2018’s best quarterback prospects

Harrington Gardiner | Contributing Writer

It’s that time of year where franchises around the league analyze college football prospects to prepare for the future. We’re several weeks removed from pro days, and the nation’s top quarterbacks are getting non-stop attention.

With loads of talent on both offense and defense this year, the quarterback position seems to be the main focus of this year’s NFL Draft.

Each of the top five QBs projected to go in the first round have had tremendous success in college.

The collegiate accolades are great and all, but NFL scouts and general managers want to know which QB will take their team to a higher level.

It’ll be interesting to see the QB that comes off the board first on draft day.

Josh Allen – Wyoming

Allen has everything you want in today’s NFL QB. He’s got the stature, arm strength and the ability to lead an offense.

Allen has a cannon of an arm, and he also performed well at this year’s NFL Combine where he threw a deep ball nearly 70 yards downfield during a drill.

Despite his intangibles, people question whether he’s worth a shot so early in the draft due to the fact that he played at Wyoming, a small school with very little competition.

During his time at Wyoming, he also never had a completion rate of over 56 percent and was wildly inconsistent with his throws.

Allen has the skill set and athleticism to be a decent quarterback, but whether or not he’s an NFL starter is a question that is still running through the minds of NFL scouts.

Sam Darnold – Southern Cal

Darnold played at one of the most popular football schools in the country. With that being said, the competition level isn’t really a question; Darnold has played against some very tough teams during his time with the Trojans. He has decent size for an NFL QB and can read defenses well.

Another one of his strengths is that he’s confident under pressure. NFL teams would love to have a QB that can deliver great passes while under pressure in the pocket.

When it comes to weaknesses, Darnold turns the ball over way too much. A lot of these plays come from him trying to make something out of nothing, and most times, he ends up taking more hits than he should.

NFL executives call Darnold the most complete QB in the draft, but he has to limit fumbles and interceptions. If he can do that, then Darnold has the best makeup to be a good pro.

Josh Rosen – UCLA

Another PAC-12 standout is Rosen. This guy is also getting very high praise from scouts for his ability to stay in the pocket and deliver beautiful passes. He’s also extremely smart  and skilled in field mechanics.

However, Rosen is not very durable, his decision making is questionable and his arm strength is below average. Rosen had a tremendous upside and can make a wonderful first impression, but he has to work to develop a better skill set and become a starter for a team that needs a QB.

Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma

Heisman Trophy winner Mayfield had an outstanding year. He played in many big games during his time at Oklahoma and was one win away from playing in the national title game before losing to Georgia in the Rose Bowl.

Mayfield is probably the most competitive player in college football, and he’s also tough as nails. His teammates rally around him, and he brought tremendous energy to the Sooners.

Another strength of his is that for his size he is very athletic and he uses his mobility to buy time to make spectacular plays. Despite his strengths, scouts are hesitant with Mayfield because of his antics on and off the field.

He has run into trouble with the law before, and his competitiveness has led him to act unprofessionally in some instances.

Another question that teams have is about his footwork and tendency to throw off of his back foot way too often. Mayfield has had the most success out of every one of these quarterbacks, but NFL executives are still skeptical of him.

Lamar Jackson – Louisville

The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner had many highlight reel plays. He used his versatility to get an edge over defenders, and many people compare him to Michael Vick. Jackson has the open-field instincts of an elite running back, and he is decent when throwing on the run.

Unfortunately, due to his size, he is more susceptible to getting hurt after big hits. These hits often come from his ability to get down field in an instant. NFL executives worry that with the speed of the NFL being tremendously different from college, the adjustment will be too large to make.

They’ve also seen that Jackson underthrows deep balls and has a high turnover total. No one’s doubting that he has the potential to be a dangerous dual-threat quarterback, but Jackson must develop into more of a pocket passer to be sufficient in the NFL

Teams adjust entirely too quickly for him to make the absolutely insane plays he made in college. So, if Jackson can get better with his accuracy and standing tall in the pocket while occasionally using his speed, he can be a great pro quarterback.

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