Catching up on the QB's - 2018 Draft Class

January 15, 2018

Derek Kramer

For those of you who have been a part of our college QBs text line, you have watched plenty of passers that are eligible for the 2018 playing this season. Now, with the class finalized and the Bills picks are locked into 21st and 22nd in the first round, it's time to look into who has the most to gain and most to lose as the draft season approaches. Also, we'll have to face the reality of stopping ourselves from getting too attached to a couple of the top passers, based on Buffalo's draft position and fit with the franchise. 

Don't forget to text COLLEGE to 550-550, Jeremy White will text you with anything new regarding the 2018 QB class, including pro days, stories around the league and more! 

Let's get started. 

1. Josh Rosen - UCLA
6'4", 220 lbs, Junior
2017 Regular Season Stats: 282 of 451 (62%), 3717 yards, 26 TDs, 10 INTs

Rosen has become the most consistent quarterback this season not named Baker Mayfield. Rosen's strongest point, to me, is pocket presence. Rosen knows he will likely pay a price to lay the perfect throw to his target ,and it rarely affects his delivery. That sort of toughness and composure is rare and is needed in order to succeed in the NFL. Rosen has the prototypical size, arm strength and accuracy that all of the NFL scouts covet. Rosen has put together a season to help convince many NFL executives that he's the complete package. Rosen has reeled in some of the "gunslinger" mentality since the Memphis game. Rosen also has been outspoken in his time at UCLA, proven by his words against the NCAA earlier this year. 

For the Bills fans: Sadly, Rosen's outspoken nature makes it seem like he is not the McDermott "type" of QB, which makes me think it may be time to let go of Rosen, Bills fans. Overall, it's a moot point, as Rosen has put together such a solid campaign that he's becoming a favorite to go first overall and is out of Buffalo's reach unless Cleveland is weird and trades out of the top pick. 

2. Baker Mayfield - Oklahoma 
6'1", 218 lbs, Senior
2017 Regular season Stats: 262 of 369 (71%), 4340 yards, 41 TDs, 5 INTs (2017 Heisman Trophy winner)

Ah, yes. Baker Mayfield. The most polarizing player in this draft class. Mayfield plays a somewhat unconventional style at times, but can still hang in the pocket and make the tough throws with the best of them. Mayfield was, by far, the best player in college football this season and his track record cannot be denied. Some teams will be turned off by the many antics Mayfield has been a part of, from planting a flag, to grabbing his crotch, to trash talking other players. Mayfield's stature may also turn some teams off, as a shorter quarterback. But the lazy comparison to Johnny Manziel has to stop, as Mayfield's arm is better and more capable of the NFL throws on a consistent basis. Mayfield has a chance to be an early pick, but is also likely the most subject to "anonymus scout" takedowns throughout the draft process. 

Mayfield is looking to further improve his draft stock by attending the Senior Bowl, his first opportunity to speak with teams regarding the so-called "character issues" and participate in an NFL practice schedule. The game itself is not as important, Mayfield being able to clear the air with teams is. 

For the Bills fans: I hate to say this... I REALLY hate to say this... but of all of the quarterbacks that the Bills could take in 2018, I feel that Mayfield is the least likely to be in a Bills uniform. Everything about Sean McDermott seems to be about getting good players who are also model leaders. Mayfield is fine, and his antics are blown out of proportion. However, when it was mentioned about how some teams will be turned off by Mayfield, I suspect the Bills will be one of those teams. Which is a shame, Mayfield is becoming more fun to watch by the day. 

3. Lamar Jackson - Louisville  
6'3", 200 lbs, Junior
2017 Regular Season Stats: 241 of 399 (60%), 3489 yrads, 25 TDs, 6 INTs, 208 carries, 1443 yards, 17 TDs

Despite massive improvement in his passing mechanics and a better season through the air that included being a finalist for the Heisman for the second straight year, Jackson is, for some reason, still being overlooked by the major pundits as a first round candidate at quarterback. Jackson has shown he is not only willing to remain in the pocket, but now is looking more capable of delivering strikes from there. Jackson's best quality remains his running ability, where he genuinely seems faster than almost everyone on the field. While he won't be asked to run over 200 times (looking at you Bobby Petrino), Jackson would benefit from a creative coordinator that can implement some read option pass plays that allowed Philadelphia's Carson Wentz and Houston's Deshaun Watson to dominate this season. Jackson's arm is a cannon, where a simple flick of his wrist can throw a bullet 20 yards through defenders. Jackson does struggle with consistent accuracy and sometimes throws the risky pass, however. 

For the Bills fans: Jackson will be the most likely to hit a sore spot for Bills fans, with a mobile playing style that reminds fans of current starter Tyrod Taylor. Despite their similarities, Jackson seems to be far less gun-shy than Taylor and willing to make a tough (or even sometimes questionable) throw. Don't let Taylor's play in Buffalo cloud your judgement, Jackson is looking the part of a first round quarterback. If he is taken by Buffalo, be happy about it. All aboard the Lamar Jackson hype train, I'm driving and we have snacks. 

4. Sam Darnold - USC
6'4", 220 lbs, Redshirt Sophomore
2017 Regular Season Stats: 277 of 435 (63%), 3787 yards, 26 TDs, 12 INTs

The presumptive top pick heading into the season took a step back, but that needed to be expected after the kid threw for 31 touchdowns as a freshman. Darnold seemed to be a bit skittish in the pocket at times this season, sometimes feeling "phantom pressure" and bailing out of clean pockets. However, at his best, Darnold looks the part of a franchise savior under center. At his worst, he still looks like someone who is a quality starter in the NFL. Darnold can move well and has more athleticism than people think, and his accuracy is top notch. Darnold is also a classic leader at QB, someone players respect and follow without reservation. Now, if he can clean up those fumbles and fix his issues with pocket presence... 

For the Bills fans: Jeremy White said this to me a month ago, and it stuck with me - Darnold seems like that "process" type of QB, a hard worker who will buy into being 1/11th of the offense and seems like the McDermott-type of quarterback. That, combined with reports from Matt Miller of Bleacher Report hearing that the Bills are heavily interested in Darnold, it makes sense that if the Bills are to catapault themselves up to the top of the draft, it will be for Darnold. 

5. Mason Rudolph - Oklahoma State
6'5", 230 lbs, Senior
2017 Regular Season Stats: 297 of 457 (65%), 4553 yards, 35 TDs, 9 INTs, 10 rushing TDs

Mason Rudolph has fallen off a bit, but should still be in consideration of a first round selection. However, there is proof that Rudolph is no longer a lock, since he accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl. Players only participate in the Senior Bowl to improve their stock. Rudolph is a solid rhythm passer, best with a quick strike offense (hint, hint). Rudolph, however, has started to struggle with pocket presence, and his accuracy dips drastically when he has to throw on the move. The other major concern for Rudolph is the fact he's played in a spread offense and has not taken many snaps under center in four years. However, Rudolph has a solid arm, and his size will give him an advantage. Despite being athletic enough to move around, Rudolph shouldn't be trusted to throw on the move.

Rudolph, like Mayfield and Josh Allen, gets an added bonus of the Senior Bowl to meet with teams and practice under an NFL schedule. The practice week will make-or-break Rudolph's status as a first round quarterback. 

For the Bills fans: With the reports (including what Joe Marino of NDT Scouting said with Howard Simon and Jeremy White on 1/12) that Bills general manager Brandon Beane and the scouting staff have been scouting several Oklahoma State games, the Bills being linked to Rudolph should be taken very seriously. 

6. Josh Allen - Wyoming
6'5", 233 lbs, Redshirt Junior (Senior Bowl eligible)
2017 Regular Season Stats: 141 of 251 (56%), 1658 yards, 13 TDs, 6 INTs

Raw and unpolished but gifted with the physical tools needed to succeed in the NFL, Josh Allen is yet another polarizing figure in the 2018 draft class. Allen has the size, arm strength and athleticism to wow scouts and general managers everywhere. He has the ability to hit any NFL throw and his deep ball may be the best of the group. However, for now, it's only promise and upside. Allen is not technically sound, which figures into his inconsistent accuracy. Allen may prove to be a solid NFL starter, but he absolutely needs to go to a team that can afford to stash him under a veteran starter for a season in order to groom him and aid his mechanics. Allen's biggest issue is that he needed to shoulder the burden for a bad Wyoming team, and it turned him into a reckless passer that rarely set his feet and threw many highly questionable passes. 

Allen will need the most work of the 6 quarterbacks, and he is eligible to go to the Senior Bowl. That extra work could endear Allen to scouts... and possibly the coaching staffs of the Senior Bowl rosters. 

For the Bills fans: Personally, I want Buffalo to stay away from Allen. The Bills are likely moving on from Tyrod Taylor, meaning that if they drafted Allen, they would need a reliable starter that can play the first year in order to aid in the development of Allen's game. At the end of the day, Allen is expected to go in the first round. If it's Buffalo, they better have a plan to bring him along slowly.