Four names have dominated the conversation around the pigskin puzzle that is the 2018 NFL Draft. And if you’re a fan of one of the cellar-dwelling franchises that holds an early selection, it’s almost impossible not to have a general understanding of the players who could possibly be the individuals to bring your team back. The skinny:
- Sam Darnold is beefy and, as a sign of respect for being able to bulk like that at 6-foot-3, will be off the board before the fourth pick, guaranteed.
- Baker Mayfield has a frame that’s anything but prototypical and his, erm, demeanor makes him all the more irritable, but he is exceptionally good at throwing a football and will be taken early – almost definitely in the top five selections.
- Josh Rosen is a 6-foot-4 rocket-armed signal caller with ballerina feet in the pocket, the son of a former nationally ranked ice skater and the former captain of the Princeton lacrosse team (his father was the ice skater – go figure). The catch? Rosen also has missed significant time due to an injury on his throwing shoulder and is unusually outspoken for a football player, let alone a player yet to graduate college. He may see a small slide because of the latter reasons, but he figures to be across the stage before the top ten has passed.
- Josh Allen is tall. He has a good chance of being a top-five pick due to that one fact.
Those are the broad statements. The Draft Combine in February, the pick trade rumors, and the beginning of organized team activities (OTAs) last week have thrown the football-loving public into a certifiable frenzy. However, with such a long ways to go before preseason, we get our fix by immersing ourselves in the minutiae of every top prospect until our heads spin. The allure of selecting an elite quarterback among the bunch only serves to kindle the fire of trivial factoids. In that spirit, here’s what you do not at all need to know on the 2018 NFL Draft QB Class:
His mother is a physical education teacher, and the NFL will mark the first time Sam has lived outside of Southern California. It’s reasonable to wonder whether Darnold will fall out of shape not living under her watchful, fitness-minded eye.
Darnold was the only one of the top four QB prospects who failed to break the 9-foot threshold with his broad jump at the Combine. So, if football were a game in which you trained for months to take a massive leap sideways to avoid a blitzing linebacker, Darnold would probably go undrafted.
Darnold’s grandfather, Dick Hammer, was the Marlboro Man in the 1970s. While this shows Darnold’s elite lineage and could explain some of his quiet confidence under center, genetic smoker’s lungs and the fourth quarter in Cleveland or New York seems like oil and water to me.
Darnold was generally amicable when he took a photo with this writer after he finished an interview in Minneapolis during the build-up to Super Bowl 52. He did not appear to be thrilled to be harassed for a photo by three young men hardly younger than him, but he then turned it on for the camera with a megawatt smile. Take that for what it’s worth.
Undersized Texan quarterbacks have a history of dropping their aspirations on the gridiron for art school after a time. Couple the uncanny Matt Saracen comparison with the fact that Mayfield probably peaked after winning the 2011 4A Texas state championship with the Lake Travis Cavaliers, and you have a good argument that Mayfield could become a bust.
Mayfield frequently posts on social media with the hashtag “MMO.” His followers, including this writer, have tried (and failed) to identify the meaning of the acronym, which Mayfield has kept close to his vest. That lack of transparency between player and fans has caustic implications.
Mayfield’s middle name is Reagan, which makes him sound like a congressman’s daughter, not a top quarterback prospect trying to market himself as a Football Guy. It would be more of a Football Guy move to never publicly reveal his middle name, or his first or last name, for that matter.
As alluded to earlier, Rosen is not as cool as either of his parents, which could be a bonus of drafting him or a red flag. His father, a former 1970s Winter Olympic hopeful, is now a nationally renowned spine surgeon who has his own blog about ethical marketing in the medical device industry and was on the shortlist to become the United States Surgeon General during the Obama administration. Meanwhile, his mother, a Quaker-Christian who became a journalist after captaining the Princeton lacrosse team, is the great-great-great-granddaughter of Joseph Wharton, who co-founded Bethlehem Steel and established the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Rosen, for his part, is not your average jock. The only quarterback of the bunch to not graduate with a degree in communications, Rosen ripped off a 4.3 GPA at St. John Bosco High while taking AP Physics, AP World History, and honors pre-calculus, among others. One school of thought says that Rosen will be a more productive football player without having to worry about getting an economics degree from an academically competitive university; another says that he loves books so much he’ll be studying all of them, except the only one that matters. You decide.
Rosen was ranked in the top 50 nationally as a tennis player in junior high before transitioning to football full-time. He credits tennis with the development of his exceptional footwork in the pocket, though questions must be asked about the overlap between the two sports. Tennis and football could not be more different sports in terms of mentality and approach; in due time, does Rosen love the game? will unseat is Joe Flacco an elite quarterback? as the burning question of our generation about the most important position on the field.
Where to start? Josh Allen is the reason we write articles like this. The former Wyoming Cowboy is, by all accounts and every statistical measure, not a starting NFL quarterback. Not even close. Allen is being talked about every day as the potential first overall pick of the Cleveland Browns, and he did not even win Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. Nor did he finish on the all-conference team. That was Nick Stevens from Colorado State. Second team? Jabril Frazier from Boise State. There is a growing number of football heads who are starting to believe that the media is putting an extraordinarily average football player in the headline of every article and in the top five of every mock draft, just for kicks and giggles, to see how delusional they can get America to become. What’s been circulated? Let’s just skim the surface:
Josh Allen’s fingertip speed when he releases the ball, in case you haven’t heard, is elite. I’m not sure how that offsets below-average statistics against far-below-average competition, but it’ll land you a fat signing bonus, apparently. At the very least, when Allen is likely out of football in four years, he’ll be highly regarded in one statistic – words per minute typing in the office.
Josh Allen also has big hands and runs surprisingly fast for his size. Allen was the only one of the top four quarterbacks to have hands larger than 10”, which you would think would give him a tremendous advantage with his pass accuracy over, say, Baker Mayfield – but no. Further, Allen ran a 4.76 40 yard dash at the NFL combine, faster than each of his three peers. However, it does look like he is actually jogging in the clip, so you would not be completely out of line to say that Roger Goodell pre-programmed the lasers on the field to read 4.76 with the larger goal of keeping the New York Jets irrelevant forever. This writer hand-timed the 40 on his iPhone twice and got numbers above 5 seconds, so we’ll stay suspicious.
Allen’s detractors – and there are many – have decided to fight fire with fire, and have done some digging of their own to derail the runaway freight train that is Allen’s draft stock. The results…well, the results are glorious. That’s right, Josh Allen has never completed 60% of the passes he has thrown since before we have data, and we have data since Allen was on the junior varsity football team at little old Firebaugh High School, enrollment 694. As for his 49.0% completion percentage at Reedley Community College – we’ll let you decide which is worse.
Finally, we have Josh Allen’s review of LaGuardia Airport. Time will tell how this viral review will affect where Allen is taken in the draft, but it should be enough to scare the Giants and the Jets off. Happy silly season everyone.