The 2018 quarterback draft class has been one of the most hyped in years, with big name college players from major power five programs filling out four of the top five consensus spots at the position.
Heisman Trophy winners Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson, and California based duo Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen, have received plenty of attention throughout their college careers. And, it's the almost prodigy-type admiration for these guys that may have caused the class to receive a little more love than they should've.
That sentiment is echoed by NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, who doesn't see the presence of a sure-fire, can't miss prospect amongst the 2018 group like he has done in the past when evaluating two of the best young QB's in the league today; Andrew Luck and Carson Wentz.
During his annual pre-draft conference call with reporters, Mayock was asked to compare the quality of the signal callers in this draft to that of other recent classes:
"It's really interesting because I think people were so anticipating this class that it surprises people when we start to kind of pick our way through them and really grind the tape." he said.
Mayock added: "To put it in perspective, the two easiest quarterback evaluations I've had in the last eight or ten years are Andrew Luck and Carson Wentz, and that's because everything checked off both on the film and all the intangibles. Those two guys walked and talked like Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, et cetera. I don't see anybody in this class that I get the same gut feel for as those two.".
Despite the absence of a Luck/Wentz type prospect, Mayock does like Sam Darnold and rates him as the top quarterback in this draft, but he isn't enamoured with anyone after the former USC standout.
"Darnold is my number one guy because I think he can beat you from both inside the pocket and outside the pocket, but after him, I feel like you can kind of pick apart different characteristics of each player.".
Here's how he views the remainder of the top five guys, including an intriguing prediction for the future of Lamar Jackson...
Josh Rosen- "...the most natural thrower in the draft, but he reminds me of Sam Bradford, both because they throw the ball naturally, but also the question about durability. Rosen's been hurt in college. He has an inability to protect himself in the pocket. He's a tough kid, but he gets hurt a lot. I don't know if he can survive in the NFL pocket for prolonged periods of time.”
Josh Allen- “When I look at Allen from Wyoming, biggest upside in the draft, really exciting player, obviously has to learn how to be a little bit more accurate, and he's got to throw with timing and anticipation."
Baker Mayfield- “It seems to me like some teams love him and some teams just kind of go that's not my cup of tea. The film's good, but at the end of the day, you've got to make a decision in your building about who you want being the face of your franchise. And he's really cut both ways for a lot of teams.”
Lamar Jackson- “The guy I'm most excited about is Lamar Jackson. He's the most exciting athlete in the draft. I think somebody in the first round is going to make a philosophical and schematic commitment to this kid and change what they do offensively. And it might not be this year where he makes a significant move, but I think long term, I can't wait to see what Lamar Jackson becomes.”
"You know, in my head, guys like [Bill] Belichick and [Sean] Payton, who think outside the box and are very smart men, whether or not they'd be looking at Lamar Jackson and committing to that young man down the road."
Despite the elite attributes each player has, Mayock is realistic and notes that if this class follows the trend that most in history have, that not even half of them are likely to become franchise QB's.
"...when you look at those five kids, history tells you we'll be lucky if we get two to three that become franchise quarterbacks." he said.
Who hits and who busts remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure according to Mayock, at least one team will swing and miss in spectacular fashion on one of these QB's.