The NFL Draft is this week, and as the latest crop of players wait to be added to one of the 32 teams in the league, the XTRA Sports staff sheds some light on which quarterbacks have the potential to be pro-bowlers and which...don't.
I have 3 kids, so I’ve learned not to be certain about anything. Who knows what will happen with each day, let alone who’s going to be a great, or poor, QB. That said, if I had to put my chip in one guy’s corner, I’m going with Sam Darnold. All of these guys possess great qualities, but I’m a big believer in a person’s ability to improvise, go with the flow, and adjust as life throws curve balls. Darnold has proven he has the “it” quality needed to succeed in multiple scenarios.
And the guy I wouldn’t touch, under any circumstances is Baker Mayfield. Surely talented, but also a guy who surely has an angry streak, and I’m not sure why. How does someone with a police video who can’t deal with Kansas players not shaking his hand at midfield react when he loses a game 35-3 and the media throws a mic in his face? I wouldn’t take the chance to find out.
The Pro Bowler… Sam Darnold, USCSam Darnold is most likely landing with the Cleveland Browns at the 1st overall pick, and it’s a HOME RUN for the Browns. Darnold reminds me ALOT of Ben Rothlisberger; they’re both tall, strong-armed, pocket passers, who have better than average escapability, improvisational skills, and big game composure. The Browns hired Todd Haley to be their Offensive Coordinator this off-season. With the Steelers, Haley worked with Rothlisberger from 2012-2017, and during that time Big Ben enjoyed his most prolific years, named a Pro Bowler in four consecutive seasons. <SIDE NOTE- Rothlisberger was also sacked less during this 5 year stretch with Haley as the OC, than any other point in his career> Haley understands how an offense needs to be built to compete in the AFC North. In short, Darnold is destined for success. The Bust… Baker Mayfield, BUYER BEWARE. This is not a top tier NFL QB, this is a very, very, talented system quarterback at the college level. The “most accurate quarterback out of college football” argument falls on deaf ears with me. Johnny Manziel averaged nearly a 70% completion rate coming out of Texas A&M, just like Baker. Johnny Manziel had an extremely high opinion of himself coming out of college, sound familiar? Johnny Manziel had ‘off-the-field’ concerns coming into the league… hmm…a pattern is emerging here. Baker Mayfield is the type of player who would benefit from learning behind a veteran, and having a long onramp to begin his NFL career (like Pat Mahomes with the Chiefs last season), but I think his will be drafted by a team desperate for a playmaker at the QB1 spot, and soon their situation will look… well… desperate.
Looking at the still nebulous QB position as the draft approaches, I look at a guy like USC's Sam Darnold and say with some hesitation, has the best chance at one day being a pro bowl QB. System, coaching, organization all go into it and if he is taken by Cleveland at #1 or #4, doubt creeps into the conversation. BUT, based on his athletic ability, size, football IQ, I look at him as a guy who could put it all together in the coming seasons.
The potential for bust still lies with Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield. The cocky attitude is great but when you hit the NFL, there are teams chomping at the bit to make an example of you. If he Manziel's early on, it's the showers for this guy. And when some scouts question your coachability, that doesn't bode well for a player.
Given the predicament of choosing only one certain, future Pro Bowl quarterback coming out of the strong 2018 draft class; there is no question in my mind that the sure-fire guarantee is Josh Rosen out of UCLA. I won’t just stop there. Given the right team, Josh is not only Pro Bowl caliber, he has the mental and physical prowess to become a generational, Hall of Fame QB.
His football skills, and what many describe as an artistic throwing motion were never a question for me. Technically, he is the most refined, and it’s not particularly close. Those doubting his durability in college football fail to recognize that in the NFL, the pocket QB is rewarded and protected from head to toe. This is to ensure NFL owners’ highest investment is protected. Nonetheless, this should be of no concern, as the NFL is actually a safer place for guys like Rosen. Look no further than Manning, Brady, the other Manning, and Rivers.
The other knock on Rosen, which is completely confounding is the repeated refrain, ‘Does he love the game?’ Look no further than then-Texas A&M head football coach Kevin Sumlin, who Rosen rallied his team from a 34 point deficit to beat the Aggies by a score of 45-44 in their 2017 season opener. Sumlin after the game said, “we knew he was smart...But the thing I was really impressed with was his toughness. We hit him and hit him a lot, and he got better. It’s not supposed to work that way...especially in the 4th quarter.” Enough said.
The only legitimate knock on him was his personality. What at first appeared to be a smug, crass, know-it-all, rich, entitled millennial has slowly but surely won me over.
I’ve realized now that he has an unmatched maturity about him that may have been a touch out of place in a college locker room. He has a certain breadth and depth to him that will season well in a more sophisticated locker room with men of his cerebral match. When I heard him on Colin Cowherd on April 24th, it immediately hit me that he is someone with the personality that veteran players and peers could spend countless hours, over the course of the fifteen or more years that he’s capable of playing, growing closer to as a teammate. He speaks about growth and learning from failures, which he learned from his time as a tennis player. Individual sports harden you. They teach you that there is only one person to blame for failure, and that’s yourself. Got beat? Weren’t in good enough shape? Missed a crucial shot at the right time? Dare I say choked? Solo ventures teach reflection, introspection, and an ability to continue to move forward despite failure. Yes, he wants to challenge teammates and coaches. I’m not at all sure how this is a negative, but I have heard the like. By doing this, sure, he could be viewed as a contrarian. But for this reason, he should be viewed as a demanding and accountable teammate. And that isn’t only holding his coaches and teammates accountable; it’s holding himself to the same standard. When you ask more of others, you are simultaneously asking more of yourself, otherwise you are a phony who doesn’t practice what he preaches. Josh Rosen is no phony. He is, hands down, the best QB in the 2018 draft class
Josh Allen will be a bust. He's got tremendous talent, but lacks the processing speed to unlock that potential when the game speeds up. Only the fastest minds are great QBs. And, his accuracy is of high concern. Accuracy in general doesn't improve in the NFL, where throwing lanes and windows are tighter. Accuracy in general decreases by 2-3% from college. That would put him at 53-54% in the NFL, and that would be a bust. Perhaps this inaccuracy is just a reflection of the initial point of the processing speed. I wouldn't touch him in the first round, and I'd be hard pressed to relinquish a second rounder for him either.
With the draft nearing, the only certainty is uncertainty. Now when determining which of these quarterbacks who are expected to go at the top of the draft will be a future pr bowler, I would point to USC's Sam Darnold. Why Sam? Mind, body, and soul.
Mind- I don't care if Sam's greatest performance came in his freshman year, his Rose Bowl against Penn St. convinced me back in January of 2017 that his name would be called first. Decision making and big-play ability in the biggest game of his young life tells you about the stability between the ears.
Body- Although his stature is not enormous, like a Big Ben, he is not thin or frail (Sam Bradford). He can withstand the rigors of the NFL to be counted on a weekly basis. Cliche- Your best ability is your availability.
Soul- Darnold recently caught a red eye flight back to Southern California, leaving a team that he was visiting, to throw for teammate Ronald Jones at a workout. It was of no benefit to Darnold, besides helping out a friend/ teammate. Team first is what wins.
Darnold is my guy.
I just can't get over Lamar Jackson being represented by his mom. Every once and a while you have to stand up to your parents, especially when they may be costing you money. (I'm talking to you Lonzo) It shows such an incredible amount of immaturity I just don't think he can handle EVERYTHING that is asked of a franchise QB. Its so much more than reading a defense. It can cripple those that aren't ready for the moment. And more importantly aren't ready to handle failure. I would stay away from Jackson.
So much talent and so little certainty. That sums up this year's list of potential first round quarterbacks. It all comes down to picking the right guy for the right system.
Josh Allen has the best combine numbers. Sam Darnold is the master of improvisation. Josh Rosen is the most polished pocket passer. Baker Mayfield won the Heisman. So did Lamar Jackson. All that adds up to a big zero if teams don' t recognize what each player does best.
My prediction is none of these quarterbacks will have a Hall of Fame career. Let me take it a step further. None of these quarterbacks will selected for a single Pro Bowl. Total bust quarterback class.
Baker Mayfield: Despite his much talked about run in with Johnny Law a couple of years back he’s shown me that he was able to put that behind him and win. He said he’d make good on his mistake and it was a wait and see for me – he delivered by his success at Oklahoma leading the Sooners to back-to-back winning seasons while being the captain no less. I don’t buy into Ryan Leaf, who has said that he sees a lot of himself in Mayfield – I see a guy who has not only turned the corner and it ready to be a Pro Bowl quarterback in the NFL!
Josh Allen: I’m just not sold fully on Allen – which unfortunately lands him in my scrap heap pile of being an NFL bust – based on what I saw with him in the Mountain West this past season. Granted he dealt with a shoulder injury – which always makes me weary – I’ve seen to many big arm – big body quarterbacks who have towered over the field and just never delivered the goods – that’s what I see with Allen.
Baker Mayfield AKA Colt McCoy 2.0 will be a bust. He’s only stayed relevant because of his attitude and off the field behavior. The real winner at QB in this draft will be whoever doesn’t get sent to Cleveland. If there was ever a time for a QB to pull an “Eli” it’s now. If you’re a QB drafted by the Browns I really hope you stayed in college long enough to get a degree...your going to need it.
I’ve been convinced that Sam Darnold will be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL ever since his memorable 2017 Rose Bowl performance against Penn State when he threw for a remarkable 453 yards and five touchdowns against one of the nation’s toughest defense on the game’s biggest stage. He just has the “it” factor that’s tough to describe but undeniable when you see it on in-person or on TV. He may have to wait his turn for a year or two, but I think in due time he has a chance to be one of the game’s elite passers.
And while I’m not certain that any of the “big four” will be busts,I do think that Josh Allen has the most to prove. Big arm? Yes. Good size? Absolutely. But how then do you explain such paltry passing numbers with Wyoming a year ago when he threw for a very pedestrian 1,812 yards and 16 touchdowns? He has also been wildly inaccurate during his collegiate career -- completely just 56% of his passes. I find it hard to believe that all of a sudden he will become a more accurate thrower in the NFL than he was in college and because of that I’m also not sure if Josh Allen will ever pan out to be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL.
The NFL DRAFT:
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