[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his year’s class is certainly intriguing and has five solid prospects in it. Teams will walk away with their franchise QB from this class and it’s all because the top of the class is insanely stacked. A lot of these quarterbacks hold up very well against past classes. I’ll go on the record right now and say this class will absolutely exceed Andrew Luck’s 2012 class. I’ve watched almost every snap of a lot of these guys careers and spent countless hours rewatching tape and trying to nail down just who I think will exceed in the NFL. Guys like Josh Rosen who were always billed as the #1 prospect, the Josh Allen’s of the world who seemingly shoot up the board late (and sometimes for good reason), they all tell more on tape than you hear from ear-to-ear.
1. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (6’4″, 210)
NFL Comparison: Matt Ryan
Draft Grade: 88/100
I’ve been scouting QB’s for this publication for years now. I’ve been known to be harsh to the QB’s I scout (sans Brett Hundley). When I say there’s a thing Josh Rosen does well, I mean he does it better than anybody. With time in the pocket, Rosen is an elite all time QB prospect. He flings the ball with a perfect spiral, leads WRs open, stands tall when getting hit, and makes the correct read quickly. Unfortunately, almost every issue Rosen has can’t be coached. He’s had a concussion, he’s not very durable, by all accounts he is a questionable leader, aggressive personality, and could struggle with the media. The problem with Rosen is we don’t know if these negatives are because he’s a kid, or because he is who he is. If put in a good situation, he could thrive. Thrown to the wolves, he might not survive.
2. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (6’2″, 214)
NFL Comparison: Jimmy Garrapolo
Draft Grade: 87/100
Before I get into Baker Mayfield, let me say I’m not pretending to know who Jimmy Garrapolo is as a QB yet. I’m simply measuring their college tape and the limited tape we have of Jimmy in the pros. Baker is a leader. He’s loud, his team loves him, and he backs his talk up. He’s as accurate as you can ask for, coming from that Oklahoma system, which is basically just asking a QB to be accurate. I love everything Mayfield does. He’s not afraid to make the tough throw, which is going to be a bumpy road before he adjusts to the NFL climate. I love the way he fits the ball into tight windows, his ability to make quick reads, and his willingness to progress. He’s gotten better every year he’s played. He’s a plug and play guy who is going to grow naturally with more playing time. Any team in the draft that’s willing to let it rip with the rookie QB is going to be happy to have Mayfield. I fear he’s not going to do a lot of learning in the QB room, and might rely on his instincts.
3. Sam Darnold, QB, USC (6’4″, 225)
NFL Comparison: Kirk Cousins
Draft Grade: 85/100
I’ve been putting off writing about Sam Darnold because I’m unsure how to phrase how I feel about him. When Darnold is hot, he’s as good as they get. Unfortunately, his streakiness comes in too often. He uses his eyes well, but doesn’t always make the right decisions. He doesn’t have an elite arm, but he has a quality one. His internal clock is elite. His placement is pretty good. He’s a hard worker. It’s tough to grade someone out who is going to basically be as good as the situation he’s in. I don’t think Darnold makes a bad team better, I do think that if Darnold gets with a real QB coach and a real OC, he could develop into the kind of player that CAN make a bad team into a good one. One thing that Darnold does well, escapability. Even with limited mobility and strength, he’s just difficult to sack. My biggest issue with Goff was that he’s the easiest QB to sack in the league. Darnold is a similar prospect with just a slightly worse arm.
4. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (6’3″, 205)
NFL Comparison: Marcus Mariota
Draft Grade: 81/100
The problem with Jackson is simple, we’ve seen it before. He’s a taller reincarnate of Michael Vick. Michael Vick was a more gifted runner and had a better arm, but Jackson might have more accuracy. I love the throws he makes, but I’m unsure how he’ll adjust to making reads coming from that Louisville offense. The designed runs aren’t going to work nearly as well in the NFL simply because the quality of play is greater. If Jackson gets knocked around too much, he might never get on track as a passer. Jackson throws a tight spiral, and doesn’t make bad decisions. Could be better suited to be a guy that learns in the QB room, with his intelligence and leadership. I wouldn’t throw him on the field until he’s had time to sit and learn, and he will learn fast.
5. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming (6’5″, 222)
NFL Comparison: Joe Flacco
Draft Grade: 79/100
He’s the best of Daunte Culpepper, and the worst of Joe Flacco. I don’t doubt that Josh Allen will be a top pick in this draft, I just doubt how succesfull he’ll be. He didn’t wow against bad competition, and is very much gathering hype based on his measurables. His tape doesn’t fly off the screen, and he doesn’t do the little things that seperate him. I can’t dismiss Allen entirely however, because even though his competition wasn’t the greatest, neither was his supporting cast. He threw many catchable passes that bounced off the hands of a receiver, that is, if the receiver even managed to run the correct route. If you’ve ever wanted a QB to mold into what you want him to be, Allen might be the perfect specimen. His best case scenario is to be drafted by a QB friendly coach. When I wrote about Wentz I said Pederson was “going to make him into the NFL QB he wasn’t ready to be” and he did. Wentz (before his injury) was playing like an MVP. Allen is nowhere near the prospect Wentz was, but could be similarly successful given the chance with a friendly system.
6. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State (6’5″, 235)
NFL Comparison: Andy Dalton
Draft Grade: 74/100
Mason Rudolph is intriguing as a prospect because even though his offense didn’t require him to make the right read immediately, he very rarely made an incorrect read. He needs to learn to use his eyes more effectively, as he has a tendency to lock onto his guy immediately after the snap. Throws with good touch and has a decent arm. When he throws risky passes, he often does a good job putting the ball in a difficult spot for the defender to make a play on it, even if it gives is target less of a chance to make the play. He’s almost statuesque of an athlete, and doesn’t make many pre-snap reads. He could end up taking a lot of sacks and killing a lot of drives without some proper coaching.
7. Luke Falk, QB, Washington State (6’3″, 211)
NFL Comparison: Phillip Rivers
Draft Grade: 70
I love Luke Falk. But that Air Raid offense he came from is going to be impossible to predict in terms of how he develops. He stares down his receivers, and rarely makes a read. But he has all the arm talent in the world to succeed. He’s a project player, absolutely. But that doesn’t mean his ceiling isn’t high. His accuracy and footwork are phenomenal and would translate perfectly. There isn’t a more suitable player to sit on a bench and learn under the wing of a vet than Luke Falk. He’s an ideal third round selection that might get overdrafted by a team without a suitable backup plan for their future. (New Orleans, New England, Washington). If you look at his insane numbers in college you’d be wondering why he isn’t a better NFL prospect, but it’s because he rarely was under center, and would need to learn what is essentially 45% of the position.
There’s a pretty big drop-off between the previous mentions and the upcoming list. Quarterback is an insanely hard position, and there are possibly only 45 people in the world suited to start for an NFL team. Backups have value (Thanks, Nick Foles!) and most of the following guys should be treated as such, I wouldn’t expect any of the following to start a full NFL season, but hey, there’s always that Tom Brady guy.
8. Riley Ferguson, QB, Memphis (6’4″, 210)
NFL Comparison: Brock Osweiler
Draft Grade: 60
Ferguson actually does some things really well. He has great field vision while on the move, and does a fantastic job keeping his eyes upfield while moving. He throws with decent touch, and has a strong enough arm. Unfortunately his eyes lock on to one receiver while in the pocket, he doesn’t have good or even average footwork. He’s very skinny. Yyou can be 210 pounds and be “full”, but he’s not. He has almost zero muscle on him and I wouldn’t be shocked if he actually weighed less than listed.
9. Nic Shimonek, QB, Texas Tech (6’3″, 225)
NFL Comparison: Kerry Collins (remember him?)
Draft Grade: 55
Taking over for Pat Mahomes shouldn’t be an easy job, but it was. The Big 12 plays almost no defense, and as such, Shimonek found plenty of room to pass the football around. He has quality arm talent, but might never make it out of the QB room due to his deficiencies in reading defenses.
10. Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky (6’4″, 221)
NFL Comparison: Mike Glennon
Draft Grade: 53
Every year there is a smaller school QB that has huge numbers, and gets people all sorts of riled up when they don’t get drafted. Meet Mike White. He has decent accuracy and size, but that’s where it ends. He doesn’t have a strong arm, he doesn’t move his feet well, and he doesn’t have great athleticism to make up for him. If Mike White progresses quick on his vision and footwork, he could be a suitable backup.
11. Chase Litton, QB, Marshall (6’6″, 223)
NFL Comparison: Derek Anderson
Draft Grade: 51
It would not surprise me to see Chase Litton get over-drafted. He has some physical tools that are rare (height, arm strength, great deep ball), but those don’t outweigh what we know AND what we don’t know. He was a very surprising early entry to the draft, and needs time to adjust to the NFL. I spoke to one scout for a team that told me there is a thin line between Litton and Josh Allen, so take that as you will.
12. Tanner Lee, QB, Nebraska (6’4″, 220)
NFL Comparison: Elvis Grbac
Draft Grade: 49
I can’t imagine a scenario working for Tanner Lee. He’s an immobile pocket passer without a great arm strength. He makes quick decisions, and doesn’t force sacks onto his line, but he often makes the quickest decision and not the best one. It makes sense he moved on from Nebraska considering Scott Frost’s offense requires the QB to be mobile, something Tanner Lee was never accomplishing.
13. Kurt Benkert, QB, Virginia (6’2″, 214)
14. Danny Etling, QB, LSU (6’1″, 215)
15. Brandon Silvers, QB, Troy (6’2″, 224)