2018 NFL Draft: Best in quarterback class

By Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange  |  Feb. 19, 2018 at 10:39 PM
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The NFL's quarterback carousel for 2018 will be crowded as up to 17 teams are in the market for a signal-caller and there could be as many as 29 free agents available to consider.

And that is not yet counting a draft that could have as many as five prospects worthy of first-round selection.

Even as teams begin to wrestle with their veteran rosters this week, coaches and scouts look forward to next week, when the top quarterbacks in the draft will be on display in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Here is a quick look at the quarterback draft class of 2018 with information culled from NFLDraftScout.com:

(Players listed by position rank/overall rank, name, school, height, weight, est. 40 time, and projected draft round)

*Indicates left school with eligibility remaining

1/1. *Sam Darnold, Southern California, 6-3, 220, 4.74, 1

Rock-solid build for quarterback with the required body armor to take punishment, including broad shoulders and a thick, evenly distributed musculature. An instinctive player, played linebacker and receiver, as well as quarterback, in high school.

Only 24 career starts, so a work in progress in many ways. Throws a very catchable ball and flashes the anticipation of a veteran passer, showing the willingness to deliver passes before his receivers break open. Struggled early in the 2017 season, throwing two interceptions in each of USC's first three games as the Trojans dealt with massive turnover on offense.

2/3. *Josh Rosen, UCLA, 6-3, 218, 4.97, 1

A likely top-five pick and legitimate candidate for No. 1 overall, Rosen offers rare polish for a quarterback of his age, demonstrating throughout his three years as the Bruins' starter both the mental and physical traits necessary to project as an NFL franchise quarterback.

--Dane Brugler: Rosen has the mechanics, arm talent and intelligence that translates well to the NFL game. His decision-making, especially under pressure, often leads to negative plays, but if he stops trying to do too much and takes better care of the football, he can be a reliable starter at the next level. Rosen won't be for everyone, but if a team is comfortable with his maturity, he will be drafted high.

3/8. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, 6-0, 216, 4.64, 1

Heisman Trophy winner after leading the Sooners to 12-1 record, passing for 4,627 yards with 43 touchdowns and only six interceptions.

Fearless and competitive to a fault at times as he comes with a brash personality that gets him in trouble. Possible durability concerns. Played in fast-break offense and has little experience under center.

4/12. *Josh Allen, Wyoming, 6-5, 237, 4.76, 1

--Dane Brugler: Allen's elite physical characteristics (size, athleticism and arm) and competitive spirit make him scouting catnip, but his unbalanced mechanics, sporadic ball placement and undeveloped instincts are troubling red flags.

Allen returned from a late-season shoulder injury for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, led Wyoming to a 37-24 victory over Central Michigan and won the game's MVP award.

5/22. *Lamar Jackson, Louisville, 6-2, 211, 4.42, 1

In 2016, he became the youngest Heisman Trophy winner in history. In 2017, Jackson entered the 50-50 club with 50 career touchdowns rushing and 50 career touchdowns passing, joining Colin Kaepernick and Tim Tebow as the only players in that FBS club.

Jackson is often compared to former No. 1 overall pick and 13-year NFL veteran Michael Vick with his great foot speed and strong arm. And there are those who believe he shouldn't even waste time attempting to play quarterback in the NFL because he can make an impact quickly as a receiver.

6/52. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State, 6-4, 229, 4.83, 2

Four-year starter who thrived in the Cowboys' up-tempo, spread passing attack (exclusively shotgun/pistol) designed to exploit single coverage and make it tough for defenses to identify personnel. Plenty of deep passes on his game film. He checks boxes with size, presence and character for the NFL level, but faces a steep learning curve in the transition to the pro game.

7/82. Mike White, Western Kentucky, 6-4, 221, 4.87, 2-3

White's ability to make smart decisions with the football was one of his trademarks, evidenced by his school records of 161 consecutive passing attempts without an interception and 14 consecutive completions in a game.

Ample arm strength to make every NFL throw, including the requisite deep out from the opposite hash. Throws a very catchable ball with a tight spin that makes it easy to track and secure.

8/144. Luke Falk, Washington State, 6-4, 211, 4.87, 4

Three-year starter, Falk was an ideal fit for Mike Leach's spread offensive system with quick passes and pre-determined reads, which translated into impressive production.

Falk set Pac-12 and WSU career records for passing yards (14,486), passing touchdowns (119), total offense (14,086), plays (2,306), completions (1,404), attempts (2,055) and 300-yard games (30). He did that without demonstrating the arm strength and ability to spin the ball that NFL quarterbacks need when throwing into tight openings.

9/171. Kurt Benkert, Virginia, 6-3, 214, 4.92, 5-6

A two-year starter at Virginia, Benkert played at three high schools and two college programs, including the past two seasons as the starter in the Cavaliers' zone-read, shotgun offense. He drew NFL attention after Virginia jumped out to a 5-1 start in 2017, although his uneven play down the stretch played a part in UVA finishing 1-6 over the final seven games.

Benkert has traits worth drafting with his toughness, athleticism and arm talent. He doesn't need to overhaul his mechanics and accuracy, but he does need improve in those areas if he expects to make an NFL roster.

10/187. Riley Ferguson, Memphis, 6-3, 196, 4.84, 6

After throwing for 8,000 yards and winning two state titles as a prep standout, Ferguson showed why NFL scouts are tenuous about his future. He broke a tibia as a freshman at Tennessee, went to Coffeyville Community College for one season, then enrolled at Memphis in 2016.

He looked exceptional as the triggerman in a down-the-field passing offense. In 2016 he completed 280 of 443 passes for 3,698 yards, with 32 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In only two seasons, he totaled three 400-yard games and a dozen for more than 300 yards. NFL teams want to know if this thin man can hold up at the next level.

11/191. Kyle Lauletta, Richmond, 6-3, 217, 4.86, 6-7

12 /199. Nic Shimonek, Texas Tech, 6-3, 218, 4.90, 6-7

13/228. *Chase Litton, Marshall, 6-5, 232, 5.07, 6-7

14/242. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, 6-1, 220, 4.57, 7

15/262. John Wolford, Wake Forest, 6-1, 200, 4.76, 7-FA

16/279. *Tanner Lee, Nebraska, 6-4, 218, 4.63, 7-FA

17/291. *Kyle Allen, Houston, 6-2, 211, 4.92, 7-FA

18/309. Logan Woodside, Toledo, 6-1, 206, 4.94, 7-FA

19/318. Nick Stevens, Colorado State, 6-3, 203, 4.84, 7-FA

20/351. Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston State, 6-3, 220, 4.87,7-FA

--Some information from reports by NFLDraftScout.com senior analysts Rob Rang and Dane Brugler. Rankings are by Frank Cooney, publisher of NFLDraftScout.com and The Sports Xchange.

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