If you’re familiar with my work, you have probably seen my periodic installments of Making a List, in which I choose a topic and share my top five rankings. In this new version of the series, I’ll be ranking the top 10 devy players on a weekly basis, sorted by position and class. Also, each edition will also include a quick rookie mock draft for one of the upcoming seasons. This should be an easy way to track how college players are rising and falling as the season goes along.
We’ll begin with the 2018 draft class of quarterbacks. It’s already being viewed as a strong class with as many as three potential top five NFL Draft picks. Here’s how I currently rank the 2018 quarterbacks.
1. Josh Rosen, UCLA
UCLA’s Rosen already sat atop my devy quarterback rankings, but leading a monster come from behind victory in last week’s opener against Texas A&M certainly didn’t hurt. The Bruins trailed by 34 points at one point before their shocking second-half run ended with a Rosen fake spike touchdown pass to take the lead. After a huge freshman season, Rosen’s stock dropped during his injury-plagued sophomore season, but the reasons may have been as much about his reported “diva” personality as much as his injury. The shoulder injury remains a concern, but the other issues seem to have faded away. Rosen is looking like a lock top-five NFL Draft pick early in the season.
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2. Sam Darnold, USC
While Rosen flourished in the opener, last season’s breakout star, Darnold, looked sluggish in the USC home opener. The Trojans were challenged by a Corey Davis-less Western Michigan team before pulling away late and Darnold’s final stat line (289 passing yards, 2 interceptions) was ugly. There is still a lot to like about the pre-season Heisman favorite, who has been compared to Andrew Luck. Interestingly enough, off-season reports suggested both Rosen and Darnold are considering staying in school beyond the 2017 season. Also like Rosen, Darnold is already penciled in to be one of the top players chosen in the 2018 NFL Draft.
3. Josh Allen, Wyoming
Much like Darnold, projected early draft pick Allen was quite pedestrian in the opener against an underrated Iowa defense. Allen managed just 174 passing yards and failed to throw a touchdown in the Cowboys loss. Unlike Darnold and Rosen, Allen will not get nearly as many chances to prove himself against Power Five schools, so this one stings a bit more. His small school resume along with his gunslinger playing style make Allen the most likely of the top three to fade down, or even out, of the first round by the end of this season.
4. Lamar Jackson, Louisville
After the top three, the potential quarterback class of 2018 is wide open. Next on my list is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jackson, who makes as many plays with his feet as he does with his arm. That has some questioning if he has a future as a quarterback or will be faced with a possible position change. His running playmaking ability has already been compared to Michael Vick, but he does lack Vick’s arm strength. If Jackson can increase his completion percentage this year and show more consistency as a passer, he should not only stick at the quarterback position, but be in contention to hear his name called in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
5. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
The path to being a Power Five starter has not been an easy one for Stidham, who began his college career at Baylor. Stidham took over as the Bears starter as a true freshman when Seth Russell suffered a season-ending injury, but when it was clear he would not be the team’s starter for his second season, he chose to leave Baylor, which was also dealing with numerous off-field allegations related to their program. By the end of that semester, Stidham had chosen Auburn as his landing spot and was quickly viewed as the starter for the Tigers. Auburn has been stacked at most positions in recent years, but a high-level signal caller has been their weakness. As a first-year starter, Stidham has plenty to prove and it is likely that he will actually stay in school for another season. As a devy quarterback, Stidham is very underrated, possessing a nice mix of running ability and traditional pocket passing skills.
6. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Just as there is currently a significant tier drop from the top three to the next group of passers, I also see this as another drop in ranks, with Rudolph heading up the third tier. Just as a banner offensive season for cross state rivals Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook resulted in a trip to New York as Heisman finalists a year ago, Rudolph and his top target James Washington could match that feat this year. They are certainly off to a good start with over 600 passing yards and six scores for Rudolph, with 243/3 of those going to Washington. Rudolph is the type of player who could get lost in this stacked crop, despite what are surely to be gaudy end of year numbers. As a senior, we’ll likely see Rudolph come off the board on Day Two of next year’s NFL Draft.
7. Luke Falk, Washington State
After nearly declaring for last year’s NFL Draft, Falk opted to return to Washington State for his senior season. Often discounted as a system passer, some scouts have claimed Falk is different from some of his predecessors who put up monster numbers, but were never serious NFL prospects. Falk is actually a redshirt senior, so it is possible he could once again stay in school, but after flirting with the draft a year ago, it is unlikely.
8. Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame
A year ago, Wimbush looked buried on the Notre Dame depth chart as DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire competed for the starting nod. As we know Kizer eventually won that battle, but when he opted to make the leap to the NFL, combined with Zaire’s transfer, Wimbush was suddenly the favorite to start for the Irish. Wimbush had a relatively successful debut under center last week, but could be knocked as an NFL prospect due to his size (6-foot-1, 216 pounds) Like Stidham, Wimbush is a first-year starter and a redshirt sophomore, making it a longshot that he even declares following this season.
9. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Speaking of being undersized, that is one of the knocks on Mayfield, Oklahoma’s three-year starter, who stands just 6-foot-1 and weighs 209 pounds. While his coaches and some analysts have gone to bat for Mayfield, trying to convince us that he is a legitimate NFL prospect, I’m not really buying it. While some of the other quarterbacks on this list have been compared to Andrew Luck, Derek Carr and other top NFL players, Mayfield has been called the next Colt McCoy. That might not be a knock considering the former Texas star has enjoyed a nice career as an NFL backup, it’s not a player you want to invest in for your dynasty team.
10. Jake Browning, Washington
Browning has been a very good college quarterback for the Huskies, helping turn Washington into a playoff contender, but he has also been greatly aided by playmakers on offense, including receivers John Ross and Dante Pettis. Once again, Browning is not quite as tall as the top NFL prospects and his arm strength is lacking. He feels like a player who, despite some attention from devy owners, will end up as a Day Three pick in the NFL Draft. I don’t think he’ll be worthy of a roster spot early in his career.
2018 Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft
- Saquon Barkley, RB Penn State
- Derius Guice, RB LSU
- Courtland Sutton, WR SMU
- Equanimeous St. Brown, WR Notre Dame
- James Washington, WR Oklahoma State
- Kalen Ballage, RB Arizona State
- Auden Tate, WR Florida State
- Nick Chubb, RB Georgia
- Calvin Ridley, WR Alabama
- Deon Cain, WR Clemson
- Christian Kirk, WR Texas A&M
- Richie James, WR Middle Tennessee State
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