Top Five NFL QB Draft Prospects
We are one day away from the NFL draft, so what’s one more top five going to hurt? Here are my top five-quarterback prospects (they are not listed in the order I think they will get drafted).
- Josh Rosen- Day One Quarterback
If you are looking for a quarterback that can step in day one and play at an NFL level look no further than Josh Rosen.
He is the best pure passer in the draft and has shown great command of the football during his three years at UCLA. He can make every throw on the field and will give your passing game a huge boost. Unlike most quarterbacks in this class, Rosen’s question marks don’t have anything to do with his football ability.
The biggest concern should be around Rosen’s durability. He has suffered two concussions over the last year, and given that he doesn’t have great mobility this could be a problem.
Rosen is a smart kid and won’t need football to succeed in the world. If you are a team that can’t surround him with a decent offensive line to keep him out of trouble, you’re going to have a problem. I could see Josh calling it quits early to save his brain.
That being said and I can’t state this enough, Josh Rosen is the most game ready quarterback in this year’s crop. If you want a guy that can sit back in the pocket and pick apart a team he is your guy.
2. Lamar Jackson- The Game Changer
Lamar Jackson is my favorite quarterback this year because he can be the best. A fact you may have picked up on if you read my last article Lamar Jackson Is No Wide Receiver. Jackson is the kind of quarterback that could change the position forever.
Jackson was one of the best college football players we have seen in the last decade or so. Some might argue he is the best athlete in this draft class. I think one thing is for certain if presented with the right opportunity he will elevate any offense.
Jackson’s ability to whip it with the flick of his wrist is out of this world. He can make plays when the pocket crumbles and has shown an ability to launch a leather air attack in the pocket if needed. Jackson had a career passer rating of 142.9 while at Louisville, which is better than Josh Allen and Josh Rosen.
His red flag would be that he doesn’t have the worlds greatest accuracy. If you watched him last year you saw him struggle with some of the shorter routes more than was necessary. He still managed to have a completion percentage of 59.1%, which was higher than Josh Allen’s a56.3% a quarterback who is currently sitting high on a lot of NFL draft boards. Plus, when you factor in that his wide receivers dropped the ball 12.4%, which is almost double Darnold’s and higher than Josh Allen’s 7.84% and Josh Rosen’s 11.01%, that’s not too shabby.
At the end of the day, Lamar will need a coach that can be flexible and adjust the system to fit Jackson, just like Bill O’Brien did in Houston with Deshaun Watson. If he gets a coach like O’Brien he won’t only have the chance to change the way the game is played, but he could go down as one of the all-time greats.
3. Baker Mayfield – The Ultimate Competitor
Baker Mayfield is an all-time great college quarterback. He has a diverse skill set that will make him extremely appealing to an NFL team.
Mayfield excels at those sandlot type plays when he is improvising on the fly. As the season progressed this year you could really see that Mayfield wasn’t just a playmaker when the play broke down. He also has a tremendous ability to stand back in the pocket and rip apart defenses.
Mayfield completed 68.5% of his passes throughout his college career, and over the last two seasons, he was over 70%. He also wasn’t a turnover machine, like Sam Darnold, whom I will talk about in a moment but is currently projected to be the number one pick.
What seems to be the big hold up on Baker Mayfield is his size and personality. Mayfield has the disadvantage of coming hot off the heels of Johnny Manziel, which seems to be making the GMs nervous.
The big difference is that Mayfield has way more talent than Manziel and to me isn’t as big of an off the field concern. I actually love Mayfield’s attitude. He is a competitor of the highest caliber and wants to do everything he can to win. He is the guy I want in the huddle. Because I know in a tough game he is going to put it all on the line and be the motivator the team needs to get a win.
At the end of the day, Mayfield balls out and is the kind of guy I want in the locker room.
4. Josh Allen – The Big Guy
Josh Allen is sitting at number four because outside of his cannon of an arm and size, I don’t see a whole lot that makes me think he is better than my top three picks.
If you draft Allen you’re getting a guy that can stand tall in the pocket, take a beating and push the ball down the field. Which is pretty good until you consider his weaknesses. His biggest problem is accuracy and underperforming in tougher games this year.
Allen doesn’t have a lot of experience playing against the best athletes and when he did, his play didn’t jump off the screen. That’s a problem because while better players will surround Allen, he will also be playing against the greatest talent in the world every day.
I also think back to an interview I heard on Pardon My Take with Washington State Coach Mike Leach. He was talking about accuracy and made the point that it is one of those things that you either have or you don’t. It’s not something you can teach, and Josh Allen does not have it.
5. Sam Darnold – The Hype King
Sam Darnold is currently in the running to be the number one overall pick in the draft, which I think is a mistake.
Don’t get me wrong; Darnold is a decent prospect at quarterback. I just do not see him being anything else than a slightly above average quarterback in the NFL at best. The biggest takeaway from every game I watched him play in this year was that he wasn’t ready for the NFL. He did look nearly as good as everyone makes him out to be.
Darnold has a slow throwing motion with poor mechanics that only get worse as the play breaks down. This often leads to the ball leaving his hand flat. That’s a problem in the NFL because cornerbacks are going to eat you alive if you don’t have some juice on your ball.
Darnold also struggled with the turnover plague. In 27 games at USC, he managed to throw 22 interceptions and fumbled 21 times (Lost 14). That should terrify GMs because not only is that a lot of turnovers but he played in a relatively weak Pac-12 Conference. If his habit of making poor decisions with the football continues, the team that drafts him can kiss any chance of being a winning football team goodbye.
Now all of that isn’t to say Darnold can’t be a good NFL quarterback. He has shown signs of great talent and from the looks of it seems to be a great kid that any GM should want to be the face of their franchise. I just think Darnold could have really benefited from another year in college to refine his throwing mechanics and decisions making. It seems like he is throwing himself to the wolves too early and it won’t end well, especially if he ends up on a team like the Browns.
At the end of the day, these quarterbacks have shown a tremendous ability to play football. I think some of them have positioned themselves better than others but it’s going to be extremely hard for any of these quarterbacks to have a great career. So much of what helps make a quarterback great is out of their control. A lot rides on the situations they are put in, the talent that surrounds them and the luck of staying healthy in order to have a long career. The only thing they can control is the work they put in and the attitude they bring every day. That being said, if I had to draft anyone of these guys I am taking Lamar Jackson and I think that the team that does will have positioned themselves to have a bright future.