Ranking The Potential of The 2018 1st Round NFL Draft QBs
The 2018 NFL Draft was loaded with quarterbacks. The talent was unreal with guys like Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield ready to step into the NFL. With the hype train in full effect, a whopping 5 QBs ended up being drafted in the 1st round. With those teams spending early picks to fix up their franchise, we take a look at the long-term prospects of these signal callers.
1. Baker Mayfield
After months of uncertainty, the Cleveland Browns decided to go with the Heisman winner from Oklahoma, Baker Mayfield. The 6’1” 220 lbs signal caller came into the league with some concerns on his height, but the biggest questions revolved his maturity. Even with those issues, Mayfield’s talent was enough to get him drafted no. 1 overall.
Mayfield’s career started slowly as Tyrod Taylor got the starting nod to begin the season. Taylor predictably struggled mightily before an injury in Week 3 made way for Baker to see his first NFL action. Mayfield stepped in confidently throwing for 201 yards leading the Browns to their first victory since December 24th, 2016.
And from there the Baker bandwagon started up. Mayfield seemed to get better week after week ending a very successful rookie season with a rookie record 27 TDs. Mayfield played especially well when Freddie Kitchens was promoted to OC. Mayfield threw for 2254 yards and 19 TDs in the final 8 games of the season.
More than the numbers, you turn on the tape and you see what Baker is. Mayfield possesses one of the best arms in the NFL. He loves the deep ball, he throws it precisely and accurately. As the weeks went on, Mayfield started understanding coverages, he started diagnosing NFL defenses at a different level. Bottom line is, this guy is a future superstar.
2. Josh Allen
Josh Allen was the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect in last year’s draft. The 6’5” 237 lbs QB came in with a ridiculous arm, but his very raw game had teams unsure on drafting Allen. The developing Bills were in desperate need of a QB, and Allen fit the bill at no. 7 overall.
For whatever reason, the Bills thought it would be fun to start Nathan Peterman Week 1. He ended up throwing the ball 18 times for 24 yards and 2 INTs. After an atrocious 2.5 quarters of football, Peterman was benched in favor of the rookie. While Allen did not fare much better, it was announced after the game Allen would be the starter the next week.
It was an odd season for Josh Allen. After inconsistent play and injuries hampered him early on, Allen started coming into his own as the season came to a close. On the season Allen threw a pedestrian 10:12 TD to INT ratio with only 2074 yards, but it’s deeper than that. Allen’s ability as a rusher was clearly overlooked by NFL scouts. Allen was electric every time he scrambled, rushing for 631 yards (7.1 YPC) and 8 TDs in only 12 games.
Josh Allen played behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Often forced out of the pocket, Allen carried the Bills’ offense as both a runner and passer. When given the chance Allen showed fantastic touch on his highly coveted deep ball. It’s clear now the accuracy concerns were well overblown. Allen made next level throws anticipating the defense and giving his receiver a chance to make a play. After three game-winning drives in 2018, Josh Allen is well on his way to stardom as he continues to develop.
3. Sam Darnold
Not again. The lineage of USC QBs has not panned out well for the Trojans recently. Matt Barkley, Cody Kessler, Mark Sanchez…yikes. Sam Darnold was a different talent, however. Oft compared to Andrew Luck, Darnold had everything you desired from your franchise QB. A few days before the draft, the NY Jets traded up to no. 3 overall to grab the 6’3” QB.
The future looked bright to begin the season with a 48–17 beatdown of the Detroit Lions on primetime TV. After a strong performance on opening night, it all seemed to go downhill from there. Darnold was the definition of inconsistent going from 341 yards and 3 TDs one week to a 4 INT meltdown the next week.
Darnold finished the year with a mediocre 17:15 INT ratio in his 13 starts. Like Baker and Allen, Darnold started to heat up a bit down the stretch. While it was far from outstanding football, Darnold flashed serious promise at times, a legit arm and solid scrambling ability.
As the season went on Darnold started to gain more traction with no. 1 receiver Robby Anderson, a good sign for 2019. Sam Darnold made some boneheaded plays at times, but he showed a knack to make decisive decisions. Darnold will need to continue to develop his game, but he has the potential to be a star.
4. Lamar Jackson
Coming into the NFL there was perhaps no prospect more intriguing than Lamar Jackson. If nothing else, the 2016 Heisman winner was a freak athlete. Jackson ran a blazing 4.34 40 time at the combine. Jackson’s ability as a scrambler enticed the Ravens enough to draft him with the 32nd overall pick.
Jackson started his career as a gadget player, playing only in packages designed for the young QB. After a 4–5 start to the season, starting QB Joe Flacco was benched in favor of Jackson. With coach John Harbaugh completely redesigning the offense to suit the strengths of Jackson, the Ravens went 6–1 to end the season winning the AFC North.
Although he’s a QB, the real story was Jackson’s ability as a runner. In the final 7 games, the rookie piled up 556 yards and 4 TDs. More importantly, he opened up running lanes for the Ravens’ running backs leading to an all-out run-first attack. Aided by the Baltimore’s no. 2 ranked defense, the Ravens come into the playoffs as one of the scariest teams in the NFL.
The caveat with Jackson is his arm, that’s the reason he’s ranked so low. In those 7 games, Jackson threw for only 1114 yards, 5 TDs, and 3 INTs with a completion percentage of 58.23%. Jackson is frighteningly bad as a passer. He makes even the simplest of passes look tough. While the wins are nice for now, if Jackson hopes to sustain his longevity he will need to become a proficient passer to unlock his true potential.
5. Josh Rosen
The self-proclaimed “best prospect” in the draft. Rosen infamously ranted, “there were nine mistakes before me” after being the no. 10 overall pick in the 2018 Draft. In a loaded draft, Rosen was a strong prospect that played for a UCLA team that simply struggled to stay competitive.
While his fellow rookies all started slowly before turning it around, Rosen struggled the entire season. After riding the bench for the first few weeks, the Cardinals finally benched Sam Bradford for Josh Rosen. Rosen looked lost as a rookie, from start to finish. Rosen played 14 games throwing for 2278 yards, 11 TDs, and 14 INT on a putrid 5.8 YPA. All this while absorbing 45 sacks.
Rosen did not play well, but it’s hard to blame it all on him. With one of the worst supporting casts in the NFL, a dumpster fire of an offensive line, and a nightmare of a coach Rosen was doomed from the beginning.
Firing Steve Wilks was a move in the right direction for one of the worst teams in the NFL. The next will be acquiring pieces to build around Rosen. Arizona will do all they can to set up Rosen to succeed, but he has to develop his understanding of NFL defenses. Mixed in with all the negatives, Rosen flashed promise with a plus arm and playmaking ability. He can succeed, it’s just up to him.