[Here is top writer Elliott Glass with a great look at the new crop of NFL QBs and how they are performing in the early weeks of the NFL season.]
In the NFL, there is one position that stands out above all others: Quarterback. He is the point guard. He is the striker. He is the leader on and off the field. When a team makes a decision to use a first pick on a QB, they are hoping that he will be a franchise performer. Five teams made that bet in the 2018 draft. Now, with several weeks of data, it is time to see how these franchise-changing decisions are paying off.
1. Josh Allen
Allen was a standout at Wyoming. He has a cannon arm, but some scouts questioned his accuracy. The Bills trade up with the Buccaneers to take Allen at #7. How is he doing? He is doing quite well on a marginal Bills team. In fact, some analysts are saying, “We take it all back. Josh Allen is good!” He may not be “franchise-caliber” yet, but Bills fans are feeling pretty good about Allen.
2. Baker Mayfield
Then, there is the high-profile, high-energy superstar Baker Mayfield. This former Sooner was one of the shockers of the 2018 draft with the Browns deciding to use the first overall pick on Mayfield. Some people worried that Mayfield was just the second coming of Johnny Manziel. While the amount of time on the field is fairly small, Mayfield quieted a lot of the haters on Thursday night against the Jets. He finished 17 of 23 for over 200 yards. Not bad. Not bad at all. We definitely will be watching him as he moves into the starting role this coming Sunday.
3. Lamar Jackson
Like Mayfield, Lamar Jackson is a Heisman winner. He was an outstanding running QB. In fact, as one top analyst noted, “Jackson averaged 6.3 yards per carry in college and rushed for more yards in his three seasons (4,132) than New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley.” Some NFL scouts wondered if he had the throwing capabilities to play at the next level. As a result, he dropped to the #32 pick in the draft. Unfortunately for Jackson, the Ravens already had Joe Flacco playing Lamar in a backup position. So far, the aging Joe Flacco has played decent including against Broncos on Sunday.
What does all of that mean for Jackson? It means he is the future of the Ravens, but we will have to watch him in bits and pieces in the “the Jackson Package” for now.
4. Sam Darnold
A lot of people love Sam Darnold. He was a big-time NFL prospect during his days at USC. The Jets were excited to draft him and had high hopes for him. Jets fan still like him, but he has made a lot of “rookie” mistakes including too many interception. One factor could be his weak offense line that isn’t giving him enough time to do what his core offense package requires. There has been a lot of noise in recent days about the Darnold v Mayfield match up. We still like both of these QBs even though Baker seems to have the early advantage.
5. Josh Rosen
Finally, there is Josh Rosen. The UCLA QB was upset that a number of other QBs were selected above him on draft night. He still went in the #10 position to the Cardinals.
Rosen hasn’t had a huge body of work for us to critique. He saw his first playing time against Chicago after Sam Bradford was injured. He played fairly well, pushing the offense into Bears territory before throwing an interception. He had one more shot before time expired, but failed to get much going. We still question whether Rosen can lead an NFL team. It is not talent. Does he have the leadership skills that the QB position demands?
All in all, we think this draft class is standing up pretty well to the pressure of the NFL. They may not end up being as good as the 1983 class (Dan Marino, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Ken O’Brien, Tony Eason), but they are likely to have several top caliber QBs with long NFL careers.