The game of football played at the NFL level begins and ends with the quarterback position. If you have one, you have a chance to win games and championships. If you don’t, you have no chance.
Quarterbacks have won 36 of the 58 NFL MVP awards and been the first overall pick in 14 of the 24 drafts of the salary-cap era. That explains why successful college quarterbacks are in a rush to get to the NFL. There’s money to be made and glory to be achieved. Four underclass quarterbacks have declared for the 2018 NFL draft: Josh Allen of Wyoming, Sam Darnold of Southern Cal, Lamar Jackson of Louisville and Josh Rosen of UCLA. That group -- plus Oklahoma senior Baker Mayfield – could provide an answer for several quarterback-needy NFL teams.
That’s the subject of our weekly Talk of Fame Network poll – which quarterback in the 2018 draft would you want? Here are your choices:
Josh Allen, Wyoming. Allen spent his first season in junior college, then transferred to Wyoming for a redshirt season in 2015. He became a starter in 2016 and authored one of the greatest seasons ever by a Wyoming quarterback, passing for 3,203 yards and 28 touchdowns and rushing for seven more. In 2017 he passed for four touchdowns in a game against New Mexico and three more against Texas State, but his season was slowed by a shoulder injury that cost him 10 quarters. He passed for 1,812 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions, rushing for five more scores.
Sam Darnold, Southern Cal. Darnold redshirted as a freshman, then became a two-year starter for the Trojans. He passed for 3,086 yards with 31 touchdowns and only nine interceptions in 2016, then passed for 4,143 yards with 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2017. He had eight 300-yard passing games last season, including 397 against Texas, 358 against Utah and 356 against Ohio State. He threw for four touchdowns against Stanford and three apiece against Texas, Utah, Arizona State and Oregon State. He also rushed for five touchdowns.
Lamar Jackson, Louisville. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner. Jackson also led the NCAA in total offense in 2017 with 404.7 yards per game. Jackson passed for 3,660 yards with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and also rushed for 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns. He finished sixth in the NCAA in rushing last season. He passed for 393 yards against North Carolina, 354 against North Carolina State and 332 against Boston College. He also rushed for 180 yards against Boston College, 178 versus Florida State and 158 versus Mississippi State. He threw for three touchdowns in four games and rushed for three scores in three other games.
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma. The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner. Mayfield led the NCAA in passing last season with a 198.9 efficiency rating. A former walk-on at two schools (Texas Tech and Oklahoma), Mayfield finished second in the nation in both passing yards (4,627) and touchdowns (43) last season and fifth in total offense with an average of 352.7 yards per game. He also passed for 3,965 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2016 and 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns in 2015. Mayfield threw for 598 yards and five touchdowns against Oklahoma State in 2017, 386 yards and three touchdowns against Ohio State and 333 yards and three touchdowns against TCU.
Josh Rosen, UCLA. The first true freshman ever to start at quarterback for the Bruins. Allen became a three-year starter, setting a school record with his 3,756 passing yards in 2017 and finishing third on the school’s all-time list with 9,341 career passing yards. He missed seven games in 2016 with a shoulder injury that required surgery and two more games in 2017 with first a hand injury and then a concussion. He threw for 491 yards and four touchdowns against Texas A&M last season, 480 yards and three touchdowns against Stanford and 421 yards and three scores against Southern Cal.