NFL draft 2018 quarterback rankings: Will Wyoming's Josh Allen or USC's Sam Darnold be No. 1 pick?

Mike Jones
View Comments

The top quarterback prospects entering the 2018 NFL draft:

Wyoming QB Josh Allen could be the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL draft.

1. Sam Darnold, USC (6-3, 221): He possesses all of the desired physical tools and intangibles for a franchise quarterback — big arm, good mobility, pocket presence, a knack for extending plays and strong leadership. Darnold didn’t throw at the scouting combine but did impress teams during interviews. He later dazzled with his pro day performance. Darnold completed 63% of his passes for 4,143 yards and 26 touchdowns last season but was also picked off 13 times and fumbled a dozen more. He's spent  a lot of time working to improve his ball security, and it shouldn’t cost him in the draft. Projected: potential No. 1 pick

2. Josh Allen, Wyoming (6-5, 237): No quarterback has helped himself as much during the pre-draft process. During the Senior Bowl, Allen proved that, despite coming from a small school, he can compete against top-end talent. He showed off his cannon of an arm, doing so again at the combine. At times during the Senior Bowl, receivers had trouble catching his passes, so he has to work on his touch. Accuracy had ranked among his weaknesses, but he displayed improvement at the combine and at his pro day. Evaluators believe Allen can develop into a Ben Roethlisberger-type quarterback. Projected: potential No. 1 pick

More:Could Sam Darnold be USC's best NFL quarterback? Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart optimistic

More:Who needs to draft a quarterback? Ranking NFL teams' need from 1-32

More:2018 NFL draft needs, prospect fits for all 32 teams, position rankings

3. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (6-1, 215): The most prolific passer in the draft, he's coming off of a Heisman Trophy campaign that saw him record 41 touchdown passes and only five interceptions in the regular season. Highly accurate, Mayfield completed more than 70% of his passes each of the past two years. He does a great job hitting receivers in stride, often leading to additional yards after the catch. Mayfield had some maturity issues to address the past few months, but he interviewed well with teams, impressing them with his candor and sense of accountability. He’s undersized but knows how to deliver the football and lead. Projected: potential top five

4. Josh Rosen, UCLA (6-4, 226): Many call him the most natural passer in this class. Fundamentals, field vision, decision-making — all top notch. But two primary areas could hinder Rosen. He’s got a thin frame and suffered two concussions in college, so some talent evaluators question his durability. Rosen’s leadership abilities also have come under question. Some people familiar with him say he can rub people the wrong way, and others fear he lacks an appreciation for the game. If Rosen can dispel those concerns, he should be just fine. Projected: potential top five

5. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State (6-5, 235): Coming off of a career year (4,904 yards, 37 touchdowns, just 9 interceptions), he offers intrigue and upside. He’s big with great arm strength and, after interviewing and performing well at the combine, has improved his stock. Rudolph still needs work having run a spread offense that never required him to call plays in a huddle or take snaps under center, but he has the desire and smarts to develop. The ideal situation is for him to go to a team with an established veteran, which would afford him time to develop. Projected: Round 1-2

6. Lamar Jackson, Louisville (6-2, 216): One of the most electrifying athletes in the draft, he's had to answer questions about his ability to play quarterback in the NFL. Jackson wants nothing to do with talk of a switch to wide receiver, which is why he didn't run at the combine or his pro day. He's also made things harder for himself by deciding not to hire an agent. Some teams have had trouble contacting him to schedule meetings or workouts, so it will be interesting to see if that costs him in the draft. Jackson also needs refinement of his skills. As is the case with every quarterback, fit is extremely important. Jackson would benefit from a creative offensive coordinator who can capitalize on his mobility and is perhaps willing to implement elements of Louisville's offense to help ease the rookie’s transition. Projected: Round 1-2

7. Luke Falk, Washington State (6-4, 215): He also put up big numbers while running a spread offense. Falk has an above average arm but only average mobility. He could eventually develop into a solid NFL starter. But first, he'll have to bulk up and do a better job of reading coverages. Additionally, he needs learn how to play under center. Projected: Round 2-4

8. Kyle Lauletta, Richmond (6-3, 222): A dark horse from a small school, he shined at the Senior Bowl, earning MVP honors, and further strengthened his standing with a strong combine. He’s a perfect project to groom behind a starter for a few seasons. Projected: Round 2-4

9. Mike White, Western Kentucky (6-5, 224): A former pitcher who threw 90 miles per hour in high school, he has naturally power and touch in his arm. White has demonstrated an ability to scan the field and work through progressions, however he lacks feel in the pocket and isn't especially mobile. Anticipation and ball security can improve. Projected: Round 3-5

10. Chase Litton, Marshall (6-6, 232): An early-entry candidate whom some believed would benefit from remaining in college. He locks onto targets and needs to improve his ability to adjust on the fly. Size is a plus. Projected: Round 5-6

11. Tanner Lee, Nebraska (6-4, 218): A prototypical pocket passer, he had a solid showing at the Senior Bowl, where he displayed his big arm, quick release and ability to operate under center. However, turnovers were an issue for him in college. He also needs to be more patient and improve his red zone execution. Because of his measurables, he'll garner attention but remains very much a project. Projected: Round 6-7

12. Kurt Benkert, Virginia (6-3, 218): He owns great arm strength, accuracy and ability to extend plays but must improve his field vision and decision-making. Benkert had an underwhelming Senior Bowl week, displaying his inexperience in a pro-style offense —especially while working under center and dropping back. Projected: Round 6-7

Teams in need of quarterbacks

1. Browns: The seemingly annual search continues for a franchise almost certain to pick another passer with this draft's first pick.

2. Jets: The hunt for a worthy successor to Joe Namath heads into a new phase after GM Mike Maccagnan traded up to get the No. 3 pick.

3. Bills: Tyrod Taylor is gone and AJ McCarron seems like no more than a stopgap. Buffalo has already traded up in Round 1 once this offseason and could do so again.

4. Cardinals: They don't select until pick 15 of the first round but don't have an answer beyond Sam Bradford's one-year deal in 2018.

T5. Chargers/Giants/Patriots/Saints/Steelers: Every one of these teams has a longtime starter who's at least 36. How much longer can any of them wait to get an heir apparent?


Follow Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones


View Comments