Although we are so far out and should still be looking at the incoming 2017 class, I can’t help but look ahead to what is sure to be a stacked class at the QB position next year. The 2017 QB class has come under quite a bit of scrutiny with many doubting the abilities of the soon-to-be rookies. On the contrary, there are numerous QBs in the 2018 class who are thought can be franchise Quarterbacks right away. Some may be the best we’ve seen since Andrew Luck or Jameis Winston. This article aims to bring some of these potentially elite options to your radar.
The fact that there is already the hashtag #FoldforDarnold, tells you everything you need to know. The early favourite for the 2018 Heisman is projected as the number 1 overall pick in many 2018 mocks, and it’s hard to argue.
After redshirting for one year behind Cody Kessler, Darnold opened the 2016 season as a backup to Max Browne. However, after a 1-2 start for the Trojans, Darnold was handed the reigns and took off. The 19-year-old signal caller started the remaining 9 games for USC and finished with an 8-1 record. In those 9 games, the USC offence averaged 37 points and 518 yards per game. Darnold excelled, finishing the season with 3,086 passing yards, a 67% completion percentage, and a 31:9 TD:INT ratio. The 6’4”, 225-pound prodigy also ran for 250 extra yards and 2 TDs to top it off. A full breakdown of his statistical output can be seen below:
Darnold went on to win the 2016 Archie Griffin award, which is awarded annually to college football’s most valuable player to his team throughout the season, an award no other freshman had ever won previously.
If Darnold continues surging into the 2017 season, we could see “the next Andrew Luck” on our hands and a potential 1st round rookie draft pick.
Josh Rosen (UCLA):
Similar to Darnold, Rosen is gaining some traction on the hashtag #LosinforRosen. Rosen joined UCLA in 2015 as a 5-star recruit following the departure of Brett Hundley to the NFL. He went on to become the first true freshman to ever start at QB on opening day for the Bruins, and looked promising in his freshman campaign. Rosen finished the 2015 campaign with 3,668 passing yards, a 60% completion percentage, and a 23:11 TD:INT ratio.
The sky was the limit as Rosen entered his sophomore season in 2016, however his season was cut short after 6 games due to a season ending shoulder injury. He finished 2016 with 1,915 passing yards, a 59% completion percentage, and a 10:5 TD:INT ratio through 6 games. A full breakdown of his collegiate production today can be seen below:
Josh Rosen will look to get back on track with a complete season in 2017 in order to solidify his draft stock. Look for Rosen to be in the conversation for the number 1 overall pick alongside Darnold come draft day.
Josh Allen (Wyoming):
I first wrote about Josh Allen a few months ago in my article titled “The 2 Cowboys”, where I profiled the Wyoming signal caller alongside Brian Hill. At the time Matt Miller had Josh Allen going 3rd overall to the Bears in the 2017 draft, however Allen decided to stay in Wyoming for one more season.
2016 was his first full season starting for the Cowboys and he finished the year with a 56% completion percentage, 3203 yards, 28 TDs, and 15 INTs. Allen was lined up to start the previous season in Laramie; however 2 games into the season he suffered a season-ending injury. You can see a full breakdown of Allen’s Wyoming production below:
Prior to his time in Wyoming, Allen was in Junior Football playing for Reedley community college. While there, he led an offense that averaged 452 yards of offense per game. He also averaged 285 yards passing with 66 yards rushing per game.
Allen’s core attributes that make him such an intriguing prospect are his size, strength, and mobility. Allen profiles very similarly to the recent number 2 overall selection Carson Wentz. He’s 6”5, 225 pounds and has the arm to match. When Matt Miller asked an NFL scout about Allen he said, “This kid’s composure and his toughness and the traits are all really there. He’s going to be someone we’ll probably talk about over the next few years.”
As mentioned on the podcast recently, Allen is sure to be a first round pick in the 2018 NFL draft and has elite upside. Whether he has the best career of all these QBs or not is yet to be seen.
Jake Browning (Washington):
The 2016 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year had a stellar campaign up in Seattle. The first true freshman to start the season in Huskies history, Browning finished with 3,430 yards, a 62% completion percentage, and a 43:9 TD:INT ratio in his sophomore season. The gunslinger excelled despite a secret shoulder issue in his throwing arm that he played through until after the season was complete.
After setting national records in high school for TDs thrown, Browning has continued to dominate the end zone with 59 TDs in 26 games through his first 2 years. A full breakdown of the semi-healthy Browning can be seen below:
At 6’2”, 210 pounds, Browning isn’t particularly an explosive athlete and doesn’t have prototypical size for a QB; however he is more of a traditional pocket passer in the mould of a Drew Brees or Phil Rivers.
Browning will have a nice advantage adjusting to the NFL due to playing in a pro-style offense for the Huskies. The base Washington offense features a power running game and a passing attack frequently featuring the quarterback throwing off of play action.
If JB can throw for over 3,000 yards and 40 TDs for another season, he very well could be in the 1st round conversation in the 2018 NFL draft.
Luke Falk (Washington St.):
The 6’4” Washington State Cougar is one of the most efficient and accurate QBs in all of college. Over the last 2 seasons, Mr Falk has averaged a 69.7% completion percentage as well as throwing for 9,029 yards. A full breakdown of Falk’s production can be seen below:
It’s a big leap for a guy who had recruitment issues in high school. Florida State and Idaho pulled their early scholarship offers, leaving Falk with walk-on offers from teams such as Utah State and Wyoming. However, Washington State entered the picture late also offering a walk-on offer to Falk. He chose to play in Pullman, choosing to play against a higher level of competition, and never looked back. USA Today’s Paul Myerberg stated that Falk “went from walk-on to second-stringer, from on scholarship to starter, and from starter to one of the most productive players in college football.”
After peaking the interest of many NFL evaluators there was talk that Falk may have declared for the 2017 draft, however he decided to remain for one final season. These kinds of players are worth keeping an eye on. Under recruited and underappreciated, they could have a chip on their shoulder which leads to a high work ethic.
Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma):
There’s no question that the redshirt senior Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield is supremely talented, however there are some character issues arising. Mayfield began his college career at Texas Tech and began his freshman season as the starter, after injury to projected starter Michael Brewer. His freshman campaign got off to a promising start, setting numerous freshman records, however towards the end of the season Mayfield lost the starting job to Davis Webb, due to a combination of injuries and performance. Following the completion of the 2013 season, Baker announced that he would be leaving Texas Tech due to “”miscommunication” with the coaching staff….whatever that means.
Shortly thereafter Mayfield enrolled at Oklahoma University, without having any communication with Sooners’ coaching staff. It was soon announced that Mayfield would join the Sooners program as a walk on, but would be ineligible to play until the 2015 season due to transfer eligibility rules. This led to the creation of the “Baker Mayfield Ruling”. When a player transfers schools, they are ineligible to play for a season, and lose a year of their eligibility. Mayfield argued that because he was a walk on student at Texas Tech and didn’t have a scholarship, that this should not apply to his situation. The ruling was approved in Mayfield’s favour and therefore allows Mayfield to have an extra year of eligibility to play in the 2017 season. From now on, all walk-on players who transfer won’t lose a year of eligibility when they transfer and it will be instead be considered a redshirt year.
Following on from his transfer scandal, in February 2017 Mayfield was arrested and charged with public intoxication and fleeing arrest. Mayfield has since apologized for the arrest and is one of the early favorites for the 2017 Heisman award. And it’s for good reason. His previous 2 seasons in Oklahoma have been outstanding. Mayfield was a 2015 All-American, 2 time First Team All-Big 12, finished 4th and 3rd in Heisman voting in 2015 and 2016 respectively, as well as winning the Burlsworth trophy twice (awarded to the most outstanding FBS college football player who began his career as a walk-on). Statistically Mayfield has also been fantastic, and has set the all-time highest FBS single season passer rating record with 196.4. A full breakdown of his elite production can be seen below:
Mayfield will undoubtedly be looking to put some of the off the field concerns behind him and establish himself atop this elite group. I strongly advise any dynasty team in need of a young QB to wait a year and take their pick from a deep crowd, rather than paying a high price for the current young QBs on the market. Watch these guys over the season, make your pick, and you might save yourself a pretty penny.