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Crabbs | Week One 2018 QB Stock Watch

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NFL Draft

Crabbs | Week One 2018 QB Stock Watch

Everyone loves a good quarterback conversation. Each week, I’ll be putting together observations on a large group of 2018 eligible passers. Please do not confuse these for rankings, prospects will be listed in alphabetical order to avoid that confusion. Instead, think of this as your running inventory on who is performing to the standards needed to be considered a potential NFL franchise quarterback.

Josh Allen, Wyoming

The Allen hype train reached fever pitch this summer, when Allen was compared to Cam Newton in terms of his ceiling and physical skills. It was almost impossible for Allen to come out and perform to that expectation. He struggled with decision making and ball security against the Hawkeyes, as National Scout Jon Ledyard noted in his game notes from the week. Allen gets a tune up this week against Gardner-Webb before possibly the last Power 5 match up of his career (Oregon on 9/16). He’s got to perform well in that game, or else he’s going to be dogged by level of competition throughout the draft process.

Highlight throw: 

Stock from preseason: Down

Jake Browning, Washington

Browning had a great season from a statistics perspective in 2016: a great TD:INT ratio and a ton of yards. But I was left underwhelmed when taking in Browning live against Rutgers on Friday night. His arm did not appear to be live seeing him throw against a lower level Big Ten defense; and he was consistently seeing ghosts in the pocket after getting knocked around in the first quarter.

Browning didn’t come with top QB expectations this summer, but I didn’t think he looked anything more than a late draft option in his opening bout of 2017. But again, that’s just one of many games to come.

Highlight throw: 

Stock from preseason: Down

Sam Darnold, Southern Cal

There’s a theme developing here, if you haven’t noticed. Darnold, like Allen, fizzled in the opening week. Now, there’s some context to both Allen and Darnold’s situations that does deserve to be mentioned: both passers lost their top two receiving targets from the previous year. There was a lot of change along the offensive line. But moving parts doesn’t excuse poor decisions, which Darnold made several of against Western Michigan. Making the same throws into coverage against Stanford will have an uglier end result; Darnold has to be better.

Highlight throw: 

Stock from the preseason: Down

Luke Falk, Washington State

Falk is a tricky assessment. He’s not really asked to work the full field of play with consistency. So even though Falk went 33-39 from the field for over 300 yards passing in an opening win against Montana State; don’t get too excited. Less than 5 throws for Falk traveled 10 yards or further down the field. This is consistently going to be an issue in Falk’s assessment this year: Mike Leach’s offense doesn’t call for a lot of intermediate and deep throws unless they get good pre-snap looks. Falk has been conditioned to get the ball out very quickly, and though his production was excellent, he’s not playing a sustainable model for NFL success.

Highlight throw: 

Stock from the preseason: Same

Ryan Finley, North Carolina State

Finley played a tremendous three quarters against the Gamecocks in Charlotte on Saturday. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to fully rally the team from a 14 point 4th quarter deficit, the team ran out of chances inside the red zone and lost 35-28. But the budding passer was able to make a lot of great timing throws into the intermediate area of the field and his rhythm to get the ball out at the top of his drop was impeccable in the first half. The Wolfpack shouldn’t be relying on him to throw the ball 64 times a game each week, but it’s got to be great to know you can have a reliable high volume passer when needed. I was impressed with his poise down the stretch.

Highlight throw: 

Stock from the preseason: Up

Will Grier, West Virginia

What a treat it was to see Grier really come into his own as a passer down the stretch and nearly will the Mountaineers to a come from behind victory against Virginia Tech. The Hokies secondary has a number of pros in it, and Grier was able to torch them for almost 400 yards. But it was the touch over the middle of the field, the comfort from the pocket, the escapability under duress and his willingness to lay it all out on the line and put his body in harm’s way for a first down that really got me excited. You had to know Grier was going to put up numbers in the Mountaineers offense. But he made a lot of NFL throws over the middle of the field against the Hokies too.

Highlight throw: 

Stock from the preseason: Up

Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Probably the best performance of any QB prospect this week. Jackson has always been electric as both a passer and a runner, but his long touchdown to beat Cover 2 coverage as he thread the needle is the kind of throw we need to see EVERY week. Jackson’s flashes have been strong, but I did feel he missed a notable number of targets outside the hashes last year. He saw the field very well this weekend and provided his development as a passer continues, he’s going to quiet a lot of critics. If Jackson keeps hitting window throws down the field into the middle of the season, look out.

Highlight throw: 

Stock from the preseason: Up

Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

I’m trying not to get too carried away with a 95% completion against UTEP. Mayfield was excellent. And if you’d shown me this performance at this time last year, I’d have his needle pointing up. But I’ve found myself warming to the idea of Mayfield as a NFL passer. He’s loose, has baseline arm traits and has a knack for big plays (not unlike the previously mentioned Will Grier). Mayfield is going to gut defenses all season long, so perhaps his biggest litmus test of the year will be next week against the Ohio State Buckeyes. OSU has the team speed to corral him when he’s on the move, so Mayfield *has* to win from the pocket next week.

Highlight throw: 

Stock from the preseason: Same

Josh Rosen, UCLA

The Rosen Coaster was way down and then suddenly way up, as the junior passer helped the team reel off 35 (THIRTY FIVE!) unanswered points to stun the Aggies 45-44. Rosen made a number of throws he shouldn’t have and was fortunate to have not turned the ball over on the way through the comeback. And the first half was riddled with poor accuracy, high duress and a lot of hits. But you have to credit Rosen for staying into the game and the way he kept plugging at a massive deficit. In the end, the flashes of natural arm ability and leadership make this a “win” for Rosen, even though everyone knows his stat sheet is misleadingly gaudy. Rosen and the Bruins should reconvene on their protection schemes to help keep Rosen cleaner early in games, which should allow him to find that groove he had as the team stormed back for the win.

Highlight throw: 

Stock from the preseason: Same

Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

I can envision Rudolph standing off in the corner, leaning into the microphone: “Is this thing on? Hello?” The guy white washed Tulsa but has been an general afterthought this weekend. Let’s get this out of the way: yes, Rudolph plays in a big play friendly offense and he’s always going to have plays made for him by James Washington down the field. But watching Rudolph is about more than just watching him push the ball down the field. Take note next time you see the Cowboys play at how active he is at the line of scrimmage. He’s in total control of his offense. That mastery, plus his ability to hit throws accurately into the boundary, are his two best traits. I thought you saw more of the same this weekend against Tulsa. I’m ruling his stock as equal to the preseason but only because I view him as a potential top 40 pick.

Highlight throw: 

Stock from the preseason: Same


Best wishes to Florida State passer Deondre Francois, who would have undoubtedly held a spot in this group if not for the knee injury he suffered against Alabama. Francois is a rising star on the college ranks who has exciting next level traits as well. Here’s hoping we find him back on the field again at 100% in 2018.

Other names to watch:  JT Barrett (Ohio State), Richard Lagow (Indiana), Wilton Speight (Michigan), Jarrett Stidham (Auburn), Clayton Thorson (Northwestern), Mike White (Western Kentucky), Logan Woodside (Toled0)

Kyle Crabbs

Kyle Crabbs is the founder/Director of Scouting of NDT Scouting Services, a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the lead NFL Draft analyst for the FanRag Sports Network.

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