With the 2018 NFL Draft approaching in a couple of weeks, we here at Belly Up Sports are going to be ranking every position over the next two weeks. We will be releasing a different position every weekday, which will comprise of the top 5 players at each position, and where we believe they will be drafted. Joining me in these rankings/predictions with their quick take, are fellow Belly Up Sports Co-founders – Mike Brown and Blaine Napier. Today we start off with the most important position in all of sports, quarterback. Below are our 2018 NFL Draft QB rankings and projected picks! Enjoy!
Brandon Sharples – COO/Writer/Podcaster
1.) Sam Darnold, USC, 6’ 3”, 221 lbs
40 Time: 4.85, Hand Size: 9.88
Sam Darnold is the safest QB in this draft class. He has interviewed extremely well, with the ability to recall plays with the interviewer, and showing a high football IQ. Darnold had a great pro day, which was the best overall pro day of any of the QB’s in this draft class. Even in the heavy rain, he threw the ball with precision, timing and good anticipation at that pro day. Every game this year he showed flashes of brilliance, with great anticipation and excellent accuracy. However, he had a tough year in the turnover department -fumbles were particularly worrisome. He needs to learn to hold the ball closer to the body. Darnold is an excellent runner for his size and speed and throws exceptionally well on the run – best in this draft class. Has above average arm strength and can make any throw on the field. He was behind one of the poorest offensive lines in the Pac-12, which has many scouts dismissing his increase in INT’s to that fact. Scored a 28 on the Wonderlic Test, which is a decent score. His intangibles are off the charts. He commands a huddle very well, squeaky clean on and off the field, respected by his peers and is a tremendous leader. Fix the turnovers, particularly the fumble issue, and you could not ask for a better prospect at QB.
Projection: Cleveland Browns, First Round, #1 Overall
2.) Josh Allen, Wyoming, 6’ 5”, 237lbs
40 Time: 4.75, Hand Size: 10.13
Josh Allen is a perplexing prospect. He has a ridiculously strong arm capable of making any throw you could possibly imagine. Allen had a great Senior Bowl, and showed flashes of brilliance during his combine and pro day throwing sessions. He has interviewed well, and by all accounts, has pretty solid character. Allen scored the highest of all QB prospects this year on the Wonderlic Test. He is a pretty good athlete and runs well – he also throws pretty well on the run as well. However, I have concerns over his accuracy. He completed just 56% of his passes this past season – against a pretty weak schedule at Wyoming. Many like to consider his surrounding cast as a reason for his weak stat lines, however, I also consider his low level of competition as a factor in why that should not matter. Against a bad Hawaii team, he was 9/19 for 92 yards and 1 td. Against his toughest test of the year, Oregon, he went 9/24 for 64 yards and an INT. Same story with the opener against Iowa, although that offensive line basically fell down every play, as it was dominated by Iowa’s D-line. Guys, all I am saying is that Sam Darnold gets a lot of negative attention to his turnovers and poor plays, but Josh Allen seems to be getting a free pass on account of playing for Wyoming. I do not believe that is fair, considering they both had poor O-line play, but one played in the Pac-12 and one did not. Allen has all the tools in the world to become a star in this league. His accuracy issues are a major concern, especially with a cannon for an arm like he has. Can he hit those touch throws? He needs to improve on that greatly if he wants to hit the potential many scouts hope he has. He has grown on me over the past month, and I will say I would not be surprised if he is a perennial pro bowl QB. I will also not be surprised if he turns out to be a mediocre QB who never got his accuracy under control, and eventually relinquished to back up duty. It is very unique to have a player with such a high ceiling and low floor.
Projection: Buffalo Bills, First Round, #2 overall (Via Giants Trade)
3.) Josh Rosen, UCLA, 6’ 4”, 210 lbs
40 Time: 4.85, Hand Size: 9.88
Josh Rosen has a very high floor. He throws the best and most catchable ball of any of the QB’s in this draft. His tight spiral makes it easier for him to throw a catchable ball in those tight windows. He has a powerful arm and can make any throw needed in the NFL. Rosen has been beaten up throughout his career at UCLA. This past season, he suffered two concussions, which led to him missing some time for the second straight year. 2016, after only playing six games, Rosen was sidelined for the season by a shoulder injury that required surgery. Durability is obviously a concern for many scouts. The most concerning, however, is his lack of leadership skills and overall likeability. It has been reported often, that Rosen was disliked by many of his teammates. He is a smart and outspoken player, and often will speak his mind and be confrontational. I do not believe that translates well to an NFL locker room. He did interview well, showing a high football IQ, and he scored a respectable 29 on the Wonderlic Test. Given his arm talent and intelligence, I do give him a pretty high floor. I think barring injury, he will have a long career in the NFL in some capacity. He needs to add weight to his frame, as he is still a bit undersized – similar to Jared Goff when he came out of Cal. If Rosen can add weight and stay healthy, plus fix his leadership/likeability, he could be a starter in this league for a long time – and a good one at that.
Projection: New York Jets, Round One, Pick #3
4.) Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, 6’ 0, 216 lbs
40 Time: 4.84, Hand Size 9.25
Baker Mayfield is a very intriguing prospect to me. He had a pretty good combine, and also has interviewed well showing good football IQ. He is gunslinger willing to play with every ounce of effort in his body and leaves it all on the field every game. You know you are going to get maximum effort out of Baker Mayfield. He has that “it” factor, which led him to winning the Heisman Trophy this past season. Baker has great ball location, which gives his receivers a chance to gain yardage after the catch. He has good accuracy and has nice touch on the ball. Often shows amazing mobility to escape the pocket and still make plays down field. If it was not for his size, I would honestly consider putting Baker Mayfield as my top QB in this class. However, the reality is that he may be too small. He is 6’ 0 and 216 lbs. He has taken all his snaps from shotgun, so he will need to drastically improve his ability to take snaps from center. Not only that, but his height will limit him at the line, and his ability to read coverage and go through his progression will suffer. Height is my only concern for Baker Mayfield. I do not put as much negativity into his “on field issues” as many others do. By all accounts, Baker Mayfield has been a good leader for his teams and is seemingly well liked by his teammates and peers. I will not let on field emotions that really had no impact on the game what so ever, impact my opinion on Baker. That is exaggerated, and I do not believe he is “Johnny Manziel 2.0” like many ignorant people are labeling him. He is a passionate player. If he can somehow find a way to overcome the limitations of his height, he could have a great impact on this league.
Projection: Miami Dolphins, First Round, #11 pick
5.) Lamar Jackson, Louisville, 6’ 2”, 216
40 Yard: DNR (last clocked 4.53), Hand Size: 9.5
Lamar Jackson is probably the riskiest player in this draft. Jackson electrified the college football world in 2016 – winning the Heisman in the process. He had a very similar season in 2017 as well. Jackson ran Bobby Petrino’s offense well, which may help with the transition to an NFL scheme. He has a very strong arm that, when thrown accurately, is one of the prettiest balls you’ll see. Jackson runs up there with the top running QB’s of all-time – which is why many are calling him a taller version of Mike Vick. However, I do not share the same anticipation of a solid NFL QB career, as many others do in the sports media community. I have heavy concerns on his accuracy – particularly down the field. Some of his deep throws during the combine workout were laughable. One of them looked like a hunter shot it out of the sky with a 12 gauge before it could get to his receiver. He has routinely missed the mark throughout his career on throws that he just cannot miss in the NFL. Often, he relies on his legs too quick and does have a hard time going through his progressions before he takes off. He is also sporting a very thin frame at 216 lbs, and with his style of play, I expect him to have some injury issues plaguing his career. He needs to add some weight. I am really concerned about his judgement, as he has elected to not have an agent represent him during the draft process. This is a huge mistake and could cost him being drafted higher. His mother is supposedly handling his team meetings, and multiple teams have reported great difficulty getting ahold of him for interviews and workouts. He did not prepare for the Wonderlic Test and scored a miserable 9 on it. Jackson has taken away the ability for an agent to go to bat for him against other players that may get picked ahead of him. He has taken away his ability for an agent to manipulate a higher spot for him in the draft. His Wonderlic Score, his judgement on this agent issue, and his inability to go through progressions on the field, leads me to believe Jackson may not be the brightest star in the sky. Still, his ability as a runner and his strong arm are intriguing. If it were not for a steep drop off in talent from this point on, I may have dropped Jackson down even further. He does have potential, I just do not see it coming to fruition as a QB in the NFL. However, given his skillset and the fact that the rest of the QB’s left have major concerns and limited skillsets themselves, he comes in at #5.
Projection: Jacksonville Jaguars, First Round, #29 pick
Mike Brown – CEO/Writer
1.) Sam Darnold, USC (6’3” 220lbs)
Best QB prospect that can immediately start in the NFL. His down fall is his decisions making and with the speed of the NFL it could be an issue right away, but Darnold should be able to adjust.
Projection: Cleveland Browns, Round One, #1 Pick
2.) Josh Rosen, UCLA (6’4” 226lbs)
Will be the next big bust in the NFL, although he will last longer in the NFL than Lamar Jackson. His previous coach, Jim Mora, even went on record and said that if he were the Browns, that they were better off taking Darnold with the #1 overall pick. Also has injury concerns.
Projection: New York Giants, Round One, #2 Pick
3.) Josh Allen, Wyoming (6’5” 237lbs)
He has the strongest arm in this year’s draft, but never completed over 56% of his passes. Has the highest ceiling of any of the QB prospects in this draft class. Concerns over accuracy needs to be addressed, but I believe he will have the most successful career of all the QB’s in this draft.
Projection: New York Jets, Round One, #3 Pick
4.) Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (6’0” 215lbs)
Johnny Manziel 2.0?? Not so fast! Although his antics are what will decide his career, I see him being in the NFL for 10+ years, and possibly having the longest career out of this top QB group. Kid just has heart! Height is a concern, and will need to adjust to NFL offensive scheme and taking snaps under center.
Projection: Buffalo Bills, Round One, #12 pick
5.) Lamar Jackson, Louisville (6’2” 216lbs)
Possibly the most athletic guy in this year’s draft class regardless of position, but Cam Newton has a hard time staying healthy at 6’5” 245lbs, Jackson will not play a full season at QB. He has accuracy issues, specifically with his deep ball. He did not hire an agent, which is proving to be a problem during the draft process for many teams interested in him.
Projection: Jacksonville Jaguars, Round One, #29 Pick
Blaine Napier – CFO/Writer
1.) Sam Darnold, USC
I will have to agree with a lot of sports analysts and friends – Sam Darnold is an unpolished gem. He is the prototype QB, but he is young and inexperienced. Give him a couple years as a backup behind Tyrod Taylor in the Dawg pound, and the Browns will reap the rewards with
this QB as the #1 pick. Needs to work on turnover issues, which can be address during his first year(s) in Cleveland under Taylor.
Projection: Cleveland Browns, Round One, #1 pick
2.) Josh Allen, Wyoming
The only reason why he is up this high on draft boards is because he has a cannon for an arm! Other than that he cannot move through his progressions quickly in his game film and he has accuracy issues. He is a raw product with a high ceiling. He would be an unconventional pick this early in the draft, and the Jets love to make unconventional choices.
Projection: New York Jets, First Round, #3 pick
3.) Josh Rosen, UCLA
As his coach Jim Mora said, he wants to know the answer to why – because he is a millennial. Got news for you Jim – any of the
picks on the board are going to have the same mindset. They are all millennials. He is ready for the big stage, but due to his “work ethic”, or lack of caring for football, he falls down in draft stock. Elway and the Broncos should be able to straighten him out.
Projection: Denver Broncos, Round One, #5 Pick
4.) Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Anybody that has the audacity to take his college flag and throw it down midfield in Urban Meyer’s house, gets my vote
for a top QB. However, his size and off the field issues put him here. His tenacity, heart, work ethic, and his athletic ability as a QB is going to make him a organization changer. Buffalo needs that.
Projection: Buffalo Bills, Round One, #12 Pick
5.) Lamar Jackson, Louisville
I’m torn with this QB. He is quick, agile, and can get up the field in a hurry. However, his QB style isn’t a great fit for the majority of the NFL teams. If someone can find his niche and exploit it, he could be an offensive machine. He is small in build and that could be a problem the first time a LB lights him up him. Makes sense to put him in the Cardinals here, because who do they have that is going to give them longevity this season?
Projection: Arizona Cardinals, Round One, #15 Pick