Sam Darnold
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Quarterback has always been the most important position on the field, so it’s no surprise that they go high in the NFL Draft. Where will the top signal-callers wind up in 2018?

With the draft cycle going full circle we are starting to see more moves, more news, and more rumors. While there’s still plenty of time before Roger Goodell takes the stage to announce each first-round pick there’s still been plenty of speculation as to where each notable QB lands.

The Group

This year’s class of quarterbacks is full of players with what many perceive to be serious potential and upside.

Whether it’s the hope that improved mechanics takes a turnover-riddled player like Sam Darnold from a good to great QB or it’s dreams that Josh Allen finds better accuracy on Sundays than he did on Saturdays.

Let’s take a look at this year’s group and where they’re projected to be taken.

QuarterbackCollegeProjected Draft Round
Sam DarnoldUSC1st Round
Josh RosenUCLA1st Round
Josh AllenWyoming1st Round
Baker MayfieldOklahoma1st Round
Lamar JacksonLouisville1st Round
Mason RudolphOklahoma State1st/2nd Round
Kyle LaulettaRichmond1st/3rd Round
Mike WhiteWestern Kentucky4th/6th Round
Luke FalkWashington State4th/6th Round
Logan WoodsideToledo5th/7th Round
JT BarrettOhio State5th/7th Round

Sad Truths of the Draft

QBs go too early in mock drafts—and maybe too late on draft day

Go back and look at some mock drafts and you’ll see guys like DeShone Kizer and Davis Webb (2017), Connor Cook (2016), and Geno Smith (2013) picked well before they were actually selected.

Teams rightfully take guys they believe are the key to fixing their franchise, but it seems they have a stricter criterion than mock-makers. So while there’s talk of guys like Mason Rudolph and Kyle Lauletta going late first round, don’t be surprised to see them wind up going somewhere between the second-and-fourth rounds.

Not every QB is drafted to start or eventually start; not every team with an old QB will draft a successor.

Another common case in predictions for quarterbacks is placing them in places where they can eventually take over. Sadly, that just doesn’t happen all the time. A prime example is one QB I mentioned earlier in Connor Cook.

One prime landing spot in many mocks for Cook was the Dallas Cowboys. Cook eventually was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Raiders picked Cook with no intention of him ever becoming a starter. Derek Carr had just been selected in the 2014 NFL Draft and was making quick work of his opportunity impressing the Raiders to commit to him as their likely franchise QB.

The selection of Cook was basically the Raiders taking the best available player. Say what you will about his talent or the pick, but there were people who believed he would go somewhere to be a starter after a season or two.

While we all root for prospects to end up in places of opportunity, it just isn’t the case.

The Predictions

Sam Darnold to the Cleveland Browns

Pick: Round 1, Pick 1

Explanation: It seems when it comes to draft consensus, the opinions on Darnold vary the most. I believe Darnold will be a very good starter and I’m glad to see the Cleveland Browns finally going and getting a guy to believe in. Cleveland fans will be wary due to the team’s poor history with QBs, but I think Darnold could be special, and with the talent surrounding him the odds of success are even better.

Josh Rosen to the New York Jets

Pick: Round 1, Pick 3

Explanation: For me, this pick will either be Baker Mayfield or Rosen. The Jets got up close and personal with both QBs before they traded up to get the third overall pick and my prediction is Rosen because his pro day was the day before the trade.

Many believe the Giants will go QB at No. 2, but I expect GM Dave Gettleman to go with Saquon Barkley, with the hope of contending in what will likely be Eli Manning‘s final year. Rosen is a QB that, as long as he stays healthy, should have it all. The guy can wing it to all parts of the field and is a personality made for the New York media.

While he may be questioned about his character, I choose to think Rosen questions people not out of selfishness or lack of discipline but for the betterment of himself and the team. The Jets missed out on the Kirk Cousins frenzy but Rosen is a terrific consolation prize.

Josh Allen to the Buffalo Bills

Pick: Round 1, Pick 4 (via CLE via HOU)

Explanation: Whether or not you believe in Allen, the Bills love potential. Last year, GM Doug Whaley traded out of the 10th slot and was later fired due to the owner’s love for Pat Mahomes.

Personally, I feel Mahomes is a way better prospect than Allen but I think it’s hard not to imagine that Terry Pegula doesn’t have at least similar feelings about Allen. The Bills have made it obvious they were looking for their future QB last year. This is the year they finally move up and get one.

Baker Mayfield to the Denver Broncos

Pick: Round 1, Pick 5

Explanation: Mayfield has had a huge rise since last offseason when it comes to draft boards. The Browns have a lot of guys inside the organization that love Mayfield but I don’t think they opt for him with the first overall pick. So welcome to Denver, Mr. Mayfield!

With the ability to both throw the ball downfield and move around in the pocket, he will be able to survive Denver’s lack of an offensive line. The likely scenario is Case Keenum will start four-to-eight games before the Broncos turn to the reigning Heisman Trophy winner to try and jumpstart their season.

Lamar Jackson to the Arizona Cardinals

Pick: Round 1, Pick 15

Explanation: Despite signing Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon, the Cardinals need a long-term answer at the position. Lamar Jackson is a perfect fit for Arizona’s offense this season with David Johnson to rely on and Larry Fitzgerald as a go-to receiver.

Bradford will hold the starting job for however long he can stay healthy (hopefully all year), but Jackson will be ready to take the field if and when he goes down. The Cardinals must address their lack of receiving options, so look for them to take advantage of the deep draft class and add some pieces from the remaining free agents.

Mason Rudolph to the New England Patriots

Pick: Round 2, Pick 63

Explanation: When offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels met with owner Robert Kraft before turning down the chance to become the head coach in Indianapolis—an offer he had previously accepted—I believe two things were promised to him: That he’d be Bill Belichick’s replacement and that he’d have his choice of quarterbacks in this draft class.

Despite coming from an offense that is simple in comparison to the NFL and certainly New England, Rudolph has a lot of tools that McDaniels will be able to work with to create the next era after Tom Brady officially hangs up his cleats.

Kyle Lauletta to the Miami Dolphins

Pick: Round 4, Pick 123

Explanation: I went against my own statement that QBs often don’t find themselves in spots where they can take over but this pick is purely based on the fact that the Dolphins have yet to re-sign backup Matt Moore, who may be able to get a better contract elsewhere.

Lauletta brings some life to the QB room and provides insurance in case Ryan Tannehill goes down with another injury. Lauletta is a very accurate passer who relies on smart decision-making and precision but lacks a bit in terms of pure arm talent. Whether or not he becomes a starter in Miami doesn’t change the fact that he has very good odds of being a good backup for quite some time.

Mike White to the Houston Texans

Pick: Round 6, Pick 177

Explanation: The Texans were likely a playoff team before injuries to Deshaun Watson and a powerful front seven ruined their season. Sadly for White, he won’t be going to the Texans with anyone planning for him to start, but he could find himself in a worse situation.

Watson isn’t yet proven despite his impressive play early in his rookie year and if he does happen to get hurt again, head coach Bill O’Brien may not be shy to hand the keys over to White after his impressive Senior Bowl performance under the Texans’ staff.

Luke Falk to the Baltimore Ravens

Pick: Round 6, Pick 190

Explanation: The Ravens took a lot of scrutiny last season when Joe Flacco got injured and the team ignored the talent available on the market. Falk put up some impressive numbers at Washington State but, buyer beware as many of Mike Leach’s quarterbacks don’t pan out well in the NFL. Falk certainly isn’t the best of them.

Logan Woodside to the Carolina Panthers

Pick: Round 7, Pick 234

Explanation: This prediction could change after we hear what Derek Anderson is doing, but the Panthers need a quarterback to play behind Cam Newton in case he goes down. Brad Kaaya could potentially be an option, but adding a guy like Woodside to the mix helps add competition and give the coaching staff options.

JT Barrett to the Cincinnati Bengals

Pick: Round 7, Pick 252

Explanation: The Bengals don’t intend to replace Andy Dalton as some fans would like. Barrett has times where he can be impressive as a QB but his flaws outweigh those. The Bengals bring in Barrett as a local guy to play in the preseason and possibly compete with Jeff Driskel for the QB3 spot but that’s about as far as it goes.