Who Was the Top Rookie QB of 2018?
This past rookie quarterback class was touted as one of the greatest classes ever, and was even compared to the famous class of 1983 which produced hall-of-famers such as Jon Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly. With all the hype there was entering draft night, many quarterbacks were taken early, as five were selected in the first round and four in the first 10 picks. For the five quarterbacks taken in the first round, they came into this season with lofty expectations and were constantly compared to one another. Now, as the regular season has come to an end, it’s time to rank and review each first-round rookie quarterback.
5. Josh Rosen – 55.2% CMP%, 2,278 Yards, 11 TD, 14 INT
Many thought of Josh Rosen as the “most pro ready” quarterback in the 2018 draft. Rosen showed the special throws and pin-point accuracy that he demonstrated all of the time at UCLA. However, Rosen really struggled at times this season. Mostly plagued by arguably the worst offensive line in the NFL combined with Rosen’s lack of mobility led to the signal caller picking himself off the turf and throwing the ball into harm's way. The biggest reason why Rosen finds himself at the bottom of the list is there were no games were Rosen took over and was clearly the best player on the field.
4. Josh Allen – 52.8% CMP%, 2,074 Yards, 10 TD, 12 INT, 631 rush yards, 8 rush TD
Allen’s first half of the season was very tough, as he only eclipsed 100 yards passing in three of his first six games. However, once Allen returned from an elbow injury he improved dramatically. Allen proved to be one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the NFL. Despite a shaky offensive line and drop-prone receivers, Allen showed the flashes that made NFL general managers drool over his arm talent and athleticism. For Allen, the consistency must improve in order for him to take the next step as a quarterback as at time Allen struggled to move the sticks in many games.
3. Lamar Jackson – 58.2% CMP%, 1,201 Yards, 6 TD, 3 INT, 659 rush yards, 5 rush TD
Lamar Jackson was unlike any quarterback prospect in recent memory. A true dual-threat quarterback that requires multiple designed runs per game, Jackson needed to be drafted by a team that knew how to use him correctly. Luckily for Jackson, the Ravens were one of those teams. Jackson showed the ridiculous speed and elusiveness that made him a Heisman winner at Louisville. Lamar also showed how efficient he can be throwing the football. Ultimately, Jackson's play was winning games for the Ravens, as he went 6-1 as the starter and led them to their first division title since 2012. The question for Jackson will be if this style of play is sustainable throughout his career.
2. Sam Darnold - 57.7% CMP%, 2,865 Yards, 17 TD, 15 INT
Many draft analysts believed that Darnold would be the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, but Darnold fell to the third pick where the Jets selected the young signal caller from USC. Darnold showed the special talent he possessed throughout the season as he had a few really impressive performances where he looked like a veteran, including a game where he went blow-for-blow with none other than Aaron Rodgers. The biggest thing for Darnold moving forward will be limiting turnovers. After coming back from injury, Darnold did a much better job of this, but nonetheless, he still threw 15 interceptions and fumbled the ball five times. Darnold must improve this in order to take the next steps.
1. Baker Mayfield – 63.8% CMP%, 3,725 Yards, 27 TD, 14 INT
Mayfield was the first pick in the NFL draft, and he proved to everyone why. Mayfield was brilliant in his rookie season as showed great accuracy and great command of the offense. Most importantly, Mayfield elevated the play of most of his teammates which is the sign of a franchise quarterback. Mayfield was by far the most impressive rookie quarterback and put himself in a great position to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. The biggest thing for Baker moving forward will be to remain a pro off the field. At times, his comments on ex-head coach Hue Jackson caused some distractions with himself and the media which must stop now.
Mitch Broder is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email him at mub584.psu.edu.