During the 2018 NFL Draft, drafting a quarterback seemed like a must for some teams. Let’s see where the top tier guys landed as there were many surprises with each selection.
Baker Mayfield: Cleveland Browns (1st Overall)
The Heisman Trophy winning quarterback out of Oklahoma was selected number one overall by the Browns Thursday night. Mayfield goes to a team that has not had a true franchise quarterback since the Browns selected Bernie Kosar in 1985. Mayfield will battle Tyrod Taylor, who the Browns traded for during the offseason, for the starting spot.
If Mayfield is the starter opening day, he will have a talented offense around him with receivers Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon, and Corey Coleman. They drafted David Njoku last year to play tight end. In the backfield, it would be either Duke Johnson, Carlos Hyde, or Nick Chubb who the Browns selected 35th out of Georgia. Look for Taylor to start the season as Cleveland’s quarterback, but if he struggles and is not performing up to standards look for Mayfield to get his shot to be the next Browns franchise quarterback.
Sam Darnold: New York Jets (3rd Overall)
General manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles had a choice to make on who their quarterback of the future was going to be. The Jets decided to go with Darnold out of USC who many experts had listed as the top quarterback in the draft. The 6’4 221-pound quarterback will get a chance to sit and learn from veteran quarterback Josh McCown who is currently the starting quarterback for the Jets. This was a home run pick for the Jets to have Darnold fall in their lap at number thre. He fits the ball in tight windows, good size for a NFL quarterback, and a strong arm. He might have to sit for a season, but the Jets hope he can morph into the star they think he can be.
Josh Allen: Buffalo Bills (7th Overall)
The Bills traded up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to get the young gun-slinging quarterback out of Wyoming. The Bills did sign A.J. McCarron during the offseason to a two-year deal, but with the drafting of Allen it could make for a very interesting quarterback competition in training camp. Allen was at times listed at the top of draft boards due to his versatile playing style, rifle of an arm, and improvisation skills. He has a decent offense around him when he does get the call to be the starting quarterback of the Bills.
Allen has receivers Zay Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, and Andre Holmes with Charles Clay at tight end. Allen would have LeSean McCoy in the backfield with him too. He did slip a little bit in the draft possibly due to offensive tweets in high school, which he will have to explain himself to his new teammates so he can have their trust in respect in the locker room. Also, his marginal productivity against lackluster teams might have scared teams away. Nevertheless, the Bills are all in on him.
Josh Rosen: Arizona Cardinals (10th Overall)
With Rosen still on the board at number 10, Steve Keim called the Oakland Raiders as he traded trading 15th overall pick,79th, and the 152nd to trade up to number 10. They are hoping Rosen develops into a franchise quarterback as he certainly does not lack confidence. The 6’4 218-pound quarterback finished his UCLA career with 9,340 passing yards, 59 touchdowns to 26 interceptions with a quarterback rating 140.1. He is a lethal pocket passer, has good arm strength, and able to get passes into tight windows.
Rosen will have the opportunity to learn under veteran quarterbacks Sam Bradford, and Mike Glennon and have the chance to work with a future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals drafted Christian Kirk out of Texas A&M in round two as he is a local kid from Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. The drafting of Kirk and Chad Williams last season will give Rosen two young receivers to work with when he takes over as the starter.
Lamar Jackson: Baltimore Ravens (32nd Overall)
Baltimore traded back into the first round at number 32 with the Philadelphia Eagles to draft the former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback out of Louisville. He was profiled by many experts as the most versatile quarterback in the draft. In three seasons for the Cardinals, he passed for 9,043 yards with 69 touchdowns and 27 interceptions with a quarterback rating of 142.9. He finished with 4,132 yards rushing and 50 touchdowns in three seasons at Louisville. He will come into camp listed third on the depth chart behind Joe Flacco and newly signed Robert Griffin III, look for Jackson to battle RGIII in training camp for the backup role with the Ravens. However, with Flacco’s contract running out of time Jackson could be the new face of the franchise.
Mason Rudolph: Pittsburgh Steelers (76th Overall)
The Steelers traded up with the Seattle Seahawks in the third round to get the 6-5 230-pound quarterback out of Oklahoma State. Rudolph, in his four years in Stillwater, passed for 13,618 yards, 92 touchdowns, and had a quarterback rating of 159.7. With Ben Roethlisberger being a seasoned veteran, the Steelers were looking for the heir to Big Ben’s thrown and might have just found that in Rudolph. Many scouts had him graded higher than a third round prospect which makes him a steal. The Steelers drafted Rudolph go to man at Oklahoma State James Washington in the second round too as a side note. Pittsburgh currently have four quarterbacks on the roster in Roethlisberger, Rudolph, Landry Jones, and Joshua Dobbs.
Look for Rudolph to battle it out with Jones and Dobbs for the backup role. Like Jackson, Rudolph will have to sit and wait before he gets his shot. He may not be as gifted athletically as Darnold, Allen, and Jackson or be as “pro ready” as Rosen, but Rudolph has one of the strongest arms in the draft. Learning how to develop as a passer under someone as similar to his physique and skill set as Big Ben should pay dividends for Rudolph and the Steelers.
Each of these six quarterbacks will have the opportunity to become the next franchise quarterback for their respected teams at some point. Which quarterback will start first and who will end up being a bust? It takes time for these things to sort themselves out. One thing is for sure and that is the clock has already started for them.