Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Quarterbacks

It is still a long ways away from the start of college football and even further away from the 2018 NFL Draft. There are however, some great quarterbacks that are worth watching in the 2017 season, who can be good NFL players. These players have a chance to showcase their talents this upcoming football season and could be selected early in the NFL Draft process.

Josh Allen, Wyoming

Allen has created a lot of buzz, despite playing for Wyoming. He has the prototypical size of an NFL quarterback at 6’5″ and 222 pounds. Scouts have said that he may have been the first quarterback selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, had he elected to come out. He only completed 56% of his passes last year, but flashed his potential in his lone year as the starting quarterback.

Josh Allen (Photo by: trib.com)

He will have to improve his accuracy this season especially because he doesn’t play the best competition week in and week out. One of the most underrated parts of his game is his speed as he has been clocked at a 4.61 40 yard dash. Allen has the size, speed and arm strength to draw scouts’ eyes, but needs to start getting better results.

This season Allen will have a few chances to prove himself against good competition. The Cowboys start the season at Iowa and also play Oregon and Boise State. If Allen can improve his efficiency and pull of some big wins for Wyoming, he will likely go early in round one.

Sam Darnold, USC

At the start of last season, Darnold was a backup. He didn’t have to wait too long to get his shot as a redshirt freshman and led USC to nine straight victories to end the season, including a Rose Bowl win over Penn State. The best thing about Darnold is his accuracy, as he completed 67.2% of his passes. His arm strength is good too and he can make a lot of NFL level throws. He also helped lead the Trojans to big wins during the regular season, the most notable coming over Washington.

Darnold does need to work on his mechanics because he has a windup in his throwing motion. He also threw nine interceptions and didn’t start a full season, so he needs to keep that number down. The main thing for Darnold is to have a strong second season and avoid a sophomore slump.

He will be on national television a lot this year with USC playing Notre Dame and Texas out of conference and have some tough games in conference as well.

Luke Falk, Washington State

Falk will have to prove that he is more than a system quarterback, but he is already on a lot of NFL radars. He completed 70% of his passes last season, while also leading the cougars to eight straight wins in the middle of the season. One thing that Falk won’t be short on for NFL scouts is reps. He has over 1,520 passing attempts in his career already.

With being in a system, the most important thing for Falk is to prove that he can complete passes down the field that will be expected of him in the NFL. The problem is that he loses his two top receivers in Gabe Marks and River Cracraft.

The Cougars have games against Boise State, USC, Stanford and Washington to get one final year of good tape for NFL scouts.

Deondre Francois, Florida State

Not everyone is as high on Francois, but he has a chance to have a breakout sophomore season. Last year, he was one of the toughest quarterbacks in college football, as he was continually hit. He still managed to complete 59% of his passes. That isn’t great, but when you consider how much he was under pressure and the fact that he was in his first year starting, it is way better than expected. He also only threw seven interceptions showing his ability to protect the football through the air.

Deondre Francois (Photo by: scout.com)

While they did lose to Louisville, North Carolina and Clemson, Francois stayed poised and helped lead the Seminoles to two big wins over Florida and Michigan to end the season. He didn’t have great games against these teams, but getting the win is worth something. He adds the ability to run, which is a nice asset he will have to use if his offensive line doesn’t improve.

Francois has the chance to show his stuff early this season, when the Seminoles play Alabama in week one. With Florida, Clemson and Louisville all still on the schedule, Francois will have every opportunity to improve his stock.

Josh Rosen, UCLA

After a great freshman season, Rosen only played in six games as a sophomore due to a shoulder injury. He has a nerve issue in his shoulder, which is cause for concern, but if he can play well this season and be cleared by doctors, he can be selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The most important thing for Rosen is to show he has shaken off the rust and effects from the injury. He also needs to improve his efficiency. Rosen has all the talent you want in a quarterback prospect, but does have things to give NFL scouts to think about with injuries and quirkiness off of the field.

His biggest games of the season are against Texas A&M, Stanford, Washington and USC.

Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

Rudolph is another quarterback who has great size for an NFL quarterback at 6’5″ and 235 pounds. He had a great season last year and only threw four interceptions while attempting 448 passes. These stats are good and they are even more impressive because he threw for over 4,000 yards. Yes, these stats are mostly against Big 12 defenses, but it is impressive nonetheless.

Mason Rudolph (Photo by: scout.com)

With so many great quarterbacks in this class, Rudolph gets overlooked, but he has the potential to be the number one pick. He needs to put up similar stats to last season to reach that goal and it is definitely possible.

Pitt will be their big matchup in the nonconference schedule and they will have a light Big 12 schedule to go through with one big game against Oklahoma. Rudolph will have a chance to put up some big stats this season.

Jarrett Stidham, Auburn

Stidham had an impressive season at Baylor when he filled in for Seth Russell, but decided to transfer to Auburn. In his one season of playing so far he has 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He completed 69% of his passes in his limited action at Baylor.

He is going from Baylor to a much tougher SEC. A lot is unknown about Stidham and he really has to get more reps for NFL evaluators to rate him, but he can put up some big numbers under Gus Malzahn.

There will be plenty of chances for Stidham to prove himself this season with games against Clemson, LSU, Georgia and Alabama.

 

Check back at the end of the season to see where these quarterbacks are in the 2018 NFL Draft positional rankings.

 

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College Quarterbacks Trending Up Coming into The 2017 CFB Season

It’s the dog days of college football. We are a few weeks from removed spring ball and a few weeks away from the start of the summer practice for your favorite team. And every year the same question is posed: Which college quarterbacks are trending up?

By the end of the college football year come back to this article, and see which college quarterbacks stayed calm in the pocket or got sacked. Let’s get into the list:

Jake Bentley- South Carolina

Photo By: Gerry Melendez/ The State

By the end of the SEC year there were three young quarterbacks emerging onto the scene, South Carolina’s Jake Bentley, Georgia’s Jacob Eason and Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald. Bentley is on my list because he has proven to me to be a more effective passer than those three in only six games. And Gamecock Central‘s Collyn Taylor agrees with me. When we talked I asked him whose skills are you more confident in between these three and he said Bentley.

“I think I’d be more confident in Bentley’s skills. He was supposed to be in high school last season and came in made some phenomenal throws without a good offensive line. He’s shown he has an SEC caliber arm and can learn on the fly. If he continues to develop like he has been, he could be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference next season,” said Taylor.

Last year, Bentley really only had one bad game. When the Gamecocks visited their upstate rival Clemson, no one played well. But besides that game he shows so much promise.

Coming into the season, he didn’t start but when came in he balled out. The first three weeks Bentley did something USC hasn’t seen since 2014, three wins in a row. Remember, this guy still could have been playing in high school. He started the last seven games and won four of those games. His best game being against the Missouri Tigers. He threw for 254 yards on over 70 percent passing (second game in a row he did it) and two touchdowns.

More than anything he has given USC fans something to believe in. From a pure passing set, he is already one of the best QBs in Gamecock history. With the Gamecocks riding in the “Bentley”, they should be fighting for a SEC East title.

Mason Rudolph- Oklahoma State

Photo By: Sue Ogrocki/ AP

From a university in South Carolina to kid from the Palmetto State, Mason Rudolph has been one of my favorite quarterbacks since I saw him take down 4-Star QB and then-Georgia commit Jacob Park from my high school alma mater, Stratford High.

Last year he backed up his good 2015 campaign with a great 2016 campaign. He increased in completion, attempts, yards, touchdowns and QB rating. And also he had less interceptions down from a 9 in 2015 to only 4 in 2016. He has turned it up and has placed OK State back on the map for more than Mike Gundy telling us he is 40.

Last year his most impressive game had to be when outlasted Patrick Mahomes and Texas Tech and won 45-44. He had a higher completion rate and more yards (less attempts) than future first rounder Mahomes. Rudolph finished the game with 395 yards on 71.4 percent passing and a passer rating of 213.5.

He is definitely one of the better quarterbacks Gundy has had in Stillwater but there is still one obstacle in Rudolph’s way: Baker Mayfield and his Oklahoma Sooners.

Deondre Francois- Florida State

Photo By: Joe Rondone/ Democrat

From one 10-3 quarterback to another, Deondre Francois had one heck of a start to his collegiate career last year. Freshman Francois jumped out the gate in a neutral site game against of the better college quarterbacks Chad Kelly and came out battered, scarred and victorious.

Even since that first game, fans across the nation could tell he would be special. In one year, he is already the premier quarterback in the ACC. He finished the season with 3350 yards, 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He also finished the season out strong winning his last five games.

His most impressive game to me, besides the Ole Miss game, was his first trip to Miami against a good talent in Brad Kaaya quarterbacking the Hurricanes. After the halftime break, he came back down 13-3 to rival Miami. In the third quarter, he led his Seminoles down the field twice for two passing touchdowns in consecutive drives. Both drives starting in Seminoles territory.

Last year he won over the fans and his fellow players and this year he has to win some championships. The ACC is his for the taking and if he can win the ACC he will be in the College Football Playoff.

Trace McSorley- Penn State

Photo By: Abby Drey/ Centre Daily Times via AP

Another 10-3 quarterback, Trace McSorley of Penn State. He and coach James Franklin are restoring the winning ways of Penn State. More or less 2016 was McSorley’s “freshman” campaign. In 2015, he only attempted 40 passes. In 2016, he took college football by storm. He finished with 29 touchdowns, 3614 yards and only 8 interceptions. He probably would not like me saying this but he reminds me of the college-Johnny Manziel/Baker Mayfield QB build. All three are short, true dual threat, accurate and flamboyant. They are big time players and I like that about them.

No better game speaks to that then the 2017 Rose Bowl. It was such a beautiful game. Going back and forth, tooth and nail with the USC Trojans on the biggest stage Penn State has been on in a while. Even though he fell short, he impressed many that night. He finished with 254 passing yards, 4 passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. From 11:44 left in the second quarter to 1:55 left in the third quarter, Penn State scored on seven straight possessions. McSorley had all five of his touchdowns in that span.

Many Nittany Lion fans will remember his three interceptions but he had a adjusted QBR of over 70 and a completion rate over 60 in the game as well.

But the quarterback on the other side of this game might be trending even higher than McSorley.

Sam Darnold- Southern California

Photo By: Mark J. Terrill/ AP

The name everyone has been waiting for: Sam Darnold of Southern California. He didn’t start until Week 4. And since Week 4, the Trojans have not taken an L. Darnold led the Trojans to nine straight wins, which is the second longest active winning streak in college football. In that nine game span, only two games were decided by less than 10 points. He finished the season with 3086 yards, 31 touchdowns and 9 interceptions on over 67 percent passing.

Just like Trace McSorley, his best game was the 2017 Rose Bowl. He had 453 yards passing, five passing touchdowns and one interceptions. His most important passing touchdown came late in the fourth quarter. He drove his team 80 yards down the field in 39 seconds to tie up the game with his fifth passing touchdown. Eventually, Matt Boermeester would hit the 46-yard field goal and win the game.

Coming into his redshirt sophomore year, he is expected to lead the Trojans to their former glory. Also he has the expectations of being the odds on favorite as the best quarterback coming into the 2018 NFL Draft. Let’s see if he can keep trending up this season.

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2016 Capital One Orange Bowl Preview

Michigan was a couple seconds and a Big Ten Championship Game away from going to the College Football Playoff. Florida State had a few tough losses, but rebounded well. These two teams meet in an interesting and exciting game for the 2016 Capital One Orange Bowl.

Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines won their first nine games, but lost two of their last three to finish at 10-2. They lost to Iowa and Ohio State, who are both solid teams. Michigan beat seven bowl eligible teams, including wins over Colorado, Penn State and Wisconsin.

Orange Bowl

Jabrill Peppers (Photo courtesy: bleacher report)

Wilton Speight had a decent season as the starting quarterback for the Wolverines. He has 2,375 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. He isn’t the reason Michigan wins many games, but also doesn’t lose games for them either.

Wide receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson provide good outside threats for Speight. They have combined for almost 1,300 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. The Wolverines also have one of the best tight ends in all of college football in Jake Butt. He has 518 yards receiving and four receiving touchdowns, but always provides a good target.

De’Veon Smith is one of the best power running backs in college football. He has 810 yards on the ground and 10 touchdowns. They have five other players with over 20 carries and all but one have average yards per rush of over five.

Michigan’s defense is what makes them great. They allow just 117 rushing yards per game and 136 passing yards per game. The Wolverines likely wouldn’t trade their defense for any other college football team’s.

Taco Charlton has 8.5 sacks on the season and teams up with Chris Wormley to create a great front. They have one of the best athletes in college football behind them in Jabrill Peppers. He is a great tackler who has great fundamentals. Jourdan Lewis is a great shut down corner behind them.

Florida State Seminoles

The Seminoles were thought to be National Championship contenders, but finished 9-3. They only lost to the class of the ACC in UNC, Clemson and Louisville. Their solid wins include USF, Miami, Wake Forest, NC State, Boston College and Florida.

Deondre Francois had a terrific freshman season for the Seminoles, despite not always having the greatest protection. He threw for 3,128 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. His mobility is also a factor with four rushing touchdowns. Francois is a play-maker who will just improve with time.

Orange Bowl

Dalvin Cook (Photo courtesy: espn.com)

For the passing game, wide receiver Travis Rudolph is the only player who has stepped up in a big way this season. Rudolph finished the regular season with 807 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Running back Dalvin Cook is one of the most dynamic play-makers in all of college football. He finished the season with 1,620 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns. Cook is fast and has good moves. In addition to rushing the football, he also is good in the receiving game with 426 yards and another touchdown.

The Seminoles are good at run defense with only 131 yards per game given up. The pass defense is average allowing 226 yards per game.

Demarcus Walker is one of the best pass rushers in the country and has 15 sacks in just 12 games. Tarvarus McFadden has the most interceptions in the country with eight. These two players have to step up in order for Florida State to win.

Prediction

Michigan’s defense will shut down Cook and the Florida State offense, while the Michigan offense will score just enough to win.

 

Michigan Wolverines 28 Florida State Seminoles 24

 

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It’s A Young Man’s Game

In the 1972 college football, expanded their game. They brought in five new teams, including the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Appalachian State Mountaineers. But, more importantly this was the first year freshmen were eligible to play varsity collegiate football.

Before 1972, they couldn’t play for their varsity teams. Think about some of the great seasons we would have missed out on. We would have missed Jadeveon Clowney’s freshman season and many others.

Without that rule in 1972, we would not be able to see some of the great freshmen quarterbacks in 2016. Now it’s a young man’s game.

Here are some of the freshmen quarterbacks this year that are showing some of the old guys who’s boss.

University of Georgia’s Jacob Eason

Dale Zanine/ USA Today

Dale Zanine/ USA Today

Native of Lake Stevens, Washington, Jacob Eason is the prototype quarterback. He is 6’5″, 230 pounds can move in the pocket and can make every throw. As a quarterback, there isn’t much he can’t do. It is no wonder he is a former 5-Star quarterback. Even though Georgia is nearly 3000 miles away from home, the Bulldogs signed Eason. And when Eason arrived it to Athens, it was widely known that fifth-year senior Grayson Lambert would probably be the starter week one. Which he was. But who did Georgia lean on to get there win over North Carolina?

They turned to true freshman quarterback Jacob Eason. And Eason delivered the win.

In his first college football game, he passed for 131 yards on 8-12 passing. And he also threw a touchdown pass. More importantly it seemed as if the team responded better to Eason. Eason was inserted into the game down 24-14 to North Carolina when Lambert was not playing well. Georgia would comeback and win the game 33-24. Eason’s adjusted QBR rating against North Carolina was 92.6.

But after a struggle against Nicholls State, Bulldog fans wait to see what Eason will do against Missouri on the road this week. Although head coach Kirby Smart is unsure on who to start, I think Eason gives them the best chance to win.

University of Alabama’s Jalen Hurts

Ron Jenkins/ Getty Images

Ron Jenkins/ Getty Images

Yes, the same Alabama coached by Nick Saban. Moments before the first game against the USC Trojans, he picks Jalen Hurts as his starting quarterback. Jalen Hurts is the first freshman to start for Nick Saban at Alabama. He is also the first true freshman to start for Alabama since 1984. During his first game he looked like he had been with the team for years. Hurts scored the ball four times while beating the Trojans.

Jalen Hurts threw for 118 yards on 6-11 passing and threw two touchdown passes. He also added two more scores on the ground. He lead the Crimson Tide to a 52-6 win over the Trojans.

And in week two, Hurts put on another show at home against Western Kentucky. He threw for 287 yards and added two more passing touchdown to his college career total.

This week, the Crimson Tide want more of the same when Hurts has his first true road test against the Ole Miss Rebels. If he wins this game, he could definitely be in the Heisman talk.

University of Texas’ Shane Buechele

Ronald Martinez/ Getty Images

Ronald Martinez/ Getty Images

Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong did it up big when he named true freshman Shane Buechele the starter. The night before the season opening against Notre Dame, Strong called Buechele’s mom to tell her the great news. And before the game he told Shane to not let her down, and he didn’t.

He and his fellow quarterback senior Tyronne Swoopes lead the Longhorns to the double overtime win over Notre Dame. Buechele completed 16 of his 26 and threw for 280 yards. He had two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in the 50-47 game against Notre Dame.

In his second game, he did even better. Against UTEP, Buechele completed 81.5% of his passes and threw for four touchdowns. In his first two games, he is averaging a QBR rating of 85. The Longhorn faithful will be hoping for more of the same when he has his first true road game against California this week.

Florida State University’s Deondre Francios

Joe Rondone/ Democrat

Joe Rondone/ Democrat

The true freshman quarterback made his first college start against Ole Miss in his hometown of Orlando, Florida. At first, it seems that the bright lights made the former four-star recruit melt. But after his second quarter touchdown pass, the pressure started to make a diamond. That diamond’s name is Deondre Francios.

Francios had 478 yards of offense against the Rebels. He threw for 419 yards and two scores. He also gained 59 yards on the ground. This comeback win over a national championship contender really helps Francios gain the respect of the older guys. This win also helps him with the fans. In the last 5 years, FSU has had some great college quarterbacks play for them. So with this win it helps him win over the crowd and know that the fans are really behind him and aren’t look for the backup quarterback.

In week two, the Seminoles played another championship contender team, but it was a FCS championship contender. They played a depleted CSU Buccaneers squad at home. And Francios did not miss a step. He threw for 262 yards on 78.1% passing and threw three passing touchdowns.

But this week Francios, will also meet his first true road test against the Louisville Cardinals. If he can win that game, the whole country will have their eyes on this freshman quarterback.