While there will be hundreds of collegiate prospects who will hear their name called during the 2018 NFL Draft, most people are affixed to the names of just four of them. Specifically, those names are of the top four top quarterback prospects, and where they’ll start their NFL careers.
So let’s take a closer look at the top four quarterback prospects who will likely hear their named called among the top five-to-ten picks of Thursday evening’s draft events:
Sam Darnold, University of Southern California – Seemingly since the start of the 2017-2018 college football season, Sam Darnold has been considered the front-runner to be the first quarterback taken in the 2018 NFL Draft. Despite only two years of experience as the starting quarterback for the Trojans, Darnold’s combination of size, athleticism, mobility, arm strength, and “gun-slinging” mentality have drawn comparisons to anyone from Philip Rivers to Tony Romo. He’s extremely elusive in the pocket, giving himself the ability to evade rushers and buy time. The biggest question for him is the level of upside around his football instincts and IQ, considering he’s barely been a starter at any level. Still, expect Darnold to be the first quarterback taken in this year’s draft.
Josh Rosen, UCLA – Josh Rosen is the California golden boy who seems like he was born to be a professional quarterback. He was one of the top quarterback prospects coming out of high school, and a ballyhooed recruit when he arrived in Westwood. His athleticism and football acumen are what tantalized scouts initially, but the thing that really captured everyone’s attention is the purity of his throwing motion and mechanics. In other words, when Rosen throws a football, it looks like he’s conducting a coaching clinic; that’s how mechanically sound everything looks from the moment he begins his windup. The only question teams have about Rosen’s ability is whether they’ll be able to harness the precocious youngster’s talent, as he’s been known as something of a “handful” to coach.
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Baker Mayfield, University of Oklahoma – If you rewound things back one year from now, most people would have told you that Baker Mayfield would probably be a “Day 2” selection, at best. After all, he was a quarterback playing in a spread offense, and he stood under 6’2” tall. But after a 2017 campaign that ended in him winning the Heisman Trophy and leading his University of Oklahoma Sooners to the Rose Bowl, Mayfield is now set to prove his doubters wrong, and join NFL stars like Russell Wilson and Drew Brees (who are right around the same height as Mayfield). The questions for Mayfield have already been mentioned: namely, the track record for quarterbacks coming out of college systems employing a spread-based offense is spotty, at best. How will he adapt?
Josh Allen, University of Wyoming — Josh Allen is the ultimate rorschach test of a quarterback, which has made him the most hotly-debated quarterback prospect in years, right up there with Cam Newton, Jameis Winston, and Tim Tebow. At 6’5 and just under 240lbs, Allen has a prototype frame. In terms of “tantalizing arm talent as a prospect,” he’s in the same group as Newton and Jamarcus Russell, having the best arm talent of any prospect we’ve seen in the past decade. Someone is going to fall in love with the arm strength, and rightfully so. He has an absolute cannon for a right arm, and what makes it even better is his quick and effortless delivery. He can laser the ball 50 yards down the field with what seems like the flick of a wrist. But for all that arm strength, Allen’s accuracy is a major concern, which is basically the fundamental skill as to whether you can play in the NFL or not.