This year’s 2018 NFL draft proved to have plenty quarterback talent and it lived up to the hype with five quarterbacks taken in the first round. Those quarterbacks include Baker Mayfield to the Browns, Josh Allen to the Bills, Sam Darnold being selected to the Jets, Josh Rosen heading to the Cardinals, and Lamar Jackson going to the Ravens.
This was a year in which there was no consensus number one quarterback, with each possessing undeniable talent but also question marks. Ultimately, it was Baker who carries the tag of being the number one overall pick. Whether this was the right move for the beleaguered Cleveland Browns, only time will tell. But all of this year’s rookie quarterbacks find themselves in very different situations.
The pressure’s on in Cleveland
To me, the Browns made an error in drafting Baker Mayfield with number one pick, and it doesn’t strictly revolve around only his talent level.
Baker is undoubtedly an extremely talented guy; and one who has done nothing but silent critics and build up his name through the years. As a former walk-on at Texas Tech to a Heisman winner and #1 overall draft pick, the former Sooner has made a habit out of defying expectations. Mayfield’s outgoing, cocky, and controversial character presents a risk for the Browns. Should their No.1 selection fail, it will only bring up Johnny Manziel comparisons and the front office will take substantial heat. This reality will no doubt apply pressure to an already delicate situation in Cleveland.
Mayfield, however, is set to back up newly acquired Tyrod Taylor this season and this could be the best thing for him. The Browns have a history of rushing quarterbacks in before they’re ready, and for Mayfield this could be a year to learn and prove to people he is the right character guy to help turn around the Browns franchise.
Difficult landing-spots for Rosen and Allen
“There were 9 mistakes made ahead of me”. That’s all you need to hear from the UCLA product as he has enough confidence to fill the stadium and is determined to prove several teams wrong. The Arizona Cardinals have a very interesting team. They have showed they are strong in the run game with running back David Johnson. They have future hall of famer Larry Fitzgerald and a solid defense to help keep the pressure off a young quarterback.
But the downside to Rosen’s situation is he is in one of football’s hardest conferences (if not the hardest conference) with the Seahawks, Rams, and the up and coming 49ers. He will face tough defenses and be expected to learn on the fly as Sam Bradford could end up hurt within the first 5 weeks of the season because, well, its Sam Bradford.
Josh Allen is on a team with a very thin quarterback depth chart and looks like he is most likely the starter for the Bills come week one. He will be lining up against NFL defenses this time, not just the Mountain West defenses he faced while with Wyoming. He will most likely be a starter come week one but will be put in a tough situation to succeed as he goes head to head with Tom Brady twice a year and surrounds himself with minimal talent. This is not an ideal situation for a rookie quarterback.
A position switch for Jackson?
Lamar is one of the most athletic QBs we have seen in years, as he’s been spoken of more as an athlete and could be looking at a position switch. I believe at the rate Joe Flacco has diminished, Jackson could be the starter earlier than anyone thought and is being looked at as the future of the Baltimore Ravens. This is a team that plays in the AFC North with Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Cincinnati where weather plays a huge factor in results and style of play. Can Lamar’s size allow him to stay healthy and thrive in a brutal division? Lamar is not ready just yet to become a starting quarterback in the NFL, but a year of learning would benefit him greatly.
No rush in New York
Sam Darnold to me is the best quarterback talent in this draft class and over the long term could be the most successful. Once Tom Brady retires in a few years, this will be his division. He’s part of an experienced QB room with Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. If they’re sensible, the Jets will start McCown or Bridgewater over him at first to give him a chance to learn and grow. This isn’t a team that is ready to make a ton of noise yet, so why start him before he is ready?
Darnold is a future star and franchise guy and there is no point in rushing him and taking the risk of ruining his confidence inviting doubt into the young mans head. The Jets had to have been shocked to see Baker go over Darnold but lucky for them, he is in the big apple for the foreseeable future.
Darnold is, then, in the strongest position of this year’s rookies — plain and simple. He is in a division that, besides the New England Patriots, is fairly abysmal. He has two solid mentors who have been around the league to teach him and help speed up the learning curve. He has all of the intangibles that you want in your future leader and possible face of the franchise. However, this team still has several holes but if they can address them relatively quickly, by the time Tom Brady retires and that division becomes more open the Jets could be right there ready to take it over. All five of these picks show promise, excitement, and sky high confidence that is going to be fun to watch week in and week out, especially Sam Darnold, who is coming for the rest of the league.