Which rookie QB will have the best NFL career?
The 2018 draft produced an NFL windfall for quarterbacks with five selected in the first round – the first time since 1999 that five quarterbacks have gone in the first.
The Cleveland Browns selected 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield first overall and the New York Jets took Sam Darnold with the third selection. The Buffalo Bills followed by tabbing Josh Allen at 7, then the Arizona Cardinals followed with Josh Rosen at 10. The Baltimore Ravens selected the fifth quarterback of the round with the final pick of the first round, 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson.
So who will have the best career when it’s all said and done. That’s the subject of our weekly Talk of Fame Network poll. We offer up those five first-round choices as options plus a quarterback selected in the third round – Mason Rudolph by the Steelers. So give this a read and give us your vote:
Josh Allen, Buffalo. The only quarterback selected in the first round from a non-Power 5 conference. Allen came out of Wyoming and left his final year of eligibility on the table to turn pro. He best fits the NFL prototype of any quarterback in this draft at 6-5, 237 pounds. He made his NFL starting debut in Buffalo’s second game of the season, passing for 245 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions and five sacks in a 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Sam Darnold, NY Jets. The only rookie quarterback to go to training camp and win the starting job. Darnold then passed for 198 yards and two touchdowns to win his debut start on opening day, a 48-17 road romp over the Detroit Lions. The Southern Cal product then passed for 334 yards and a touchdown in his second start but also threw two interceptions in a 20-12 home loss to the Miami Dolphins. Darnold already has one more 300-yard passing game in his rookie season than Jets Hall of Famer Joe Namath managed as a rookie.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore. The Ravens already had a quarterback in place in Joe Flacco, a former Super Bowl MVP. But Flacco is 33 and Ozzie Newsome, in his final draft as general manager of the Ravens, gave the franchise their quarterback of the future. Jackson was dynamic in college both with his arm and legs, having rushed for 4,132 career yards and 50 touchdowns at Louisville. Jackson took the bulk of the snaps for the Ravens in the preseason, throwing 68 passes for 408 yards and three touchdowns. Baltimore then gave him four passes in the regular season opener in mop-up duty in a 47-3 rout of Buffalo.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland. The second Oklahoma quarterback to go first overall in an NFL draft in nine years, joining Sam Bradford (2010). Mayfield also took the bulk of the snaps this preseason for the Browns, throwing 61 passes for 501 yards and two touchdowns. But Cleveland coach Hue Jackson was steadfast all summer that trade acquisition Tyrod Taylor would be his starting quarterback. So Mayfield sits and waits for his first opportunity to take a snap and throw his first NFL pass.
Josh Rosen, Arizona. The first UCLA quarterback drafted in the first round since Cade McNown in 1999. Rosen was brought in to back up free-agent signee Sam Bradford and, like Mayfield, hasn’t taken a snap since the preseason. He threw only 29 passes in August. But with both Bradford and the Cardinals struggling – Bradford hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass yet and the Cardinals are 0-2 – Rosen’s time may be coming soon.
Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh. With an eye on Ben Roethlisberger’s age (36), the Steelers took the Oklahoma State quarterback with the 76th overall pick of the draft. Rudolph led the NCAA with 4,904 yards passing in 2017, tossing 37 TD passes against only nine interceptions. He won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the best quarterback in college football and left Oklahoma State with13,267 career passing yards. He’s facing 2-3 years of holding a clipboard and watching and learning from a Super Bowl champion quarterback. The same formula worked for Aaron Rodgers.