Where will these top college quarterbacks land in the first round of the NFL Draft?

With the 2018 NFL Draft Combine behind us and lots of hype surrounding many of the college quarterbacks entering the draft this year, every NFL fan or expert seems to have their own opinion on where these prospects will land in the draft. Whether it is Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, or Josh Allen being the first quarterback off the draft board in Dallas on Thursday April 26th, there should be little to no doubt that each of these guys will get selected at some point in the first round.

 

With the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select Josh Rosen out of UCLA.

Even though the new General Manager of the Giants, Dave Gettleman has made it no secret that he believes that long time veteran, Eli Manning still has a few years left in him, the Giants would be FOOLISH to not take a quarterback with the second overall pick, especially if the Cleveland Browns take stud running back, Saquon Barkley with the first pick.

Eli Manning is going to be 37 years old at the beginning of the 2018 season and it would be fair to call his overall NFL career inconsistent. Sure Manning has won two Super Bowls for the Giants in 2007 and 2011, but throughout most of his career he has been a turnover machine and the fact that he is in his late 30’s and plays behind a below average offensive line doesn’t help either. In 14 seasons, Manning has thrown at least 15 interceptions in eight different seasons including 20 or more three of those times.

So it is no secret that Manning is hitting the decline stage of his career and it is time for the Giants to find a future plan under center. When it comes to the New York Giants, they are just simply a team that is RARELY in the top five in the draft order as they are typically a consistent competitor each year. But 2017 was not the case at they had a disaster of a season as they went 3-13, mainly due to some inconsistencies and injuries on offense.

With this year’s draft class loaded with quarterbacks, the Giants should not pass on this opportunity and I believe they will take Rosen over any of the other quarterbacks on the board. The main reason being is because I feel like his personality and skill set is much more suited for a New York market compared to Sam Darnold. Rosen stands at 6 foot 4, weighs 218, and is mobile, so he certainly has the traits to be very good in the NFL. In three seasons at UCLA, Rosen had a completion percentage of 60.9% and threw for 59 touchdowns and 26 interceptions in 30 collegiate games playing in the PAC 12 conference.

He may have a little bit of a bad past off the field as he has dealt with some injury issues throughout college and has made some questionable decisions as a youngster, but I think he will pan out just fine in the NFL, especially in a big New York market. Giants fans should be excited for Rosen to come in and be the quarterback of this franchise for years to come.

With the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select Sam Darnold out of USC

Having the first and fourth overall picks in the 2018 NFL Draft and coming off of an 0-16 season, it will be a huge surprise if the Browns don’t use one of them to get a quarterback. I believe they will use that first pick to take the Penn State star running back, Saquon Barkley and wait for their fourth pick to find their future or possible present quarterback.

With Rosen off the board, I think Darnold would be the next best option for the Browns. Sure Josh Allen had himself a great combine last weekend and has stated that he wouldn’t mind playing for Cleveland, but I believe that Darnold is the safer bet due to the fact that he has played in a much more competitive conference and has experience playing in big games.

Darnold broke out on the scene as a freshman in 2016 as he helped carry USC to a Rose Bowl victory over Penn State that year and threw 31 touchdowns and 9 interceptions with a completion percentage at 67.2. So after his unbelievable freshman year, many NFL scouts were already considering him to be the first overall pick in the NFL draft whenever he came out.

However, Darnold came down to earth a little bit in his sophomore campaign in 2017 as he threw 26 touchdowns but led the FBS in total turnovers with 22 (13 interceptions and 9 fumbles) in 14 games. So his lack of ball security in 2017 certainly hurt his draft stock a little bit but Darnold was playing behind a shaky offensive line at USC last season as he got sacked 29 times.

So maybe getting Darnold into the NFL and putting him behind a decent offensive line could certainly help his cause and give him a better chance to develop in the pros, but for now you can’t take away what Darnold was able to achieve as a freshman at USC in 2016, including that huge Rose Bowl game victory over Penn State. So I think the Browns will take Darnold with this fourth pick and hope that he becomes the quarterback that they have been looking for for years.

 

With the sixth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Baker Mayfield out of Oklahoma

Even though the Jets have a quarterback desperate team picking right in front of them in this year’s draft, I believe that the Denver Broncos will find their franchise quarterback via free agency whether it is Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, or somebody else. So it is late April, the Jets miss out on the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes and have the sixth overall pick in the draft, what will they do? Go out there and draft the defending Heisman Winner.

For a guy that only stands at 6 foot nothing and barely weighs over 200 pounds, this guy has the potential to be the real deal in the NFL. In each of his past three seasons at Oklahoma, Mayfield has played in at least 13 games, had a completion percentage above 68%, thrown for at least 3,700 yards, had at least 36 touchdowns, and has thrown less than 10 interceptions, with those stats getting better and better each year. His final season at Oklahoma was his best one as he had a completion percentage of 70.5 and had career highs in total yards thrown (4,627) and touchdowns (43) along with a career low of six interceptions. Also with him being undersized and playing in at least 13 games his past three years just shows how tough he is as well.

So from a statistical standpoint, Mayfield is the best quarterback entering the draft this year, so why are teams higher in the draft such as the Browns or Giants being so hesitant to draft this kid? Two reasons, his size and his off the field issues.

Size is certainly something Mayfield cannot control, but there have been other undersized quarterbacks who have entered the NFL and has proved doubters wrong by having flashes of success such as Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, and Fran Tarkenton. So Mayfield could possibly put himself in that category one day because I believe that he has the passion and judgement to be a successful NFL quarterback.

As for his off the field issues, I believe that most young adults make mistakes at some point in their lives and learn from it and deserve second chances and I think the same goes for Mayfield. Mayfield’s main mistake he made while in college was when he was publicly intoxicated one night and attempted to run from police, only to get viciously tackled by a cop just seconds later.

So I do get that some critics are worried that Mayfield might become the next Johnny Manziel and party his way out of the NFL within a span of few years, but I see a kid who has made a couple mistakes in the past, has learned from them, and just simply has a fiery passion to play football, something Manziel never seemed to have. So I believe that the Jets should take this chance on Mayfield because he has shown that he can be smart on the football field and his passion for the game would be perfect for New York and could very quickly become a fan favorite and hero for the Jets organization.

With the 11th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select, Josh Allen out of Wyoming (via trade from the Dolphins)

After the Jets sixth pick in the draft, there is a span of about six teams right in a row that do not need to draft a quarterback for the present or the future, which could open the door for some trades for quarterback desperate teams to move up and take one of these guys.

The Arizona Cardinals are in a bad situation in this year’s draft as they finished the 2017 season with a record of 8-8 and had to use three different quarterbacks throughout the season due to injuries and just poor play from the position in general. The Cardinals did not have a single quarterback who threw for more than nine touchdowns last year and none of them had a completion percentage higher than 62%. With the Cardinals still having a very solid secondary and arguably one of the best running backs in the game with David Johnson, the Cardinals could potentially be one good quarterback away from getting themselves back into the playoff conversation and I think they will trade up to get Josh Allen to make that happen.

Allen has great potential in the NFL as he showed off his arm strength and his ability to get the ball downfield during last week’s draft combine, but many are skeptical about him due to the fact he played in a weak Mountain West Conference. Many had that same concern for Carson Wentz prior to the 2016 draft as he played for North Dakota State, but he very quickly became one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

In two seasons playing at Wyoming, Allen had a completion percentage of 56.2 with 44 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Even though Allen’s touchdown to interception ratio looks good, his completion percentage and accuracy is certainly a bit of a concern considering that he played college against weaker opponents.

But you still can’t take away from him that he is a big 6 foot 5, 233 pound man of pure toughness who has the strength to take big hits and throw the ball deep downfield. If the Cardinals do trade up and acquire Allen, he will be placed in a great position as he will be on a team that has an above average defense, one of the top running backs in the league (when healthy), and an ageless #1 wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald.

This would be a bold move for the Cardinals to move up and acquire Allen, but they have the potential to be in win now mode in 2018, they just need to find the right guy to play under center to get them there and Allen could be that guy.

With the 21st overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills select Lamar Jackson out of Louisville

Between picks 11 and 21, the only real threat to actually draft a quarterback would be the Washington Redskins, but with the main four guys of Rosen, Darnold, Mayfield, and Allen off the board, I think they will wait until the later rounds to draft a quarterback, which will lead to Lamar Jackson falling to Buffalo.

Like the Arizona Cardinals, the Bills have the necessary pieces to compete now as they have an above average defense, one of the premier running backs in the game with LeSean McCoy, and an above average offensive line, they really just need a quarterback to get to that next level. Even though Tyrod Taylor has had his fair share of success in a Bills uniform the past couple of seasons, the Bills have made it no secret that they prefer to have somebody else under center.

I do believe that Taylor will start the 2018 season with the Bills organization, but the Bills drafting Jackson could be interesting both short term and long term. Jackson had his best year as a sophomore at Louisville two years ago where he had a completion percentage of 56.2 with 51 total touchdowns (30 passing and 21 rushing) and 9 interceptions, giving him the Heisman Trophy that year. Then, he put together a very solid 2017 campaign as well as he had a completion percentage of 59.1 with 45 touchdowns (30 passing and 15 rushing) and 10 interceptions.

So there is no secret that Jackson is very athletic with a ton of speed and can play, which gives me no reason to why he shouldn’t get drafted at some point either late in the first round or early in the second round. Due to the fact that the Bills play plenty of their home games late in the season in freezing cold weather or even sometimes snow, the Bills would always have to heavily rely on the running game and having a mobile quarterback like Jackson could be very beneficial in those situations.

A year after leading the Bills to their first playoff appearance since 1999, I believe that Tyrod Taylor will start the season as the starting quarterback in Buffalo, but it won’t take much for him to lose his job as the Bills will now have a legit young threat waiting in the wings at quarterback with Lamar Jackson.

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