By Dastan Haghnazari
The quarterbacks that have declared for the NFL draft this year show a vast array of skills. Some are obvious scramblers comparable to Vick and Newton, but others seem to be dual-threat deep passers like Luck or Manziel, and yet some seem to be pocket passers like Manning or Brady. The variety of quarterbacks leads to tough choices for teams who are trying to find the correct fit for their system. The top five quarterbacks of the draft show much promise but there is still mystery surrounding each one.
5 – Sam Darnold
Darnold had problems late last season, especially in a big loss to the Buckeyes; however, he still shows promise as an NFL quarterback. Over the past two seasons, Darnold has posted an impressive pass completion percentage of almost 65% with over 7200 passing yards on 8.7 yards per attempt. Any NFL scout would recognize Darnold’s abilities, but he lacks the intangibles. His ability to lead a team to a comeback or simply keep a drive alive is abysmal (as seen in his game against Ohio State last year). Also, his college strength of schedule came to mind because the only thing worse than an over-hyped team is an over-hyper quarterback. His stats during his first year were notably higher than his second-year stats which could prove an overall decline in ability, but it could be due to the team around him. Darnold’s combine stats were not overly impressive, but his play style and abilities are almost that of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Darnold is missing one key aspect of Luck’s game, arm-strength. Darnold is riding the hype wave from his freshman season to be drafted this year, but it is possible that he could turn out to be an NFL starting quarterback if he could improve his athletic abilities.
4 – Josh Rosen
Josh Rosen is much like Darnold in the sense that he lacks intangibles, but his passing is a step above an NFL level. When Rosen throws, the ball always spins perfectly and there is absolutely no wobble. He far surpasses most NFL quarterback’s passing abilities which could be perfect for teams with strong receiving cores. Rosen’s passing stats are not as strong as Darnold’s, but UCLA lacked a strong o-line and receiving core that USC possessed. In just three seasons, Rosen passed for over 9000 yards with a completion percentage of 60%. There is no doubt that Rosen will be drafted to revive a teams offense, but Rosen has three notable weaknesses that cripple his draft profile. Rosen lacks leadership traits that stem from his disagreement with teammates, and he takes too many chances instead of playing it safe on and off the field. Lastly, Rosen has an extensive history of injuries that date back to his high school days. His overall comparison is to that of Eli Manning in the sense that they are both fantastic pocket passer but struggle in the scrambling and leading aspects of the position. If Rosen could stay healthy and fix his attitude, he could prove to be a fantastic player like the Manning brothers or Brady himself.
3 – Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson is possibly one of the most fun quarterbacks to watch. His explosive play style comes from his prolific ability to run and pass the ball effectively. Over the past three seasons, Jackson ran for over 4000 yards and 50 touchdowns, and he has passed for over 9000 yards with 69 touchdowns. His stats are absolutely astounding and leave little question to the translation of his abilities to an NFL quarterback. Sadly, Jackson opted not to run the 40-yard dash at the combine as to not draw to teams to attempt to move him to the receiver position, but when he was last unofficially tested, Jackson ran a 4.34. Jackson is my favorite quarterback coming into the draft because of his leadership qualities, running and passing abilities, and his explosive play style will be very exciting to watch in the NFL next year. The only worries that haunt Lamar Jackson is changing from the best player on his team to a possible back-up or contested starting spot, and that his passing will not translate to the NFL level. He is most comparable to Mike Vick in his football game but doesn’t have the off-field problems. It will be very interesting to see where he lands and how he plays among other NFL players.
2 – Baker Mayfield
Johnny Manziel reincarnate, Baker Mayfield has an eerily similar playstyle to the former Browns quarterback. Over his college career, Mayfield has thrown for over 14500 yards with a completion percentage of almost 70%. These numbers are way higher than any of the other quarterbacks previously noted on this list. Baker Mayfield’s game is almost exactly down to Manziel’s except Mayfield has only had one incident that may have caused worry, but boys will be boys and football is a competitive game. I believe his actions are warranted because of what happened before the game, but it could have been handled better. The media is soft compared to what these players have to go through, but that’s for another article…
Mayfield also has over 1000 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns showing his versatility at the quarterback position. Although his scrambling abilities are not at the level of Lamar Jackson, Mayfield possesses many passing attributes Jackson could never hope to attain. This is especially important in the transition from a running quarterback college game to a more balanced passing offense that is widespread in the NFL. Mayfield will play like a college Johnny Manziel at the NFL level and will be a key revival piece in any offense that will take him. There is little to no downside to Mayfield except that he has not reached his full level of play yet, but any NFL coach could help him to be a future star and Pro Bowl player.
1 – Josh Allen
There will always be the argument that he lacks good passing stats and has played on small teams which make him look better, but Josh Allen is the absolute best passer coming out of college right now. Allen’s potential cap is also much higher than any quarterback the draft has seen in years. While starting for two seasons for Wyoming, his stats lack large numbers that one would expect from a top quarterback, but he proves to be a proficient passer with the lack offensive weapons around him. He posts around a 56% completion percentage with over 5000 passing yards. With an NFL o-line and receiving core, Allen could perform miracles that the quarterback position has lacked for a long time. His arm talent and strength are impeccable and he shows this ability on deep passes. Also, his ability to shake defenders while in the pocket and to keep his eyes downfield while running show that he is a hard player to tackle and sack. Allen will be the biggest all-or-nothing quarterback the draft has seen for a while. There have never been so many doubts about a projected first round pick, including the likes of Mitchell Trubisky. In his NFL combine report, found on NFL.com, the analyst reports Allen’s weaknesses saying “Accuracy diminishes greatly when he’s forced to move his feet. May have too much hero in his blood. Tries to overcome obstacles with arm talent and makes poor decisions because of it. Takes too many chances with low percentage throws…” The only worries enshrouding Allen are his lack of experience and his accuracy on the move, but his combine stats show that he is an athletic player and will fit well into most NFL offenses. Allen has been compared to Jake Locker, Ben Roethlisberger (without the tank size), and Paxton Lynch, but hopefully, Allen will be able to overcome doubts surrounding his game and prove draft analysts wrong. If Allen would succeed in the NFL it will be in a big way, but there is still much chance for a bust. A team will need to take a chance on the “could-be” star and attempt to form him into the perfect NFL quarterback.