NFL Draft – 2018 QB Prospect Tracker: Week 9

Joe Malfa with his weekly QB rankings and tracker of the top quarterbacks in college football…

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. After a reality check loss against the Dolphins, the Jets are 3-4 and would have the No. 10 pick if the season ended today.

Wherever they end up — whether it is top-five or top-10 — they will still have a shot at a franchise quarterback in a QB-heavy draft 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 9:

1) Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield (Last week: 4)

Result: 42-35 win over Kansas St.

Stats: 32/41, 410 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT; 9 carries, 69 yards, 2 TDs

Analysis: The last time I gave someone on this list a lot of praise was Luke Falk two weeks ago. He has since turned in his two worst performances of the season. I hope I do not jinx Baker Mayfield.

From No. 4 to No. 1 — that is a big jump and Mayfield has earned it.

All he does is win and put up big numbers, and every week he looks better and better doing it. Through seven games, he has thrown for 2,347 yards, 19 touchdowns and just two interceptions while adding another three touchdowns on the ground.

Watching Mayfield down the stretch could be very fun. He plays his former team (Texas Tech) this week in what could be an old-fashioned Big-12 shootout. After that, three of Oklahoma’s four remaining opponents are currently ranked — Oklahoma St. is No. 11, TCU is No. 4 and West Virginia is No. 22. The Sooners could also end up in the Big-12 title game, which would mean another matchup with TCU in all likelihood.

Russel Wilson comparisons may emerge going forward because of their similar stature and the fact that they both ooze confidence. Could Mayfield be the next under-sized quarterback to break the stigma? Only time will tell.

Next matchup: 10/28 vs. Texas Tech at 8:00 p.m. (ABC)

2) UCLA QB Josh Rosen (Last week: 1)

Result: 31-14 win against Oregon

Stats: 21/36, 266 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs

Analysis: Dropping from No. 1 in the rankings for the first time since Week 2 is more of a praise of Mayfield than an indictment on Rosen.

The UCLA gunslinger has not been particularly good of late, but he has continued to produce on a consistent basis and showcase a skillset more polished than anyone else in this draft class.

He closes out the season with five tough matchups, all of which will likely be nationally televised in prime slots so couch GMs can get a few more good looks at the current QB1 on my draft board before the season ends.

Next matchup: 10/28 @ No. 12 Washington at 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

3) USC QB Sam Darnold (Last week: 2)

Result: 49-14 loss against Notre Dame

Stats: 20/28, 229 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Analysis: Darnold was not quite the reason USC lost, but I would have liked to see a better performance from him on the big stage. That has seemingly been his calling card, but he has now lost two consecutive prime time games (albeit on the road against great competition in Washington St. and Notre Dame).

My focus on Saturday night was on Game 7 between the Yankees and Astros so I did not get a great look at Darnold’s entire performance, but there were some good and bad things I saw in the roughly 30-35 offensive snaps I watched.

He made some throws into tight windows that I liked, forced other throws into tight windows that should not have been made and overall looked like the quarterback we have come to know over the last few weeks. He is someone that has a lot of potential and could be the next big thing, but he also has some flaws that could make him the next Blake Bortles.

The public seems to have hopped off the Darnold hype train, but should we — myself included — have jumped on it as early as we did? After all, he only started nine games last season — it might have been unfair to anoint him the way we did. His game needs refining, but he has all the raw abilities teams look for in a quarterback as well as that intangible “it” factor. His recent pedestrian play will not slide him down draft boards at all.

Next matchup: 10/28 @ Arizona St. at 10:45 p.m. (ESPN)

4) Washington St. QB Luke Falk (Last week: 3)

Result: 28-0 win over Colorado

Stats: 17/34, 197 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs

Analysis: I am sorry Luke — I might have jinxed you.

Ever since I moved him up to No. 2 on the list and considered sliding him up to No. 1, he has had a five interception game and posted the second lowest completion percentage of his career.

I still like what I have seen from him as a passer and believe his skillset — mainly his ability to read defenses and quickly go through his progressions — will land him at the back end of the first round or the beginning of the second. His flaws have been magnified over the last two weeks by two fast, stout defenses. He has trouble with his internal clock and virtually no speed or agility to avoid sacks.

With three of the last four games on the road and two against ranked opponents, Falk will have a chance to redeem himself and head into the draft process on a high note.

Next matchup: 10/28 @ Arizona at 9:30 p.m. (PAC-12 Network)

5) Oklahoma St. QB Mason Rudolph (Last week: 5)

Result: 13-10 win over Texas

Stats: 25/38, 282 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs

Analysis: This was such a “meh” performance from Rudolph. Nothing spectacular, nothing bad, just enough to have his team in a position to win the game in overtime.

Texas has had trouble against the run this season so it was a run-heavy game plan for the Cowboys. Their running backs combined for 160 yards on 44 carries, which factored into the average outing from Rudolph.

He should make up for it over the next two weeks in what could be two shootouts against West Virginia and Oklahoma.

Next matchup: 10/28 @ No. 22 West Virginia at 12:00 p.m. (ABC)

6) Louisville QB Lamar Jackson (Last week: 6)

Result: 31-28 win over Florida St.

Stats: 13/21, 156 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs; 23 carries, 178 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: Jackson finally helped Louisville get a win after a bit of a skid, but I wonder how much longer he will be able to avoid injury. He has carried the ball 45 times in the last two games which would be considered a heavy workload for a running back, let alone an undersized quarterback like Jackson.

I hope he is able to stay healthy because he is fun to watch and great for college football, but longevity issues and the mere fact that he really is not a good passer make me wonder if he will ever make something of himself at the next level.

Next matchup: 10/28 @ Wake Forest at 12:20 p.m. (ESPN)

7) Memphis QB Riley Ferguson (Last week: 7)

Result: 42-38 win over Houston

Stats: 33/53, 471 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Analysis: Houston entered the half up 17-0. Memphis touched the ball six times on offense in the second half, and Ferguson engineered six touchdown drives to complete the comeback.

Houston and Navy have been considered the class of the AAC West for the last few seasons, but Memphis has now beaten them both in consecutive weeks.

The schedule is easy the rest of the way for Ferguson and the Tigers, but a showdown with either UCF or USF (both ranked and undefeated) in the AAC Championship game is on the horizon.

Next matchup: 10/27 vs. Tulane at 8:00 p.m. (CBSSN)

8) Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham (Last week: 8)

Result: 52-20 win over Arkansas

Stats: 19/28, 218 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT; 4 carries, 49 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: Stidham is reminding me of Alex Smith. Normal, boring Alex Smith…not current MVP-candidate Alex Smith.

Auburn’s signal-caller is efficient, avoids turnovers and allows the running game and the defense to seal ball games for this team.

Auburn has a bye this week, but circle 11/11 and 11/25 on your calendars as Stidham and his Tigers take on No. 3 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama, respectively.

Next matchup: BYE WEEK; 11/4 @ Texas A&M at 12:00 p.m. (ESPN)

9) Wyoming QB Josh Allen (Last week: 9)

Result: 24-14 loss against Boise St.

Stats: 12/27, 131 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs; 18 carries, 62 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: This was Allen’s last chance to prove himself against a solid, reputable opponent. It was not great, but it went better than the first two against Iowa and Oregon. Allen remains a mystery because it is tough to evaluate him in games against quality opponents since his team is just so terrible.

Next matchup: 10/28 vs. New Mexico at 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

10) Mississippi St. QB Nick Fitzgerald (Last week: NR)

Result: 45-7 win over Kentucky

Stats: 18/26, 155 yards, 1 TD; 12 carries, 115 yards, 2 TDs

Analysis: I mentioned last week that the combination of a loss and a bye week would drop Jake Browning off this list. Expect him to return next week after a favorable matchup against a bad UCLA defense. For now, Fitzgerald makes a cameo on the list and he earned it.

Over the past two weeks, he has accounted for 614 yards of total offense and seven total touchdowns. Not too shabby. If he puts up some gaudy numbers on the road against a solid Texas A&M team, he might force me to keep him on the list for another week.

Next matchup: 10/28 @ Texas A&M at 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

In the hunt: Jake Browning (Washington), Will Grier (West Virginia), Clayton Thorson (Northwestern)

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