2018 Rookie Draft Reference Guide: The QBs
John Holler - 4/16/2018

With the draft upon us, there are going to be a slew of young college talent coming into the league. While some players will get drafted higher than we have them ranked, these are the players we see as the potential impact types - the clear blue-chip players, those who have upside potential, those who will likely get drafted with a chance to become starters and the long shots looking to live out their football dreams.


These are the QBs whose names you will hear getting called on draft weekend.




POSITION ANALYSIS: Quarterback is always overvalued on draft weekend and this year is no exception. While there are as many as five quarterbacks that could get drafted in the first round, including four in the top five picks, there isn’t a consensus as to who should be the top player off the board. However, it’s likely that four teams with premium picks are going to invest their futures rolling the dice on QBs at the top of the draft.




Sam Darnold, USC, 6-3½, 221 – Third-year sophomore…Started all 27 games he played, completing 549 of 846 passes for 7,229 yards, 57 touchdowns and 22 interceptions while rushing 137 times for 332 yards and seven TDs…Won the Archie Griffin Award (given to the best college football player) in 2016 and named first team All-Pac 12 last year…An excellent combination of size, arm strength, durability and toughness…Reads defenses well and delivers the ball with good accuracy to his primary target…Can throw every pass on the route tree with good timing and velocity…Struggled at times in 2017 behind a suspect offensive line that had forcing too many passes and throwing too many interceptions…Has a long windup delivery that may need to be tweaked at the next level…Had way too many turnovers – both interceptions and fumbles…Opted not to take part in the skill drills at the Combine, but ran 4.85 40 with a 26½ inch vertical jump and an 8-9 broad jump. PROJECTION: A player with big time ability from a pro offense at USC, he has the potential to be a Week 1 starter. He has some issues with his throwing motion and some decision-making, but almost all of his flaws are correctable. He could be the first pick of the draft and almost surely won’t make it past the third pick.


Josh Allen, Wyoming, 6-5, 237 – Fourth-year junior…A two-year starter who completed 361 of 640 passes for 5,015 yards with 44 touchdowns and 21 interceptions and rushed 234 times for 727 yards and 12 touchdowns in that span…Has all the physical attributes you look for in a quarterback – size, arm strength and throwing velocity…Has proved durable and capable of absorbing big hits…Is a student of the game who spends a lot of time studying and looking to improve…Has a brutal completion percentage in a conference not known for stellar defense and struggled at the Senior Bowl…Had some of his worst games against top competition – in four games against Power 5 opponents (Iowa, BYU, Nebraska and Oregon) he threw three touchdowns with 10 interceptions…Relies too much on arm strength rather than mechanics…Ran a 4.75 40 at the Combine with a 33½ inch vertical jump and a 9-11 broad jump. PROJECTION: He may have the most pure physical talent of any of this year’s draft class, but his completion percentage and performance against top competition is a little troubling. Whoever takes him may have to be patient with him early on.


Josh Rosen, UCLA, 6-4, 226 – Third-year junior…Started all 30 games he played, completing 712 of 1,170 passes for 9,340 yards with 59 touchdowns and 26 interceptions…He provided nothing in the running game – his career rushing stats were 109 carries for minus-154 yards…Pac 12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman All-America in 2015…He has very good mechanics with a quick over-the-top release…Has good accuracy and can make the deep throw to the sidelines without losing accuracy…Has good patience in the pocket and will read through his progressions…Has never been a consistent winner or put his team on his back to win critical games…Missed time due to injuries each of the last two seasons…Has too much confidence in his arm and will make the dangerous types of throws that are turnovers in the NFL…Is intelligent, but has had some problems with coaches because he can rub them the wrong way with his perceived arrogance…Ran a 4.92 40 at the Combine with a 31-inch vertical jump and a 9-3 broad jump. PROJECTION: There is no questioning Rosen’s ability, but he has been slammed by former coach Jim Mora Jr. for thinking he’s the smartest guy in the room. He has the talent to be the first player off the board, but more likely will be the third or fourth QB. In the right situation, he could be a starter for a decade.




Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, 6-0¾, 215 – Fifth-year senior who spent the 2013 season at Texas Tech before transferring to Oklahoma…Started all 40 games he played at OU, completing 808 of 1,157 passes for 12,292 yards with 119 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and a college passer rating of 189.4, while rushing 316 times for 893 yards and 18 TDs…A two-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, three-time first team All-Big 12 and, in 2017, he won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award (best player voted by the media), Walter Camp Award (best player voted by coaches), the Davey O’Brien Award (top quarterback) and AP Player of the Year…Extremely competitive team leader who creates plays by moving in the pocket and buying himself time…Throws with good velocity and accuracy and doesn’t lose much when he’s on the move and needs to make plays…Stands in the pocket and doesn’t get rattled by blitzes – he runs when he wants to, not when he panics…Is deemed by some scouts as too short for the NFL and will struggle with having passes tipped or batted…Needs to improve his mechanics and too often relies on his arm strength rather than setting his feet and making a throw…Is immature and can get taken out of games at times by letting his emotions get the best of him and not keeping an even keel on the field…Ran a 4.89 40 at the Combine with a 29-inch vertical jump and 9-3 broad jump. PROJECTION: He dominated the college game playing an offense that didn’t have him lining up under center, which has been a problem for other QBs transitioning to the NFL. He’s undersized, but is a fighter and will give everything he’s got. But, those limitations should push him to the middle to back half of the first round, but don’t bet he’ll last that long.


Lamar Jackson, Louisville, 6-2¼, 216 – Third-year junior…A dangerous dual threat who started all 38 games he played – completing 619 of 1,086 passes for 9.043 yards with 69 touchdowns and 27 interceptions, while rushing 655 times for 4,132 yards and 50 rushing TDs…A two-time ACC Player of the Year and won the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell and Camp Awards in 2016…Was the youngest player ever to win the Heisman at age 19…One of the greatest running quarterbacks in college football history – he’s the only player to throw for 3,500 yards and rush for 1,500 yards in a season and he did it twice…Is a better passer than he is given credit for and he has a gun that can deliver all the needed NFL throws…Has improved his mechanics, accuracy and completion percentage in each of his three seasons…He isn’t built like your standard quarterback and some teams wanted him to do wide receiver drills at the Combine (he refused)…With his improvement, he is still viewed as a raw NFL prospect that will need time to develop…He relies on his arm strength too much and is too often flat-footed or off-balance when he throws…Chose not to run or jump at the Combine. PROJECTION: Arguably the most talented passer/runner combination to hit the draft since Michael Vick, he could be the prototype of the QB of the future. Although he has the type of frame that can add 10 pounds, he is going to be viewed by some teams as a QB that will have durability issues because he exposes himself to big hits. He will need the right fit to succeed, but has more upside than any of the top QBs in the draft. But, he also has the biggest boom/bust potential.


Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State, 6-4¾, 245 – Fourth-year senior…Three-year starter who completed 866 of 1,361 passes for 12,765 yards with 86 touchdowns and 22 interceptions, while rushing 225 times for 28 yards and 17 touchdowns – almost all coming at the goal line…Was the winner of two prestigious quarterback awards in 2017 – the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Sammy Baugh Trophy…Has a ton of positive intangibles, including size, arm strength and leadership skills…Has good touch on deep throws and anticipation to squeeze the ball into tight windows…Extends plays with his big body and doesn’t shy away from taking a hit to deliver the ball on time…Is a statue and the backfield and won’t provide much if anything as a scrambling/rushing threat…Played in a very simplistic one-read offense from the spread/shotgun formation that doesn’t always translate well to the NFL…Has never had to read full route progressions and will lock in on his primary target – for better or worse at times…Chose not to do the broad jump at the Combine, but ran a 4.90 40 with a 26-inch vertical jump. PROJECTION: He gets kind of lost in the shuffle in this year’s QB class, but he has a lot of the positive traits that NFL teams look for. He will need time to rid himself of the bad habits he had in a gimmick four- and five-receiver base college offense, but he will be an NFL starter. An ideal pick late in the first round and for those teams that miss out on the Big 5, they may look to make a trade with the teams late in the first round.




Luke Falk, Washington State, 6-3¾, 215 – Fifth-year senior who was a three-year full-time starter and started five games as a redshirt freshman…In his WSU career, he completed 1,403 of 2,054 passes for 14,481 yards with 119 touchdowns and 39 touchdowns, while rushing 251 times for minus-400 yards and four touchdowns…Won the 2017 Burlsworth Trophy, given annually to the top college football player who began his career as a walk-on athlete…First team All-Pac 12 in 2015 and second team in 2016…Has a very good combination of mechanics, accuracy and a quick release…A student of the game who puts in the extra time off the field…Throws with excellent timing and sees the field well…Struggles with blitzes and most of his mistakes come when he’s under pressure…Does not have elite arm strength or the velocity to push passes into tight windows…Holds on to the ball too long and will take sacks…Didn’t run at the Combine by choice, although he had a medical exclusion with a left wrist injury, but had a 26½ inch vertical jump and an 8-6 broad jump. PROJECTION: A strong developmental type pick who has the type of body that can add 15-20 pounds. He has good intangibles and could eventually compete for a starting job, but has the looks of late-Day 2 pick.


Mike White, Western Kentucky, 6-4¾, 224 – Fifth-year senior who spent the 2013-14 seasons at South Florida…Started all 27 games he played for the Hilltoppers, completing 648 of 976 passes for 8,540 yards with 63 touchdowns and 15 interceptions…Has been a durable player who takes big hits and comes back strong…Has a strong throwing arm and can spin the ball with excellent velocity…Showed good accuracy on deep passes and can drop a ball into a small area deep down the field…Is still a work in progress and doesn’t have a natural internal clock, opening himself up to too many big hits because he brings little in the way of scrambling ability and pocket savvy…Saw a decline in success and production in 2017 after a very strong 2016 season…Locked in on his primary target too often and tipped off defenders where he was going to go off the snap…Ran a 5.07 40 at the Combine with a 27-inch vertical jump and an 8-0 broad jump. PROJECTION: Has some good intangibles and upside, but has a pretty low ceiling and will be viewed as a long-term backup with the potential of winning a starting job or playing well when called upon. He will be fortunate to come off the board before Day 3 of the draft.


Kyle Lauletta, Richmond, 6-2¾, 222 – Fifth-year senior…Three-year starter who completed 742 of 1,173 passes for 10,357 yards with 71 touchdowns and 35 interceptions in that span…Suffered a torn right ACL in 2016 in the 11th game of the year, but returned in 2017…His father played quarterback at Navy…He was named Most Valuable Player at the Senior Bowl, throwing for 198 yards and three TDs…Two-year team captain…Has good pocket mobility and footwork and can extend plays with his feet…Is a natural leader on the field, in practice and the film room and is a tireless worker…Has good accuracy and consistently throws a tight spiral…Has a big learning curve having played at lower level competition in his career…Struggles throwing the deep ball and will sail passes when asked to stretch the field deep…He took almost all of his snaps out of the shotgun and has ball security issues (10 fumbles in three years)…Ran a 4.81 40 at the Combine with a 31-inch vertical jump and a 9-5 broad jump. PROJECTION: He made himself some money at the Senior Bowl as a small college prospect who showed up well against the big boys. He only played one game against FBS competition (beating Virginia in 2016), but he has limitations and a lot of work to do to stick on an NFL roster. A late-round prospect with reason to believe in his upside.


Riley Ferguson, Memphis, 6-2¾, 212 – Fifth-year senior who enrolled at Tennessee in 2013, didn’t play football in 2014 and spent a year at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College in 2015…In two years at Memphis, he completed 579 of 917 passes for 7,955 yards with 70 touchdowns and 19 interceptions, along with rushing for 10 touchdowns…Has good arm strength and was highly productive with the deep ball at Memphis…Isn’t a scrambler, but works the pocket well to avoid blitzes and contact…Rarely throws the stupid pass that is easily intercepted…Played at less than 200 pounds for most of his career and doesn’t have a lot of room to add strength or bulk…Has an long throwing motion that will need to be defined…Wasn’t asked to make many multiple reads and typically got the ball out of hands quickly to his primary target…Ran a 4.98 40 at the Combine with a 29-inch vertical jump and a 9-2 broad jump. PROJECTION: A 23-year old rookie who played for three different schools, he has some upside as a late-round project QB, but will likely struggle to be more than a backup in the NFL.




J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, 6-1¼, 224 – An impressive athlete who may have the change positions to have an NFL career or be a read-option niche quarterback.


Kurt Benkert, Virginia, 6-2¾, 218 – A strong-armed quarterback who has the arm strength to make a roster, but will struggle to ever be a starter.


Tanner Lee, Nebraska, 6-4¼, 218 – Played in a pro-style offense and has a strong arm, but had way too many turnovers (37 interceptions in 31 games) to be counted on.


Chase Litton, Marshall, 6-5, 230 – A developmental prospect who has all the physical intangibles you look for, but doesn’t have the needed accuracy to compete for a starting job.


Brandon Silvers, Troy, 6-2½, 224 – A small college fifth-year senior and four-year starter who will likely be given a couple of years to prove himself as a backup or No. 3 QB.


Logan Woodside, Toledo, 6-1¼, 213 – A fifth-year senior who threw for more 8,000 yards the last two seasons, he will fight to stay on an NFL roster as a career backup.



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