6. Luke Falk (Washington State)
6’4″, 223 LBS.
2017 passing stats: 12 games played – 357/534 passes, 67.0% completion, 3,593 yards, 6.7 YPA, 30 TD’s, 13 INT’s

NFL comparison: Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

Luke Falk is your typical “get the ball where it needs to be” kind of quarterback. He does it with regularity. He doesn’t by any stretch have a big arm. However, he is deadly accurate.

His completion percentage is at a staggering 68.3% in his 4 seasons at Washington State University. His 119 TD passes are the 10th most by a quarterback in Pac 12 history and his 14,481 yards are the 7th most.

If put in the right system, he could turn into a consummate professional. However, I see him starting his NFL career out as a backup and soaking up knowledge from a top tier starter until he’s ready to take over the reins.

7. Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State)
6’5″, 237 LBS.
2017 passing stats: 13 games played – 318/489 passes, 65.0% completion, 4,904 yards, 10 YPA, 37 TD’s, 9 INT’s

NFL comparison: Carson Palmer *(Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals)

Mason Rudolph turned in his finest season, adding to an already successful career at OK State. He is a big, strong, sturdy quarterback who flourishes in the pocket due to a smooth and fast delivery.

His best attribute, other than his deep ball, is his ability to take care of the ball. He has never thrown more than 9 INT’s in a season and has only thrown 26 for his collegiate career. That’s what has the scouts raving about him. Most big-armed quarterbacks struggling with accuracy and ball control. Not this guy.

As I alluded to earlier, 4 or more quarterbacks could sneak their way into the 1st round. Mason Rudolph could definitely be one of them. It should be very interesting to see what teams gain interest moving forward.

8. Drew Lock (Missouri)
6’4″, 225 LBS.
2017 passing stats: 13 games played – 242/419 passes, 57.8% completion, 3,964 yards, 9.5 YPA, 44 TD’s, 13 INT’s

NFL comparison: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Lock finished his collegiate career on a very high note. After struggling as a true freshman starting quarterback, Drew Lock broke the SEC record for TD passes in a season with 44. The Missouri Tigers also posted their best record in three years with a 7-6 mark.

Accuracy still remains an issue for Lock from time to time. I believe he will also start his career, riding the pine as a backup. He’s definitely gonna need some more time to continue to clean up his game at the next level.

While there is no Andrew Luck or John Elway in this draft class, you can count on most of these young guys turning in decent NFL careers when it’s all said and done. Draft day will be amongst us soon. Can’t wait.

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