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NFL draft 2018: Scouting the QBs

Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen lead a strong group of signal-callers.

Clockwise from top left: USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's

Clockwise from top left: USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and Wyoming's Josh Allen. Photo Credit: AP

Sam Darnold, USC

Height: 6-3

Weight: 220

Hands: 9 3/8 inches

Projected draft status: Top 3.

Strengths: Darnold is a strong pocket passer with excellent arm strength and excellent leadership qualities. He sees the field well and generally goes through his progressions well, rarely locking onto one receiver and thus becoming predictable. He’s not afraid to throw into tight windows — something NFL coaches want to see from their quarterbacks in a league where defensive backs provide much tighter coverage than in college. Has good toughness and mostly knows when to keep a play alive and when to allow himself to be sacked or to throw an incompletion if a play isn’t there to be made.

Weaknesses: Had problems with turnovers last year, throwing 13 interceptions and losing nine fumbles in 2017. He had 20 interceptions over his last 20 games. Under a heavy rush, he tended to rush some of his throws, especially last year. He has an elongated delivery, which can tip off a defense about where he’s throwing and cuts down on the quickness of his passes.

Quote: Browns coach Hue Jackson, who has the No. 1 overall pick: “With a quarterback, there are all kind of different variables that a guy has had to deal with — players leaving, [different] systems, all kind of things. We just have to sort through it all to understand it.” On Darnold’s turnovers: “You’ve got to see where it’s coming from. Is it because the guy is not protecting the ball? Maybe somebody’s hitting him on the arm. Maybe it’s his grip.”

Josh Rosen, UCLA

Height: 6-4

Weight: 226

Hands: 9 7/8

Projected draft status: Top 5

Strengths: Rosen has excellent field vision and footwork, two keys for any successful NFL quarterback. Played in an offense that used a pro-style system, so he shouldn’t have too many adjustment issues at the next level. He hangs in the pocket and isn’t rattled by pressure, as evidenced by his 63.0 completion percentage last season on blitzes. His mechanics are excellent, and rarely throws off balance. Has a fluid throwing motion and shows great confidence.

Weaknesses: He suffered a shoulder injury two years ago and had two concussions last year, so durability is an issue. His arm strength is decent, but not as strong as others. Does not have great mobility, so can’t easily get out of trouble when the protection breaks down.

Quote: NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock: “The shoulder issue in ’16, two concussions in ’17, and when you combine that with an inability to escape from the pocket, I’m concerned. I’m concerned whether or not he can play enough games to make a significant dent in the NFL. So I love his talent, but I’m very worried about his ability to survive.”

Josh Allen, Wyoming

Height: 6-5

Weight: 233

Hands: 10 1/8

Projected draft status: Top 10

Strengths: Allen has superior arm strength and can throw the deep ball as well as anyone in college football. Had an outstanding performance at the Scouting Combine and at his Pro Day on Friday. Has prototype size for a pocket passer and has enough confidence in his arm to make any throw. Can throw hard pass when he needs to, but can also throw a touch pass when the play calls for it. Has decent mobility, but is more inclined to scramble as a way to buy time before making the throw.

Weakness: Did not have good accuracy in college, as evidenced by his 56.2 completion percentage over his final two years at Wyoming. Doesn’t always make good decisions when throwing on the run. Sometimes takes unnecessary chances when the safer throw is a better decision.

Quote: ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper: “He’s got the best arm of anyone in this draft, he has tremendous size, he has tremendous athleticism for a big man. You saw his mobility. You go look at the Senior Bowl, in that first half, that second quarter, his mobility there. He’s just got all the physical traits you want. Athletic-prowess, he’s got the will to learn, he’s got great competitive desire on the football field.”

Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Height: 6-1

Weight: 215

Hands: 9 3/8

Projected draft status: Top 10.

Strengths: Mayfield was extremely productive in three seasons as the Sooners’ starter, throwing 119 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions. He’s very competitive and motivates the players around him. Has very good mobility and can be elusive in the pocket. Will run when he has to, but prefers to scramble as a way to find an open receiver.

Weaknesses: He’s considered short for an NFL quarterback, and very few players his size wind up succeeding. The most notable exception — Drew Brees. Can get overly excited sometimes. Pleaded guilty last June to charges of public intoxication, disorderly conduct and fleeing arrest.

Quote: Broncos GM John Elway: “I think that stigma [of being too short] has been broken. You’ve got Drew Brees. They’ve proven they can do it. [Mayfield] is obviously very much a competitor. He’s had a great college career and won the Heisman Trophy. He’s proved he can play.” On Mayfield’s emotions: “Obviously there are some things that he’d admit that he’d want to take back. A lot of times you get tied up in the emotions of the situation and where he is. I like to see a guy with that kind of passion.”

Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Height: 6-3

Weight: 200

Hands: 9 1/2

Projected draft status: 1st or 2nd round

Strengths: Jackson was very productive in three seasons as a starter at Louisville. Had 69 touchdown passes and 27 interceptions. A terrific runner as well as passer, Jackson finished with 4,132 rushing yards. Has very good arm strength and a quick release. Also can throw with touch when the situation calls for it. His speed and elusiveness made him one of college football’s most versatile quarterbacks.

Weaknesses: Does not have a strong build, especially in his lower body, so scouts have some questions about his ability to withstand the heavy hits he’ll receive in the NFL. Not always accurate on deep throws, and some passes tend to wobble.

Quote: ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay: “He’s going to be one of the most debated quarterbacks in the draft. He has a strong enough arm, he’s a natural playmaker, but he’s going to need to get stronger and bigger. I think when it’s all said and done, a team is going to have a plan for him and know it’s going to be a development project at that quarterback position.”

Sam Darnold, USC

Josh Rosen, UCLA

Scouting reports on top quarterbacks in 2018 draft – for Sunday

Josh Allen, Wyoming

Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

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