Described as the best class for quarterbacks in recent years the 2018 prospects have mostly struggled through 2017. It looks like Sam Darnold will return for another year of college football, and Josh Allen might want to consider doing the same. Both have the physical skills that teams will covet but need to display a stronger grasp of the nuances of the position before being considered elite NFL prospects.
1: Josh Rosen - Rosen has all of the tools needed to succeed in the NFL. The thumb injury he suffered this weekend against Washington will be notable if Rosen misses significant time. Of the top prospects coming into the year only Rosen has shown improvement in his game so far this season. He would be the first pick in the draft were it held today and that seems unlikely to change unless he tanks the interview process (a possibility) or decides to return for another season at UCLA (a real possibility.)
2: Josh Allen - Allen hasn’t had a great year leading a bad wyoming team, but as NFL scouts will tell you top quarterback prospects can carry poor teams and make them better and Allen hasn’t done that at all. His arm strength, accuracy, and overall physical skill set make him a sure first round choice and a patient team who does not have an immediate need for a starter (see the Giants/Chargers/Cardinals/Patriots) would snap him up in a second and let him be mentored by their aging veterans.
3: Mason Rudolph - The draft pundits seem very high on Mason Rudolph, I disagree, and so do the scouts I have spoken with. Rudolph has great accuracy on intermediate throws and functional accuracy on deep balls, but he doesn’t have great mental command of the field yet and, in live action at least, looks uncomfortable under duress. His size and pedigree will still get him drafted in the first round most likely, but he isn’t a top 10 prospect and I expect him to get passed by a few of the other signal callers listed below him.
4: Luke Falk - The knock on Falk is his arm strength and it is a legitimate concern, though not necessarily a deal breaker. I would consider his arm strength to be similar to Tyrod Taylor and Andy Dalton, just a bit shy or Alex Smith, and that should be enough to pay in the NFL. Where Falk has issues is with his ability to quickly diagnose action, although this might be more reflective of his offense. I don’t think Falk has shown enough to get into the first round, although with some good workouts and a strong Senior Bowl that could change.
5: Lamar Jackson - The biggest problem with Jackson is that most of the NFL seems reluctant, still, to invest the future of a franchise in an outside of the pocket quarterback. Kaepernick and Griffin failed to develop as pocket quarterbacks, Mariota and Newton are both still developing but each is ultimately way more talented a thrower than Jackson, and Pete Carroll is one of two coaches that had the stability to make the move he made with Russell Wilson. Jackson is a talented guy, but I’m not sure I see him in the first round. If I had to guess I’d say Buffalo is his best bet at being a first round selection.
6: Ryan Finley - Finley came out of nowhere, much like Mitch Trubisky last season. Like Trubisky Finley has a solid, if not spectacular game, that will need to be developed slowly. Finley can make all the throws and is fairly accurate. He looks like a safe bet to continue his rise up draft boards and I could easily see him being a top 10 pick. I think he will ultimately settle ahead of Falk, Rudolph, and Jackson.
Others: Baker Mayfield continues to be among the most efficient all time college quarterbacks but his skill set simply doesn't translate to being an NFL starter at this time, he should have a long career as a top level backup and spot starter though. He reminds me of Josh McCown. Nick Fitzgerald offers some degree of upside and looks like a poor man's Carson Wentz. Logan Woodside, like Mayfield, is super efficient but might not have the size and arm strength to be a starter. He is similar to Chase Daniel and should have a long productive career as a top backup.