Football season has wrapped up, and it’s almost that time of year again – draft day. The 83rd annual NFL Draft will take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Franchises will be zoned in on selecting newly eligible members – and, there’s one position in particular that is at the top of many teams’ lists: a quarterback.
In the 2017 NFL Draft, only six quarterbacks were chosen in the first three rounds. This year is sure to be different, with quarterbacks such as Heisman Trophy Winner Baker Mayfield, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, and USC’s Sam Darnold dominating the draft conversation.
Here is a breakdown of the quarterbacks who will be highly coveted in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Sam Darnold, USC
University of Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold is forgoing his final two years of eligibility with the Trojans to enter the draft.
His delivery needs to be cleaned up, but his accuracy is phenomenal – boasting 4,143 passing yards, 26 TD tosses and 13 picks across 14 games in 2017. He is an unafraid, aggressive thrower.
Darnold, who played linebacker as well as quarterback in high school, has the ability to improvise inside and outside the pocket. He can push the ball down the field, without collapsing under pressure.
On the contrary, Darnold had 11 fumbles, which raised questions about his ability to protect the ball despite his obvious upside as a passer.
The 20-year-old California native is the youngest incoming quarterback prospect, and he could be back for his senior year, but it is hard to imagine someone with Darnold’s talent not getting drafted. Only time will tell.
Josh Rosen, UCLA
The 21-year-old from University of California, Los Angeles, has been deemed by many to be the most polished quarterback entering this year’s draft. Rosen, who grew up playing tennis, is a pure pocket passer who can anticipate throws. This is a quarterback who has been well-coached and has a strong understanding of pre- and post-snap reads.
A big concern for the Manhattan Beach native, is durability. He has had two concussions and shoulder surgery a year ago. Medical evaluations will play a great role in determining how highly he’s drafted.
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Baker Mayfield has won many accolades in his years at Oklahoma, including winning the 2018 Heisman Trophy.
The Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year led the nation in pass efficiency by a large margin and yards per pass attempt (11.8). The former walk-on completed 70.7 percent of his passes over the last two seasons, and has exceptional ball placement.
Mayfield plays with a fiery demeanor and can move around the pocket. But, his 6-foot stature is shorter than ideal for a traditional early-round quarterback.
Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Though the Louisville quarterback and 2016 Heisman Winner has flown under the radar this year, Jackson ended the regular season with six consecutive 100-plus yard rushing games. The 6’3″, 211-pounder is skilled at maneuvering through the pocket and reading the field. He’s clearly grown as a player in his three years as a starting quarterback. NFL evaluators may typecast him as an athlete who is better served playing another position, such as wide receiver or a running back.
But there’s no doubt that Jackson is dynamic with the ball in his hands and is a true force to be reckoned with. His speed, agility and athleticism allow an offense to utilize the zone read, bootleg action, quarterback draws and numerous other plays, making him a top prospect in this year’s draft.
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State Mason Rudolph may not have been a Heisman candidate, but the 22-year-old had a terrific season with 4,553 yards, 35 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a career-high 65 percent completion percentage.
With the strong ability to complete vertical passes, Rudolph has been compared to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
In the middle of the year, he showed some inconsistencies, and struggled with accuracy and throwing the ball deep.
But, unlike Mayfield, Rudolph checks all the boxes from a physical standpoint, standing at 6’5”, 230 pounds, giving him the build of a typical elite quarterback.
Josh Allen, Wyoming
Josh Allen certainly looks the part at 6’5”, 233 pounds, but his season has been subpar from a statistical standpoint. The question for scouts will be how much of that has to do with the talent around him, which isn’t good, or if his potential was overrated to begin with.
Allen boasts a strong arm, and is able to make big throws down the field. However, he’s antsy in the pocket and has a tendency to “overextend” and force the football into traffic.
When Allen shines, though, it’s magic. He saved his best for last with an incredible effort while playing the Central Michigan Chippewas in the Potato Bowl. Allen completed three first-quarter touchdowns while playing a consistent and efficient game.
Mike White, Western Kentucky
Mike White is a former baseball prodigy, famous for his 90 mph fastball. He originally committed to Stanford as a sophomore before the gridiron called. The quarterback chose football over baseball after receiving a scholarship offer from South Florida after his senior campaign.
White transferred to Western Kentucky, where his pitcher’s arm was put to use to throw strikes around the yard for 4,363 yards and 37 touchdowns against a measly seven interceptions. His numbers were not quite as impressive as a senior (completed 65.7 percent of his 560 throws for 4,177 yards, 26 touchdowns, and eight interceptions), but he played well enough to be named second-team All-Conference by league coaches.
White’s biggest issue is a lack of pocket mobility due to sluggish feet. His best work is done in a clean pocket, but that is rarely seen in the NFL.
Can his natural throwing talent override a poor pocket presence?
Luke Falk, Washington State
Washington State’s Luke Falk’s claim to fame is becoming the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer with 14,496 yards.
His confidence grows when he gets into a rhythm. Falk shows an ability to attack one-on-one defenders with accurate fades and back-shoulder throws. After years in this offense, his accurate timed throws on deep outs are second nature.
Falk played most of the year with a broken wrist that required surgery, which could be a recurring problem later down the line. He lacks the mobility to evade defenders, so pressure prevents him from getting in the zone.
The 6’4″, 223-pound passer surely knows how to play the position and play it well. His ability to throw with touch and accuracy makes him a great option for a team needing a backup quarterback.
The Ball Out Reporter: Emily Markus is a proud graduate of the University of Miami. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Communications, with a major in broadcast journalism, and a double minor in public relations and sports administration.
Throughout her four years at University of Miami, she participated in UMTV, including holding on-air roles for SportsDesk, the university’s emmy award-winning sports channel. Emily has been featured on-air for ESPN and ESPNU, and has assisted ESPN during interviews for Monday Night Football. Last summer, she had the opportunity to cover the ESPY awards live from Los Angeles, California.
Currently, she works as a Producer/Editor at NFL Network in Culver City, California.