The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece provides the FantasyLabs rankings for the quarterbacks of the 2018 draft class.
For more information on the five highest-rated quarterbacks in the class, see my quarterback comparisons piece on Rotoworld. To stay up to date during the entire NFL Draft process, Rotoworld is your one-stop-shop for around-the-clock draft news and analysis. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Rotoworld Football Podcast and follow Rotoworld on Twitter and Facebook!
Updated as of Mar. 9.
1. Sam Darnold, Southern California
Redshirt Sophomore | 6’3″ and 221 Pounds | Born June 5, 1997 (Age: 20) | Projection: Round 1
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.85 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 6.96 | 20-yard shuttle: 4.4 sec | vertical: 26.5 in | broad: 105 in
After sitting out his first year on campus, Darnold was a star for USC in 2016, completing 67.2 percent of his passes for 3,086 yards and 31 touchdowns to nine interceptions. He regressed in 2017, completing ‘just’ 63.1 percent of his passes for 4,143 yards and 26 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. Although he dropped to 8.5 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) from 9.0, his 2017 mark was still solid, and a 0.5 AY/A drop isn’t all that drastic. On the whole, the USC passing offense was still a top unit last year. Per Football Study Hall, in 2016 the Trojans were fourth in Passing S&P+ (135.0) and fifth in passing success rate (51.2 percent). In 2017 they were 11th (123.9) and 10th (47.3 percent): Darnold was a little less consistent and dynamic last year than he was the year prior, but he was still good — especially for a young second-year Power Five starter. At a minimum, he has pro-level arm talent and good mobility, averaging 2.3 yards per carry (including sacks) for his career. In a quarterback class loaded with underclassmen who have declared early, Darnold is the best.
For more, see Darnold’s player profile.
2. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Redshirt Senior | 6’1″ and 215 Pounds | Born April 14, 1995 (Age: 22) | Projection: Round 1
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.84 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 7.0 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.28 sec | vertical: 29 in | broad: 111 in
If all that mattered in prospect evaluation were college production, the 2017 Heisman winner would easily be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft. OU’s passing attack in 2017 ranked first in both Passing S&P+ and success rate (Football Study Hall). Mayfield is the only player in the 14-year history of ESPN’s Total QBR metric with two seasons above 90.0. A four-year starter, Mayfield in his three final seasons had an absurdly elite mark of 11.9 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) — and he improved each season, posting a 6.3 AY/A as a freshman, 10.4 as a sophomore, and 12.3 and 12.9 as a junior and senior. With a 96.2 overall grade, Mayfield was Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 offensive college football player in 2017, ranking first with an 82.6 percent adjusted completion rate, 134.8 passer rating on throws of 20-plus yards, and 105.3 passer rating under pressure.
For more, see Mayfield’s player profile.
3. Josh Rosen, California-Los Angeles
Junior | 6’4″ and 226 Pounds | Born February 10, 1997 (Age: 21) | Projection: Round 1
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.92 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 7.09 | 20-yard shuttle: 4.28 sec | vertical: 31 in | broad: 111 in
At the beginning of 2018, Rosen was a -120 favorite to be the first quarterback selected in the 2018 draft. Even so, the Browns own the top pick, new general manager John Dorsey has said that the team’s top priority this offseason is finding a quarterback, and before he was hired Dorsey reportedly labeled Rosen as a “stay away” prospect. Most years, though, Rosen would be a candidate to be the first quarterback off the board and is almost certain to be selected in the top 10 (if not the top five). As a high-schooler Rosen was one of the top quarterback recruits in the country, and at UCLA he opened his first season as the team’s starting quarterback. For a true freshman in a Power Five conference, Rosen was outstanding, completing 60.0 percent of his passes for 3,669 yards and 23 touchdowns. As a sophomore he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury that limited him to six games, but as a junior he had a solid if unspectacular campaign, completing 62.5 percent of his passes and setting several other career-high marks: 3,717 yards passing, 26 touchdowns, and 8.4 adjusted yards per attempt.
For more, see Rosen’s player profile.
4. Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Junior | 6’2″ and 216 Pounds | Born January 7, 1997 (Age: 21) | Projection: Rounds 1-2
Combine numbers: 40-yard: DNP | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: DNP | broad: DNP
In 2016 Jackson won the Heisman at the age of 19, becoming the youngest player in history to win the award. Precocious for a prospect, Jackson is perhaps the Deshaun Watson of this year’s draft class: A highly productive and athletic dual-threat Davey O’Brien-winning Atlantic Coast Conference three-year starter who, despite having difference-making talent and decent size, is not truly in consideration to be the first quarterback selected. The question with Jackson is whether his style of play will translate to the NFL. Whereas Watson completed 67.4 percent of his career pass attempts and had ‘only’ 1,934 yards rushing, Jackson has a completion rate of just 57.0 percent and rushed for 4,132 yards. Watson is a passing quarterback who can run; Jackson is a running quarterback who is still learning to pass. In that sense, as a prospect he is less similar to Watson than he is to Michael Vick (56.0 percent completion rate in college).
For more, see Jackson’s player profile.
5. Josh Allen, Wyoming
Redshirt Junior | 6’5″ and 237 Pounds | Born May 21, 1996 (Age: 21) | Projection: Round 1
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.75 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 6.9 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.4 sec | vertical: 33.5 in | broad: 119 in
Some draft analysts say that Allen is comparable as a non-major conference prospect to Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Wentz. That might be true, but the available data don’t support that stance: Allen has great size, but not every big quarterback from a middling program becomes an NFL starter. Exhibit A: Paxton Lynch. While Allen has the body of a prototypical passer, he doesn’t have the accuracy. In his three collegiate seasons as a starter (from first to last), Roethlisberger completed 63.3, 63.3, and 69.1 percent of his passes. In his two starting seasons, Wentz had 63.7 and 62.5 percent completion rates. Allen, though, has rates of 49.0, 56.0, and 56.3 percent — and his first season was at Reedley Community College. Think about that: Allen didn’t complete even 50.0 percent of his passes at junior college. Even so, Allen looks like the type of quarterback Browns GM John Dorsey tends to like, and the Browns have two picks in the top five. Even with all his shortcomings, Allen has a legitimate chance to go No. 1 overall.
For more, see Allen’s player profile.
6. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Senior | 6’5″ and 235 Pounds | Born July 17, 1995 (Age: 22) | Projection: Rounds 2-3
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.9 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 26 in | broad: DNP
In his two final seasons Rudolph excelled as the full-time quarterback, passing for 4,091 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2016 and 4,904 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2017 with elite marks of 10.0 and 10.7 AY/A. This past year the Cowboys were eighth in passing success rate (Football Study Hall): More than just the beneficiary of a soft Big 12 schedule, Rudolph completed 68.9 percent of his passes for 848 yards and seven touchdowns (to one interception) in his two 2017 games against non-conference Power Five opponents. Rudolph isn’t highly mobile, but in his two final seasons he did chip in 16 touchdowns as a runner and improve his rushing average from -0.84 to 0.69 yards per carry (including sacks). As a producer Rudolph was one of the best in college football over the past two years.
For more, see Rudolph’s player profile.
7. Luke Falk, Washington State
Redshirt Senior | 6’4″ and 215 Pounds | Born December 28, 1994 (Age: 23) | Projection: Rounds 3-5
Combine numbers: 40-yard: DNP | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 26.5 in | broad: 103 in
Falk has good size and started 40 games in a Power Five conference, but he has a number of red flags. Although he has many Pac-12 passing records, Falk was less productive and efficient in each of his seasons as a starter.
- 2015: 4,561 yards passing, 7.7 adjusted yards per attempt
- 2016: 4,468, 7.5
- 2017: 3,593, 6.8
Additionally, Falk has limited mobility as evidenced by his career mark of -1.6 yards per carry: Falk isn’t good enough as a runner to counterbalance the sacks he takes. On top of that, even though Head Coach Mike Leach’s quarterbacks have historically produced in college, NFL general managers have rarely shown interest in them because of the perception that they benefit from a pass-happy spread system that inflates their statistics.
For more, see Falk’s player profile.
8. Mike White, Western Kentucky
Redshirt Senior | 6’5″ and 224 Pounds | Projection: Rounds 4-6
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 5.09 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 7.4 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.4 sec | vertical: 27 in | broad: 96 in
White is bound throughout the draft process to be compared to his highly productive Western Kentucky predecessor Brandon Doughty, who was drafted on Day 3 two years ago and has been a practice squad-caliber third-stringer type ever since. White has good size, and he reportedly flashed good arm strength in Senior Bowl practices, but he may struggle to adjust to the NFL after playing in WKU’s spread system. With his physical profile and production history, White looks like a low-ceiling “maybe this guy won’t lose this game for us?” NFL backup.
For more, see White’s player profile.
9. Kyle Lauletta, Richmond
Redshirt Senior | 6’3″ and 222 Pounds | Projection: Rounds 4-6
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.81 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 6.95 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.07 sec | vertical: 31 in | broad: 113 in
A small-school prospect who looked good during Senior Bowl practices and then was named Most Valuable Player of the game thanks to his 198 yards and three touchdowns on 8-of-12 passing, Lauletta is someone to watch throughout the buildup to the draft. A multi-year starter, Lauletta was the only quarterback outside of the Football Bowl Subdivision at the 2018 combine. After one year as a backup and a second year as a redshirt, Lauletta started for the Spiders for three seasons, completing 63.4 percent of his career passes for 10,244 yards, 72 touchdowns, and a respectable 8.7 adjusted yards per attempt. As long as his medical records check out — he tore his ACL in the 2016 season finale — he’s likely to stick in the NFL for at least a few years as a high-character good-teammate type of guy.
For more, see Lauletta’s player profile.
10. Kurt Benkert, Virginia
Redshirt Senior | 6’3″ and 218 Pounds | Born July 17, 1995 (Age: 22) | Projection: Rounds 4-6
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.95 sec | bench reps: 16 | 3-cone: 7.15 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.33 sec | vertical: 31 in | broad: 112 in
At UVA, Benkert completed just 57.5 percent of his passes for 6.3 adjusted yards per attempt. On top of that, he exhibited limited mobility, as he rushed for -1.3 yards per carry (including sacks). Overall in 2017 he led a passing attack that was just 90th out of 130 in success rate (per Football Study Hall). Benkert had some hype entering the Senior Bowl, but he had a mediocre week in Mobile, and the numbers suggest that he’s a bigger and less productive Nathan Peterman-esque prospect likely to enter the NFL as a Day 3 selection who will disappoint whenever he inevitably and randomly gets a spot start.
For more, see Benkert’s player profile.
11. Tanner Lee, Nebraska
Redshirt Junior | 6’4″ and 218 Pounds | Born February 14, 1995 (Age: 22) | Projection: Rounds 5-7
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.98 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 7.0 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.41 sec | vertical: 32 in | broad: 115 in
A number of promising quarterback prospects declared early for the draft this year — and Lee isn’t one of them. While many draftniks didn’t expect Lee to leave school in 2018, his decision makes sense: He’s a double redshirt, and the man who recruited him, head coach Mike Riley, was dismissed (partially because his quarterback didn’t play well enough to win games). Rather than learn a new system and hope to remain the starter under new HC (and Nebraska legend) Scott Frost, Lee decided to move on to the NFL — where coaching changes never (read: often) happen. Lee’s similar to Benkert in that he’s basically a cheap version of Allen: A big-bodied transfer, Lee has a strong arm and profiles as a pro-style boom/bust pocket passer.
For more, see Lee’s player profile.
12. Riley Ferguson, Memphis
Senior | 6’3″ and 212 Pounds | Born January 19, 1995 (Age: 23) | Projection: Rounds 5-7
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.98 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 6.96 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.4 sec | vertical: 29 in | broad: 110 in
Context is always important, but with Ferguson it’s really important. An All-American four-star recruit in high school, Ferguson committed to Tennessee in 2012 when Derek Dooley was coach, but when he arrived as a freshman in 2013 Dooley had been replaced by Butch Jones. Although Ferguson was given a chance to compete for the starting job right away, he never warmed to Jones and his staff, and a leg injury in practice forced him to take a medical redshirt his first year. He again competed for the starting job in the 2014 spring practices, but after Ferguson’s academic year was over he left Tennessee and sat out the season, instead working for a car dealership and custom fence company. Wanting to get back into football, he in 2015 enrolled at Coffeyville Community College — a popular school for players who take the junior college route to the NFL — and he played like a star, completing 67.8 percent of his passes for 2,942 yards and 35 touchdowns (to six interceptions) in nine games. A popular JC recruit, Ferguson enrolled at Memphis in January of 2016 and immediately earned the starting job. In his two years as a Tiger, Ferguson completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 7,955 yards and 70 touchdowns, good for a smoking 9.3 adjusted yards per attempt.
For more, see Ferguson’s player profile.
13. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Redshirt Senior | 6’1″ and 224 Pounds | Born January 23, 1995 (Age: 23) | Projection: Round 6-Free Agent
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.7 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 7.38 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.44 sec | vertical: 30 in | broad: 108 in
Barrett is theoretically a tough player to evaluate. His numbers are objectively good, or at least good enough: He was 26-4 as a starter. He completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 8.4 adjusted yards per attempt. For his career he rushed for 3,274 yards and 43 touchdowns, but Barrett wasn’t even invited to the Senior Bowl, and he reportedly performed poorly at East-West Shrine Game practices. He was intensely bad at the combine. Despite finishing fifth in Heisman voting and scoring a Big Ten record 45 touchdowns for a national championship team as a freshman, Barrett is now being ignored by the draftnik community. An unathletic player with no solid position, Barrett is in danger of becoming Ohio State’s first starting quarterback in a decade not to be drafted.
For more, see Barrett’s player profile.
14. Quinton Flowers, South Florida
Senior | 5’10″ and 214 Pounds | Born December 2, 1994 (Age: 23) | Projection: Round 6-Free Agent
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.63 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 6.81 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.57 sec | vertical: DNP | broad: 112 in
In an ideal world, Flowers could be thought of as the discount version of Jackson. Although he’s not as tall as Jackson (6’3″), Flowers as a collegiate producer was comparable to the Heisman-winning quarterback. For his career, Jackson completed 57.0 percent of his passes for 8.5 adjusted yards per attempt; Flowers, 57.7 and 8.7. Of course, it’s not an ideal world. Flowers isn’t all that comparable to Jackson, who as a runner was clearly superior with his 108.7 yards and 1.32 touchdowns rushing per game. Still, Flowers shined on the ground with a running back-like 94.6 yards and 1.08 touchdowns rushing per game in his three years as a starter. And it’s a good thing Flowers produced like a running back, because that’s what he might have to be if he wants to play in the NFL. Given his physical profile and prolific rushing production, Flowers is somewhat in the mold of other recent quarterback-to-halfback converts such as Jerick McKinnon, Denard Robinson, and Keenan Reynolds.
For more, see Flowers’ player profile.
Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.
Photo Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports