2018 NFL Draft: Breaking Down the Quarterback Class
Hey, NFL general managers, here's a tip: if no one can agree on who the top quarterback in the draft is then there isn't a quarterback worth wasting a Top 5 pick on.
Yesterday I wrote about why the Browns are morons if they waste one of their No. 1 picks on a quarterback . Which they will do, because they are the Browns. But now I can extrapolate that out a little more and say that any of the teams that take a quarterback in the Top 5 are setting themselves up for a bust.
By my count, between 1998-2014 just 17 of the 47 quarterbacks taken in the first round of the NFL Draft turned into legitimate, competent signal callers with positive careers. (It's too early to call it on anyone taken in the last three years.) And my definition of "legitimate, competent signal caller" liberally includes noted losers Carson Palmer (No. 1 overall pick with 92-88 career record and one playoff win), Jay Cutler (No. 11 overall pick with 74-79 record and one playoff win), and Daunte Culpepper (No. 11 overall pick with 41-59 career record and two playoff wins).
So, basically teams that take a quarterback in the first round have somewhere around a 1-in-3 chance of that pick paying off. Do those odds seem worth it?
The level of expectations on rookie quarterbacks is already way, way too high. Quarterbacks coming out of college should sit on the bench for at least one season, and in most instances two, before taking the reins. And if you're skeptical of that, remember that was the path that Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and several other top quarterbacks have taken.
(Want a more recent example? Try Jimmy Garoppolo. He was given time to develop and now looks like a legit franchise quarterback.)
Yes, I know what the response is going to be; "What about Carson Wentz? Or Andrew Luck?" Those players are clearly the exceptions to the rule. Both of those players were drafted by teams that were already rock solid in other areas. And, perhaps not coincidentally, both have suffered serious injuries early in their careers.
All of this brings us to this year's quarterback crop. There is no Cam Newton. There is no Luck. There is no Peyton Manning in this year's class. There is no consensus No. 1 player that everyone agrees is worthy of being the first overall pick.
Yet, despite this, as many as five quarterbacks could be taken in Round 1, and the consensus is those three quarterbacks will be drafted in the first five or six selections.
These moves will be lauded by media bobbleheads who applaud teams "getting their franchise quarterbacks". But you know what, these guys look like a bunch of bums. And most of the five quarterbacks at the top of this year's class look primed to become major busts.
Let's take a look, shall we:
Baker Mayfield - Baker Manziel has significant boom-or-bust potential. I, personally, don't mind the fiery attitude that he brings on the field. Philip Rivers plays the same way. But there's no denying that Mayfield is a hothead, and, by most accounts, he's pretty arrogant. He's also been arrested for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and fleeing. Not great. Mayfield can sling it. I enjoy his talent. But he doesn't have prototypical size, and his numbers are inflated due to the offense that he ran. On top of that there is absolutely no denying the red flags about his character. You think this guy can be the face of a franchise? Me neither.
Sam Darnold - Darnold is a pud. He is kind of the yin to Mayfield's yang in that Darnold doesn't seem to have much of a personality. On top of that, I felt that Darnold and USC were extraordinarily overrated during his time in Los Angeles. Other than a couple wins over Stanford, who did USC beat last year? Darnold didn't play well against Ohio State in the bowl game. And perhaps, most distressingly, the guy is a turnover machine. He has 29 turnovers in his last 19 games. And that came against Pac-12 defenses. Throw in the fact that USC quarterbacks have been terrible in the NFL over the last 30 years (Todd Marinovich, Rob Johnson, Palmer, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and Cody Kessler), and I wouldn't touch this guy.
Josh Allen - Besides the late-breaking news that Allen may or may not be a racist (depending on how much stock you put into tweets from his high school years), there are all kinds of other indicators that Allen will be a bust. The most obvious is this: Allen wasn't any good at Wyoming! He completed just 56 percent of his passes there. The Cowboys didn't win any league titles or compete against any decent teams on a national stage. In his three most high-profile games against top competition - Nebraska in 2016, Iowa and Oregon in 2017 - Allen went 48-for-96 (50%) for 427 yards with one touchdown and eight interceptions. I mean - are you kidding me? Why would anyone draft a guy that looks like he will end up as a worse Blaine Gabbert? Forget drafting him in the Top 10. Why would anyone want this guy - period? Oh, that's right, because he has large hands. Got it.
Josh Rosen - I actually think that Josh Rosen is the best quarterback prospect of this bunch. Ironically, he will likely be picked after the other three "pocket passers". The fact that Rosen didn't get along with coach Jim Mora, who is an all-time douche, is a positive to me. But some people believe Rosen may actually be "too smart" or "too millennial" to play quarterback. I don't even know what that means. But it's out there. The one legit issue around Rosen is his injury history. He's already had some concussions and some shoulder issues. You can't really handicap injuries. But it is definitely something to consider.
Lamar Jackson - I definitely think that Jackson can play quarterback at the NFL level. However, he is the perfect example of a guy that will need to sit and learn the position, learn how to read defenses, and work on his accuracy over the next three years before he even gets a chance to start. Will he be afforded that time to develop? Probably not. In which case, he could be a definite bust.
In my opinion, I think that Rosen and Mayfield are first-round talents. I think Darnold and Jackson could go in the second round to teams that will be patient with them. Allen is a project, at best, and I wouldn't touch him before the third or fourth round.
So don't believe the hype. That's all you're going to hear about this crop of quarterbacks, which will likely dominate the Top 10 in tonight's NFL Draft and will likely all go in the first round. But the reality is that one of these guys will probably turn out to be a competent NFL quarterback. Maybe two if he is given time to sit, watch, learn and develop.
But the rest will turn into busts.
And remember who called it first.
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Read more articles by Robert Ferringo
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