Four rookie quarterbacks, four starts and four losses, one for the Browns and Baker Mayfield, one for the Jets and Sam Darnold, one for the Cardinals and Josh Rosen and one for the Bills and Josh Allen.
Those games got away, but I do see a high ceiling for the quarterbacks in this NFL draft class. The league is in good hands with these young guys.
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I have to give credit to the high school coaches and the college coaches. These four rookies are so much farther along than I was when I came into the NFL. These kids in college are doing so much more at the line of scrimmage now, and concepts that they ran in college have made their way into the NFL, as well. It makes for a much easier transition.
The Browns are running plays almost identical to the plays Mayfield ran at Oklahoma. One in particular Sunday against the Raiders, a pass to tight end David Njoku, I can recall Mayfield running it 20 or 30 times last year.
I’d give Mayfield an edge in upside in the short-term and the long-term in this rookie class in part just because of that, because of the coaching and the pieces he has around him.
Mayfield does some good things. His energy is contagious. He has really helped that football team. They scored 42 points on the road in his first start – that’s pretty good.
Mayfield has a good sense in the pocket of where to slide, how to avoid contact, how to keep his eyes down the field and make pretty good throws. I like his overall presence in the pocket. That stands out to me. It’s above and beyond any of the other 2018 rookies. I’d like to see Cleveland do even more of what he did in college, a little more of the run-pass option. I think that’s where he’s at his best. His field of vision is really good and he can see the whole field. He can see how defenders react almost instantly and make throws from different arm angles.
Even better, Mayfield has some good young talent around him. Receiver Jarvis Landry is going to help him out a ton, and Njoku is going to keep getting better.
I like the supporting cast on the field and I really like the combination of Hue Jackson and Todd Haley. I think that probably more than anything is why I think Mayfield will have the most success of the quarterbacks in this class. He doesn’t have to do it all himself.
Next, I’d go with Sam Darnold. I like his overall play-making ability. It’s very similar to Mayfield’s. Darnold has a little more arm talent as far as being able to throw off schedule, and in the NFL it’s very rare that you have a clean pocket. With that I think Darnold is going to be able to make a ton of good throws down the field.
Again, the offense is a perfect fit for the player. The Jets just need to get more pieces.
The choice between Josh Rosen and Josh Allen is tough. Rosen is in the better situation, so I’ll put him third.
But Allen is probably the most talented guy. He has the biggest arm and most athletic ability. With his frame, he can do some things in the run game that would really help the Bills if they were creative enough to do it.
Allen is as close to Cam Newton as anyone I’ve seen come out at the quarterback position, a guy who’s physically just better and more talented and has all the tools that you would want.
That’s where I would lean and I haven’t seen it from Buffalo so that makes me concerned about the coaching around him. Sean McDermott is a great coach and guys love playing for him, but he’s a defensive-minded coach.
I hope they figure it out on offense, but I would be shocked if that same coaching staff is there in two or three years. Allen needs some help from the guys around him and the Xs and Os. I had to give him a grade on NFL Network Total Access the other day and I gave him an “E” for effort. He’s doing so much just on his own ability. He just needs some help and I think he can bee a really good football player.
Question of the week
David, hits on quarterbacks is the obvious topic in the NFL and with sport fans. As a quarterback who has experienced pressure and hits, what do you think of the current enforcement of the new regulations attempting to protect the quarterbacks?
I have two thoughts on it, and I can understand why the NFL has made the decision. But at the same time, as an ex-quarterback and a guy that has a brother playing quarterback, the hard part about playing the position is you always feel like you want to be part of the team. You want to be a football player. You don’t want to feel that you have special privileges for anything. You want to be part of the unit and you don’t mind running for a first down and getting hit. It inspires the team. They get fired up on defense, on the sideline, when the quarterback is in the realm of the physical. You heard Aaron Rodgers say the same thing: there are very few opportunities for us to show that we’re physically tough and that we can mix it up with these guys.
The other side of it – and this is why I can completely understand why the NFL has done it – is if you look around the league right now there’s only one team that’s not playing with their starting quarterback and that’s the 49ers. Everybody else is playing the guy that they want to play. There are really no injuries at the quarterback position. The other night Von Miller has a shot at Patrick Mahomes and he hits him, wraps him up. Patrick has let go of the football, and Von realizes that he has let go of the ball, and instead of driving him into the ground he literally lets him go. If Von drives Patrick into the ground, and he lands on his right shoulder with Von’s weight and that force on him, I dare anyone to tell me who the backup quarterback for the Chiefs is right now. But you might have a team that is considered one of the top teams in the NFL and they just lost their most dynamic player and probably the most exciting player in the league right now.
The NFL has had to deal with a little grief from guys like Clay Matthews, but my point to them is, ‘That’s the rule.’ You have to kind of figure it out because guys like Khalil Mack and Von Miller, they’ve figured it out. That’s going to be the norm, because all the NFL sees is healthy quarterbacks. That’s all anyone wants to see. It is what it is, even though we would rather show our toughness. But there are still opportunities for that. Derek made a big throw on the last drive against the Brown to Jared Cook down the sideline and he got drilled in the ribs. It was a clean hit. The defender didn’t let up at all, he just didn’t wrap him up and take him to the ground. Derek’s ribs are still sore, but it was a good clean hit and he was able to show his toughness.
Guys are just going to have to adapt, but it’s interesting because there are two sides to it.
David Carr is a former Fresno State quarterback, NFL No. 1 draft pick and Super Bowl champion. Now he’s an analyst for the NFL Network and writing a weekly column in collaboration with The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. The column is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital.
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