These quarterback trackers have been written under the impression the Jets would be a lock for a top-five pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. It may no longer be a guarantee considering the team has won two in a row and will likely move to 3-2 with a trip to Cleveland this week.
Wherever they end up — whether it is top-five or top-10 — they will still have a shot at a franchise quarterback in a loaded class, so Joe Malfa kept a close eye on the performances of college’s top quarterback prospects this week as he has throughout the season and will for the rest of the season.
Here are the rankings ahead of Week 6:
1) UCLA QB Josh Rosen (Last week: 1)
Result: 27-23 win against Colorado
Stats: 28/45, 372 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Analysis: Colorado has a stingy passing defense. They held Jake Browning — who I will get to later — to 160 yards and a 52 percent completion percentage last week, so give Rosen a lot of credit for this performance. This game marked the third straight in which he has thrown an interception, but he continues to put up big numbers, look comfortable in the pocket and make NFL-type throws on a weekly basis.
UCLA has a bye this week and a favorable matchup against Arizona next week before heading into the toughest part of its schedule. The Bruins play an unranked but strong Oregon team at home before heading on the road to face No. 6 Washington and No. 20 Utah. They then have a brief respite at home against Arizona St. before the game everyone is looking forward to — November 18 on the road against Sam Darnold and the USC Trojans.
Rosen’s play during those four games — vs. Oregon, at Washington, at Utah and at USC — will go a long way in determining whether he has his name called first or second in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Next matchup: BYE WEEK; 10/14 @ Arizona (time and network TBD)
2) Washington St. QB Luke Falk (Last week: 4)
Result: 30-27 win over USC
Stats: 34/51, 340 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Analysis: In the words of the great Ric Flair, “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.” Falk was lights out last Friday night en route to an upset over USC, earning a jump over “the man” to No. 2 on this list.
Before the tweets and comments start rolling in, let me squash the notion that I think Falk is a better prospect than Darnold. Remember that this list is simply a power ranking of the QB prospects to give you a sense of how they are currently performing. It is NOT my 2018 big board.
Falk has been stellar since his benching against Boise St. He has been accurate, efficient and made the big throws down the field when needed. If you take the time to watch him play — which is not always easy considering he typically plays the 10:30 “Pac-12 After Dark” game — you will see a polished QB ready to start in the NFL from day one. His best attribute lies between the ears, he goes through his progressions well and he gets the ball out of his hand quickly.
If the Jets keep winning games and play themselves out of a top-five pick, Falk will become a name to watch.
Next matchup: 10/7 @ Oregon at 8:00 p.m. (FOX)
3) USC QB Sam Darnold (Last week: 2)
Result: 30-27 loss against Washington St.
Stats: 15/29, 164 yards, 1 INT; 9 carries, 25 yards, 2 TDs
Analysis: Bad games happen to everyone — just check Tom Brady’s box score from Week 1 against the Chiefs. Darnold had his bad night. The important thing now is that he has a short-term memory, bounces back strong and does not allow one bad performance to turn into multiple.
The silver lining from the game against Washington St. — he continued to prove that he has the “it” factor and is clutch when needed. Darnold was 5/6 for 64 yards and a rushing touchdown on the drive that tied the game at 27 late in the 4th quarter.
Oregon St. has one of the worst defenses in college football, so take all gaudy numbers with a grain of salt this week. Two big time opponents are on the horizon though, as the Trojans will host Utah before heading to South Bend to take on Notre Dame.
Next matchup: 10/7 vs. Oregon St. at 4:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
4) Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield (Last week: 3)
Result: Bye week
Analysis: Another week has gone by and Mayfield has still not thrown an interception. Granted, he is coming off a bye week, but still — no interceptions. Let’s see if he can keep it going this week against a weak Iowa St. team. My money is on “yes.”
Next matchup: 10/7 vs. Iowa St. at 12:00 p.m. (FOX)
5) Louisville QB Lamar Jackson (Last week: 5)
Result: 55-10 win over Murray St.
Stats: 18/26, 249 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs; 7 carries, 100 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: Before the two-game stretch against Kent St. and Murray St., I said we’d talk more about Jackson after he travels to North Carolina St. to take on an upset-minded Wolfpack. That still stands. Jackson’s last two performances are irrelevant — more on him next week.
Pats-Bucs should be a good game Thursday night and I presume most of you will be watching that, but tune into this one when you get a chance to keep an eye on Jackson.
Next matchup: 10/5 @ North Carolina St. at 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)
6) Oklahoma St. QB Mason Rudolph (Last week: 6)
Result: 41-34 win against Texas Tech
Stats: 27/38, 376 yards, 3 TDs , 1 INT; 11 carries, 50 yards, 2 TDs
Analysis: Rudolph bounced back in a big way against Texas Tech. It helps that he faced a defense that allows over 300 passing yards per game, but he still looked good and led his team to a win in a shootout.
The Cowboys will have an easy matchup at home against Baylor after the bye week, but the next three games will define his season and have a major impact on his draft stock — at Texas, at West Virginia, vs. Oklahoma.
Next matchup: BYE WEEK; 10/14 vs. Baylor (time and network TBD)
7) Wyoming QB Josh Allen (Last week: 7)
Result: 45-10 win over Texas St.
Stats: 14/24, 219 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Analysis: Baby steps for Allen. The yards and the touchdowns were there, but 14/24 against Texas St. is sub-par. The other thing working against him besides his mediocre play is the fact that he is “out of sight, out of mind” at this point, facing irrelevant opponents in non-televised games. The draft process — Senior Bowl, the combine and private workouts — will be more important for him than any other prospect because evaluating him with the lack of talent around him will be difficult.
Next matchup: BYE WEEK; 10/14 @ Utah St. at 4:30 p.m. (Not nationally televised)
8) Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham (Last week: 8)
Result: 49-10 win over Mississippi St.
Stats: 13/16, 264 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
Analysis: A noon kick this week will give me a good chance to watch Stidham play a full game for the first time and can get a better read on him. At this point though, the stats speak for themselves.
Next matchup: 10/7 vs. Mississippi at 12:00 p.m. (SEC Network)
9) Washington QB Jake Browning (Last week: 9)
Result: 42-7 win over Oregon St.
Stats: 26/34, 293 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT; 7 carries, 5 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: Colorado frustrated Browning last week as I touched on earlier, but Oregon St. offered a great opportunity to bounce back. Browning is still not quite playing at the level that had him in the Heisman conversation last season, but his performance against Oregon St. could be exactly what he needed to kickstart his season.
Next matchup: 10/7 vs. California at 10:45 p.m. (ESPN)
10) Memphis QB Riley Ferguson (Last week: NR; replaces Nick Fitzgerald)
Result: 40-13 loss to UCF
Stats: 27/49, 321 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs
Analysis: The newcomer to this list. I have only watched one full game of his which came a couple of weeks ago against UCLA, and I liked what I saw. As is the case with Stidham, I will be keeping a closer eye on Ferguson going forward.
Next matchup: 10/6 @ UCONN 7:00 p.m. (ESPN)
In the hunt: Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi St.), Quinton Flowers (South Florida), Mike White (Western Kentucky)
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com