Each week, we’ll rank and recap the performance of the top college quarterbacks expected to be eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Nothing you can count on more than overreactions to the first week of the football season, college or pro. That goes especially for quarterbacks named Josh.
Judging from twitter, UCLA’s Josh Rosen will go directly from Hollywood to Canton and Josh Allen will go directly from Wyoming to… well… I guess Wyoming.
The truth is somewhere in the middle. Here’s my one game in rankings:
1) Josh Rosen, UCLA
I can’t help but get caught up in the fun from the the 34 point comeback Sunday night. The finish was spectacular, with a Dan Marino-esque fake spike for the game winning touchdown in the final minute.
The spike didn’t really fool the Texas A&M secondary–maybe because the clock was stopped when the previously play went out of bounds–but the Rosen pass was picture perfect: high and outside shoulder.
His best play might have been two before. On 4th and 6, Rosen saw an all out blitz coming. His receiver to the left was taking the defensive back deep, leaving the left flat wide open. He flipped to his running back out of the backfield for a first down.
Now, it’s one thing to say, “oh, that was wide open.” It’s another to push all in with “I’m gonna flip this to the running back and hope he can run for 10 yards”. It was the right call and the throw can’t be overlooked. A half step behind and the Aggies likely catch up enough to stop the play short.
It wasn’t all roses and lilies for Rosen. Although he had lots of help, he helped create the 34 point deficit in the first place with poor accuracy.
Rosen got very lucky during the comeback, too. The second touchdown pass of the fourth quarter went literally through the hands of an A&M defensive back.
The third one was a back foot, under pressure heave into an area with two well covered receivers. Theo Howard adjusted better than the Aggies’ DBs for a touchdown catch that cut the Bruin deficit to six points.
Rosen also took two penalties for not having his offense set before snapping the ball and a delay of game. None of the penalties came in a spot where UCLA had to be in any kind of real hurry. An experienced QB has to know better.
It still might go down as the best half of the season by any college quarterback and it gets Rosen on top of my rankings, at least for now.
2) Sam Darnold, USC
Darnold did nothing to hurt himself. He didn’t throw a touchdown pass and his Trojans struggled a bit more than expected with Western Michigan, but overall Darnold was pretty solid.
The more I watch Darnold, the more he reminds me of Chad Pennington. Easy. I mean that in a good way… mostly.
Pennington’s best trait is accuracy and Darnold is just as good. Darnold also doesn’t look smooth doing anything like Pennington, despite likely having a better arm and being a better athlete. It would be hard not to be better.
He’s still easily worthy of franchise QB consideration and gets beat out on this list only because he doesn’t have an all time second half comeback on the last 48 hours of his resume.
3) Mason Rudolph
Rudolph throws a fantastic deep ball, something he did three times for touchdowns Saturday. I’m yet to be overly impressed with much of anything else. No huge mistakes on Thursday against an overmatched Tulsa team.
Much of the country is high on him. You can see why. He’s got the size and the physical traits for sure. I want to see more than floaters his receivers have to adjust and high point to catch, like this one that twitter loved from the Tulsa game.
4) Lamar Jackson
Jackson was a lot of what you’d expect. Dynamic runner. Will make the inexplicable escape. Throws well on the run. He was pretty solid from the pocket, but hardly any of the throws were into anything resembling an NFL sized window.
He made one really pretty pass, avoiding pressure and slinging a strike 25 yards downfield. This ad lib on a busted shovel pass was a jaw dropper.
Jackson will leave clean pockets early, but he makes a pretty good living doing it. He’s a better passer out of the pocket and, again, he wasn’t all that bad in the pocket.
I have my doubts about a guy who likes to run as much as Jackson, but he sure is fun to watch. A strong fourth on this list.
5) Josh Allen, Wyoming
He didn’t play that bad, no matter what the numbers say.
His two 4th quarter interceptions were not anything in the realm of good, especially the first. Allen waited too long to throw a five yard out to the sideline in the red zone and was lucky the play didn’t become a 90 yard pick six. He probably should have had a third INT, too.
The likely to be very good Iowa defense took away deep stuff all day. So, Allen hammered away with strong, accurate underneath throws. Wyoming just couldn’t help him enough to keep drives going.
Three times, the Cowboys were stopped on 3rd or 4th and 1 runs. Another drive ended in Iowa territory after back to back excellent Allen passes were dropped on 2nd and 3rd and 3.
Then there was the second half play, where Allen deftly stepped up to avoid a rush. Moving forward, he floated a 40 yard pass to the perfect spot in the back of the end zone for a wide open touchdown… and it was dropped.
Allen’s best attributes are his arm, size, athleticism and his arm. If you liked him as an NFL prospect Friday, you can still like him today.