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NFL Network’s Mike Mayock not wowed by top four quarterbacks

Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Sam Darnold and Josh

Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen are considered the top quarterback's in the 2018 NFL Draft. Credit:

In the past few years, Mike Mayock said, the two easiest quarterback evaluations he’s done have been of Andrew Luck and Carson Wentz.

“Everything checked off both on the film and all the intangibles,” NFL Network draft analyst Mayock said on a conference call on Friday. “Those two guys walked and talked like Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, etc.”

This year’s crop of quarterbacks has been highly anticipated for several years in NFL circles. As Mayock has studied them, however, he has come to the conclusion that not one of them is the complete package.

“I don’t see anybody in this class that I get the same gut feel for as those two,” he said.

It’s one of the reasons many believe the Giants will not choose a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in next week’s draft, and one of the reasons many are curious to see which one the Jets take at No. 3.

“People were so anticipating this class that it surprises people when we start to pick through them and really start to grind the tape,” Mayock said.

Mayock broke down the top five prospects. He has USC’s Sam Darnold as his top quarterback because “he can beat you from both inside the pocket and outside the pocket” and has him going to the Browns with the No. 1 pick. As for the others:

Wyoming’s Josh Allen has “the biggest upside in the draft” but “obviously has to learn to be a little more accurate and he has to throw with timing and anticipation.”

UCLA’s Josh Rosen is “the most natural thrower in the draft” and reminds Mayock of Sam Bradford “both because they throw the ball naturally but also the question about durability.”

“Rosen has been hurt in college. He has an inability to protect himself in the pocket,” Mayock said. “He’s a tough kid, but he gets hurt a lot. I don’t know if he can survive an NFL pocket for long periods of time.”

The evaluation of Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, he said, depends a lot on the team that is looking at him.

“Some teams love him and some teams go ‘that’s not my cup of tea,’ ” he said. “The film is good, but at the end of the day, you have to make a decision in your building about who you want being the face of your franchise. He’s cut both ways for a lot of teams.”

Mayfield has been linked to the Jets with the No. 3 pick for some time.

“Will they embrace the swagger of Mayfield, which is pretty significant?” Mayock wondered.

Those are the top four. Mayock, though, considers this class to have a top five.

“The guy I’m excited about is Lamar Jackson,” he said of the Louisville quarterback. “He’s the most spectacular athlete in this draft. Somebody in the first round is going to make a philosophical and schematic commitment to this kid, change what they do offensively. It might not be this year where he makes a significant move, but long term, I can’t wait to see what Lamar Jackson becomes.”

That last part can be said for all of the quarterback prospects, really.

Mayock noted that despite the flaws and cracks in each of the players, quarterbacks will define the top end of this year’s draft.

“It’s a quarterback-driven league,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a crazy first eight, 10, 12 picks. So many permutations of the quarterback conversation . . . I’m always amazed, and maybe I shouldn’t be, but last year, three of the top 12 picks were quarterbacks and all three were trade-ups on draft night. The year before, the Rams went all the way up to 1 to get [Jared] Goff and the Eagles went from 13 to 8 to 2 to get Carson Wentz.”

Mayock underscored the importance of a franchise quarterback by noting the differences with the Texans (35 points per game with Deshaun Watson playing, 13 points per game without him) and the 49ers (29 points per game with Jimmy Garoppolo, 17 points per game without him).

He also noted that last season, it wasn’t premier quarterbacks who found the most team success. Case Keenum and Blake Bortles (a high draft pick) both played in conference championship games and Nick Foles won the Super Bowl.

“Is that an aberration or a trend?” Mayock asked. “Those conversations, those quarterback conversations I’ve had with most of the league over the last month, have really been fascinating.”

And in a week or so, we can add a few more names to the conversation.

“History tells you,” Mayock said, “we’ll be lucky if we get two or three that become franchise quarterbacks.”

New York Sports