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 three in a row and now sits at 3-2.
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 7:
1) UCLA QB Josh Rosen (Last week: 1)
Result: Bye week
Analysis: Arizona does not have a stellar defense so this will be a week for Rosen to showcase his talents and pad the stats. He heads into the hardest part of his schedule after this week, which is where we will learn a lot about who he truly is as a quarterback.
Next matchup: 10/14 @ Arizona at 9:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
2) Washington St. QB Luke Falk (Last week: 2)
Result: 33-10 win over Oregon
Stats: 24/42, 228 yards, 3 TDs
Analysis: I really, really wanted to move Falk to the top of this list, but I could not bring myself to hold a bye week against Rosen, who has held the top spot since Week 2.
Falk is right there, though, and he is also emerging as my favorite prospect of this draft class behind Rosen and Sam Darnold.
He plays with confidence, looks comfortable in the pocket and goes through his reads quickly and efficiently. He also does a lot of the little things well, like manipulating the safety with his eyes. It showed on his third and final touchdown pass of the game — a 25-yard post route to the slot receiver in which Falk looked left to move the safety and immediately fired a strike that led his receiver into the endzone.
He did not have his best day in terms of completion percentage but if 57 percent is Falk at his worst, I would take that 10 times out of 10.
The best part about his stellar 2017 campaign is that he has the Cougars at No. 8 in the AP poll, which means more nationally televised games and more opportunities to evaluate him on the big stage.
Next matchup: 10/13 @ California at 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
3) USC QB Sam Darnold (Last week: 3)
Result: 38-10 win over Oregon St.
Stats: 23/35, 316 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Analysis: I am not going to put too much stock into this one for Darnold, but the numbers were good and he looked good on the few drives I was able to watch. He was fortunate to play one of the Pac-12’s doormats after the loss to Washington St.
I am curious to see how he performs against an always pesky Utah defense in yet another prime time game for the Trojans. The Utes are not ranked, but they are certainly a top-25 caliber team and have been ranked as high as No. 20 this season.
Next matchup: 10/14 vs. Utah at 8:00 p.m. (ABC)
4) Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield (Last week: 4)
Result: 38-31 loss against Iowa St.
Stats: 24/33, 306 yards, 2 TDs, o INTs; 11 carries, 57 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: Losing to Iowa St. as a 30+ point favorite at home is not a good look and Mayfield was forced to swallow his pride as he watched Iowa St. players mimic his flag planting, but he still had a good day.
The more I watch him play, the more I agree with Matt Miller’s assessment of Mayfield as 2017’s Colt McCoy. He takes on the stout defense of McCoy’s old team this week as the Sooners and Longhorns renew the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl.
Mayfield has still not thrown an interception, but getting through this week with a goose egg in the interceptions column of the stat sheet will not be easy. Texas intercepted Darnold twice when USC and Texas met in September, and the Longhorn defense has eight total interceptions through five games.
Next matchup: 10/14 @ Texas at 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
5) Louisville QB Lamar Jackson (Last week: 5)
Result: 39-25 loss against North Carolina St.
Stats: 26/47, 354 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 19 carries, 73 yards, 2 TDs
Analysis: I continue to be unimpressed with Jackson and think he should stay in school another year to work on his abilities as a passer. His ground game is great — probably better than his most direct recent comparison in Robert Griffin III — but I just don’t think he is ready to go to the NFL as a passer.
I like the fact that he has a quick flick-of-the-wrist throwing motion, but he does not have good footwork. When he sits in the pocket, he is completely flat-footed and is slow through his progressions. I would have to look at the coaches’ video to assess whether he is slow in his reads and holding onto the ball too long or if the receivers are all covered, but it happens on seemingly every play so I am inclined to believe it is a bad habit of his. His throws are frustrating as well — some are perfect, others are way off line. He lacks consistency, but the potential is there.
Watching him play this week also gives you the chance to take a look at Harold Landry, the top EDGE prospect in the upcoming draft on the front line for Boston College.
Next matchup: 10/14 vs. Boston College at 12:20 p.m. (Watch ESPN App)
6) Oklahoma St. QB Mason Rudolph (Last week: 6)
Result: Bye week
Analysis: Like Rosen, Rudolph faces an easy opponent after a bye week before heading into a more difficult part of the schedule. He should post some gaudy numbers against Baylor, but tougher matchups that will be better for evaluation are on the horizon.
Next matchup: 10/14 vs. Baylor at 3:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
7) Memphis QB Riley Ferguson (Last week: 10)
Result: 70-31 win over UCONN
Stats: 34/48, 431 yards, 7 TDs, 0 INTs
Analysis: I chose to include him on this list last week as he supplanted Nick Fitzgerald at No. 10, and he rewarded me with over 400 yards and seven touchdowns. UCONN was not much of a test, but Navy will be. I have not watched Ferguson play since he squared off with Rosen back in early September, but I will be tuning in this week for sure.
Next matchup: 10/14 vs. Navy 3:45 p.m. (ESPNU)
8) Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham (Last week: 8)
Result: 44-23 win over Mississippi
Stats: 14/21, 235 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
Analysis: I have yet to see Stidham wow me, but I have yet to see him do anything bad. He is as steady as they come in college football at the moment, which is not at all a bad thing. He is completing 71.2 percent of his passes, making big plays when he needs to and letting that Auburn defense do the rest. A big test lies ahead as Auburn heads to Baton Rouge to take on Ed Orgeron’s LSU Tigers.
Next matchup: 10/14 @ LSU at 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
9) Washington QB Jake Browning (Last week: 9)
Result: 38-7 win over California
Stats: 27/40, 215 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs; 4 carries, 20 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: Browning is finally heating up and looking more like the quarterback we saw in 2016, but I refuse to buy into his performances until he plays a noteworthy opponent. It will not happen this week against Arizona St., but Washington’s schedule down the stretch is one of the toughest in the country. The Huskies will host UCLA and Oregon before traveling to Stanford and returning to host Utah and Washington St. All five of those teams are either currently ranked or have been ranked at some point this season.
Next matchup: 10/14 @ Arizona St. at 10:45 p.m. (ESPN)
10) Wyoming QB Josh Allen (Last week: 7)
Result: Bye week
Analysis: Perhaps the bye week allowed Allen to get fully healthy and clear his head just in time for a strong stretch run that could once again boost his draft stock. We shall see. Unlike Rosen and Rudolph, I had no trouble moving Allen down the list after a bye week because he has not been particularly good this season. He is coming dangerously close to falling off this list entirely, though I still think he will convince a general manager to take him in the first or second round with a end to the season and a good showing in the combine and pre-draft workouts.
Next matchup: BYE WEEK; 10/14 @ Utah St. at 4:30 p.m. (Not nationally televised)
In the hunt: Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi St.), Will Grier (West Virginia), Clayton Thorson (Northwestern)
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com