Welcome to the second of a two part series examining the best fits for the top six quarterback prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. You can check out the first part here. Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph go under the microscope this time around.
Playing matchmaker is a little tougher with these three. They are likely to go later in the first round, or perhaps even early in the second, but trades are always possible, especially in that part of the draft.
Baker Mayfield: Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer is retired. No one is mistaking Mike Glennon for a franchise quarterback. Sadly, it is not a matter of if Sam Bradford will get hurt again, but when. Arizona is the most quarterback needy team in the entire draft.
Mayfield’s roughness around the edges is well documented on and off the field. Being drafted to a locker room with veterans like Larry Fitzgerald would go a long way towards smoothing out Mayfield’s character flaws.
On the field, the Cardinals have no long-term quarterback plan, even if Bradford makes it through 2018 healthy. They need one. Mayfield is a legitimate duel threat, but the numbers say he would much rather throw. He never averaged more than 3.2 yards per carry in college. Defense in the Big 12 is bad, but it is not hard to see why there is great intrigue around the reigning Heisman Trophy winner at the next level. He threw 81 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions in his last two years of college.
Other than being a tick too short, He has all the stats and physical attributes NFL people look for. There is more than enough there to ignore the concerns over his arrest and less than sportsmanlike behavior on the field. His ability to ad lib when plays break down should also serve him well if he is thrown on the field as a rookie.
Picking at No. 15, Arizona’s quarterback options are somewhat limited without a trade, but there is some talent on the roster. Mayfield’s upside in a situation like the Cardinals is endless.
Lamar Jackson: Buffalo Bills
This was the toughest prospect to pair with a team. Any quarterback who weighs just over 200 pounds and has 655 rushing attempts in three years of college football is going to have a short and painful NFL career, unless their game is retooled through coaching. Concerns about size and running too much aside, Jackson’s college numbers and pure athleticism are going to earn him a long look in the NFL.
In Buffalo, AJ McCarron is there on a two-year deal to keep the team competitive while it searches for long-term quarterback. Early returns on the Nathan Peterman experiment have been disastrous. Even though Buffalo could not wait to get rid of him, Tyrod Taylor did lead Buffalo to the playoffs last year. Taylor is a decent pro comparison for Jackson, so the coaching staff would be well-suited to coach him.
The former Heisman Trophy winner going to Buffalo makes sense in terms of both need and draft position. Jackson’s college production shows that he is capable of learning how to become an NFL pocket passer.
Mason Rudolph: New England Patriots
Whether he realizes it or not, Tom Brady is 40 years old. With Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco, the Patriots have no plan for Brady’s successor. Recent reports have New England taking a shine to Jackson. However, it is hard to imagine Bill Belichick taking a chance on an undersized quarterback who some would argue is a better runner than thrower.
Rudolph is the all-time leading passer at Oklahoma State. He specializes in the vertical passing game that dominates the NFL landscape today. 10 percent of his dropbacks in college resulted in at least a 25-yard completion. Rudolph needs a little polishing to go from Oklahoma State’s gun-slinging offense to the NFL.
New England is the perfect place for him to get that. He can learn from Brady for a while. Then he can either succeed him or get a big payday somewhere else like other Patriot backup quarterbacks have done. Regardless of which quarterback ends up there, New England is an ideal spot. Rudolph is the best fit.
More than just the six teams mentioned in these two articles could be in the quarterback market early in the draft. New Orleans, Denver and Miami could all be additional players in the market for rookie signal callers. With so many teams potentially needing quarterbacks, some of the prospects ranked seventh and lower in the quarterback class will eventually be asked to make an impact as well.
Featured image from clutchpoints.com
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