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 another blown lead against the Falcons, the Jets are 3-5 and would have a top-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 10:
1) Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield (Last week: 1)
Result: 49-27 win over Texas Tech
Stats: 22/34, 281 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT; 6 carries, 20 yards, 1 TDAnalysis: I raved about Falk and moved him up to No. 2 a few weeks ago, and he repaid my support by turning in his two worst performances of the season. I was afraid Mayfield would succumb to the Malfa jinx as well, but the Oklahoma gunslinger continued his tear as he inches the Sooners closer to the playoff and himself to a Heisman.
There will be ample opportunity to evaluate Mayfield down the stretch with Bedlam this week against No. 11 Oklahoma St., No. 8 TCU heading to Norman next week, a regular season finale against West Virginia, and potential a Big-12 title game the following week.
Mayfield was drawing comparisons to Colt McCoy coming into the season, but he is now trending more towards Russell Wilson. He is exciting to watch and I am hoping Oklahoma makes the Big-12 title game and the playoff so we get a couple of extra glimpses at Mayfield.
Next matchup: 11/4 @ No. 11 Oklahoma St. at 4:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)2) USC QB Sam Darnold (Last week: 3)
Result: 48-17 win against Arizona St.
Stats: 19/35, 266 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Analysis: The goose egg in the interceptions column was nice to see, but it was only the second time Darnold was able to get through a game without throwing an interception this season. His play has been rather pedestrian — a far cry from what fans (myself included) expected from him heading into the season.
Over the last two days, we saw the 49ers trade for Jimmy Garoppolo and the Browns agree to a trade for A.J. McCarron (before it fell apart in a way only the Browns could make something fall apart). Could this be an indication that teams at the top of the 2018 draft are beginning to sour on Darnold and some of the other quarterbacks? I may be reading too much into it, but time will tell.
Darnold has at least three more chances to recapture last season’s form and impress NFL teams before a potential Pac-12 Championship game and what will likely be another New Year’s Six appearance.
Next matchup: 11/4 vs. Arizona at 10:45 p.m. (ESPN)
3) UCLA QB Josh Rosen (Last week: 2)
Result: 44-23 loss against Washington
Stats: 12/21, 93 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs
Analysis: It was a tough day at the office for Rosen as his Bruins made the trip up to Husky Stadium to take on No. 12 Washington. Rosen and the UCLA offense struggled to find success against a stout Washington defense, and the defensive front led by first-round prospect Vita Vea got to Rosen early and often. They got to him a little too much, as Rosen sustained a minor injury and was pulled from the game early. He is expected to play this week as UCLA faces a tough Utah defense on the road.
Next matchup: 11/3 @ Utah at 9:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
4) Oklahoma St. QB Mason Rudolph (Last week: 5)
Result: 50-39 win over West Virginia
Stats: 20/34, 216 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT; 2 carries, 5 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: I was excited for this quarterback duel between Rudolph and Will Grier, but the downpour in Morgantown did not allow for that shootout to take place. The scoreboard indicated a shootout, but that was the product of a strong performance by the Cowboys in the run game and touchdowns scored on defense and special teams by the Mountaineers.
Rudolph will have a chance to out-duel his in-state counter part Baker Mayfield this week, and a statement performance could launch him up this list.
Next matchup: 11/4 vs. No. 5 Oklahoma at 4:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
5) Louisville QB Lamar Jackson (Last week: 6)
Result: 42-32 loss against Wake Forest
Stats: 27/44, 330 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 27 carries, 161 yards, 3 TDs
Analysis: I got into a bit of a disagreement with some other TOJ staffers about Jackson after his latest performance. Dalbin Osorio and Joe Caporoso think Jackson is a viable option to be the face of an NFL franchise, but I cannot see it and I hope the Jets stay away.
I could be completely wrong and if that day comes I will own up to it, but there are flaws in his mechanics, with his decision making and with his accuracy. On top of all of that, he has now carried the ball a total of 72 times over the last three games. I hope I am wrong, but it is inevitable that he will get hurt — that is not a sustainable usage rate for an undersized quarterback. He is fun to watch and a great college football player, but I do not envision any NFL success.
Next matchup: BYE WEEK; 11/11 vs. Virginia (Time and network TBD)
6) Memphis QB Riley Ferguson (Last week: 7)
Result: 56-26 win over Tulane
Stats: 18/31, 298 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT; 4 carries, 18 yards, 2 TDs
Analysis: Memphis is rolling thanks to the play of Ferguson. The Tigers coasted to a 35-0 lead over an inferior Tulane squad. The Green Wave brought it back to within two scores, but Ferguson flipped the switch again, led Memphis on three more touchdown drives and sealed the deal. The Tigers now sit at No. 22 in the rankings and seem destined for a chance at redemption against UCF, the team responsible for the only loss Memphis has suffered this season, in the conference title game.
Next matchup: 11/3 @ Tulsa at 8:00 p.m. (ESPN 2)
7) Washington St. QB Luke Falk (Last week: 4)
Result: 58-37 loss against Arizona
Stats: 13/23, 93 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs
Analysis: A Washington St. quarterback threw for over 500 yards in this game. It was not Luke Falk.
Mike Leach decided to pull Falk for one drive after a slow start so he could regroup, see the defense from a different perspective and then re-enter the game ready to make some plays. Instead, backup Tyler Hilinski had one good drive, which turned into another good drive, and Leach just decided to ride the hot hand.
Leach announced Falk would be the Cougars’ starting quarterback against Stanford this week. If the past is any indication of the future, Falk is going to have a big game. He was similarly benched for Hilinski against Boise St. earlier this season, and he bounced back with a six-touchdown performance.
For now, my jinx continues to affect Falk as he has dropped five spots since I gave him my stamp of approval and moved him up to No. 2.
Next matchup: 11/4 vs. Stanford at 3:30 p.m. (FOX)
8) Wyoming QB Josh Allen (Last week: 9)
Result: 42-3 win against New Mexico
Stats: 16/28, 234 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs; 4 carries, 20 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: Allen finally put together a big performance on the stat sheet. Granted it came against a very bad New Mexico team, but don’t forget, Allen is not operating with much talent around him at Wyoming. He also received a major endorsement this week as Phil Simms took to Twitter to assert his belief that Allen is a first round prospect regardless of the statistics. The big performance along with the endorsement is good enough to move him up a spot on this list for the first time in weeks.
Next matchup: 11/4 vs. Utah St. at 5:30 p.m. (not nationally televised)
9) Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham (Last week: 8)
Result: BYE WEEK
Analysis: The SEC is home to the top two teams in the nation with Georgia and Alabama coming in at Nos. 1 and 2 in the initial playoff rankings. Stidham and the Auburn Tigers will take on both of those teams over the season’s final three weeks. First, they will take a trip out to College Station to take on a Texas A&M team that should not be taken lightly, especially at home.
Next matchup: 11/4 @ Texas A&M at 12:00 p.m. (ESPN)
10) West Virginia QB Will Grier (Last week: NR)
Result: 50-39 loss against Oklahoma St.
Stats: 20/42, 285 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs
Analysis: This spot was Jake Browning’s to lose. It was Nick Fitzgerald that occupied this spot last week, but that was only because Browning was coming off a loss and a bye. Neither Browning nor Fitzgerald did anything remotely close to being worthy of cracking the top-10, so it is about time I recognize Will Grier.
He did not have a great day against Oklahoma St., completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes and throwing four interceptions, but this game was played in a Morgantown downpour as I mentioned earlier.
Grier leads the nation in touchdown passes. He has a few big games coming up and I expect big things from him, so I am preemptively giving him a spot in the top-10 despite underachieving in his most recent performance.
Next matchup: 11/4 vs. Iowa St. at 3:30 p.m. (ESPN 2)
In the hunt: Jake Browning (Washington), Kurt Benkert (Virginia), Clayton Thorson (Northwestern)
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com