College Football’s opening week is in the books. Did the New York Jets learn anything new about the four quarterbacks they’re likely considering in the 2018 NFL draft?
The beauty of the NCAA football season is that anything can happen. A player’s attributes can be refined on the biggest of stages, and a quarterback can display why he is a true “Field General.”
For the New York Jets’ four main NFL quarterback prospect targets, the media can be unfair and reactionary. While it may only be one game, it’s one game that can have lucrative stakes attached to it.
Over the Labor Day weekend, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Mason Rudolph and Josh Allen took center stage to make a first impression on not only Heisman Trophy voters, but NFL talent evaluators. It was a mixed bag of results for the signal callers.
For Rosen and Rudolph, it was apparent that they belong in the mix as the top quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. The duo was sensational, displaying great decision making and talented arms. Those are the kinds of attributes sure to get the attention of Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan.
While Darnold wasn’t dismal, he made some decisions that left pundits scratching their heads. Allen may have been the biggest loser over the weekend, showing no ability to figure out or make adjustments against a stifling Iowa Hawkeyes’ defense.
There’s no reason to overreact about one result, but it does shift the power rankings of the four. Let’s take a look at where each stands:
1. Josh Rosen, UCLA
Result: 45-44 Win vs. Texas A&M
Final Stat Line: 35-of-59, 491 YDS, 4 TD
It wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine for Rosen on Sunday night. Rosen’s UCLA Bruins trailed Texas A&M, 44-10 in the third quarter of the affair.
What happened from that point on, though, will be remembered in the UCLA locker room for years to come. Rosen became the leader and player that NFL scouts beg their GMs to trade up for in the draft.
With the Bruins unable to move the ball on the ground, Rosen was forced to throw the ball a staggering 59 times. He picked up over 400-yards in the air, connecting for four touchdowns.
While no UCLA team had ever come back from a 34-point deficit, it was the gamble of a fake spike at the end of the game that pundits will continuously rave about. Rosen delivered as gutsy of a performance as we may see this season.
Where to watch next: 9/9 vs. Hawaii, 5:00 p.m. ET, PAC12 Network
2. Sam Darnold, USC
Result: 49-31 Win vs. Western Kentucky
Final Stat Line: 23-of-33, 289 YDS, 2 INT, 1 RTD
For Darnold, Saturday’s win over Western Kentucky will be marred by the two interceptions he threw against the Broncos. Luckily for him, the errant throws didn’t hinder the USC Trojans from ultimately pulling off the win against a rising program.
It wasn’t all bad for Darnold, who contributed in the running game, equalizing the trickery of the Western Kentucky offense. Darnold rushed for an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter to knot the score, 21-21. The back and forth contest wound up in the Trojans favor as the Broncos offense sputtered in the fourth quarter.
Fortunately for Darnold, he has plenty of chances to win back the media and talent evaluators, with PAC12 games and the always highly publicized matchup with Notre Dame still to come.
It’s almost unimaginable that Darnold will struggle the same way he did Saturday later in the season. His best is yet to come.
If he can showcase the same eye-popping arm and decision making that he did against Penn State in the Rose Bowl, he’ll jump back to the top of the list for the 2018 NFL draft.
Where to watch next: 9/9 vs. Stanford, 8:30 p.m. ET, FOX
3. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Result: 59-24 Win vs. Tulsa
Final Stat Line: 20-of-24, 303 YDS, 3 TD
Though the Oklahoma State Cowboys may have begun the season against a lesser opponent than those that USC and UCLA faced, Rudolph reminded everyone why he’s a member of this elite class of college quarterbacks.
Not only did he display the ability to make all sorts of different throws, his deep ball was on point. Rudolph connected for three touchdowns over 40 yards in the blowout victory.
Even with that impressive aerial display, Rudolph’s efficiency, completing 20 of 24 passes, was the real story. If Rudolph can continue this impressive streak of great decision-making, he’ll erase any doubts that he can’t succeed outside of the spread offense.
Tulsa might have been an easy matchup for Oklahoma State, but Rudolph is going to be tested once BIG12 games commence. A date with the rival Oklahoma Sooners isn’t far away, and he’ll have to shine if he and the No. 10 Cowboys are going to climb in the polls.
Where to watch: 9/8 vs. South Alabama, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
4. Josh Allen, Wyoming
Result: 24-3 Loss vs. Iowa
Final Stat Line: 23-of-40, 174 YDS, 2 INT
The Iowa Hawkeyes have built their legacy on defense. That defensive prowess was too much for Josh Allen to overcome alone, as his Wyoming Cowboys fell to the power conference school.
At times Allen looked lost. While not all the blame can fall on his shoulders, the two interceptions he threw were dismal and his decision-making questionable at best.
Halftime Dumpster Fire Power Ratings 4. Josh Allen Heisman campaign 3. Kent State passing game 2. Mizzou defense 1. Texas. Subject to change
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) September 2, 2017
There was one series in which, rather than take a sack, Allen was flagged for intentional grounding. That shows a lack of maturity and a need for significant growth.
It’s going to be nearly impossible for him to get ahead of the other three QBs on this list, but Allen still has ample time to reassert himself as a legitimate NFL prospect.
Where to watch: 9/9 vs. Gardner-Webb, 4:00 p.m. ET, American Trigger Sports Network