What fans should watch for with quarterbacks in the NFL draft

Posted Apr 23, 2018

It’s been analyzed ad nauseum for the last four months, and the night the 2018 NFL draft opens the top quarterback prospects will dominate the conversation as well. takes a look at what pressing question faces each team looking at QB in the top 12, and provide the opinion of NFL draftniks on the top QBs.

What will happen at the top of the draft?

1 – Cleveland Browns - Allen or Darnold?
The word out of Cleveland is these are the only two considerations with the first pick in the draft. GM John Dorsey took the biggest-armed QB in the draft last year as GM of the Chiefs in Pat Mahomes. If he continues on that track it’ll be Allen.

2 – NY Giants – QB or not QB?
GM Dave Gettleman is committed to Eli Manning for 2018, and possibly 2019, but should that preclude him from taking a quarterback this year? Sam Darnold is reportedly the QB that the Giants covet, so if he’s on the board he’d appear to be a strong consideration. Of course the best non-QB in the draft could be had here too like DE Bradley Chubb.

Other QB-hungry teams will hope with just six picks in the draft, Gettleman can be convinced to stockpile more picks and move down.

3 – NY Jets – Mayfield or Rosen?
The general consensus is the Jets moved up to three in their trade with the Colts for the express purpose of drafting a quarterback. Most reports have indicated that it’s largely a two-horse race between Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen, assuming of course that Sam Darnold is off the board.

5 – Denver Broncos – Move up or down?
There has been a lot of speculation that with Case Keenum on their roster, that if the Broncos move out of pick five it will be down. GM John Elway only supported the ‘trade out’ scenario when he said they’re open for trade.

But trading up to two to beat the Jets to the punch at quarterback should not be ruled out either.

11 – Miami Dolphins – Movin’ on up?
They have the draft capital to get into the fringes of the top five, but do they want to make that move for a QB with all the holes they’ve got to plug in their front seven on defense? 

What they’re saying about the top 2018 QB prospects

Josh Allen – Wyoming – 6-4, 233
A two-year starter with elite physical tools, Allen is a prospect deemed with one of the higher ceilings at the position. Blessed with a sharp football mind and good preparation skills, many NFL talent evaluators believe he’s only begun to scratch the surface of his full potential.

“His arm talent is pretty undeniable. You see it right away,” said former NFL QB Jordan Palmer on the Adam Schefter podcast. “Allen has the ability to effortlessly put way more than he needs to on the ball. But at the same time he has the ability to control it. He’s not a fastball thrower. He has an amazing fast ball, but he knows he doesn’t have to use it.

“Growing up on a farm that’s the actual definition of blue collar. So we often throw around in air quotes that someone has a ‘blue collar mentality.’ For him it’s not his mentality, but rather the foundation of who he is.”

Sam Darnold – USC – 6-3, 221
Capable of accurately reaching all levels of the field, Darnold is a talented thrower with the pre-snap read skills to match. Already demonstrating the traits of an anticipation passer at age, Darnold also possesses off the chart leadership skills and intangibles.

“I look at Darnold, and right now I have him as my number one quarterback,” said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock. “The reason I do is I think he's got plus size, plus arm strength, outstanding athlete, and I really like the way he extends plays inside and outside of the pocket. If he scrambles or moves, it's with the intent of getting the ball down the field. His eyes are always up.

“He is a gunslinger, and he will put the ball up for grabs at times. But he can play in all 32 cities. He can play indoors, he can play outdoors.”

Lamar Jackson – Louisville – 6-2, 216
Possessing an athletic frame and an arm to match, the former Heisman trophy winner is the most dangerous dual threat quarterback in the class. However, Jackson does have the ability to make plays from the pocket and get through his progressions to make plays. He also improved his completion percentage in each of his three collegiate seasons.

“Lamar Jackson is the most electrifying player in this draft,” said Mayock. “I think somebody is going to take him and commit their offensive philosophy to him. I would tell you that the most nervous 31 people in the league would be the defensive coordinators that would have to play against him. Long term I can’t wait to see what Lamar Jackson becomes.”

Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma – 6-0 ½ , 215
The reigning Heisman trophy winner was a three-year starter for the Sooners and brings the best accuracy and passing touch to the table in the class. His ability to read the whole field and quick delivery keep passes from being batted down despite lacking ideal size. An intense competitor, Mayfield possesses an edge to him that will be interpreted differently by NFL scouts.

“I think the West Coast (system) people will like him because he has the quick release,” said Mayock. “So if you draft Baker Mayfield in the first round, you better set your system up around what he does well. The components of the West Coast system fit him well, but there have to be components of the run-pass option, play action, get him out on the run. He’s an exciting talent and I think an intelligent coach will know how to use him to the best of his ability.”

Josh Rosen – UCLA – 6-4, 226
A very cerebral player who makes throwing a football look effortless, Rosen can adjust coverage changes after the snap and delivers a very catchable ball. Played in a pro-style system and was very efficient in the short to intermediate range. He showed no drop-off in his play despite coaching changes at offensive coordinator at UCLA.

“I think when Josh gets to the NFL, all these other things will go away,” said Palmer on the Adam Schefter podcast. “I think he’s going to be all in on football. He’s going to immerse himself in the ‘X’s and ‘O’s of the game and there’s so much great tape of him. I think he’s a guy who wants it all on himself. He wants to have to win the game. There are so many of those traits in Rosen that are going to be exceptional. I hope he goes to a team that supports him to allow him to go all in on ball because if he does he’s going to be a superstar.”

Mason Rudolph – Oklahoma State - 6-5, 235
A starter for three-plus seasons for the Cowboys, Rudolph is seen as one of the most accurate deep-ball throwers in the class. Evidence of that came in his senior season when he led the nation in passing yards with just over 4,900. A strong and sturdy frame allows him to shake off pass rushers at times, and he has improved his footwork to escape the rush and extend plays.

“I really like Mason Rudolph,” said Mayock. “If he becomes a quality starter in the NFL it wouldn’t surprise me. I think we are sometimes guilty of only talking about the top tier guys to the exclusion of some really good football players. When he’s got time he can drive the ball and I think he’s the best deep-ball touch and accuracy thrower in this draft. I’m very bullish on this kid. He’s a smart kid.”