The NFL Draft is on the horizon and all 32 teams will be aiming to significantly improve their rosters for the 2018 season and beyond by plucking the best talent from the college game.
The Cleveland Browns own the first selection in the Draft following their winless 2017 campaign. The consensus suggests that they will pick a quarterback, with a number of quality competitors available and worthy of selection.
Taking the right player with the selection can make-or-break the franchise. The Indianapolis Colts were on the money when they acquired Peyton Manning in 1998, with the future Hall of Famer revolutionising the team.
However, there’s also the other side of the coin when the Oakland Raiders selected Jamarcus Russell, who has been handed the unfortunate tag of the biggest Draft bust in history.
We’ll now break down the top prospects available and see which quarterback will be selected first in the 2018 Draft.
The 20-year-old has been linked with the number-one pick for almost 18 months. His breakout season for the USC Trojans in the 2016 campaign brought him to the attention of NFL teams. As a freshman he threw for 31 touchdowns to just nine interceptions, displaying a high level of accuracy. Darnold was not able to maintain his high standards last season, with the eyes of the college and NFL worlds on him. He threw for more yards, passing the 4,000 mark. However, Darnold forced the issue with his passes downfield, resulting in a greater number of interceptions. Against stronger opposition the 20-year-old had problems putting points on the board, none more so than his side’s 24-7 defeat to the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Cotton Bowl.
That experience could stand him in good stead going forward. Despite his flaws, Hue Jackson has proven ability at developing quarterback, although Deshone Kizer may not agree after the 2017 season. Darnold has a stronger skill set and will have time to sit behind Tyrod Taylor. If Cleveland opt to select a quarterback with the first-overall pick – the safest option would appear to be Darnold, although recent USC signal-callers have not thrived. Jackson and general manager John Dorsey will have the confidence to select him, despite that record. Therefore his odds of -242 with Bookmaker EU are certainly worth considering.
Rosen could be the safest option out of all of the quarterbacks available in the selection process. His form on the field for the UCLA Bruins was solid and he benefitted from playing in a pro-style system under former head coach Jim Mora. Rosen has three years as a starter under his belt, although the majority of his sophomore term was lost due to injury. The 21-year-old was extremely impressive in the 2017 campaign, throwing 26 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. Despite his form, Mora did not provide a glowing endorsement, suggesting that he would select Darnold ahead of his former quarterback.
Reports have not been overly kind to Rosen during the evaluation period. There have been questions about his character on and off-the-field, while his durability has also raised eyebrows. However, for pure product on the field, Rosen remains one of the most talented quarterbacks in the selection and could be a day-one starter for a team. If the Browns were to pass one of the sides below them in the Draft would certainly move to snap him. There has even been talk of teams moving up to acquire his services. Time will tell, but appears the Browns are off him and looking elsewhere for their quarterback of the future.
Allen has risen up draft boards during the evaluation process following the end of the 2017 term. The 21-year-old put forward an impressive display at the NFL Combine with his athleticism and poise in the pocket. Allen possesses the most powerful arm out of the quarterbacks available in the 2018 Draft, which can be alluring for coaches and GMs. He fared well in his time with the Wyoming Cowboys, although his statistics did not leap of the page. The level of competition Allen faced during his two years as a starter for the Cowboys is also a concern. Compared to that of his rivals the Mountain West Conference does stand up against the PAC-12.
Allen threw for 8 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his sophomore year before throwing 16 touchdowns and six interceptions last term. His completion percentage was in the mid-50s, with the best NFL passes coming close to 70%. He has rare physical skills that could be worth a gamble with a top-10 pick. However, given the Browns situation they would be best off passing on the quarterback even if he had time to sit behind Taylor. Jackson could be intrigued by his traits, which could see them go for him at odds of +128 with Bookmaker.
Mayfield is a tantalising prospect. The 23-year-old can make plays with his arm along with his feet, drawing comparisons to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson with his style of play. On the basis of his college performances he has a talent level comparable to Wilson. However, the test will be whether he has the character and mental skills to cope with the highest level. The Browns could be swayed by a decision they made in 2014 to draft Johnny Manziel out of Texas A&M. Unfortunately for Mayfield he shares similarities with Manziel’s style of play and has had a couple of off-the-field incidents that may force teams to shy away from him.
He began his college career in 2013 at Texas Tech, but moved on after just one season. As a result, he was forced to miss the 2014 term following his transfer to the Oklahoma Sooners. When he eventually took to the field, Mayfield proved to be a star. He threw 117 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in his three terms for the Sooners in the Big 12. Last term he duelled it out with the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Playoff semi-final at the Rose Bowl, losing in overtime after his offense put 48 points on the board. His talent is off the charts, but the Browns’ experience with Manziel will steer them away from the 23-year-old.
Sam Darnold To Be First Quarterback Selected 2018 Draft
Thursday 26th April 2018 20:00 ET (Friday 27th April 01:00 BST)
Josh Allen To Be First Quarterback Selected 2018 Draft
Thursday 26th April 2018 20:00 ET (Friday 27th April 01:00 BST)
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