2018 NFL Draft Ten Quarterback Prospects To Watch
The first look going into the season at the 2018 NFL Draft Ten Quarterback Prospects To Watch
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It’s not that you can’t win in the NFL without a good quarterback, now, you probably can’t win in the NFL without a phenomenal one. And that’s why so many teams moved heaven and earth to go fishing for one in the last two drafts.
Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch, Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson all have talent, and they’re all married to their respective teams for at least the next five years – or, they’re at least the franchises should succeed or fail depending on how they do – but none of them were considered elite prospects at an all-timer level.
Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, and to a lesser extent, Jameis Winston were all seen as close-to-as-possible sure-thing talents. None of the big first rounders over the last two years are that.
However, there might be a few of them in the 2018.
It’s not a secret. At least two of the quarterbacks expected to go in next year’s draft are better prospects than any of the latest first rounders, and now, for the 2017 college football season, the spotlight is on.
Who are the ten quarterback prospects to keep an eye out for in the 2018 NFL Draft? From the college football perspective …
2018 NFL Draft Ten Quarterback Prospects To Watch
1. Sam Darnold, USC (Redshirt Soph.)
The pressure is on to be the savior for whatever team he goes to next season – assuming he leaves early. But that’ll be nothing like the expectations heaped on him at USC this year.
The 6-4, 225-pounder ripped it up in practices, and was considered the next great Trojan quarterback, but Max Browne – a great pro prospect, too, now at Pitt – started the season USC went 1-2, and then it was Darnold time.
To be fair to Browne, Darnold didn’t have to start against Alabama and Stanford, but there was plenty of promise shown in a reserve role, completing 14-of-22 passes with two touchdowns and a pick in the first three games.
And then the offense, and the Pac-12, became his, after starting out with a loss at Utah. He tore up eventual Pac-12 champ Washington, and was deadly accurate against everyone else, hovering around the 70% mark before finishing with his epic 453-yard, five score day in the Rose Bowl win over Penn State.
With size and great mobility, to go along with the big deep arm, he’s got it all. However, he needs better ball security, and he seemed like he got away with a few mistakes every game, but that’s nitpicking. There’s nothing that can’t be fixed, tweaked, or worked on.
2. Josh Allen, Wyoming (Jr.)
He needs to be more accurate.
To crank up the scrutiny, Allen only hit 56% of his passes with 15 interceptions – five in the loss to Nebraska, turning a tight game into a blowout – and he gave up two in three of the last five games. Everything else is in place, though, to eventually turn into an NFL superstar.
The JUCO transfer got hurt early on at Wyoming, but quickly took over last year, showing off the deep arm, the running ability to take off for 523 yards and seven scores, and the pure passing skills to throw for 3,203 yards and 28 scores.
It would’ve been interesting to see if he would’ve been the top quarterback taken had he gone out for the 2017 NFL Draft, but he would’ve at least been a sure-thing first rounder.
3. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Don’t sleep on Rudolph with all the hype coming about Darnold and Allen. He always looked like a top-shelf talent, and last year he played like it to another level. Now, he’s about as clean an NFL quarterback prospect as you’ll find.
Really, if you want to try to look cool among those who want to start talking Allen, Rudolph might really be safer as the potential No. 2 overall pick.
At 6-5 and 235 pounds, he’s got ideal size with great goal line mobility – he ran for six scores – with the right personality, All-Big 12 smarts and franchise QB make-up.
After a good 2015, he came up with a brilliant junior campaign, completing 63% of his passes for close to 4,100 yards with 28 touchdowns and just four picks – two of them coming in the win over Kansas State.
4. Lamar Jackson, Louisville (Jr.)
Is he really ready to blossom into a pro-style passer?
Easily among the most dynamic college quarterbacks of all-time, the 2016 Heisman winner ran for 1,571 yards and 21 scores, and completed 56% of his throws for 3,543 yards and 30 scores and nine picks.
The slippery running ability and magic are undeniable, but he struggled against the LSU defense and got killed by the Houston D – the leaky line was the problem – but he was unstoppable against Florida State and Clemson. When Louisville struggled, it wasn’t his fault.
He’s never going to be Cam Newton in terms of bulk, but he’s a too-thin 6-3, 205-pounder and doesn’t quite fit any sort of NFL quarterback type. It might not matter. He’s too good and too intriguing not to consider all the possibilities of what a player with his skills can do.
5. Josh Rosen, UCLA (Jr.)
After coming on with a brilliant debut against Virginia as a true freshman, the hype was on for The Rosen One through a decent first season. But now he needs to show he can lead the team to more wins – and stay in one piece.
The pure passing skills are undeniable, but he was wildly inconsistent in his first season, throwing for close to 3,700 yards and 23 touchdowns with two picks. Despite a three pick day in the opening loss to Texas A&M, he bombed away for 1,915 yards in his first six games before getting knocked out with a shoulder injury.
The 6-4, 210-pounder is a bit t00 thin, and he’s not built to take a pounding, but keep him clean and he’ll pick you apart. And then there’s the personality.
It’s not a knock, but will teams care that he’ll be outspoken, brash, and opinionated? He’s not your typical meathead jock – he’s got a brain, and he’s not afraid to use it.
6. Clayton Thorson, Northwestern (Jr.)
If you like Denver Bronco QB Trevor Siemian, you’ll love Thorson.
The 6-4, 220-pounder came into his own last season, throwing for 3,182 yards and 22 scores with nine picks, while running for five scores. He’s got the right size, a decent enough mid-range arm, and – of course, being at Northwestern – the smarts to be ready right out of the box. While he was considered a dual-threat quarterback, he’s turning into a pro-style passer who can push the ball all over the field.
Keep an eye out early on in the process this season. There’s a definite drop-off from the top five quarterback prospects to him, but he’s going to quickly become a favorite among the scouts.
7. Wilton Speight, Michigan (Jr.)
More of a looks-the-part prospect then a sure thing, he’s 6-6, close to 250 pounds, and he’s got the arm to bomb away and stretch the field as much as you want. There’s no mobility, but that’s not why you called – he’s a passer.
And then there’s the Jim Harbaugh factor. It takes a special type of player to be his guy, and among a slew of options, Speight won out.
He hit 62% of his throws for 2,538 yards and 18 scores with seven picks, but he also had a loaded receiving corps to work with and a veteran team around him. Now it’s up to him to carry the young Wolverines this year.
8. Luke Falk, Washington State
The knock is the pedigree. What have Mike Leach quarterbacks done at the next level? Is he a part of the system, or is he really able to adapt to a true pro-style and work under center?
Falk has the 6-4, 220-pound size, 70% accuracy, and unquestioned toughness – he’s taken a beating over the last few years. But there’s no mobility, and again, he has to prove he can tweak things enough to be what the NFL guys want.
9. Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State (Jr.)
Can he transform into more of a pro-style passer? He carried Mississippi State with 1,375 rushing yards and 16 scores – showing off shocking deep speed for a 6-5, 230-pound quarterback – but he only hit 54% of his throws for 2,423 yards, 21 touchdowns and ten picks.
Helped by the success of Dak Prescott – who went from being known as a Mississippi State dual-threat quarterback to a blow-up NFL star – all eyes will be on Fitzgerald to see if he can tweak his game just a little bit.
With his size, arm, and mobility, if he can bump his completion percentage to closer to 65% – Prescott went from 58% to 62% from 2013 to 2014 – all of a sudden, he could rise up and become one top five quarterback options.
10. Trace McSorley, Penn State (Jr.)
Someone had to push the ball deep in all of those great second half comebacks.
Able to provide a spark Christian Hackenberg never seemed to have – albeit, behind a stronger offensive line – McSorley led the Nittany Lions to the Big Ten title throwing for 3,614 yards and 29 touchdowns with just eight picks, while running for 365 yards and seven scores.
The problem? He’s 6-0 and 205 pounds. He might be a baller, and he might be a fearless passer who takes too many chances – the three Rose Bowl picks showed that – but he also has that it factor when it comes to leading teams to big things.
5 Other Key Quarterbacks To Watch
These five could easily and quickly slip into the top ten as the season and process go on.
11. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
12. Jake Browning, Washington (Jr.)
13. Kelly Bryant, Clemson (Jr.)
14. Max Browne, Pitt
15. Ryan Finley, NC State (Jr.)