2018 NFL Draft quarterbacks

Best fits for top 2018 NFL quarterback prospects: Part II

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.

2018 NFL Draft quarterbacks

(Photo from zambio.com)

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.

 

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2018 NFL Draft quarterbacks

Best fits for top 2018 NFL quarterback prospects: Part I

The NFL draft is about two weeks away, meaning all the talk from fans, media and executives is almost over. Quarterback always overshadows all the other positions in terms of pre-draft chatter. This year is no different. The need for solid quarterback play in the NFL is as dire as it has ever been and there are not that many decent ones to go around at the moment.

As many as six quarterbacks could wind up going in the first round. This would match the legendary quarterback class of 1983. That class had a Hall of Famer at the top in John Elway and two others in Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. Todd Blackledge, Ken O’Brien and Tony Eason did not pan out nearly as well.

Whether it is the accuracy of Josh Allen, the turnovers committed by Sam Darnold, the character of Baker Mayfield or something else, all of these guys have red flags attached to them. So three of the top six quarterbacks in this year’s class ending up in the Hall of Fame is probably a stretch.

However, they could all be successful in the right situation. If the NFL draft has shown us one thing over the years, it is that evaluating players is an inexact science and no one really knows anything. Still, here is the start of a two-part series exploring the best possible landing spots for this year’s top quarterback prospects.

Sam Darnold: Cleveland Browns

Given its abysmal track record of developing quarterbacks since returning to the league in 1999, it is difficult to call Cleveland an ideal landing spot for any quarterback. Even so, one of these guys has to end up there.

Darnold was the primary starter for two seasons at USC. His 22 interceptions are worrisome to some, but they become more forgivable when you put them up against his 57 touchdown passes.

USC always plays a tough schedule as one of college football’s traditional powerhouses. Knowing that, Darnold’s completion percentage of almost 65 should also translate well to the next level. Perhaps most importantly, he has said all the right things about the challenge of turning around a struggling NFL franchise.

Darnold or some other rookie will most likely not start right away in Cleveland as they just traded for Tyrod Taylor. However, the more recent rumblings have the Browns warming up to another quarterback prospect.

Josh Allen: New York Giants

Cleveland has reportedly become enamored with the University of Wyoming prospect. The word project gets thrown around a lot in regards to Allen, who posted a college completion percentage of just 56.2. That is bad at any level of football. It is especially concerning when you realize that Wyoming does not play against much NFL talent.

2018 NFL Draft quarterbacks

(Photo from salutemag.com)

It is his arm strength that has NFL scouts intrigued. He can reportedly throw the ball 50 yards from his knees. That is great, but NFL plays simply do not require that. Cleveland has won one game in two years. The Browns do not have time to develop a raw talent like Allen, but the Giants might.

 

Despite last year’s three-win season, Eli Manning still played pretty well for the Giants all things considered. But the 37-year-old is clearly close to the end of his career. With a year or two to be coached by Pat Shurmur and learn from a two-time Super Bowl champion like Manning, Allen could work out well if the Giants decide to address their long-term quarterback situation early in this draft.

Josh Rosen: New York Jets

Rosen’s biggest issue at UCLA was staying on the field. He missed eight games in three years. The hits only get harder in the NFL. So durability is a legitimate concern, but his play is not. He posted a career passer rating of over 140 for the Bruins.

Some are nervous about the Rosen’s personality. You could consider saying publicly that you want to win more rings than Tom Brady cocky. However, you could also consider it the perfect mentality to play quarterback in New York. Believing you are the best is an asset there because the media will try to tear you down at every opportunity whether it is deserved or not.

2018 NFL Draft quarterbacks

(Photo from newyorkjets.com)

Coming off a five-win season, the Jets re-signed 38-year-old Josh McCown and added Teddy Bridgewater in free agency. Bridgewater has missed significant time due to injury, making just two pass attempts in the last two seasons. The Jets also traded with the Colts for their current first-round draft position. Translation: The organization knows they need to get their long-term quarterback in this draft.

Rosen may end up getting thrown out there before he is ready if he ends up with the Jets, but he seems to have the attitude for it.

Be sure to check back over the weekend for the best possible fits for Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, and Mason Rudolph.

 

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Camping World Bowl

The Camping World Bowl has several good NFL Draft prospects and most look like they are suiting up. Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State have several players that will get a chance to play on Sundays. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Camping World Bowl:

Virginia Tech Hokies 

*Wide receiver Cam Phillips will not play in this game.

Tremaine Edmunds, LB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Camping World Bowl

Tremaine Edmunds (Photo by twitter.com)

Edmunds is one of several of his family members to play football at Virginia Tech. The junior has been a starter for two seasons in Blacksburg. He has dominated ever since getting his first snap with 206 total tackles, 33 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in his career. This season, his level of play has elevated with 101 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

One of the most appealing things about Edmunds is his size. He is 6’5″ and 250 pounds, which is elite-level size for an NFL linebacker. He may elect to go back to Virginia Tech for one more season, but would definitely get drafted if he decides to leave.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

Adonis Alexander, CB

Alexander is only a junior, but will get drafted if he chooses to enter his name into the pool of players. He has seven interceptions and 17 passes defended in his career. Alexander has played a variety of positions in the secondary for the past three seasons.

His biggest asset is his frame, which is 6’3″ and 197 pounds. Teams that like to start bigger, physical corners would love to have him. He has only played seven games this season due to a hamstring injury.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

Wyatt Teller, OG

Teller has been a starter for three seasons at Virginia Tech. He was All-ACC as a guard and has helped the interior blocking for Virginia Tech. While the offense isn’t the highest scoring unit in the country, it isn’t due to Teller. Interestingly, he has a lot of experience on special teams for the Hokies, which will appeal to NFL teams.

At 6’5″ and 315 pounds, Teller has really good size for someone who plays on the interior of the offensive line. He will likely be selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

Brandon Facyson, CB

Facyson is a good prospect from a great college defense. He has been around Virginia Tech since 2013, with a redshirted year in the middle of his tenure. He has gotten playing time ever since he stepped on campus. He has 39 passes defended and five interceptions in his career.

He has great size for an NFL corner at 6’2″ and 197 pounds. His potential was through the roof, but he never quite lived up to it, which will be a concern, but he should be able to make a training camp roster at the very least.

Projected draft range: 5th round-7th round

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Mason Rudolph, QB

Rudolph’s great career is finally coming to a close. He has 13,267 passing yards, 90 touchdowns and 26 interceptions in his time at Oklahoma State. This season he has taken his game to another level with 4,553 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

At 6’5″ and 230 pounds, Rudolph looks like a NFL quarterback. He has a great deep ball, but some teams will still have reservations about drafting him because of the system he plays in. With so many good quarterbacks in this class, Rudolph could go anywhere in the first couple rounds of the draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-3rd round

James Washington, WR

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Camping World Bowl

James Washington (Photo by newsok.com)

Washington has been Rudolph’s number one target for the last few seasons. In his four seasons in Stillwater, Washington has 4,346 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns. He currently ranks 10th all time in receiving yards for college football. Rudolph and Washington are such a good pair, with Rudolph being a great deep ball thrower and Washington being a good deep threat.

There are some minor concerns that Washington is only 6’0″ and 200 pounds, but Odell Beckham Jr. is just 5’11”, so he can make it work. Like Rudolph, some NFL teams won’t like the system that he played in and may steer clear.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

 

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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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