NFL Draft – 2018 QB Prospect Tracker: Final Edition

Joe Malfa with his weekly ranking and trackers of college quarterbacks…

These quarterback trackers began under the impression the Jets would be a lock for a top-five pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Some early wins put that into question, but a recent losing skid has them back on track for the top-five. ESPN’s Football Power Index predicts they will end up with the sixth overall pick, which would oddly be the third time Mike Maccagnan has picked from that slot in his four drafts with the Jets (assuming he is not fired).

Wherever they end up, the Jets will 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.

Here are his final rankings of the college football season, and check back for the beginning of his draft coverage during bowl season:

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

Result: 59-31 win over West Virginia

Stats: 14/17, 281 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs

Analysis: All of the preseason attention went to the likes of Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.  Then Mayfield put together a Heisman season in which he also improved as a quarterback, vaulted himself into the middle of the first round, and captivated the nation with his fiery spirit.

Mayfield ended the regular season with 4,097 yards, 37 touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 71.4 percent of his passes and averaging 11.84 yards per attempt. He is not known for his legs but is dangerous when he escapes the pocket as well, racking up 245 yards and five touchdowns.

He will win the Heisman in runaway fashion but more importantly, a win against TCU this Saturday will put Mayfield and the Sooners into the College Football Playoff for the second time in his three years with the program.

There are certainly some risks attached to Mayfield — mainly his small stature and large personality — but he has a real chance to break into the top-10 come April. Regardless of what happens going forward, he had a senior season to remember — and it is not over yet.

Next matchup: 12/2 vs. No. 11 TCU at 12:30 p.m. (FOX)

2) Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham (Last week: 4)

Result: 26-14 win against No. 1 Alabama

Stats: 21/28, 237 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs; 12 carries, 51 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: The redshirt sophomore transfer from Baylor has taken down the No. 1 team in the nation twice in three weeks (Georgia three weeks ago, Alabama last week). Stidham did not make an appearance on this list until I expanded it to 10 quarterbacks four weeks into the season. He has slowly, quietly and steadily climbed a spot each week, but his recent performances have warranted a major jump to the second spot.

Given Auburn’s defense and running game, Stidham has not been asked to do a lot, but he has risen to the occasion when called upon. He ended the regular season with 2,682 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 68.5 percent of his passes.

I do not believe Stidham will declare for the draft after this season, but he has all of the tools to make it at the next level. Experience will be key, and he has gotten plenty of it against top competition as of late. Take a good look at him in the SEC Championship and potential CFP matchups in case he does declare, but I would say odds are we get another season to evaluate his play.

His Auburn Tigers are ranked second in the nation and will face now No. 6 Georgia in the SEC Championship with a spot in the College Football Playoff on the line.

Next matchup: 12/2 vs. No. 6 Georgia at 4:00 p.m. (CBS)

3) UCLA QB Josh Rosen (Last week: 2)

Result: 30-27 win against California

Stats: 13/18, 202 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs

Analysis: Rosen had a monster half and was on his way to one of his best performances of the season against Cal, but he took a big hit in the two minute drill before halftime that knocked him out of the game. It was deemed an upper body injury and he was held out as a precaution, so it was nothing serious that would prevent him from participating in workouts throughout the draft process.

Rosen completed 62.5 percent of his passes ended the season with 3,717 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Despite the fact that his supporting cast was significantly worse than Darnold’s, he was more effective.

I believe Rosen did enough to prove he is the most NFL-ready quarterback in the upcoming class, though I still believe Darnold has a higher ceiling and could go ahead of him. I also believe it is important to point out that while Darnold draws criticism for the decision making that led to 12 interceptions, Rosen threw 10 of his own. It is an issue that both quarterbacks need to work on.

Fortunately, the Bruins held on to win against Cal in Rosen’s absence, making the team bowl eligible and giving Rosen another three weeks of practice and one more game to show off for scouts.

Next matchup: Bowl game TBA

4) USC QB Sam Darnold (Last week: 3)

Result: Bye Week

Stats: N/A

Analysis: Darnold showed glimpses of brilliance throughout the season, but he was never able to put everything together and avoid big mistakes on a consistent basis as many hoped he would after he left us with a Rose Bowl performance for the ages last season. He ended the regular season completing 63.3 percent of his passes for 3,462 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His Trojans have an outside shot at crashing the final four. They would need to beat Stanford and hope both Wisconsin and Oklahoma lose their conference championship matchups if they want to even move into the conversation. In this scenario, Ohio St. and Alabama would probably occupy the third and fourth spots, but USC would be in the mix.

After USC’s bowl game, it will be interesting to see how long Darnold will make us wait before deciding on his future. I think he will enter the draft, but it is not a given at this point for the redshirt sophomore.

Next matchup: 12/1 vs. No. 12 Stanford at 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)

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

Result: 44-17 win against Kentucky

Stats: 15/21, 216 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs; 18 carries, 156 yards

Analysis: While Rosen and Darnold did not quite live up to all of the expectations this season and Mayfield and Stidham exceeded theirs, Jackson played exactly how I expected he would. Video game numbers, some improvements as a passer, but still not in a position where I would be comfortable drafting him in the first round.

I have come around on Jackson more, acknowledging his potential and the ability to grow as a player in the NFL, but his build paired with his propensity to run scare me away. Nonetheless, he had another electrifying season — 3,489 yards, 24 touchdowns and 6 interceptions passing to go along with 1,443 yards and 17 touchdowns rushing.

For both selfish reasons and for his own benefit, I hope he elects to stay in school. It would give us another year of entertainment while watching him terrorize opposing defenses, and it would give him another year to hone his craft and continue the steady improvements he has shown.

Next matchup: Bowl game TBA

6) Oklahoma St. QB Mason Rudolph (Last week: 6)

Result: 58-17 win against Kansas

Stats: 31/43, 438 yards, 4 total TDs (2 passing, 2 rushing), 0 INTs

Analysis: Forget about the last game of the season. It was a great performance… but it was against a glorified FCS team. Instead, focus on what was a stellar senior season for Rudolph — 65 percent of passes completed for 4,553 yards, 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions plus 10 rushing touchdowns as the 6-foot-5, 230-pound gunslinger is also a sneaky goal line threat.

It remains to be seen whether or not Rudolph will be able to successfully transition from that Oklahoma St. offense to an NFL system, but he checks off all of Bill Parcells’s boxes — a senior, three-year starter who has won at least 23 games and is going to graduate.

I mentioned it in a previous “QB Tracker,” but I will mention it one last time in the final installment of this series — I see Rudolph becoming a Patriot. They could snag him at the end of the first round or the beginning of the second if they employ their trademark “trade out of the end of the first and into the beginning of the second” strategy. New England just got rid of both of Brady’s young understudies and could be in the market for a new rookie to mold.

Next matchup: Bowl game TBA

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

Result: 70-13 win against East Carolina

Stats: 9/13, 299 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs

Analysis: The score and stat line tell you all you need to know about Ferguson’s most recent game. Like Rudolph’s against Kansas, it was irrelevant. He has a big one coming up though with the rematch against a Central Florida team that handed Memphis its only loss of the season, a 40-13 drubbing back at the end of September.

Ferguson is another QB, like Stidham and Will Grier, who flew under the radar all season but significantly boosted his draft stock. He is not a top prospect by any means, but he is an intriguing mid-round quarterback. He ended his senior season with exactly 3,500 yards to go along with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 69 percent of his passes.

Next matchup: 12/2 @ UCF at 12:00 p.m. (ABC)

8) Washington St. QB Luke Falk (Last week: 8)

Result: 41-14 loss against No. 17 Washington

Stats: 37/55, 369 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs

Analysis: As you work your way from left to right across Falk’s statistics, they do not look so bad at first. Then you get to the interceptions column and you wonder which was more indicative of how he played — the solid completion percentage and yardage total, or the three interceptions (and a lost fumble)? It was a bit of both.

I was able to watch this game in its entirety, and I basically saw what I have seen out of Falk all season. Led by first-round talent Vita Vea, the Washington front-seven pressured Falk all night.  When he was pressured, due to his lack of mobility, he made some egregious errors that led to four turnovers. When he had time and a clean pocket, he picked Washington apart. To his credit, I thought he dealt with pressure a bit better as the game went on, showcasing his maturity and ability to make in-game adjustments to the defense.

Falk ended the season with 3,539 yards, 30 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while completing 66.9 percent of his passes. All of the numbers are slightly worse than last season’s but he has shown consistency throughout his three years as a starter. NFL teams know exactly what they will be getting in Falk. Like Rudolph, he also checks off all of Parcells’s boxes. He intrigues me as a prospect, and I think he will end up as a Day Two pick who is able to start right away if needed.

Next matchup: Bowl game TBA

9) West Virginia QB Will Grier (Last week: 9)

Result: 59-31 loss against Oklahoma

Stats: DNP; broken finger on throwing hand

Analysis: Grier was in the middle of one of the nation’s best statistical seasons before a gruesome finger injury sustained early against Texas essentially cost him two full games. He completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 3,490 yards, 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. I am not sure if he will enter the draft, though I would guess he stays in school another year since he lacks experience. He started for the early portion of his freshman season at Florida in 2015, got suspended for the rest of that season and then sat out 2016 after transferring to WVU.

Keep an eye on Grier’s health — he reportedly might be able to participate in WVU’s bowl game.

Next matchup: Bowl game TBA

10) Wyoming QB Josh Allen (Last week: 10)

Result: 20-17 loss against San Jose St.

Stats: DNP; injury

Analysis: For the last time, Allen’s mandatory inclusion on the list despite his putrid numbers this season. I will give him the benefit of the doubt consider his supporting cast is just awful and the numbers do not tell the whole story, but the numbers are about as bad as they could be — 1,658 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions while completing 56.2 percent of his passes in 10 starts.

Regardless of your opinion or mine on Allen, remember this — he is going to be drafted in the first round because a GM (hopefully not Maccagnan) will see something in him and take a chance.

Next matchup: Bowl game TBA

Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com 

  • SwbFan

    So who is your recommendation with the 7-12th pick in the draft?