No, really. What’s the deal with the quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft? Here’s the situation and evaluation of each one, and where they’re all going to go.
– Contact/Follow @PeteFiutak
2018 NFL Draft Final Thoughts: Quarterback Edition. What’s Going To Happen?
This is a loaded draft full of terrific players and first round prospects in what will be looked back on ten years from now as a historic first 20 picks or so …
And then there are the quarterbacks.
If you’re Indianapolis at six, or Tampa Bay at seven, or Chicago at eight, or San Francisco at nine or Oakland at ten, you just sit back, relax, and watch all these sucker teams fawn all over themselves for these quarterbacks, while great player after great player after great player slides right on down.
So what’s going to go where, when, why and how? Who are the quarterbacks really worth taking?
For you investment types, this is all just for spits, giggles, and entertainment purposes only. However, just in case you dabble in the NFL Draft …
Quarterback is the new running back. Before diving into each of the top passers, we all need to take a deep breath and realize what’s happening here.
Get ahead of the curve – you don’t really need to overpay for a top quarterback anymore.
The state of our quarterbacking is strong. Really. Go right on down the list, and more teams than you think are good enough, or could be more than fine with a decent pickup.
Injuries change the stats and the order – Deshaun Watson was the 31st-leading passer last season, Aaron Rogers 32nd and Jimmy Garoppolo 33rd – but No. 21 on the list of passing leaders was Joe Flacco. He’s fine.
Miami, Indianapolis, Green Bay and Arizona were all screwed up because their main man was hurt, Chicago threw Mitchell Trubisky out there to get his feet wet, and Tyrod Taylor was hurt for a time and isn’t all about bombing away.
Stats don’t mean everything, but Josh McCown was fine as a fill-in for the Jets. Not great, but okay. Even so, they need a quarterback, and so does Cleveland after not sticking with DeShone Kizer and developing him further. After that? Buffalo needs one, and so do Denver and Arizona.
But is it really worth it to go after one of the painfully imperfect prospects being thrown at us this year?
Remember, who were in the conference championships? Tom Brady (6th round outlier), Case Keenum (scrap heap), Nick Foles (just a guy), and Blake Bortles, who was mediocre, but had Leonard Fournette and a great defense around him.
Out of the top 15 passers last season, Phil Rivers, Matt Stafford, Matt Ryan, Alex Smith, Jared Goff, Blake Bortles and Jameis Winston and Eli Manning were taken in the top ten. Only Manning has a Super Bowl ring, and Ryan is the only other to have even been there.
For what it’s worth, 22 of the top 35 passers last season were taken outside of the top ten.
However, look ahead here. Players always rise up, and there’s always a big shift in attitudes once the whole process starts, but the 2019 NFL Draft class of quarterbacks looks horrendous. Drew Lock, Jarrett Stidham, and Clayton Thorson are nice college players, but none of them scream pro franchise talent.
So if you’re wondering why some teams are going to do everything humanly possible to move up or go for one of the big guys, it’s part of the equation.
With all that in mind …
I really, really, really, really, REALLY don’t understand the Baker Mayfield love. There was no bigger booster of his throughout last year in the Heisman race than me. He was historic, he was magical, he was clutch, and he was far and away the best player in college football.
But he’s too short, too slow, has a good-enough-not-amazing arm, and played in a quarterback-friendly system in a conference that – for the most part – doesn’t give a lick about defense.
That would be just so Cleveland to take Mayfield No. 1. He can play. He can start. He can be good. But are you going to win a Super Bowl because you have Baker Mayfield? You can win one if he’s the starting quarterback and there’s a whole lot of talent around him, but he’s missing the NFL tools to be truly special.
Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson aren’t massive, but they all have better arms – and they’re also all-timers.
I love Mayfield’s moxie, style and attitude, and he’d be a whole lot of fun for the Jets – but not at the three. You can’t pass up Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson, Derwin James, or Saquon Barkley for him.
Baker Mayfield will be drafted by … the Denver Broncos at five. He’ll slide a wee bit further than you think.
Darn you, rest of the world. Ripping on Josh Allen for being bad at football was my thing last year.
The problem isn’t just that he was mediocre at Wyoming, or that he’s just not that accurate, or that he plays like he’s just not quite there yet – not a bad thing; I’ll explain in a moment – it’s that you’re going to be asking a LOT out of a fan base to be patient for the few years it’s going to take to get his upside.
There was some chatter that Jared Goff was a bust after one fricking year. DeShone Kizer was thrown on the worst team in football with no help around him, and now he can’t play?
There’s not going to be a grace period with Allen.
However, as concerning as Allen is as a prospect, with those tools, that arm, that size, and that mobility, maybe, just maybe, that switch could be flipped sooner than you think.
Every senior quarterback says the same thing. The biggest difference – and why veteran college quarterbacks are like gold – is how the game slows down to a crawl after being around for three to five years. Allen just never got there with Wyoming.
Here’s the pro-Allen argument. Give him 500 at-bats. Put him out there and let him throw, and throw, and suck, and throw, and make sure that he and everyone around him knows that the payoff might be special. If it does all come together, he’s the best quarterback in this draft. However …
Give me the comp. In the last 25 years or so, find me the quarterback who was as totally and complete mediocre as Allen was in college – and was taken in the top 15 overall like Allen will be – who rose up and rocked as an NFL starter.
Josh Allen will be drafted by … someone who moves up to the No. 4 pick. I despise any and all mock drafts that project and predict trades, but Cleveland will go quarterback at one, the Jets will go QB at three, and someone – let’s go with Buffalo – will trade up to get to the four.
With that in mind, you want your ridiculously fun scenario of the day? Belichick finds a way to get up into the top four, takes Allen for New England, and grooms him a few years as Captain Weirdworkout puts in two more runs at the Super Bowl.
I have no idea why so many otherwise grouchy, coldly analytical draft scouts are making so many excuses for Sam Darnold.
To paraphrase …
“He throws a lot of interceptions, but …”
“His throwing motion needs to be torn down to quicken the release, but …”
“He makes way too many mistakes and his ball security is miserable, but …”
If you have to talk yourself into a player, there’s a problem.
And, America, stop gushing over someone’s pro day performance. You know who had a mediocre pro day? No one ever. Oooooh, Sam Darnold threw in the rain. Ooooooh.
Again, like Mayfield, that’s not to say Darnold can’t play. Like Allen, that’s not to say there isn’t the upside there to blow up big with a few years of work. But he has to be a franchise star considering where he’ll be taken. If you go No. 1, a team is expecting Super Bowls. Plural.
I’m setting the over/under on Darnold first year turnovers at 20.5. That might be ridiculously low.
Sam Darnold will be drafted by … the Cleveland Browns as the No. 1 overall pick. The Browns can get cute and take Saquon Barkley first, and then take one of the great quarterback prospects at four, but there’s a statement to be made that THIS is the guy. THIS is your franchise by taking a QB first overall.
Josh Rosen is the best quarterback in your 2018 NFL Draft. I guarantee you the key teams see this and know this. What we don’t see is what the medical evaluations are.
Sorry for repeating this for the bajillionth time. If you can guarantee that Rosen will miss no more than 16 games over the next ten years, he’s the No. 1 overall pick, and it shouldn’t be close.
But I’m scared that he’s already been beaten up. I’m scared that concussions are already in the conversation, and that’s where the whole idea of him being outspoken and smart is a relative problem.
Read and understand the code words. When you hear someone talk about Rosen’s perceived attitude and personality issues, it only partly to do with potentially saying something controversial.
If he can sling it and be Aaron Rodgers, no one will care if he goes off the rails once in a while. However, he’s not going to be one of those football types who ignores the problems when and if he suffers another concussion.
Talk about taking a knee, or any other social problems, and that’s one thing. Start talking about concussion issues and the treatment of them, and that’s a big bag of uh-oh that no team wants.
Even so, watch the dude throw. As a pure NFL passer, he’s it. There are a few hitches here and there, but give him a real running game and a real defense – two things he didn’t always have at UCLA – and watch him be wonderful.
Josh Rosen will be drafted by … the New York Jets at three. He fits. He’s got the makeup to handle New York, and he’s simply a better quarterback than the other options on the board.
Lamar Jackson is the fun pick. Yeah, he’ll need work on being a more accurate passer. Yeah, he’ll make a ton of mistakes. Yeah, he’ll need some seasoning and time to grow into more of an NFL pocket passer. Now find the other quarterback in this draft other than Rosen who needs to work on all of those things, too.
Jackson is obviously a risky pick. Any time you’re going outside of the box a little bit for a quarterback who doesn’t quite fit the NFL passing skill set, it’s a concern. But there’s SO much else about what he does that goes beyond the norm. He’s obviously a shot for the stars, but if you want to energize your fan base, here you go.
Lamar Jackson will be drafted by … the Miami Dolphins at the 11. I think he goes a whole lot earlier than everyone will mock, and he’s not slipping to Arizona at the 15.
And then there’s Mason Rudolph. Possibly the safest quarterback on the board.
In terms of value, Rudolph is a relative steal. Be patient early, take the better prospects on the board, and then work to get back into the first round and get him.
There’s the concern that he’s just an Oklahoma State system passer, and he doesn’t have the biggest arm, but he’s an NFL starter. He might not be a franchise stud who can carry a team, but for all those draftheads and scouts who like smart, veteran quarterbacks with the right personality and good downfield accuracy, here you go.
At the very worst, he’s going to end up being the third most productive quarterback among the top six. The multi-million dollar question is who those two ahead of him will be.
Mason Rudolph will be drafted by … the Pittsburgh Steelers at the 28. Rudolph might be ready right now. He’ll be more than ready to hit the ground running if and when Ben Roethlisberger finally makes good on his outloud retirement thoughts and does it after next year or the season after.
And Finally …
There are other quarterbacks in this draft. WKU’s Mike White is going to be a cheap option outside of the top 50. Washington State’s Luke Falk will kick around the league for a long time and get his shot, and Riley Ferguson out of Memphis is an interesting prospect with a little bit of development time.
Again, remember, who quarterbacked in your NFC Championship this year.