The 2019 NFL Draft is right around the corner—beginning on April 25th. With people talking about Kyler Murray and the other quarterbacks, many will flashback to the 2018 NFL Draft.
A year ago, there were five quarterbacks taken in the first round. Those signal-callers were Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson.
All of these guys got chances to start for their respective teams in their rookie seasons with some of them performing better than the others.
Before the 2018 NFL Draft, there were plenty of differing opinions when it came to ranking these quarterbacks. If we were to re-rank these guys after their rookie seasons, here’s how they’d align.
5. Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens)
The only reason that Lamar Jackson comes in at the fifth spot is because there are a few question marks with him and the surrounding roster.
In 2018, Jackson didn’t get an opportunity to start until Week 10 after the Baltimore Ravens began the season at 4-5. Joe Flacco was under center until he suffered an injury—leaving the door open for Jackson to step in.
Jackson’s first game as a starter came against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10. In that game, Jackson threw for 150 yards on 19 attempts but added 119 yards rushing on 26 rushing attempts.
The Ravens finished the season at 10-6—winning the AFC North. Over his seven starts in the regular season, Jackson had just 1,201 yards passing but 695 yards on the ground.
The Ravens shifted their offense to a run-heavy oriented offense with Jackson. As a result, the Ravens offense became too predictable and they fell short to the Los Angeles Chargers in the playoffs.
There’s a huge question mark when it comes to Jackson’s throwing ability in the NFL, and that’s why he comes in at number five.
4. Josh Rosen (Arizona Cardinals)
The Arizona Cardinals were a huge disappointment in 2018, finishing the season at 3-13. Sam Bradford began the season under center until Josh Rosen replaced him in Week 4.
Rosen was never given a steady foundation in Arizona. His offensive coordinator was fired early in the season and the Cardinals lacked weapons outside of David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.
Byron Leftwich was promoted to offensive coordinator after Mike McCoy was fired as the Cardinals offensive coordinator. But Leftwich never could figure things out, putting Rosen into a terrible situation.
Over 13 starts, Rosen went 3-10 while throwing for 2,278 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. It wasn’t a great rookie year for Rosen but you can’t blame him for the teams struggles considering the situation he was put in.
Now, Rosen has Kliff Kingsbury as his head coach and hopes to help him develop this season. The Cardinals are hoping for the same leap forward as Jared Goff pulled off with Sean McVay.
3. Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills)
Josh Allen may not have put up impressive passing stats in 2018, but he still impressed in other areas. Nathan Peterman (somehow) began the 2018 season as the starting quarterback, but quickly Buffalo turned to their seventh overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Peterman struggled, to say the least, and was benched for Josh Allen early in the season. Allen would finish 2018 with a record of 5-6 in his 11 starts as the starting quarterback.
The Buffalo Bills probably had the least to work with of any of the rookie quarterbacks. Allen’s best wide receivers were Zay Jones and Robert Foster, while an aging LeSean McCoy was in the backfield with him.
Allen surprised many people with his ability to create plays with his legs though. He rushed for 631 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground—which is crazy to think after watching him play in college.
The Bills added John Brown and Cole Beasley this offseason in hopes to help Allen in this offense. In 2019, we could see Allen take a step forward as an NFL quarterback.
2. Sam Darnold (New York Jets)
Colin Cowherd’s favorite quarterback had a decent rookie season with the New York Jets in 2018. Sam Darnold was the only rookie quarterback to start in Week 1 in 2018 after the franchise traded up to take him third overall in the NFL Draft.
Darnold didn’t light it up by any means, but he showed flashes of potential over the course of the season. In 13 starts, Darnold totaled 2,865 yards passing, 17 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions.
The 15 interceptions are an issue, but most of the rookie quarterbacks had issues with turnovers. Although, Darnold did have issues with his decision making at USC.
The Jets lacked a go-to guy but had a serviceable group of wide receivers with Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, and Jermaine Kearse.
Heading into 2019, Darnold has a new head coach in Adam Gase and new shiny weapons in Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder on offense. Jets fans are hoping to see an improved Darnold in 2019.
1. Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns)
Should this come as a surprise to anyone? Maybe Colin Cowherd, who seems to have a distaste for Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield came into a Cleveland Browns organization that has been the laughing stock of the NFL for forever as the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. That was until Mayfield stepped into the building and changed the culture.
Mayfield got his first opportunity early in the season when the Browns were facing the Darnold-led Jets. Tyrod Taylor left the game due to injury and in walked Mayfield with a confident strut.
The former Oklahoma Sooner led the Browns to a double-digit comeback over the Jets to secure the Browns first win of the 2018 season.
Mayfield went on to start 13 games after that to the tune of a 6-7 record. Seven wins are huge for the Browns with them failing to win at least seven games since 2014, and they closed out the season strong after Hue Jackson was fired.
Over his 13 starts, Mayfield amassed 3,725 yards through the air, 27 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. He had the best rookie season of any of the quarterbacks by far.
Next season should be another step forward for the Brown as they landed Odell Beckham Jr. via trade and signed Kareem Hunt. Things are getting dangerous in Cleveland with Mayfield leading the way.