We are officially in the same month as the 2018 NFL Draft. With that said, it is time to break down the draft position by position and identify values, steals, and overrated players. With that said, this series will go through each position and tier each prospect to their respective group. Keep in mind that team fit and coaching are huge indicators that will affect the outcome of each prospect. This is why looking at the tier, rather than the ranking is much more important.
2018 NFL Draft: Quarterback Tiers
Tier 1: Starter Territory
1. Sam Darnold, USC
Strengths: Impressive feel for the game. Throws with anticipation, and navigates the pocket with understanding and feel for pressure. His intangible traits are off of the charts
Negatives: Footwork will need to be reeled in. Often throws from an awkward stance affecting his accuracy. How he holds the ball away from his body can be prone to fumbles. Can make the occasional egregious decision
Skinny: Darnold would be the youngest quarterback to ever start a Week One if it happened as a rookie. His anticipation and feel for the game rival Andrew Luck. Carson Wentz had some of the same mechanical questions coming into the NFL Draft. He is not a perfect prospect, but the upside is unbelievable.
2. Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Strengths: Hyper athletic for the position, can be compared to Michael Vick. With that comes the same arm talent and ability to flick the ball deep down the field. However, the way in which Jackson controls the pocket, and uses his eyes and understanding to create space down the field is much more advanced than a player like Vick brought to the table. Will use his legs to set up larger pass plays more than use his legs to run for yards.
Weaknesses: At times, his feet can get too close together forming a tight throwing base. Jackson does not get the most out of his front foot and tends to sail passes. This affects him the most when dealing with pressure up the middle. It affects his accuracy to the tougher levels of the field.
Skinny: Jackson will need some work on his throwing base. However, his athleticism, and ability to buy time in the pocket and create easier throwing lanes from manipulation make some of his questionable traits less of an overall issue.
3. Josh Rosen, UCLA
Strengths: Rosen likely has the best overall arm at this point. He is mechanically strong with the feet of a former tennis player to hop around the pocket and maneuver for more time. Rosen can hit all levels of the field and does so with touch and anticipation. He is also a technician before the snap, giving him an advantage post-snap.
Weaknesses: When things go off-script, pressure can break him down. He deals with overconfidence on the field and will make passes under pressure and into much tighter windows than any quarterback should be trying. Some coaches question his overall dedication and ability to take direction.
Skinny: Some coaches question Rosen as a player who asks why rather than do what he is told. He is a cerebral player who wants to win the mental war before the ball is snapped. However, in the heat of battle, he can be thrown off guard, and that is when he is most prone to making his mistakes.
Skill set Comparison: Eli Manning
4. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Strengths: Brings the best of Baker the playmaker and Baker the pocket passer. He can beat you in both ways. Mayfield plays with a competitive spirit that gives him a ceiling that is not worth doubting.His ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly and accurately whether in or out of the pocket has been commended.
Weakness: Mayfield is accurate, but his precision could be tested in tighter windows. His arm strength will also be tested at the next level. A lot of his deep passes were aided by receiver help or pass interference. However, the biggest question with Mayfield will be going from one of the best play callers in college football to an NFL playbook. Postsnap reads and defensive coverage recognition will be two major testing points.
Skinny: Metrically, Mayfield is an all-time prospect. However, the eye test reveals questions when it comes to just how high can he raise his ceiling. Still, with his demeanor, Baker Mayfield is no one to doubt.
Tier 2: Josh Allen
5. Josh Allen, Wyoming
Strengths: Arm strength. From his knee, from his back foot, diving sideways with two 300-pound men bearing down him. He can sling the ball very far and very fast. His arm talent is possibly the most eye-opening of the decade. On top of that is a huge frame and the athleticism to get on the move and make plays.
Negatives: Allen works with little to no nuance from the pocket. When Allen is not on the move or throwing from an awkward platform, he is creating an awkward platform with poor footwork. This ruins a lot of his accuracy under ten yards. Allen plays at 100 miles per hour all the time. He lacks touch and makes easy passes tougher on himself. Allen does not have a feel for pressure and can be caught standing flat footed as it bears down on him.
Skinny: His negatives have him out of the league within three years. His positives can only be compared to all-time greats. The question is, can he merge his strengths and negatives to meet somewhere in the middle? You can see why he deserves his own tier.
Tier Three: Looking for a backup
6. Kyle Lauletta, Richmond
Strengths: Has a quick release with strong accuracy in the short to intermediate passing game. Quick and light feet that move and dance within the pocket to buy time under pressure. Always throws from a strong platform.
Weakness: Does not have a live arm with downfield arm strength and pop. Will often test his arm downfield without looking off his safety. Is not afraid to trust himself trying to throw passes into tight windows.
Skinny: Lauletta has a game manager skill set but does not quite possess the game manager mentality yet. His footwork and release establish a base of a player who can come in and hold the fort down for the time being. However, his upside is certainly questionable.
7. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Strengths: Stands tall in the pocket. Is not afraid to stand in strong and step up to make throws down the field. Does not operate with the fear of giving his player a chance to come down with it.
Weakness: Reads were typically decided for him. Hardly went off of his first read. Did not have the understanding to use the full pocket to avoid pressure and make throwing windows bigger.
Skinny: Rudolph is missing some of the nuance and finer things of quarterbacking. He does not have precision accuracy and does not use his eyes or understanding to make throws easier for him. His best strength is getting the ball in a general area and not being afraid to give his players a chance. The ceiling of Rudolph will always be tied to the skill players around him.
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8. Mike White, Western Kentucky
Strengths: Live, NFL arm. Can make most of the throws and can throw with anticipation down the field. White can go through his reads and has experience looking off safeties to clear paths down the field.
Weakness: Has heavy feet when navigating the pocket. This causes him to throw off of a poor platform in clean pockets. It also caused him to struggle with pressure and avoiding sacks.
Skinny: If White can clean up his footwork and mental timer when under pressure, there is a high-end game manager type in the future for him.
Tier 4: Taking a Chance
9. Riley Ferguson, Memphis
Strengths: Arm strength and athleticism. Ferguson is able to get out of the pocket easily to extend passing plays down the field. Ferguson also has the live arm to make throws all over the field. His deep field accuracy is better than anticipated.
Weakness: Ran the definition of a college offense. Did not make any post-snap reads.Typically latched onto targets and would not get off of them. Led to too many tight window throws and bad decisions.
Skinny: Ferguson possesses upside in his arm talent. However, his feel and understanding for the speed of the game are going to make him much more of a project than a lot of teams would like.
10. Chase Litton, Marshall
Strengths: NFL size with NFL arm. He can stand in strong in the pocket, and let the play develop in front of him. He has strong accuracy in the short to intermediate and is not bad when it comes to giving his man a chance down the field.
Weakness: Heavy feet do not move well outside of the pocket. He is limited to what he can do outside of a quick strike offense. His deep ball has a bit too much pop fly to it; defenders can recovery under it. A poor decision maker who finished last season with 14 interceptions.
Skinny: Litton has the size and arm. He lacks most of what else is needed to build a quarterback from. His biggest issue that will likely cap his ceiling is his poor footwork and inability to navigate with them.
Tier 5: Higher floor with limited upside
11. Lufke Falk
Strengths: Quick release. Gets the ball out quick and is extremely accurate in the short passing. Wants to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers quick.
Weakness: Not strong when working in the pocket. Fails to feel pressure and can be eaten alive by sacks. Falk has inconsistent arm strength and does not trust himself throwing down the field. Does not throw with anticipation, and can often miss open receivers down the field. Is never afraid to take a sack rather than risk a pass under pressure.
Skinny: His release is compared to Tom Brady, but that is the only area of the game in which the two are close. Falks inability to process information quickly, and react quicker along with a so-so arm is what pushes his ceiling down so low.
12. Kurt Benkert, Virginia
Strengths: Benkert has a live arm and can get the ball down the field with deep accuracy. Benkert has great velocity to all areas of the field, and is really strong when breaking the pocket, and passing down the field on the run.
Weakness: Poor placement, leaves YAC on the field consistently. His receivers have to adjust to a lot of his passes. Accuracy comes and goes when working from the pocket. Does not make great decisions with the football from the pocket. On top of that, has a very low arm release that will need to be worked on.
Skinny: Benkert is a total project. The arm talent is there to give a base worth investing in. However, the question with him is if his poor placement and anticipation can survive the jump in talent and speed.
Tier 6: Chance to stick on the roster
13. Quinton Flowers, USF
Strengths: Athleticism. Can be used on special teams and in specific packages. Can be used as a trick player who can run and pass with the football in his hands.
Weaknesses: Lacks the size, accuracy and arm strength to make NFL passes. Overcompensates for his arm by putting too much on passing that come out inaccurate.
Skinny: Will not provide more than the role of a Joe Webb in the NFL. Still, the combination to be used on special teams, as a ball carrier, and a passer is enough to maintain a longer than expected NFL career.
14. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Strengths: Locker room leader. Team captain who keeps everybody responsible. Knows what he is doing on the whiteboard. Made quick decisions, and had the freedom to make checks at the line. Looked off safeties to create passing lanes.Barrett is going to lead by example.
Weakness: Does not have the NFL arm or accuracy to make it in the NFL. No placement and was helped greatly by the number of talented skill players he had. Barrett is quick to recognize but slow to react on the field. He is typically a beat behind.
Skinny: Barrett is a player who surprisingly stays in the NFL as a third quarterback for longer than most would have thought due to what he brings from Monday through Friday. However, a team would sign a free agent off of the street to start before Barrett in reality.
Tier 7: Undrafted lottery tickets
15. Logan Woodside, Toldeo
Strengths: Another player who could do well on the whiteboards and in the meeting rooms. Woodside is praised for his ability to take care of the football. He makes safe decisions and had a high completion rate and low interception rate in school.
Weakness: Hardly meets the size requirements to be an NFL passer. Woodside is shorter than Baker Mayfield and skinnier than Lamar Jackson. You can see him try to compensate for his size and lack of arm strength. Balls tend to float on him, and at a faster speed, interceptions will come.
Skinny: Woodside would be a great addition to a quarterback room. However, even more so than Barrett, it would be tough for a team to bet on the limited upside he deals with on the field.
16. Tanner Lee, Nebraska
Strengths: NFL size. Can get out on the move for how big he is. Has good arm strength.
Weakness: Lacks complete nuance for the game. Does not make strong decisions. Throws with little accuracy or anticipation. Finished school with a well below average completion percentage and interception rate.
Skinny: The issue with Lee is handling the speed of the game. He will never see the speed of the game with how raw he is, though. The lack of a developmental league makes Lee a player not even worth the risk.
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