There were five quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. As expected, all of them saw multiple starts and significant playing time. Now that the season has concluded, this is how they rank.
Stats used in this article are from Pro Football Reference.
5. Josh Rosen – Arizona Cardinals
Many Cardinals fans were hopeful they could sign Kirk Cousins, but they ended up with Sam Bradford. Then, they made an investment in Josh Rosen as they selected him in the first round.
After camp and the preseason, to the surprise of many, the Cardinals elected to start the regular season with Bradford at the helm. It only took three games (and three losses) for the Cardinals to figure out they were better off turning to Rosen.
Rosen was named the starter heading into the Week 4, but things didn’t get much better for Arizona. In 13 starts, Rosen went on to boast a 3-10 record as a starter. He came in last in almost every statistical category among the first round rookie passers. Hence, why he is last on this list.
Sure, Rosen had the toughest situation, but his stat line was borderline putrid. The good news for Rosen and the Cardinals is he likely cam’t get any worse. In addition, the talent around him should improve.
2018 Stats: 55.2% completion percentage – 2,278 passing yards (167.2 yards per game) – 11 TDs and 14 INTs – 66.7 QB Rating
4. Sam Darnold – New York Jets
With the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Jets were in a prime position to select their franchise quarterback.
Leading up to the draft, it was between Darnold and Baker Mayfield. The Browns took Mayfield with the first pick leaving the Jets with Darnold to take at three.
After the summer and preseason had passed, it became obvious this was Darnold’s team. Josh McCown was in a clear mentor/backup role.
Darnold started the season opener versus the Detroit Lions. His first NFL pass couldn’t have gone any worse as he threw pick-6. However, he persevered and ended up winning that game.
That was about as good as things got for the former Trojan in 2018. He went on to lose six of his next eight games. A foot injury sidelined him for a few weeks before he returned. In the end, he finished his rookie campaign 4-9 as a starter.
Much like Rosen, he was put in a tough situation with very little help around him. Unlike Rosen, he consistently showed glimpses of hope for the future. Darnold may have had a rough rookie season, but it looks like the Jets found their franchise quarterback.
2018 Stats: 57.7% completion percentage – 2,865 passing yards (220.4 ypg) – 17 TDs and 15 INTs – 77.6 QB Rating
3. Josh Allen – Buffalo Bills
After the 2017 NFL season, Buffalo made a statement by trading three-year starter, Tyrod Taylor to the Browns. Even with signing perennial backup AJ McCarron, it was obvious he wasn’t the long-term answer.
On draft night, the Bills moved up five slots to draft Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. There was a lot to like regarding his 6’5″ frame and strong arm. The biggest question was about his accuracy and decision making.
Allen lost to Nathan Peterman in training camp so the rookie started his year holding the clipboard. Two interceptions later, during the team’s season opener, Allen came in to relieve the incumbent of his duties.
Allen showed very little reason to warrant him being a top 10 selection. He finished the year 5-6 as a starter. Yet, he showed potential as both a runner and the thrower of the ball at times. Then, there were the bad moments where he turned the ball over and dealt with injuries.
The Wyoming standout’s coming out party came against Minnesota in a shocking win. He totaled three touchdowns including one in which he stretched out like the Statue of Liberty.
Allen would go on to be sidelined for several weeks after playing in Week 6 due to an elbow injury. However, he came back to continue to turn heads as he had a three-game stretch where he totaled 335 yards. He broke Michael Vick’s record of 294 yards.
Allen has to hone in on his craft as a passer to go with his tremendous running ability. One thing is for sure, he will be in the running for leading all passers in rushing in 2019 if he can play majority of the year.
2018 Stats: 52.8% completion percentage – 2,074 passing yards (172.8 ypg) – 10 TDs and 12 INTs – 67.9 QB Rating – 631 yards rushing with 8 TDs
2. Lamar Jackson – Baltimore Ravens
Not too long ago, the Ravens gave Joe Flacco an extension in 2016, locking him until 2021. They didn’t feel like they got a return on their investment from the former Super Bowl MVP. Inefficiency and incosistency were the two words to describe his play as Flacco was an average player at best.
After drafting former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson in the 2018 draft, it was clear Flacco needed to sink or swim. He got Baltimore off to a 4-2 start before sliding to 4-5. In addition, a hip injury did him in. In came Jackson as Flacco’s injury was a blessing in disguise.
Jackson took over and has led Baltimore to a 6-1 record as a starter along with a playoff berth. Not to mention, they stole the AFC North crown from the Steelers with their big win over the Browns in Week 17.
With an elite defense and a fearful rushing attack led by Jackson, the Ravens were one of the hottest teams to close the year. Their only loss came to a top-seeded Chiefs team in overtime.
Despite their playoff loss to the Chargers, Jackson was the youngest quarterback to make his playoff debut ever.
2018 Stats: 58.2% completion percentage – 1201 passing yards (75.1 YPG) – 6 TDs and 3 INTs – 84.5 QB rating – 695 rushing yards with 5 TDs
1. Baker Mayfield – Cleveland Browns
Baker Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman winner, came into the 2018 NFL Draft with some contention. Some lauded his ability to extend plays and pinpoint accuracy; others compared him to mega-bust Johnny Manziel due to his size and big personality.
When the dust settled, the Browns had no problem taking him first overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.
In typical Cleveland and Hue Jackson fashion, they decided to roll with the mediocre Tyrod Taylor in Week 1. However, a concussion in Week 3 led to the rise of Baker.
Mayfield came in to finish the Week 3 contest versus the Jets. He went 17-for-23 with 201 yards and led the Browns to their first win in 635 days. He became the permanent starter for the rest of the year.
Baker went 7-7 as a starter (including the Jets win) and the Browns finished 7-8-1, their best record since 2014. He routinely made spectacular throws and extended some plays that had no business being extended. He locked himself in as the Browns franchise signal caller and is a budding star.
2018 Stats: 63.8% completion percentage – 3,725 passing yards (266.1 ypg) – 27 TDs and 14 INTs – 93.7 QB Rating
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