The Quarterbacks: Part 2
by: Josh Golden
This past April, the NFL Draft was full of quarterbacks loaded with potential and hype. Five quarterbacks were selected in the first round, and all five of the quarterbacks have started multiple games in their rookie year.
Baker Mayfield, the first overall pick of the Cleveland Browns, began the season on the bench but was forced into the lineup in week three when Tyrod Taylor went down with an injury at home against the Jets on Thursday Night Football. Baker came into the game for a team that was on a 19 game losing streak and facing a 14-0 deficit when he entered the game in the final minutes of the first half. Somehow, Mayfield pulled out a 21-17 victory in front of the Dawg Pound and provided the city of Cleveland with some free Bud Light. Dilly Dilly Browns fans, Dilly Dilly. Since that game, Baker has started the last nine games, posting a 3-6 record along with a 63.3% completion percentage, over 2,600 yards, and a passer rating over 90. However, Baker has only put up 18 touchdowns to go with his 10 interceptions. He’s been very promising, but still has some room to grow in his final four games.
Sam Darnold, the third overall pick of the New York Jets, began this season as the week one starter and opened with an impressive win in Detroit. However, the USC product hasn’t looked as promising since that Monday night. Just like Baker, he’s posted a 3-6 record as a starter, but has more interceptions than touchdowns and less than 2,000 yards to go with his 55% completion percentage. Darnold went down with an injury in a week nine battle with Miami but is expected to return this week in Buffalo. Jets fans should be excited for his return because despite a rocky start for the rookie, he’s not playing with less on the line, allowing him the opportunity to get reps in lower pressure situations. The last four games of this season will be critical for Darnold’s confidence heading into next year and could really help the quarterback become a smarter passer.
Josh Allen, the seventh overall pick of the Buffalo Bills, made his NFL debut in week one in relief of Nathan Peterman. Yes, that Nathan Peterman, the one who managed to throw five interceptions in a half last season, starting in week one. Allen took over the starting job in week two and played pretty well in his next five starts before going down with an elbow injury. Allen missed a month from the injury but has played two games since, looking a lot more impressive both throwing and running the ball. Not only has Allen impressed Bills Mafia with his rocket arm, but his ability to turn on the jets and run have been jaw dropping, including his beautiful hurdle over Anthony Barr. However, Allen only has 1,223 yards, a 52.9% completion percentage, a 66.3 passer rating, and nine total touchdowns to go with his seven interceptions in eight appearances. Allen has a 3-4 record as a starter and could really use these next four games to continue to show what he learned from his month spent on the bench from his elbow injury. He’s looked a lot more impressive in his last two starts and needs to continue to build off of his success if he wants to establish himself as the savior Bills fans dream of at the quarterback position.
Josh Rosen, the tenth overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals, made his debut in relief of Sam Bradford during a week three home loss against Chicago. Rosen has started every game since, posting a 3-6 record to go with his 1,670 yards, 54.2% completion percentage, 68.2 passer rating, 10 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Rosen has looked like your typical rookie: showing a ton of promise and potential but not playing smart football. Rosen has shown off his knowledge and love for the game along with his drive to win, along with showing the world that he struggles in finding the open man, like plenty of rookies do. Rosen, being as smart as he is, will likely pick up on this as he goes, making the final four games of his season critical in improving his decision making.
Lamar Jackson, the thirty-second overall pick of the Baltimore Ravens, has played sporadically throughout the season, often playing a few snaps a game as a distraction and occasionally running the ball or making a quick pass. However, Joe Flacco’s hip injury has given Jackson the opportunity to start the last three games and shine. Jackson has won all three of his starts, yet has passed for only one touchdown along with three interceptions along with failing to throw for over 200 yards. Jackson has showed a lot of potential both throwing and running the ball, but still has a ton of room to grow in his decision making in the next four games.
All five first round quarterbacks have been impressive when they’re on the field, but some have looked more impressive than others. Baker has looked like the best of the group so far, followed by Allen, Rosen, Darnold, and Jackson in last simply due to lack of play time. However, the rankings of these quarterbacks will certainly change throughout their careers, as their rookie seasons are less about results and more about development for the future. All five signal callers have shown promise and their teams are still optimistic that they’ll be the franchise quarterback for years to come.