THE TOP NAMES BEING TALKED ABOUT AMONG THE 2018 DRAFT QUARTERBACK CLASS
While thirty-two general managers will give you a different name when asked who the top quarterback in this year's draft class is, all will agree that as many as five passers could be taken in the opening round. That list includes a quartet that could all be done walking to the podium within the draft's top ten selections.
It is obvious that the Cleveland Browns have the most pressing need at quarterback. With the first and fourth overall selections, they have a great chance for finding their coveted franchise quarterback, or do they? After Penn State's Saquon Barkley dazzled those in attendance at the recently concluded 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, general manager John Dorsey has a very important decision to make with his first selection - grab the best running back to come out in this draft, or opt for a passer like Josh Allen or Josh Rosen.
Dorsey also covets North Carolina State's Bradley Chubb, but he hopes that the edge rusher is still around after the Colts make the third selection. If Dorsey does take the Nittany Lion tailback with the top choice, the Giants, picking next, have all those quarterbacks ripe for the picking, but does general manager David Gettleman have other ideas? He has stated that Eli Manning will be the starting quarterback for Big Blue in 2018, so is the future now, or later at that critical spot.
A quarterback-needy team like Denver, Arizona or cross-town rival, the Jets, could try to entice Gettleman with an offer he could not refuse to move down and surrender the second selection. Most feel that Denver will opt for Josh Allen, while Arizona seems to be a Sam Darnold fan, seeing a lot of Carson Palmer in the Trojan's style of play. The Jets are also preferring Allen over the rest of the college passers, but they are also looking to trade for a late first rounder, so they can get a corner-back with their own choice and then pray that Louisville's Lamar Jackson is still available later in Round One.
Based on the college game films and visits to campus by our staff, here is how The NFL Draft Report rates the potential first round quarterbacks;
CREAM OF THE CROP
Category Explanation...While Allen is likely to go high in the draft, this projection is based on his pro football potential. Yes, there are still quite a few rough edges to work out, and those that compare him to Carson Wentz are missing the boat (Wentz is much more advanced), but he does have a Joe Flacco-like arm and the Matt Ryan ability to change a game with his arm. All he needs is patient coaching.
Josh Allen-University of Wyoming Cowboys - Combine Numbers
Ht Wt Arms Hands 40-Yd Bench Vertical Jump Broad Jump 20-Sh 60-Sh 3-Cone
6:04.0 226 33 1/4" 10 1/8" 4.75 Dnp 33 1/2" 9'-9.2" 4.40 Dnp 6.90
Career Notes...Allen appeared in 27 games from 2015-17, completing 365-of-649 passes (56.24%) for 5,066 yards, 44 touchdowns and 21 interceptions...Collected 767 yards with twelve scores on 237 rushing attempts (3.24 ypc)...Amassed 5,833 yards in total offense, an average of 216.04 yards per game...Also scored once via a reception...Lost 325 yards after he was sacked 45 times as a Cowboy.
School Record Books...Allen's 5,833 yards in total offense rank seventh in school history. The record is 8,834 yards by Brett Smith (2011-13)...With 5,066 aerial yards, he becomes the eighth player in Cowboys annals to reach the 5,000-yard level, with Casey Bramlett the current record-holder (9,684 yards; 2000-03)...His 44 touchdown passes are fifth on the school career chart behind Smith (76), Bramlet (56), Josh Wallwork (54; 1995-96) and Tom Corontzos (48; 1988-91)...His 57 touchdowns responsible for moved him into fourth all-time at the university, with just Smith (97), Bramlet (70) and Wallwork (60) ahead of Allen.
Current Rank Among Active NCAA Football Bowl Championship Subdivision Performers...Allen ranks 23rd with an average gain of 6.58 yards per offensive play...Placed 35th with 57 touchdowns responsible for...Placed 39th with 21 interceptions thrown...Ranks 50th with an average of 187.63 yards per game passing and 56th with a total of 5,066 aerial yards...Holds the 58th spot with 649 pass attempts and is 62nd with 365 pass completions.
The 2017 Season...Allen was a second-team All-Mountain West Conference selection, as he threw for 1,812 yards on 152-of-270 attempts (56.30%) that included sixteen touchdowns and just six interceptions through eleven contests...He showed off his running skills, reaching the end zone five times on 92 carries that produced 204 yards (2.22 ypc)...Accounted for 2,016 yards in total offense, an average of 182.27 yards per game...Was sacked nineteen times for losses totaling 136 yards... Missed the final two regular season games and the second half vs. Air Force due to a shoulder injury.
Best 2017 Season Performances...Gardner-Webb; Texas State; Utah State; New Mexico; Central Michigan
Worst 2017 Season Performances...Iowa; Oregon; Hawaii; Boise State
Allen Critical Performance Factors
Body Structure...Allen has a natural build with good arm and leg length, a thick frame with broad and developed shoulders and chest, good bubble with thick thighs and calves. His frame might be at maximum growth potential, as more bulk could impact his overall quickness.
Athletic Ability... Allen has possibly the strongest arm in this draft class, but has yet to learn how throw with touch and finesse. He has good throwing mechanics and a quick release, but needs to do a better job of speeding up that release when executing underneath tosses and on crossing patterns (receivers tend to work for those throws). He can be accurate throwing on the move, but will get lazy and throw off his back foot, at times, and is best when given time to set his feet and step into his throws from the pocket. He has adequate athletic ability when scrambling, but he needs to show better balance when throwing across his body. He does show quickness in his pass set up and is known for his lively arm, but must learn to not throw off his back foot so often. He has enough quickness to roll out and elude when flushed out of the pocket, but loses accuracy and touch (forces throws) on the move. He has the body control and balance to move the chains a bit in the short area, but not enough speed to be a threat into the second level. He does move well in the pocket and shows the arm strength to throw deep, but is inconsistent when he fails to step into his throws (from the left hash, he loses some accuracy when rolling out to that side compared to the right hash). Still, with his arm strength, he can make things happen and is a good improviser who just needs a patient coach to tweak his footwork.
Football Sense... Allen has good football instincts, but is a bit of a gambler who will force the ball into tight areas in attempts to make the play rather than throw the ball away, leading to some costly interceptions during his career (see 2017 Iowa, Boise State games). He is a good student of the game, putting in extra hours in the film room. He shows good poise in the pocket and is calm and collective under pressure, but when he is flushed out, he does not show the consistency going through his progressions as he does when protected in the pocket. Sometimes, he looks too programmed and must show better consistency looking for secondary targets. Still, he is a smart athlete who can sense pressure in the pocket. He tries to buy time with his feet, but must do a better job of throwing the ball away, as he does get caught in the backfield and takes a sack more often than he should (see 2017 Iowa, Boise State, Utah State, Central Michigan games). He does an adequate job of protecting the ball when flushed out, but sometimes, you have to question his instincts, as he does not make good adjustments after reading the pre-snap. He is quick to digest a complicated playbook and has no problems taking plays from the board to the field. He just needs to do a better job with his reads and checks.
Pass Set-Up...Allen tends to throw off his back foot, especially when forced out of the pocket. He does show good quickness getting to his throwing point, but you would like to see him consistently sprint back (when he is late, he will display sloppy footwork and throw off his back foot, losing accuracy). When he drops back directly from center, he can get the ball off with good timing on his three- and five-step drops, but lacks the same foot fundamentals when throwing on the move. He sometimes does not set his feet in time in order to throw the ball on the move, causing some of his passes to wobble. He has very good throwing mechanics with a quick, effortless over-the-top motion, but is best when he steps into his throws to generate velocity. He has the foot speed to move and set up, but perhaps due to adequate protection up front, he just did not seem confident sitting in the pocket for too long the last two years (see 2017 Iowa, Utah State, Air Force games), even though he has better follow-through when he steps into his throws.
Reading Defenses...Allen will try to force his throws into tight areas, but with his arm strength and vision, he does a nice job of scanning the field. When given time in the pocket, he is very effective at going through his progressions, but he can get a bit lazy executing quickness behind his screens passes. He shows good accuracy pushing the ball up field, but for some reason, he seems to slow down rather than speed up when attempting to go underneath. He eyeballs his primary target too much, but does seem to have confidence in his wide-outs. Given room to operate, he can deliver good timing on underneath routes, shovel passes and dump-offs, but he will make his living off his deep ball accuracy and timing when airing out the ball. When flushed out of the pocket, he will either hesitate to throw and take a big sack or toss the ball up for grabs, resulting in the interception.
Release...Allen has a nice, compact delivery with classic over-the-top throwing motion. He generates very good velocity when throwing long and puts very good zip when threatening the deep secondary. When he holds the ball too long, it will lead to costly sacks, as he does not like throwing the pigskin away, but he has a smooth, effortless motion and does a nice job of resetting his feet to generate better accuracy stepping up in the pocket. He carries the ball high and shows good hip rotation to deliver the ball over his shoulder. When he steps into his throws properly, he has the arm action along with the torque to put his body into the toss. He used to carry the ball chest too low and this resulted in a bit of a windmill action on his deep outs (held the ball at the hip). He is prone to throwing off his back foot and opening his hips too much, but he was still able to toss a tight spiral on long throws. He can adjust his release with very good quickness, and with his high release, he flicks it out quicker than he did as a freshman. He looks more comfortable with an over-the-top delivery, which lets him generate the ideal trajectory to prevent the pass deflection or interception (most of those came on underneath screens and crossing routes).
Arm Strength...Allen gets too reliant on his arm strength at times and this leads him to either try to force the ball into tight areas or simply throw it up and hope for the best (will revert to doing this when pressured out of the pocket more so than when having time to scan the field). No quarterback in this draft has the arm power he displays, though. He can make all the throws, but you would like to see better quickness on screens and crossing routes. He rarely overthrows working down field, doing a nice job of stepping into those attempts. He has the ability to hit the receiver in stride, but needs to show better touch on short patterns, as he tends to throw off his back foot when trying to fit the ball in tight areas. As a junior, despite playing behind a suspect offensive line, he did a much better job of putting power behind his deep attempts (see 2017 Gardner-Webb, New Mexico games), generating excellent trajectory and zip. He is very effective at hitting his targets coming out of their breaks on long outs and shows enough touch on his deep throws to get the ball over the receiver’s outside shoulder. He can make all the throws with good precision, but must learn how to drive into his throws and not rotate his hips so much. When he throws off his front foot, he will not hang the ball throwing deep.
Accuracy...Allen does not show great accuracy on underneath passes or crossing routes as he does when airing out the pigskin. When he gets too confident in his arm strength, it ends up with his receivers having to break off their patterns and work back for the ball. He needs to do a better job of leading his target without forcing them to gear down in order to run under his throws. He does throw a tight spiral and can make all the throws, as he is the type that shows the patience to take what the defense gives him. He might no be as effective at hitting his targets in stride when working underneath, but does a great job of getting the ball over the outside shoulder of his target on long tosses. He shows much better accuracy and touch in the deep outs than in the short area. When he goes deep, he will usually put the ball where the receivers like it when working down field. He has more than enough arm strength to play the vertical game, but underneath, he seems to misfire more often here because of marginal footwork (has an adequate 56.3% pass completion rate).
Touch...Allen has good touch to lead his receivers, but does get into a rhythm where he gets too over confident with his awesome arm strength and attempt to fire the ball into tight areas, which generally will lead to turnovers (see 2017 Iowa, Boise State games; 2016 Nebraska, BYU contests). He has great trust in his receivers and is patient standing tall in the pocket waiting for them to get open. He displays excellent timing and anticipation in the pocket, where he is more comfortable and effective hitting his receivers coming out of their breaks. He has confidence in his ability to take something off his ball to make the easy throw and knows how to loft and feather his pass over the defender and let his target run under it. He the ability to put good touch on the ball, firing with consistent accuracy on deep outs in Mobile (Senior Bowl) and Indianapolis (Combine) , as he seemed much better in anticipating the receiver coming out of the break than he did in the past. He is not the type that will wait until the last second before unloading, as he did this as a senior and it resulted in pass deflections or interceptions. He has also shown improvement on his timing patterns later in 2017 than he did in the past, but this is still a work in progress. He has better ability of keeping the receiver in the route on long throws than he does when going short, but he just needs to know when to slow it down and speed it up to make the easy tosses underneath.
Poise...Allen is not the type who will panic under pressure. In fact, he is too cool, at times, taking the sack rather than throwing the ball away, as he will spend more time than he should waiting for his targets to get open. He has the nimble feet to avoid pressure and senses when the pocket is going to collapse (just lacks great accuracy and footwork throwing on the move). He has good foot slide to step away from pressure, as he is cool and calm waiting for plays to develop. When he is rushed, his passes will tend to sail high when he fails to set his feet. He has the speed to avoid pressure, but when he takes too long to decide what to do with the ball, he is more often than not caught behind the line of scrimmage and has to eat the ball.
Pocket Movement...Allen is no world class sprinter, but he does have surprisingly nimble feet for a player of his bulk (4.76 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine). He does a nice job of stepping up and finding throwing lanes, as it is rare to see him fall away from his throws. He will take a sack rather than throw the ball away, but displays good lateral slide to escape pressure. He is much better as a drop back passer than one who can roll and throw. He seems to have a better feel for the pass rush and showed in 2017 that he can be capable of doing the job with his reads and checks at the pre-snap to spot the blitz. He tries to escape when flushed out of the pocket, but while he has good quickness, he will never be a threat running with the ball. He has learned to step into his throws better and step up in the pocket more often rather than retreating so much to try and make the throws (no longer takes seven-step drops). He just needs to show he has the NFL-caliber ability to see plays develop and work to adjust.
Compares To...Matthew Stafford-Detroit Lions...Like Stafford, Allen displays excellent arm strength. He is nimble moving around for a player his size, but is best throwing from the pocket than on the move. He could have used another year of college ball to work on improving his accuracy on underneath and crossing patterns and will never be a threat with his feet. He will get too confident in his superb arm strength, but he can make all the throws and when he steps up in the pocket. A team that loves the vertical passing game could get the same success that the Rams and Eagles enjoyed from their sophomore quarterbacks in 2017.
BLUE CHIP(PED) PROSPECT
Category Explanation...There is no questioning Darnold's pedigree, but there are a few "chips" appearing on his blue chip armor - poor ball security and questionable deep throws into traffic that have resulted in costly interceptions. Still, he is a humble type who works hard at his craft, displaying that Philip Rivers quiet gunslinger's attitude. He hits the playbook more in a day than Mark Sanchez will do in a lifetime, but those turnovers seem to show more Carson Palmer comparisons. Hopefully, that can be fixed quickly. His high ceiling is as one of the NFL elite, but if 2017 is to be the norm, he will fall into the Blake Bortles realm.
Sam Darnold - University of Southern California Trojans - Combine Numbers
Ht Wt Arms Hands 40-Yd Bench Vertical Jump Broad Jump 20-Sh 60-Sh 3-Cone
6:03.3 221 31" 9 3/8" 4.85 Dnp 26 1/2" 8'-0 3/4" 4.40 Dnp 6.96
Career Notes...After red-shirting as a freshman in 2015, Darnold took over starting quarterback duties early in the 2016 campaign, appearing in a total of 27 contests during his career...Completed 549-of-846 passes (64.89%) for 7,229 yards, 57 touchdowns and 22 interceptions, producing a 153.7 pass efficiency rating...On 137 rushing attempts, he gained 332 yards (2.42 ypc) with seven scores... Also recorded five solo tackles...Amassed 7,561 yards in total offense, an average of 280.04 yards per game...Fumbled the ball 21 times, turning the pigskin over fourteen times.
School Record Books...Darnold finished seventh on the school's all-time record list with 549 pass completions. The record is 1,001 completions, set by Matt Barkley (2009-12)...His 846 pass attempts hold down seventh spot all-time in the Trojans books...Only Cody Kessler (67.49%; 851-of-1,261 passes; 2012-15) has a better pass completion percentage than Darnold's 64.89% in school annals...
Also finished seventh with 7,229 yards passing (Barkley holds the record with 12,327 yards) and with 7,561 yards in total offense (Barkley heads that category with 12,214 yards)...His 3,086 yards passing in 2016 rank eleventh and his 2017 total of 4,143 aerial yards set the USC season-record, topping the old mark of 3,826 yards by Cody Kessler in 2014...Joined Kessler (315 in 2014), Carson Palmer (309 in 2002), Rob Johnson (308 in 1993) and Matt Barkley (308 in 2011) as the only Trojans to ever complete 300 passes in a season (303 in 2017)...His 2017 total of 480 pass attempts was nine shy of the school annual record of 489, established by Palmer in 2002...His 31 touchdown passes in 2016 marked the seventh time a Trojan had thrown at least thirty scoring strikes in a season, joining Cody Kessler (39 in 2014), Carson Palmer (33 in 2002), Matt Barkley (39 in 2011; 36 in 2012), Matt Leinart (38 in 2003) and Mark Sanchez (34 in 2008)...Darnold's 4,225 yards in total offense during the 2017 schedule broke the school season-record of 3,851 yards generated by Matt Leinart in 2005...His 3,336 yards in total offense in 2016 holds the ninth spot on the USC annual chart.
Pac-12 Conference Record Books...Darnold's 4,143 yards passing in 2017 marked the twelfth time in league history a player threw for 4,000 yards in a season. Others were Jared Goff of California (4,719 in 2015), Sean Mannion of Oregon State (4,662 in 2013), Connor Halliday of Washington State (4,597 in 2013), Luke Falk of Washington State (4,468 in 2016; 4,461 in 2015), Cody Pickett of Washington (4,458 in 2002), Marcus Mariota of Oregon (4,454 in 2014), Nick Foles of Arizona (4,329 in 2011), Davis Webb of California (4,295 in 2016), Derek Anderson of Oregon State (4,058 in 2003) and Brock Osweiller of Arizona State (4,036 in 2011)...Darnold's 4,225 yards in total offense in 2017 places 11th on the league season-record chart. Marcus Mariota of Oregon established that record with 5,224 yards in 2014 - the only conference player to attain the 5,000-yard season level.
Current Rank Among Active NCAA Football Bowl Championship Subdivision Performers...Darnold's pass completion percentage of 0.649 is the fourth-best among active FBS passers, topped by Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma (68.54%; 1026-of-1,497 passes), Luke Falk of Washington State (68.32%; 1,404-of-2,055) and Logan Woodside of Toledo (65.09%; 759-of-1,166)...His average gain of 7.69 yards per offensive snap is also fourth, surpassed by Mayfield (15,690 yards; 8.25 yards per play), Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State (13,646 yards, 8.16 ypp) and Woodside (10,602 yards; 8.08 ypp)...The Trojans red-shirt sophomore ranks eighth with a 153.70 passing efficiency rating and also placed eighth with an average of 267.74 aerial yards per game...His 846 pass attempts rank 40th, holding the 31st spot with 549 pass completions and 26th with 7,229 passing yards...Is 23rd with 57 touchdown passes and 25th with 64 touchdowns responsible for...His average gain of 280.04 yards per game in total offense placed 15th among FBS participants.
The 2017 Season...Darnold was a CollegeFootballNews.com All-American honorable mention, All-Pac-12 Conference first-team choice and the recipient of Co-MVP and Co-Lifter of the Year Awards. He was a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, Manning Award and Davey O’Brien Award, along with serving as a USC captain...Started all fourteen games, completing 303-of-480 passes (63.13%), becoming the first Trojan to pass for over 4,000 yards (4,143), along with becoming the first USC player to attain 4,000 yards in total offense (4,225)...Recorded 26 touchdown passes and ran for five more scores on 75 carries that netted 82 yards...Was intercepted thirteen times and led the FBS ranks in turnovers, as he fumbled twelve times, with nine recovered by the opposition...His eight 300-yard passing games in 2017 is a USC season record and his thirteen 200-yard passing games in 2017 ties the USC and Pac-12 record (shared with Matt Leinart in 2005)... Finished 13th nationally in passing yards (295.9, third in Pac-12), 15th in total offense (301.8, second in Pac-12), 19th in completions (21.6, fourth in Pac-12) and 21st in passing touchdowns (26, second in Pac-12).
Best 2017 Season Performances...Stanford (first meeting), Texas, Oregon State, Utah (passing), Arizona State, Colorado, Stanford (Pac-12 title game)
Worst 2017 Season Performances...Western Michigan, Washington State, Utah (fumbles), Ohio State
Critical Performance Factors
Body Structure...Darnold shows good upper and lower body bone structure, with solid chest, shoulder and arm thickness. He has a strong bubble and thighs, with well-defined calves and a frame that could develop to 235 pounds with no loss in quickness.
Athletic Ability...Darnold displays good quickness and mobility for his position. He is equally effective throwing on the move as he is standing in the pocket. He has good flexibility and leg drive moving back from center to his past set point. He has functional playing speed and while he won’t win many foot races, he does show good balance to break arm tackles on the move. While not fast, he does show adequate change of direction agility and good strength. He runs with a normal stride and shows good movement retreating in the pocket. His balance and body control allow him to throw on roll-outs and he displays good lateral agility, evident by the way he slides to avoid pocket pressure. While more of a drop-back passer, he has the arm strength to throw on the move. With his feet, he did produce five touchdowns, but his ball security issues are alarming - 21 fumbles in 27 games, with the opposition recovering fourteen of those miscues.
Football Sense... Despite having just two seasons as a starter under his belt and a bit of inconsistency in his play calling, he is a good student of the game, raised in a pro style passing attack during both his prep and college playing days. There is no question that he could have greatly benefited with another year in college, but he is a smart passer with keen eyes scanning the field, doing a nice job of making reads and following through with his progressions, but he needs to protect the ball better on the move and not try to force the ball into tight windows, as most of those attempts result in costly interceptions. He has good, innate instincts, along with developing decision making skills that makes one feel he can handle a pro offense in a short time (with patient coaching). He can be called a “student of the game,” as he is the type who will shut off the lights in the film room, but those risky chances he takes airing the ball out into small windows needs to stop. He does well in school and should not have problems digesting a complicated play book. Darnold reads coverage well and makes proper checks, showing football savvy and field smarts. He is quick to retain plays and takes the plays from the board to the field with no problems.
Pass Set-Up...Darnold shows good balance and body control driving back from center, displaying the quick feet to get into position to make all of his throws. He has good upper and lower body mechanics, as he also displays enough functional strength to break arm tackles on the move. He is a classic drop back passer, most comfortable in a five-step drop. He does a nice job of scanning the field and looks comfortable setting up in the pocket and executing his follow-through. He shows good fluidity and quickness when he sets up and is a pretty athletic mover. Despite a lack of sustained speed to go long distances, he sets up quickly and is ready to throw in an instant. He shows the ability to reach his throwing point while maintaining body control and his balance allows him to stand tall in the pocket (see 2017 Stanford, Texas and Utah games).
Reading Defenses...Darnold is capable of handling the mental aspect of the game, but needs to stop trying to force the issue and protect the ball better (see 2017 Western Michigan, Oregon StateUtah and Ohio State games). He is a quick decision maker and even when he makes the wrong move, he does not allow his mistakes to linger. He is a good field technician, knowing how to operate within the framework of the offense, which is predicated on him making quick reads and getting the ball out to his receivers even before his targets are able to break, as this prevents the opponents from getting into position to defend. His problems occur when he tries to force the ball into a crowd, or hold on to it too long, as that has led to a costly fumbles after he is sacked. Usually, he is good at reading defenses and when he shows patience, he can pick apart zones. When he forces some into coverage, it is because he holds the ball too long, and he needs to learn when to look for his secondary targets. The thing that stands out is his ability to throw with touch and good timing. When flushed out of the pocket, he has enough agility to throw on the run, but will more often force the pass into traffic than throw it away, for some strange reason, in 2017.
Release...Darnold has that classic over-the-top, smooth delivery with a high release. As soon as he gets to his throwing point, he is ready to throw. His overall throwing mechanics are very good and he shows good quickness and snap in his release. Because of his solid mechanics, he can launch the ball with accuracy, even when he does not have his feet set. With his compact, quick delivery over the top and a smooth motion getting rid of the ball, defenses have little time to settle under his throws, as he excels at hitting his receivers before they come out of their breaks.
Arm Strength... Darnold has good arm strength to make all his throws, even when firing on the move or throwing off his back foot. He is very good at varying the speed on his tosses, showing good zip firing into tight areas, but he needs to be more selective when doing so. His ball speed is excellent, as it comes off his fingertips easily and receivers don’t have to make too many adjustments, as he leads his targets well. He generates a lot of velocity and ball speed, doing a nice job of throwing the ball across his body while displaying good hip flexibility. He has very good accuracy going long and a lively snap on the short tosses. He demonstrates very good arc on his long outs, as receivers settle over those throws to effortless secure over their outside shoulder. The thing he does best is to generate velocity behind his long throws, as he has a very easy and smooth release.
Accuracy... Darnold not only completed 63.13% of his passes in 2017, 192-of 303 completions produced first downs. He has very good touch and velocity on short and intermediate throws. When playing the vertical game, he leads the receivers well, giving them the space they need to adjust. He is accurate at all levels both from the pocket and on the move. He throws a catchable ball with zip or touch, making it easy for his receivers to be successful without breaking off their routes. He will generally throw a tight spiral with good zip on his deep throws and does a nice job of hitting his receivers in stride, as he knows how to adjust the velocity on his short tosses so his target does not have to work back for the ball. He gets good touch and has improved his trajectory on his deep throws, along with showing the ability to stick the ball in tight areas, but his high interception rate in 2017 was the result of overconfidence in trying to "thread the needle" through a slew of defenders.
Touch...Darnold excels at anticipating the receivers routes and knowing when they will come open. He has very good overall timing and knows when to throw the ball. He will not hesitate to tuck and run with it when his receivers are covered. He knows when to take some heat off his short throws, resulting in better accuracy. His timing is good from the three- and five-step drop backs, but when he holds on to the ball a little too long at times, it will result in sacks (see 2017 Ohio State, Arizona State, Notre Dame and Texas games) or he when then force the ball into a crowd, resulting in an interception (see 2017 Western Michigan, Stanford and Texas games). He gets good trajectory on his deep throws and displays the ability to anticipate and made adjustments at the line to challenge the soft areas on the field.
Poise...Darnold is cool under pressure and will never be confused for a player with “happy feet” (won’t run at the first sign of pocket pressure). He is never flustered, even when having to hold the ball and throw in the face of a fierce pass rush. He does a nice job of setting his feet so he would not sail his deep passes high. He knows he does not have the foot speed to tuck the ball and run with it, so he stands tall in the pocket and will absorb the hit. He keeps his cool when forced to roll out, but has to learn when to throw the ball away if it takes too long for his targets to get open rather than force the pass into a crowd.
Pocket Movement...Darnold moves well in the pocket, but even though he scored five times and generated 17 first downs on 75 carries in 2017, he will never be confused for being a scrambler. He has a good feel for pocket pressure and knows when to step up or escape when his protection breaks down, as he does a nice job of buying time with his feet. He was sacked 29 times in 2017, resulting in twelve fumbles (nine recovered by the opposition) mostly due to protection breakdowns behind a young offensive line, but he also coughed up the ball nine times behind much better protection in 2016 and needs to do a better job of securing the pigskin when on the move. He maintains his focus downfield, feeling the pressure well. He is more comfortable when dropping back, but has enough arm strength to roll out and throw.
Compares To...Philip Rivers-Los Angeles Chargers/Carson Palmer-ex-Arizona Cardinals...Why the two-player comparison? Well, the jury is out on the Trojan - is he the rising star that he showed in 2016, or is the ball control issues from 2017 a peek at his future pro career? Most experts feel his early and late 2017 season woes were the result of trying to do too much and that Darnold is just starting to come into his own. He was groomed in a pro-style offense since his prep days and while he might lack the game experience of Philip Rivers or the Chargers passer’s incredible arm strength, he does show a lot of moxie on the field, along with good patience and excellent timing and touch. He needs to be in a strong vertical attack, as he is best when firing the ball deep, where he does a great job of anticipating his receivers before they come out of their breaks. That is, if he does not try to thread the needle getting the ball forced through traffic. Like Matt Leinart, is this the next Trojans' boom-or-bust passer? If teams can not get those questions answered before the end of April, Darnold might slide to the bottom part of the Top Ten draft boards.
THE TOP TEN HIT SELECTIONS
Category Explanation...Analysts are predicting that as many as five quarterbacks could be selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Teams in need of a franchise type quarterback will usually become enamored with a player who has less to offer than another athlete at another position. While our staff would not draft the two quarterbacks listed below in the first part of the opening round, the consensus is that this pair will be off the draft boards during the first ten selections.
Josh Rosen - University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins - Combine Numbers
Ht Wt Arms Hands 40-Yd Bench Vertical Jump Broad Jump 20-Sh 60-Sh 3-Cone
6:04.0 226 31 3/4" 9 7/8" 4.92 Dnp 31" 9-03" 4.28 Dnp 7.09
Career Notes...Rosen appeared in thirty games for the Bruins, throwing for 9,340 yards, 59 touch-downs and 26 interceptions behind 712-of-1,170 pass attempts (60.85%), averaging 311.33 aerial yards per game while also averaging 13.12 yards per pass completion and 7.98 yards per attempt...
Scored six times on the ground on 109 carries that generated a loss of 154 yards...Posted a pair of tackles and pooch punted once for a 25-yard gain as a freshman...Amassed 9,186 yards in total offense, an average of 306.2 yards per game...Recorded seventeen 300-yard passing performances during his college career...Sacked 53 times for minus 417 yards (7.88-yard average), as he fumbled twenty times in thirty appearances, with seven resulting in turnovers.
School Record Books...Rosen ranks third in school annals with 9,340 yards passing, topped by Cade McNown (10,708 yards; 1995-98) and Brett Hundley (9,966; 2011-14)...His 9,186 yards in total offense is surpassed by only Hundley (11,713) and McNown (11,285) in Bruins history...His 712 completed passes placed second behind Hundley (837) on the career list and his seventeen 300-yard passing performances established a new UCLA mark, topping the previous record of eleven by McNown...He also set the school record by throwing for at least 350 yards in eleven of those appearances (McNown and Hundley tied for second with eight each)...Holds the fourth and fifth spots on the school's season-record chart with 3,684 yards in total offense in 2015 and 3,659 in 2017. Hundley holds the first three spots - 4,095 yards in 2012; 3,819 in 2013 and 3,799 in 2014...Rosen's 59 touch-down tosses placed fourth in school annals behind Hundley (75), McNown (68) and Drew Olson (67; 2002-05)...His 292 pass completions in 2015 rank second and 283 successful tosses in 2017 rank third on the Bruins annual list behind Hundley (318 in 2012)...Rosen placed third on the season-record list with 26 touchdown passes in 207, surpassed by Hundley (29 in 2012) and Olson (34 in 2005). Rosen's 23 touchdown throws in 2015 placed eighth...Holds the school season-record with 3,756 yards passing in 2017, breaking the old mark of 3,740 yards by Hundley in 2012. Rosen's 3,668 aerial yards in 2015 rank third.
Pac-12 Conference Record Books...Rosen became the 26th player in league history to throw for over 9,000 yards in a career, placing 24th with 9,340 yards...Is the 29th player in Pac-12 annals with at least 9,000 yards in total offense, amassing 9,196 yards to take the 25th spot on that chart...Tied fior 34th in the league with 59 touchdown passes...His 3,756 yards passing in 2017 is 24th on the conference season-list and his 3,669 yards in 2015 rank 26th...His 3,685 yards in total offense in 2017 placed 29th on the annual chart.
Current Rank Among Active NCAA Football Bowl Championship Subdivision Performers...Rosen ranks third in the FBS with an average of 39.0 pass attempts per game, topped by Washington State's Luke Falk (47.79 per game; 2,055 attempts/43 contests) and Tyler Rogers of New Mexico State (42.17 pg; 970 attempts/23 games)...Also ranks third with an average of 23.73 pass completions per game, sitting behind Falk (32.65 per game; 1,404 completions) and Rogers (24.87 per game; 572 completions)...His average of 311.33 yards per game passing was surpassed by only Falk (336.88 yards per game; 14,486 yards/43 games) and Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State (324.24 ypg; 13,618 yards/42 games)...His average of 306.2 yards per game of total offense ranks sixth, with the leader being Lamar Jackson of Louisville (346.71 yards per game; 13,175 yards/38 contests)...His 9,341 yards passing placed 11th in the FBS, with Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma leading major college passers with 14,607 yards....His average gain of 7.98 yards per pass attempt is currently 11th, ranking 15th with 1,170 pass attempts; 16th with 712 pass completions, 20th with 59 touchdown passes and 22nd with 65 touchdowns responsible for.
The 2017 Season...The second-team All-Pac 12 Conference choice appeared in eleven games, twice suffering concussions (vs. Washington and Southern California) that forced him to sit out vs. Utah and the Cactus Bowl clash vs. Kansas State...Set the school season-record with 3,756 yards passing, hitting on 283-of-452 attempts (62.61%) with 26 touchdowns and ten interceptions...Lost 97 yards on 50 carries, but scored twice on the ground...Was sacked 26 times for minus 204 yards and fumbled the ball eight times, resulting in three turnovers...Finished fourth in the FBS with an average of 25.64 pass completions per game, finishing 16th in touchdown passes, tenth in passing yards and third with an average of 341.45 aerial yards per game, tops in the Pac-12...Also led the league while ranking 20th in the nation in total offense, with an average of 332.64 yards per game.
Best 2017 Season Performances...Texas A& M (passing), Hawaii, Memphis, Stanford, Arizona State, Southern Califo4rnia (passing)
Worst 2017 Season Performances...Texas A& M (ball security), Arizona, Washington, Southern California (ball security/sacks), California
Critical Performance Factors
Body Structure... Rosen has an NFL-caliber frame, but needs to add more strength in order to absorb punishment at the next level. His arms are of adequate length and he has large hands. While he has decent mobility, he is not the type that needs to be accounted for running with the ball. He has decent upper body muscle development with good shoulder and chest thickness to carry additional weight. His lower body frame shows decent thigh and calf thickness.
Athletic Ability...Rosen has a strong, lively arm, showing good accuracy on short-to-intermediate throws and is capable of throwing the ball down the middle of the field (see 2017 Texas A& M, Memphis, Stanford, Colorado and Arizona State games). He needs to work on his footwork trying to step away and avoid the pass rush, as he has just adequate ability to roll out and throw from the right and left hashes (finished with negative rush yards in seven of eleven 2017 appearances). He does not have exceptional timed speed and can be caught from behind when he tries running with the ball. He has decent upper body range of motion and enough footwork to slide and while he’s not really a statue, he’s never going to be a threat running with the ball. He moves effectively when not forced to go long distances and has an athletic throwing motion and quick release that compensates for a lack of great foot speed (4.92 seconds in the 40-yard dash).
Football Sense...Rosen seems to come alive when trying to rally the team. He shows good fire and confidence in his throwing ability, but as a junior, he did not displayed much patience waiting for his targets to get open than he did in the pass, rather forcing the issue that resulted in thirteen turnovers by him last year. He shows good ability with his progression reads and has the field vision to locate secondary targets. He is a good student who takes plays from the chalkboard to the field with minimal reps. He just seems to lack that innate instinct to recognize backside pressure and will get caught often in the backfield (see 2017 Texas A& M, Arizona, Washington, Southern California and California games). He does require special quarterback treatment, as he is best served when he’s the “coach’s pet,” rather than when challenged, though. He is poised and confident, but sometimes borders too close to cockiness and he can be a "clubhouse lawyer," which can impact his leadership development, as NFL veterans will not stand for his antics.
Pass Set-Up...Rosen has good footwork, getting to his pass set point with quickness and balance. He has enough body control and foot speed top step up in the pocket, but has shown ball security issues when he’s on the move (see 2017 Texas A& M and USC games; 2016 Arizona State contest) and must do a better job of protecting the ball. He shows the feet needed to separate from under center with consistent back-foot pop-up. He will never be a threat running with the ball, but he generally gets himself into good position to make his deep throws. The thing you see on film is that he demonstrates the feet and balance needed to drive back from center, set up and be in position to unleash the ball in a timely fashion. He has the body control to take the snap, drive off with his back foot and get to his set point before the defense can properly digest the backfield activity. He is quick to set his feet when he drives out from under center, doing a fine job of maintaining balance when retreating. He displays proper body mechanics, but for some reason, he is not as consistent throwing on the move as he is from the pocket.
Reading Defenses...Even with ten interceptions in 2017, Rosen no longer tries to force the ball, letting the flow of the game come to him rather than try to create something out of nothing, like he did his first year at UCLA. His judgment appears to be solid, when protected, but he needs to do a better job of dumping the ball off, as he is not effective at avoiding sacks (see 2017 Texas A& M, Arizona, Washington and USC games). He also needs to do a better job of keeping the ball away from the defender when on the move, as he's fumbled twenty times in thirty games. You could see his marked improvement going through progressions and reading defenses in 2017, as there were questions about his overall vision in the past, but that no longer seems to be an issue. Can he run a high percentage passing offense? Yes, unless he reverts to forcing the ball into coverage, but he appeared very decisive delivering the sphere to his secondary targets as a junior. He just needs to not get too brave, like he did in the past, as this led to him lofting up clunkers every now and then. He demonstrates patience waiting for his targets to get open and excels at making the progression reads, as it is very rare to see him lock on and throw to a receiver in coverage. When he delivers the ball, he does it in a very decisive nature. He is a high percentage passer with excellent touch on his long throws, despite just average arm strength.
Release...Even though I am not much of a fan of players that rely on a ¾-release, the ball comes out of his hands with very good quickness and wrist flick. He can drive the ball down field when he sets his feet, but the long ball will flutter when having to throw on the move. He just seems to have trouble with his follow-through when forced to throw running out of the pocket. When he does roll out, he tends to drop the ball a little in his motion and the result is that his tosses can be a little bit long. He is smooth and compact, for the most part, when given time to set his feet and adjust to pocket pressure. He can be systematic in his approach, getting the ball off quickly, but you can see a bit of a long wind-up when he throws long with a lower release point. Still, he has the arm strength to get a lot of accuracy on his long tosses. When he throws with a high release, he demonstrates good quickness. He can throw across his body effectively, but needs to show that he can improvise better when on the move.
Arm Strength...Rosen can make all the throws, when given time and remains in the pocket, but you can see deficiencies when he has to uncork the ball when on the move. He does a good job of stepping up in the pocket and firing up the middle, but if he’s flushed out, he tends to lower his release point, failing to load up and throw off his back foot properly. He shows very good velocity on his intermediate throws, but he will never be confused for having a cannon for an arm. He must work on improving the zip on his throws when having to get them there from the opposite hash (struggles some with the 15-yard hitch).
Accuracy...Rosen displays good balance driving back from center and has the footwork needed to step into his throws. He must learn how to vary his speeds better and take something off his intermediate throws, as receivers do need to adjust to them too often. He gets a bit over confident with his arm strength (good, but not elite) throwing into tight windows (see 2017 Memphis, Stanford and Arizona games), lacking a bit of touch. He tries hard to put the ball where receivers have a chance to get to it while also keeping it away from defenders. He can get a bit high with his tosses to the boundary, but has improved his ability to generate the placement needed when firing down the seam. He shows good zip on his short throws, but when he fails to set his feet, he will get into a rhythm where the receiver will have to accelerate in order to get to his tosses, as he will over-lead at times.
Touch...Rosen needs to work on crossing patterns, as he can over-lead or get the ball behind, at times (inconsistent timing, especially on shallow crossers). He gets decent zip on his long throws, knowing he needed to give his receivers the chance to compete, doing a nice job of hitting the targets coming out of their breaks. When he sets his feet properly, he is effective at throwing the easy-to-catch spiral with a good arc. In 2017, he did a much better job of feathering the ball over his target’s outside shoulder and away from the defender. Sometimes in the short area, he would throw the pigskin too early, failing to hit his targets coming out of their breaks, but he refined his release a bit (more over the top) and improved in that area as a junior. He just needs to continue to work hard to vary the speed on his throws to make the completion, as he does display the timing and consistency to make all of his throws.
Poise...Rosen has that mentality to know that he can make all of his throws, but possibly due to his lack of great speed, he is not the type that will get “happy feet” and run with the ball too early. Unlike in the past, he now shows that he rather throw the ball away than force it into traffic. He might get impatient when the pocket collapses and rush some of his throws then, shuffling his feet too much to put the zip behind the tosses, as needed. When throwing on the move, his long ball will die some, losing zip and steam.
Pocket Movement...Rosen has good footwork dropping back from center, but is not even close to being a threat running with the ball. He lacks a good feel for backside pressure and while he improved as a junior, he still gets caught for too many sacks by waiting too long to get rid of the ball. He shuffles his feet well in the pocket and has adequate escape-ability and slide, doing a decent job of keeping his eyes down field. He shuffles his feet well to avoid low tackles and will not hesitate to step up in the pocket to make the completion, but will lose balance and arm strength when having to throw on the move.
Compares To...Jay Cutler-Miami Dolphins/Tim Couch-ex-Cleveland Browns...Rosen has the talent level to be a winning quarterback in the NFL, it is his "free form" approach away from the game that could lead to big locker room distractions. I see his arm getting Jay Cutler-like attention from teams, but will the finished product be a Cutler or Couch? I do not think he matches up to comparisons from other analysts - Matt Ryan and Jared Goff. Athletically, Rosen has the tools to be an effective starting quarterback and he has more than a lot of confidence in his game, but mobile quarterbacks are more of a premium in the NFL and his lack of feel for backside pressure concerns me. Like Couch, he might look good on film, but he is just an average athlete who can’t throw well on the move and while he is a good decision maker, he is not going to be coddled in the NFL like his former coach did at UCLA.
Baker Mayfield - University of Oklahoma Sooners - Combine Numbers
Ht Wt Arms Hands 40-Yd Bench Vertical Jump Broad Jump 20-Sh 60-Sh 3-Cone
6:00.5 215 30 1/4" 9 1/4" 4.84 Dnp 29" 9-03" 4.28 Dnp 7.00
Career Notes...Mayfield appeared in a total of 48 games, earning 46 starting assignments...Started 39-of-40 games (benched for the first series in one game during the 2017 season) at Oklahoma (2015-17), completing 808-of-1,157 passes (69.84%) for 12,292 yards, an average of 307.3 yards per game, as he recorded 119 touchdowns vs. 21 interceptions...Gained 893 yards on 316 carries (2.83 ypc) and eighteen touchdowns for Oklahoma...Accounted for 13,185 yards in total offense (329.63 ypg) for the Sooners, as he was responsible for 137 touchdowns...Prior to his Sooners career, Mayfield walked on at Texas Tech, starting seven of his eight appearances in 2013, finishing with 218-of-340 passes (64.12%) for 2,315 yards, twelve touchdowns and nine interceptions while picking up 190 yards with three scores on 88 carries (2.16 ypc) for a total of 2,505 yards (313.13 ypg)... Mayfield's two college stops produced 14,607 yards, 131 touchdowns and thirty interceptions on 1,026-of-1,497 pass attempts (68.54%), averaging 304.31 aerial yards per game, tacking on 1,083 yards on 404 carries (2.68 ypc) and 21 scores to generated 15,690 yards in total offense (326.88 ypg)...Was responsible for 152 touchdowns during his career...Was sacked 97 times for losses totaling 564 yards (5.81 yards per sack) and turned the ball over five times on 22 fumbles, including two turnovers on nine fumbles for Texas Tech.
NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Career Record Books...Mayfield finished his career ranked second in FBS history in passing efficiency rating (175.4; OU's Sam Bradford holds the record with a mark of 175.6)...Ranks seventh in FBS annals in passing yards (14,607), topped by Case Keenum of Houston (19,217; 2007-11), Timmy Chang of Hawaii (17,072; 2000-04), Landry Jones of Oklahoma (16,646; 2009-12), Graham Harrell of Texas Tech (15,793; 2005-08), Ty Detmer of Brigham Young (15,031; 1988-91) and Kellen Moore of Boise State (14,667; 2008-11)...Tied with Rakeem Cato of Marshall (2011-14) and Colt Breenan of Hawaii (2005-07) for fourth in college history with 119 touchdown passes, surpassed by Case Keenum (155), Kellen Moore (142) and Graham Harrell (134)...Finished ninth in NCAA annals with an average gain of 9.76 yards per pass attempt...One of six major college players to amass 15,000 yards in total offense, placing fifth with 15,690 yards. Others to reach the 15,000-yard level are Case Keenum (20,114), Timmy Chang (16,910), Landry Jones (16,271), Dan Lefevour of Central Michigan (15,853; 2006-09) and Graham Harrell (15,611)...Mayfield also set the FBS record for consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes (each of his final 27 contests)...One of four FBS players to close their careers with a passing efficiency rating of 170.0 or better (175.37), just missing topping Sam Bradford of Oklahoma's NCAA, Big Twelve Conference and Sooners' record (175.62; 2007-09). The others to reach that level were Tim Tebow of Florida (170.79 rating; 2006-09) and Marcus Mariota of Oregon (171.75; 2012-14).
Current Rank Among Active NCAA Football Bowl Championship Subdivision Performers...
Mayfield leads all active players with a passing efficiency rating of 175.37, with a pass completion percentage of .685, with 14,607 yards passing, 131 touchdown tosses, 153 touchdowns responsible for, 15,690 yards in total offense, an average of 326.9 yards per game in total offense and 9.76 yards per pass attempt...Placed second with 1,901 offensive snaps played and 1,026 pass completions...
Ranks third with 1,497 pass attempts and fifth with an average of 304.31 aerial yards per game.
Big Twelve Conference Record Books...Mayfield owns the conference career records for yards per pass attempt (9.76 average), consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass (40) and touchdowns responsible for (157) while ranking second in league's history in passing touchdowns with 119, topped by Graham Harrell of Texas Tech (134; 2005-08)...His 14, 607 aerial yards took the third spot in league annals behind Harrell (15,793) and Oklahoma's Landry Jones (16,646; 2009-12)...
His 1,497 pass attempts rank sixth and his 1,026 pass completions placed sixth on the league all-time lists...Averaged 14.24 yards per pass completion, moving into ninth on the league chart...His average of 9.76 yards per pass attempt placed second, topped by Seth Russell of Baylor (10.2-yard average; 2013-15)...Completed 68.54% of his passes, seventh-best in league annals...Finished eighth in league history for lowest interception percentage (2.004%)
School Record Books...Mayfield holds the school career-record with 200 pass attempts without an interception...Only Landry Jones (16,646; 2009-12) has thrown for more yards as a Sooner than Mayfield's 12,292. They are the only Sooners to ever throw for 9,000 yards during a career...His 808 pass completions at Oklahoma is second-best, topped by Jones' 1,388...Is the only player to ever complete at least seventy percentage of his passes in a season, setting the record with a completion percentage of .7094 in 2016 and .7054 in 2017...His career pass completion percentage as a Sooner is .6984, surpassing the old record of .676 by Sam Bradford (604-of-893 passes; 2007-09)...One of just three Oklahoma players to attempt at least one thousand passes for the school (1,157), as he was joined by Landry Jones (2,183) and Josh Heupel (1,025; 1999-2000)...His 119 touchdown passes as a Sooner are four shy of the school record set by Landry Jones (123)...As a Sooner, Mayfield passing efficiency rating was 189.39, shattering the school record previously held by Sam Bradford (175.62; 2007-09)..Finished his Oklahoma career with a 33-6 record as a starter and registered a 5.7 touchdown-to-interception ratio as a Sooner (119 to 21)...Mayfield's 4,627 aerial yards in 2017 marked just the third time a Sooner threw for at least 4,500 yards in a season, joining Sam Bradford (4,720 in 2008) and Landry Jones (4,718 in 2010)...Holds the seventh spot on the annual chart with 285 pass completions in 2017...Is the only Sooner to throw at least forty touchdowns in multiple seasons - 43 in 2017 and 40 in 2016. The only others to reach that level was Sam Bradford (record fifty in 2008) and Jason White (forty in 2003)...Set the school season-record with a passing efficiency rating of 196.39 in 2016 (254-of-358 passes for 3,965 yards, forty touchdowns, eight interceptions), surpassing the previous record of 180.84 by Sam Bradford in 2008...Mayfield's 598 yards vs. Oklahoma State in 2017 topped Landry Jones' old school game-record of 554 yards vs. West Virginia in 2012. Mayfield also gained 545 aerial yards vs. Texas Tech in 2016 and Jones tossed for 505 yards vs. Kansas State in 2011 and 500 more vs. Oklahoma State in 2012. Those are the only contests that a Sooner quarterback ever threw for 500 yards in school annals...Set the school game-record with seven touchdown passes vs. his former team, Texas Tech, in 2016.
The 2017 Season...Mayfield became the school's sixth Heisman Trophy winner, as the unanimous first-team All-American (AFCA, AP, FWAA, Sporting News, Walter Camp) also won the Maxwell Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Manning Award, Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, Associated Press Player of the Year and Sporting News Player of the Year Awards...Was a finalist for the Unitas Golden Arm Award and Burlsworth Trophy...Selected as the Big Twelve Conference's Offensive Player of the Year and named to the league's All-Big Twelve first-team by the league's coaches...Played in all fourteen games with starts in thirteen contests, as Mayfield set single-season OU records with four Big Twelve Offensive Player of the Week awards... He led the FBS division in completion percentage (.705), points responsible for (296) and yards per pass attempt (11.5)...Mayfield set the school season-record for total offense (4,938 yards) and finished second in school season history in completion percentage and touchdown passes (43) while ranking third in passing yards (4,627)...Connected on 285-of-404 passes for 4,627 yards, 43 touchdowns and just six interceptions, as he scored five times and generated 311 yards on 97 carries...Was sacked 21 times for losses of 138 yards, but OU recovered all three of Mayfield's fumbles.
Best 2017 Season Performances...Texas-El Paso, Ohio State, Tulane, Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas Christian (two games - regular season/Big 12 title)
Worst 2017 Season Performances...Ohio State (unsportsmanlike conduct-flag planting after the game), Iowa State, Georgia
Critical Performance Factors
Body Structure...Mayfield is a shorter-than-ideal passer with adequate arm length, good-sized hands, muscular and solid legs, good bubble and nice shoulder definition, but his frame might be at maximum growth potential and any additional bulk could affect his impressive quickness. He is built a little bit like a running back, as he has the upper body muscle development and thick, strong lower body to break arm tackles when on the move (18 touchdowns rushing in 48 games).
Athletic Ability...Mayfield is a highly productive player, whether lining up under center or in the shotgun. He is a playmaker and the clear leader and sparkplug of the team, but he does not have NFL caliber arm strength to be effective with the deep outs. Still, much like Bob Griese, he is savvy enough to know how to move the chains. He can throw on the run, showing good timing and accuracy firing from the outside hashes, thanks to his timing and placement skills, especially when he sets his feet. He keeps plays alive with his mobility and has decent quickness to deliver the ball. He is a dangerous runner with better timed speed than most at his position. The thing you notice on film is his ease of movement in and out of the pocket. He might lack arm strength, but shows good velocity on his short-to-intermediate throws. He is able to move around the pocket to avoid and escape and is a valid threat running with the ball in the open field.
Football Sense... Mayfield is like a chess master on the field, as he will take what the defense gives him and once he spots a weak area, he will attack it instantly. He is a smart athlete who easily retains plays and is quick to pick up coverage. He can see plays develop and is the type that has no problem making adjustments on the fly. He plays with the natural football instincts and awareness needed to deliver the ball on time, as his short area receivers rarely have to break stride. Mayfield makes a lot of checks on the field and understands the game, as he has complete command on the field. He is very tough, with excellent agility, balance and playing speed. He scans the field and recognizes defensive formations, making very decisive moves to counter. He is an overachiever of sorts, who will put in extra hours in the film room and even sits in the coaches’ meetings. The thing you notice about him is his ability to quickly adapt to the changes on the field.
Pass Set-Up...Despite a lack of ideal size, Mayfield shows good balance and quick feet on the times he needs to drive back from center. He does play better out of the shotgun predominantly, but has good ability throwing off his back foot and getting the ball into the receiver’s hands without having his target break stride. He does have much of a windup, and defenses have a hard time telegraphing his moves when going deep, though. He has that Drew Brees ability with his feet taking the ball and throwing on the move. In the pro-set, the Sooner shows above average quickness and fluidity when he drops and sets up. He has above average body mechanics and excellent avoidance skills, along with displaying a smooth, almost effortless set up to get to his drop-point quickly.
Reading Defenses...Mayfield is the type of performer who has a keen understanding of coverage packages and he reads defenses well. He is a touch passer who comprehends even the most complicated of defensive coverage and is an instinctive performer who will get into trouble at times, as he will not hesitate to run with the ball when his receivers are covered. He's done a very good job of improving his ball security issues (three fumbles as a senior, six in 2016, four in 2013, but nine as a freshman in 2013). He checks down effectively and generally makes quick decisions, especially when rolling out of the pocket. Mayfield makes lots of line calls when operating out of the shotgun, and with his rushing ability, he will run with the ball when pressured rather than try to force the ball into a crowd (only six interceptions on 404 pass attempts in 2017 and holds the school record with 200 consecutive passes without a pass theft). In the NFL, he is going to be required to make quick progression reads, as he does look to run more often when his primary target is unavailable. He sees the field better operating out of the shotgun and might have problems doing so under center, due to a lack of height. Still, he is good at anticipating opportunities, leading to 131 touchdown passes as a collegian. Most of his interceptions have been the result of his long ball lacking great trajectory or when he fails to see the linebacker underneath.
Release...Mayfield he has a good, quick, snappy overhead release. He carries the ball low at times, but still has enough arm snap to prevent it from slowing his delivery. When he comes over the top, his release is high and very consistent - just lacking power to get the ball deep all the time. At Texas Tech in 2013, he would unleash the ball more at a cocked motion (10:00) rather than over the top, but when he got to Oklahoma, the staff refined those mechanics, as it had led to a lot of low trajectory interceptions and balls getting deflected at the line of scrimmage (had 69 passes deflected on 340 attempts in 2013, but that decreased to 31 on 395 tosses in 2015; 29 on 358 throws in 2016; 31 on 404 chances in 2017). He has become conscious of setting his feet, as he no longer looks off-balanced stepping into his throws. He just seems to lack much follow-through on his deep tosses, making him a bit of a liability when trying to air the ball out. He still needs to learn how to keep his elbow up, as he looks like he is just slinging the ball, at times, especially when throwing off his back foot.
Arm Strength...Mayfield generates good zip on short and underneath routes, but he lacks the strength to air the ball out much. He tries to push the ball and lead the receivers on deep routes, but more often than not, they have to break off their route and come back for those tosses. There are doubts that he will be able to put the ball on the line at the next level, as he does not have anywhere near the success throwing downfield as he does working underneath. He cam throw the 15-yard dig on a rope, but even when he sets his feet, you won’t see much velocity when trying to unleash the long bomb.
Accuracy...Mayfield is better suited moving the chains than threatening the deep secondary. He has one of the better touch ability working underneath than most players in this draft. He will struggle to get the ball out when throwing from inside the pocket and any thing past the intermediate area turns into an “adventure.” He did complete 68.54% of his passes, but most were “dink-& -dunk” types. He can put the ball in the back shoulder to fit between defenders in the short area, but there are big problems ahead if a team needs him to throw the fades or go routes.
Touch...If kept to throwing underneath or on short routes over the middle, Mayfield is good at moving the chains. He shows good touch to the outside shoulder, leading the receivers well when dumping it off, but he lacks the arm strength needed on timing routes and will be late, at times, when having to air out the sphere. He has good accuracy on the perimeter, but turns the receiver around too much when trying to drop it in over the outside shoulder on deep routes. Still, he's found great success as a high percentage passer with good accuracy at the short-to-intermediate levels. He is very effective at changing up the speed on his tosses to make the completion. His timing is good on the move, but much more consistent when standing in the pocket. He does an excellent job of placing the ball into his target’s hands where they can get additional yardage after the catch in the short area and few show the short touch he displays, again drawing comparisons to Drew Brees in this category.
Poise... Mayfield shows good toughness and poise in the backfield, but because of his size, is better off working out of the shotgun than under center. He is not the type that will get rattled under pressure, but there are times he will take his eyes off his target and try to bolt when he should just be stepping up in the pocket. He has the footwork to buy extra time when flushed out. He gets good depth in his three-step drop, but until he starts to show better backside awareness, he is going to pile up sacks on himself (sacked 73 times as a Sooner; 97 times for losses of 564 yards during his career). He displays very good poise and composure and doesn't panic or force the ball when pressured. He wants to throw to his targets, but will not hesitate to tucking the ball and running with it when he can’t locate any receivers. It is as if he has a distain for defenders, as they never rattle him or take him out of his focus.
Pocket Movement...Mayfield played in a system perfectly suited for his athletic skills – short passes over the middle and operating out of a shotgun/no huddle format. He goes through his progression check-downs and knows how to use his feet to scramble and buy time. He has the balance and body control to avoid and escape pressure, but perhaps due to his short stature, there are times when he is not alert to the backside charge. With his quick feet, he’s had good success making plays running out of the pocket or shotgun. The thing I like is that Mayfield has a feel for stepping up or sliding away from the rush. He has solid instincts and presence, showing a great knack for feeling when the pocket will collapse, as he suddenly steps up to make the completion. His linebacker’s mentality will sometimes cause him to stand in the pocket a bit too long, but he is quick to bounce off tackles and still maintain concentration on the receivers through their routes.
Compares To...Drew Brees-New Orleans Saints...Yes, both are lacking in size, but both take the logical approach - you only need ten yards to record a first down. In a West Coast/Spread offense, Mayfield has the moxie to excel. Some liken Mayfield’s skills to that of former Arizona and Denver QB Jake Plummer, but Plummer had much better arm strength and that uncanny feel for backside pressure, two areas that Mayfield is lacking. He’s strictly a spread offense quarterback who has very good intangibles for a West Coast offense, but might not be the perfect fit you look for if you are running a pro-style system.
Lamar Jackson - University of Louisville Cardinals - Combine Numbers
Ht Wt Arms Hands 40-Yd Bench Vertical Jump Broad Jump 20-Sh 60-Sh 3-Cone
6:02.2 216 33 1/8" 9 1/2" 4.42 Dnp 32" 9'-09" 4.04 Dnp 6.96
Career Notes...Jackson started 33-of-38 contests for the Cardinals, as he completed 619-of-1,086 passes (57.00%) for 9,043 yards, 69 touchdowns and 27 interceptions, adding fifty more scores on 655 carries that netted 4,132 yards (6.31 ypc)...Averaged 237.97 aerial yards per game, with an average pass completion of 14.61 yards and an average of 8.33 yards per attempt...Generated 13,175 yards in total offense, averaging 346.71 yards per game and 7.57 per play (1,741 snaps)...Was sacked 101 times for losses of 672 yards (6.65-yard average), as he turned the ball over nine times on 25 fumbles, including five that were returned for touchdowns...The opposition gained 284 yards with two scores picking off Jackson's passes (nineteen) in his last two seasons...For his career, he was pressured 108 times and 130 of his incomplete passes (27.84%) were deflected by the opposition.
NCAA Career-Record Books...Jackson joined Nevada's Colin Kaepernick (2007-10; 10,098 yards passing, 4,112 yards rushing) as the only quarterback in NCAA FBS annals to rush for over 4,000 yards and pass for over 9,000 yards during a career...Jackson is the first FBS quarterback to record multiple seasons with at least 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing (2016-17)...Ranks 19th in FBS history with 13,175 yards in total offense...Tied for 35th overall and ranks fifth among college quarterbacks with fifty rushing touchdowns, surpassed by Eric Crouch of Nebraska (59; 1998-2001), Kaepernick (59), Tim Tebow of Florida 957 (2006-09) and Collin Klein of Kansas State (56; 2009-12)...
His 4,132 yards rushing ranks as the seventh-best total ever by a quarterback, surpassed by Keenan Reynolds of Navy (4,559; 2012-15), Denard Robinson of Michigan (4,495; 2009-12), Pat White of West Virginia (4,480; 2005-08), Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois (4,383; 2010-13), Brad Smith of Missouri (4,289; 2002-05) and Colin Kaepernick of Nevada (4,112; 2007-10).
Current Rank Among Active NCAA Football Bowl Championship Subdivision Performers...Jackson leads active FBS players with an average of 346.71 yards per game in total offense...Leads all FBS quarterbacks with fifty rushing touchdowns, as only tailbacks Royce Freeman of Oregon (60) and Jarvion Franklin of Western Michigan (52) have recorded more scores on the ground...His 119 touchdowns responsible for placed fourth, behind Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma (153), J.T. Barrett of Ohio State (147) and Luke Falk of Washington State (123)...His average of 45.82 plays per game also rank fourth...Ranks fifth in the FBS with a rushing average of 108.7 yards per game, surpassed by Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin (141.2 ypg), A.J. Dillon of Boston College (122.2 ypg), Devin Singletary of Florida Atlantic (113.1 ypg) and Royce Freeman of Oregon (110.2 ypg) - all running backs...His 13,175 yards in total offense placed him behind Luke Falk (14,086) and Baker Mayfield (15,690) among active participants...Ranks sixth with an average gain of 7.67 yards in total offense per play...
His 4,132 yards rushing are the most by an FBS quarterback and eighth overall...Ranks 14th with 9,043 yards passing...Finished 11th with a rushing average of 6.3 yards and 20th with 619 pass completions...Also ranks 20th with 1,086 pass attempts.
Atlantic Coast Conference Record Books...Jackson ranks second in league annals with 13,175 yards in total offense. The record holder is North Carolina State's Philip Rivers (13,580 yards; 2000-03; 16th in NCAA FBS history...His 119 touchdowns responsible for also rank second on the ACC charts behind Clemson's Tajh Boyd (133; 2010-13)...His average gain of 7.57 yards per offensive play placed third in league history behind Florida State's tandem of Jameis Winston (8.28 ypp; 2013-14) and Chris Weinke (7.78 ypp; 1997-2000)...Holds the ACC record with an average of 346.71 yards per game in total offense...Also established records for most 400-yard total offense games (14) and most 500-yard total offense games (three)...His 4,132 yards rushing in an ACC record for quarterbacks and rank fifth overall. The only league performers to rush for at least 4,000 yards - all tailbacks - were Ted Brown of North Carolina State (4,602; 1975-78), Dalvin Cook of Florida State (4,464; 2014-16), Amos Lawrence of North Carolina (4,391; 1977-80), LaMont Jordan of Maryland (4,147; 1997-2000), Robert Lavette of Georgia Tech (4,066; 1981-84) and Chris Barclay of Wake Forest (4,032; 2002-05). Prior to Jackson, the conference rushing record for quarterbacks was held by Joshua Nesbitt of Georgia Tech (2,806 yards; 2007-10)...Ran for at least 100 yards in 23 contests, tying Amos Lawrence for second in ACC history behind Ted Brown (27)...His fifty touchdown runs are the most ever by an ACC quarterback, shattering Tevin Washington of Georgia Tech's previous record of 38 (2009-12).
School Record Books...Jackson holds the school records for yards gained/total offense (13,175), most 300-yard total offense games (27), most 400-yard total offense games (14), most yards rushing (4,132), most touchdowns rushing (50), 100-yard rushing games (23) most points responsible for (721), most touchdowns responsible for (119) while placing fourth with 9,043 yards passing. The record is 12,541 yards by Chris Redman (1996-99), followed by Brian Brohm (10,775; 2004-07) and Teddy Bridgewater (9,817; 2011-13)...His 619 pass completions placed fifth in school history, topped by Redman (1,031), Bridgewater (781), Brohm (780) and Dave Ragone (685; 1999-2002)...Jackson's 69 touchdown passes hold the fifth spot behind Redman (84), Ragone (74), Bridgewater (72) and Brohm (71)....Holds the school season records with twelve 300-yard games of total offense (2016) and most 100-yard rushing games (nine), as he ranks fifth with 3,660 yards passing in 2017, taking the seventh spot with 3,543 yards in 2016. The only other Cardinal to have multiple seasons with at least 3,500 aerial yards was Teddy Bridgewater (3,970 in 2013; 3,718 in 2012)...His 1,601 yards rushing in 2017 broke his own school record of 1,571 yards gained on the ground in 2016, which topped the old Louisville record of 1,429 yards by Howard Stevens in 1971. Jackson is the only player in school history to produce multiple seasons with at least 1,300 rushing yards...His 5,261 yards in total offense in 2017 broke his previous record of 5,114 yards during the 2016 campaign.
The 2017 Season...Jackson earned first-team All-American honors as an all-purpose back by The NFL Draft Report, adding second-team accolades as a quarterback by that scouting information service, the Associated Press, CBS Sports, Walter Camp and the Football Writers Association of America...The Manning Award finalist was chosen the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and ACC Offensive Player of the Year, a first in the league's 65-year history to earn the award in consecutive seasons...Named an All-ACC first team member for the second-straight year...Was on the watch lists for the Davey O’Brien Award (semi-finalist) and Walter Camp Award (finalist)...Was again named a Heisman Trophy Award finalist...Started all thirteen games, completing 254-of-430 passes (59.07%0 for 3,660 yards, 27 touchdowns and ten interceptions...Gained 1,601 yards with eighteen touchdowns on 232 carries (6.90 ypc), finishing with a school record 5,261 yards in total offense...Averaged 281.54 yards passing and 404.69 yards in total offense per game...Averaged 8.51 yards per pass attempt and 14.41 yards per pass completion...Turned the ball over three times on nine fumbles, with the opposition returning two for touchdowns...Had 48 of his incomplete passes deflected by the opposition (27.27%), as he was sacked 29 times for losses of 160 yards and pressured 31 times...Had 28 pass completions for at least 25 yards, producing two touchdowns on six tosses that generated fifty yards or more.
Best 2017 Season Performances...Purdue, North Carolina, Murray State, Boston College, Syracuse, Mississippi State (rushing)
Worst 2017 Season Performances...Clemson, Kent State, Florida State, Virginia (fumbles), Mississippi State (passing)
Critical Performance Factors
Body Structure... Jackson displays solid muscle tone and upper body definition. He has a good bubble, thick thighs and calves, a big frame with broad shoulders. He demonstrates good strength to absorb punishment as a pocket passer, with very good arm length, big hands, impressive chest thickness and developed quadriceps. He is also quite mobile for a player in the 216-pound range and he has room on that athletic frame to add at least another ten pounds of bulk to better absorb punishment at the professional level.
Athletic Ability...Jackson has impressive speed to escape pressure and enough arm strength to make all the throws. He is a more than just a scrambler, as he has the body control to be highly effective operating in the spread, as he excels when having to throw on the move. He can be sudden in his movements and shows the presence needed to buy himself time when his protection breaks down, as he is one of the most highly effective ball carriers in the college game at his position (50 touchdowns and 4,132 yards rushing, just one of two FBS players to ever run for 4,000 yards and pass for 9,000 yards in a career). He has a strong arm that allows him to deliver the long ball with touch and accuracy (see 2017 Clemson, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Syracuse games). He has the ability to put the ball where the receiver can catch it and shows good balance throwing on the move. One thing you notice is that he has the avoidance quickness stepping up in the pocket and the strength to pull away from pass rushers when pressured, but needs to work on ball security (25 fumbles in 38 games) and improve his lower body mechanics (quick, but will run into spots and struggles to redirect). He shows above average elusiveness on the run but needs to improve his change of direction agility, even though he shows the quickness to slide and move around the backfield. Do not be confused about his high amount of rushing yardage - he is not the type that will look to run at the first sign of pressure, but he can make plays with his feet, as he does a solid job of running with a normal stride and good balance.
Football Sense... Jackson is the type of quarterback that won’t make the same mistake twice. Even with mediocre protection up front (101 sacks in 38 games, including 46 in 2016), along with injuries that would sideline most any other quarterback, he showed incredible vision and patience. He has outstanding pocket pressure presence and good field vision. Things come naturally for him with the ball in his hands, but despite that ability, he still considers himself to be a student of the game, as he will put in the extra hours and effort to improve in every aspect of his game. He has the ability and intelligence to recognize coverage on his pre-snap scan of the field and in his pass drop. But, at the Combine, teams said he failed to impress in interviews and also during chalk sessions. His coaches dispute that, saying Jackson has no problem taking plays from the chalkboard to the playing field. He is field savvy, doing a very good job of making checks. He plays with good awareness and is a quick decision maker with the ball in his hands, but needs to throw the ball away when his targets are covered (most sacks are credited to poor offensive line play, but Jackson tries to get too creative and when he holds the ball too long and pressure is generated, a sack/fumble is likely).
Pass Set-Up...Jackson moves his feet very well to escape pressure, but has bare minimal snaps out of the pocket and scouts wonder how effective he will be when asked to set up and drive away from center to his pass point. He shows exceptional balance and body control in his movements and has more than enough foot speed to roll out and makes all his throws on the move. He is quick to scan the field and has that smooth, effortless follow-through to get the ball to his targets without having the receivers adjust (see 2017 North Carolina, Murray State and Virginia games). The thing you see on film is his ability to keep his feet under him while maintaining that balance. He can reach his throwing point with a normal stride and has good body control and agility, but can those skills also translate when he needs to drive back from center quickly at the NFL level?. When he steps into his throws, he is ready to unleash in an instant, doing a nice job sliding in and out of the pocket, but there are times where he struggles pushing away from the line of scrimmage in his drops, despite solid athleticism and ease-of-movement skills (needs to improve lower body mechanics).
Reading Defenses...Because of his youth and enthusiasm, there are times when Jackson will force the ball for the sake of making the play, evident by his low tosses vs. Kent State in 2017 (two pass thefts) and his meltdown vs. Mississippi State as a passer in the Taxslayer Bowl (13-of-31 passes with four interceptions, six sacks and six passes deflected). In the shot-gun, he demonstrates good field vision and poise, doing a nice job of locating his secondary targets rather than just lock on to primary ones and wait for something to happen, but when his protection breaks down, it looks like his hair is on fire, as he tries to make things happen with his feet. He has improved at anticipating the route’s progression and has a knack for hitting his receivers in stride. He has a nice shoulder pump fake to get the deep secondary to bite and does a fine job making pre-snap adjustments out of the spread. He does a nice job with his timing and touch, especially when attempting to get the ball over the coverage. He has no problem taking a sack or throwing it away, but there are times he relies upon his feet and he does have ball distribution concerns that led to 25 fumbles in 38 games. While he has the athletic ability to rely strictly on his strong arm, he has to learn how to make proper reads and stay within the frame-work of the offensive scheme better in order to be successful at the next level.
Release...When not operating under center, Jackson gets rid of it quickly with a smooth throwing motion. He will revert to more of a ¾ release point than going over the top (much like Phillip Rivers), but even with his lack of great height, he has the “big mitts” (9 1/2-inch hands) and long arms (33 1/8-inch arms) to have very good success in get his passes over the defenders, but when he reverts to that 3/4 release, a high amount of his tosses are defended (130 were broken up and 27 were intercepted on 1,086 attempts - 14.46% of his tries). You can see on film (see 2017 Purdue, North Carolina, Kent State and Kentucky games) that his short throwing motion is ideal at generating the speed to get the ball out in a hurry. He sets his feet well and throws with a tight spiral, displaying a fluid, natural motion on short-to-intermediate tosses. He has the quick feet to get to his throwing point, which is evident by his ability to almost instantly get to the area he needs to be ready to unleash the sphere. He can carry the ball medium/high and flick it out either with a high ¾ delivery or over the head. He has a compact release to unload the ball quickly and good mechanics when launching the ball long. He has improved his over-the-top release point, which allows him to generate better quickness with his tosses. When he throws with a long arc, he doesn’t always follow through, evident by his 69/27 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Arm Strength...Jackson has confidence in his arm strength, knowing he has the ability to fire the ball into tight places. He puts very good zip on his tosses, especially when firing it into the intermediate areas. He also has the power to throw the ball deep without much effort (see 2017 North Carolina, Kent State and Boston College games). He puts very good zip on all of his throws, especially in the intermediate area or when going long. He can throw in the seam with consistency and it is rare to see him deliver with a long arc on his deep outs. He just needs to be more conscious of setting his feet in order to put more power behind his tosses, even though he does throw the deep ball with good ease. He also knows how to vary his velocity on the ball when needed.
Accuracy...Because he was under constant pressure, Jackson developed this mentality where it was "him against the world" on most occasions. During his first two seasons, he only completed 60% of his passes in 10-of-25 games. He showed better ability to take something off the ball to make the easy throws in 2017, hitting the 60% completion mark seven times in thirteen appearances, but he seemed to lack the same good accuracy on his throws and failed to set his feet when under constant pressure, leading to some "clunkers" on the field last season (five sacks and an interception vs. Clemson; fumble led to a Kent State touchdown and two interceptions in that game; two fumbles recovered by Florida State for touchdown; six sacks, four interceptions, six pass deflections vs. Mississippi State, hitting on 41.9% of his passes). He throws a catch-able ball underneath and it is rare to see those receivers having to adjust. His long ball accuracy is evident by the way he can lead the receivers by putting the ball on the outside shoulder of his targets. While he gets good velocity and timing behind his throws, unless he sets his feet better and improves his lower body mechanics, you wonder if he can lead the receivers going deep and can put good touch on those throws operating out of the pocket at the NFL level.
Touch...Jackson has good eyes when at scanning the field, locating secondary targets and distributing the ball when not pressured. However, when he does not have much time to throw, he seems to lack the same touch and a quick wrist flick, along with losing some trajectory, which allows defensive linemen to have success batting down his throws at the line of scrimmage (48 in 2017; 41 in both 2015 and '16). If given time, he has the feel and anticipation ability of the receiver through the route’s progression and good overall timing and touch. He plays with good awareness, field smarts and athletic agility to slide or step up, but when flushed out, it turns into a five-alarm fire. Even though he does not operate under center much, he has the speed to take a three-step drop, but due to his lower body mechanic issues, at the NFL level, you wonder if he may hold the ball a little too long when he takes a longer (five-step) drop. He has developed a nice feel and awareness to anticipate when the receivers are coming out of their cuts and he makes good adjustments, but he needs total lower body refinement at the next level to be a Russell Wilson type, rather than an RG III disaster.
Poise...Jackson has very good poise and seems unflappable, but you wonder if all that pocket pressure has taken a toll on him - 101 sacks that resulted in losses of 672 yards and 25 fumbles. When well-protected, he can take his time scanning the field for the right target rather than try to force issues. When he is rushed, he has to do a better job of setting his feet throwing on the move. He has confidence in his athletic ability to buy time and even when he has to throw under duress, he will never get flustered by pressure. The thing I love about this guy is his moxie, as he has no problem holding the ball and throwing it in the face of a fierce pass rush (see 2017 Mississippi State, Wake Forest, North Carolina State and Clemson games).
Pocket Movement...While some NFL teams might want Jackson to be more of a drop-back passer than one who can easily roll out and throw, he has no problem making plays on the move – in fact, some of his best passes have come when under pressure and forced to improvise. He has excellent speed carrying the ball (except for ball security/distribution) and he has the vision and strength to make things happen with his feet. He can slide and avoid pocket pressure, doing a nice job of escaping and buying time. He is very mature and alert when maintaining focus down field, even under heavy pressure. He has some of the best movement skills for any quarterback in this draft class, especially when it comes to avoiding and eluding the pass rush, but there were some “leaks” in ball security (see 2017 Florida State and Virginia; 2016 Wake Forest games). He has the delivery timing needed to throw into windows and can keep the play alive by stepping up and finding lanes when avoiding the pass rush.
Compares To...Randall Cunningham-ex Philadelphia/Minnesota Vikings...Some scouts liken him to Michael Vick, but Jackson is not that type of riverboat gambler. Others compare him to Drew Brees, but I doubt that he will ever have that impeccable accuracy of the Saints standout. Jackson might be the best athletic quarterback in this draft class, but he is also one that will need a patient coach, especially one who can help improve his lower body mechanics. He’s a confident leader who knows how to take command in the huddle and is very mobile moving around in the backfield. Jackson puts very good zip behind the short and mid-range passes and shows veteran-like field judgment and keen field vision. He has a take-charge attitude and is very cool under pressure. He excels and connecting with receivers in motion with impressive velocity.