The writing is on the wall for the New York Jets in 2017. With one of the worst rosters in the league (arguably the worst), Gang Green is pretty much a lock to land a top-five pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Throughout the season, Joe Malfa will put together a weekly power ranking of college football’s top QB prospects. It will act as a sort of “down on the farm” piece, because odds are the Jets will come come away from the draft with one of the QBs on this list.
Here are the rankings ahead of Week 2:
1) UCLA QB Josh Rosen (Last week: 3)
Result: 45-44 win over Texas A&M
Stats: 35/59, 491 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs
Analysis: Rosen had the best week of the perceived top-three quarterbacks, and it really was not even close. He struggled early because of poor play by the offensive line, but he bounced back to engineer a 35-point comeback with the Bruins down 44-10 in the 3rd quarter. There was, to some extent, luck involved in the comeback — Texas A&M forgetting how to play offense, blown coverages and a game-winning TD that looked incomplete — but Rosen still made plays when needed and showed why he is considered the most NFL-ready of 2018’s top QB prospects. He has a couple of easy opponents lined up over the next two weeks, but circle September 23 on your calendars for the showdown with Stanford.
Next matchup: 9/9 vs. Hawaii at 5:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
2) USC QB Sam Darnold (Last week: 2)
Result: 49-31 win over Western Michigan
Stats: 23/33, 289 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs; 5 carries, -6 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: Darnold’s first outing of the season was underwhelming. It was not bad, but it was not the performance he was expected to have against Western Michigan. He was efficient, but he made a couple of bad mistakes and was not able to make some of the big plays we grew accustomed to seeing down the stretch last season. Darnold seemed to play his best when the lights shone the brightest in 2016. He will have his chance on the national stage this week as USC takes on Stanford Saturday night in primetime. It will be a tough test against the nation’s 14th ranked team and a good opportunity to bounce back from a mediocre Week 1.
Next matchup: 9/9 vs. Stanford at 8:30 p.m. (FOX)
3) Wyoming QB Josh Allen (Last week: 1)
Result: 24-3 loss to Iowa
Stats: 23/40, 174 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs
Analysis: Allen failed to live up to the hype in Week 1. You can point to Wyoming simply being overmatched by a solid Big Ten opponent in Iowa as the reason for his struggles, but a QB of his caliber is supposed to elevate the players around him and make the game competitive — Allen did not. He was inefficient, inaccurate and simply inept. He had a great opportunity to prove he could play against the big boys and for the second time in his career, he failed (1 TD to 5 INTs against Nebraska last season). Allen also sustained an injury to his non-throwing shoulder that is not serious, but it may jeopardize his start this week against Gardner-Webb. He remains my favorite prospect because of his raw talent and physical attributes, but he did not look anything like a QB1 on Saturday.
Next matchup: 9/9 vs. Gardner-Webb at 4:00 p.m. (not nationally televised)
4) Louisville QB Lamar Jackson (Last week: 6)
Result: 35-28 win over Purdue
Stats: 30/46, 378 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs; 21 carries, 107 yards
Analysis: He continues to be dismissed in conversations about the top QB prospects, but he continues to play like a top QB prospect — the enigma that is Lamar Jackson. The knock on Jackson is that he runs too much and is not accurate or efficient enough as a passer to succeed in the NFL. This may be true to some extent, but he certainly made some NFL-caliber throws against Purdue in Week 1. If he starts making these throws, and more accurate throws overall, on a consistent basis, he may leap frog a couple of the guys ahead of him on this list by year’s end.
Next matchup: 9/9 vs. North Carolina at 12:00 p.m. (ESPN)
5) Oklahoma St. QB Mason Rudolph (Last week: 4)
Result: 59-24 win over Tulsa
Stats: 20/24, 303 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs; 3 carries, 3 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: Rudolph is not as sexy as some of the other quarterbacks on this list. He does not have Darnold’s poise, Allen’s raw ability, Rosen’s polish or Jackson’s playmaking ability, but he flies under the radar and gets the job done a la Andy Dalton. He was not tested by Tulsa in Week 1, nor will he be tested over the next couple of weeks, but keep a close eye on him so it does not come as a surprise when he has a big performance on a big stage.
Next matchup: 9/8 @ South Alabama at 8:30 p.m. (ESPN 2)
6) Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield (Last week: 7)
Result: 56-7 win over UTEP
Stats: 19/20, 329 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Analysis: Yes, they played UTEP — I get it — but those numbers are still too impressive to ignore. Mayfield picked up right where he left off last season — uber efficient with a knack for making big plays. He was pulled from the game early in anticipation of this week’s matchup on the road against Ohio St., which is about as great of a test as there could be for a college QB considering the amount of NFL talent on this year’s Buckeye defense. A strong showing against Ohio St. on the national stage could go a long way towards improving his draft stock while also boosting his Heisman stock along the way.
Next matchup: 9/9 @ Ohio St. at 7:30 p.m. (ABC)
7) Washington St. QB Luke Falk (Last week: 5)
Result: 31-0 win over Montana St.
Stats: 33/39, 311 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Analysis: I almost feel bad for Falk because he had a strong showing in Week 1 but dropped from five to seven in my rankings. He did all he could have possibly done against a tremendously inferior opponent but the only two players he outperformed were Darnold and Allen, and I was not going to drop either of them all the way to seven after just one mediocre week. Falk is my favorite prospect outside of the top-three — look for him to make a quiet, steady rise up this list as the season goes on.
Next matchup: 9/9 vs. Boise St. at 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Photo Credit: UCLA.com