Heading into the season the conventional wisdom was that there were three can’t miss prospects at quarterback and another 5-6 that would get early round consideration. It shouldn’t surprise then that in the deepest quarterback class in memory there seems to be a lot of movement throughout those initial projections. Ultimately NFL teams will not set their board until most of the pre-draft process has played out, but the teams that have the best scouting staffs will have a good handle on which players are the best fits for their respective teams. Here is what teams are saying about this year's prospects.
About 2/3rds of the NFL teams were in Pullman Washington to watch Luke Falk and Sam Darnold go head to head in Week 5. Darnold was expected to be a sure thing at quarterback and the media favorite to be picked first overall but his stock has steadily fallen throughout the year. Along with an overrated arm Darnold leaves the pocket far too often and isn’t adept at reading defenses and progressing through his routes. He still has the raw skills that all too often mean more than production but he is no longer the top prospect at quarterback.
Luke Falk actually outplayed Darnold by far on Saturday and Falk’s strengths appear to be Darnold’s weaknesses. Falk doesn’t have a great arm but he has a tenacity and intelligence to overcome his less than average arm strength. While he will be shorter than ideal he should still be over 6’1” and his overall grasp of the game should be enough to get him drafted early, if not in the early first round.
Josh Allen has struggled enough this year to see his stock decline, at least in the eyes of the media. Scouts still seem to be enamoured with his skill set, however, and it seems unlikely that Allen will fall out of the first half of round 1. WIth a strong Senior Bowl showing he will again be the favorite for the first overall pick.
Josh Rosen is the only one of the “Big 3’ quarterbacks who has met his expectations this season. Much of the conventional criticisms of Rosen are that he is outspoken and might not be completely focused on football, although there is little reason to believe those are issues for NFL teams at this point. Interviews will be key for Rosen at the combine but his play on the field can’t really be questioned. Having scouted him in person against Colorado I can attest that he has the arm strength to make all of the required throws, is very comfortable both in and out of the pocket, and seems to remain calm throughout the play. He is by far the best quarterback prospect at the moment.
Mason Rudolph has all of the tools in the world, though his arm is only average, but he just takes too long to adjust to the action and that will get him killed on Sunday’s. Having scouted him in person as well I can attest that his problems don’t show up on TV footage but are distinct when viewed live or on coaches film.
Lamar Jackson is continuing to make college defenses look stupid but, unfortunately for Jackson, he is a bit of an atypical player and that will hurt his draft stock this spring. There just aren’t that many teams looking for an outside the pocket quarterback and that is what Jackson is.
Baker Mayfield and Logan Woodside continue to put up incredible numbers but might be too small to be given a serious shot as a rookie starter. Both have limitations in their arm strength as well. Right now they appear to be solid developmental choices but they won’t be drafted in the first 60 picks of this draft.
Jake Browning and Jarrett Stidham have both had solid outings but probably not enough to entice them to come out this season. Each would be better off staying in school for at least 1 more season in order to develop further and maximize their draft stock.