Fantasy scouting report: Getting to know the top-five rookie quarterbacks in the 2018 draft class

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Many believe QB <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/255254/" data-ylk="slk:Sam Darnold">Sam Darnold</a> will be the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. What makes him so good? And where do the other signal callers rank? Yahoo analyst Liz Loza explains.
Many believe QB Sam Darnold will be the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. What makes him so good? And where do the other signal callers rank? Yahoo analyst Liz Loza explains.

While we won’t know these players’ fantasy values until their landing spots are announced later this month, it is helpful to know what they do (and don’t do) well. Here’s a snap shot of the top-five players at the quarterback position. Stay ahead of the game and get to know them now.

Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Fun Fact: Grandson of actor and former Marlboro Man, Dick Hammer.
Claim to fame: Believed to be the most “complete” QB in this year’s draft, Darnold is hard to fluster, in possession of a commanding presence and an accurate arm.
Trying to tame: A lot of scouts point out his mechanics, specifically a wonky windup and “elongated release.”
Comp: Tony Romo, Jared Goff
Fantasy fit: Chances are Darnold will trade Orange County for orange uniforms. Whether the Browns take him first overall or three spots later, the Trojan is likely to back-up Tyrod Taylor in 2018. It’s possible that the rookie’s presence will push Taylor into production and allow the bolstered receiving corps a season to coalesce (Alex Smith’s 2017 season, anyone?). While optimism in Believeland remains perennially high in the spring, the chances of Darnold having fantasy value this fall are slim.

Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Fun Fact: A tennis prodigy, Rosen was a top-ranked player by twelve-years-old.
Claim to fame: Demonstrating textbook mechanics and impressive poise, there’s an easiness to Rosen’s game. His balls have touch and his back-shoulder throw is particularly impressive.
Trying to tame: Previous injuries (shoulder surgery in 2016 and concussions in 2017) and average arm strength give some scouts pause. Remarks made by Jim Mora didn’t help his stock amongst NFL dinosaurs.
Comp: Matt Ryan
Fantasy fit: At the present moment, it seems as though Rosen is about to trade coasts, as most mocks have him going to either the Giants or the Jets. In either case, he’ll learn behind a long-time vet, which should benefit his long-term appeal. Coming off an impressive run with the Vikings, Pat Shurmur should be able to coach-up the 21-year-old, making the Giants a more desirable fit for the Bruin. Having OBJ to throw to doesn’t hurt either (as long as the stud WR stays in NYC).

Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Fun Fact: Was brought to Wyoming by Craig Bohl, who also coached Carson Wentz at North Dakota State.
Claim to fame: Allen looks the part. He has desired NFL size (6-foot-5 and 237 pounds) and a canon arm.
Trying to tame: Accuracy is a huge problem for Allen. As a starter, his completion percentage has never been above 56.
Comp: Anywhere from Cam Newton to Paxton Lynch
Fantasy Fit: While it’s easy to be wooed by Allen’s big frame and raw talent, he’s far from pro-ready. Ideally, he’d go to the Steelers, Saints, or Chargers, where he could learn behind a seasoned pro and inherit a dynamic receiving corps. But those landing spots seem unlikely, as the 21-year-old has been linked to the Broncos, the Bills, and the Browns. Regardless, Allen needs reps – and a tall receiver with a crazy catch radius – before he can make a fantasy impact.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Fun Fact: 2017 Heisman Trophy Winner.
Claim to fame: From forcing NCAA rule changes to public intoxication, Mayfield’s name yields a plethora of search results. On the field, however, he’s best known for his accuracy, improvisational play, and fearless mobility.
Trying to tame: He’s undersized (6-foot-1 and 215 pounds) and has yet to prove himself as a traditional pocket passer.
Comp: Anywhere from Russell Wilson to Johnny Manziel
Fantasy Fit: The Phins are reportedly enamored with Mayfield, but think it’s unlikely he’ll still be on the board come the eleventh pick. Visiting the Browns, Jets, and Giants this week, the Sooner’s landing spot remains a mystery. From a fantasy standpoint, his wheels are what make him special. Starting for a team with a solid o-line and a fierce backfield would optimize Baker’s points-padding skill set.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Fun Fact: Youngest person to ever win the Heisman Trophy (2016).
Claim to fame: Jackson is an awe-inspiring athlete. A former running back, he’s electric in space, tripping up defenders on the regular. A TD monster, this dual-threat QB also has experience in a pro-style offense.
Trying to tame: In possession of a lanky frame, Jackson takes lots of brutal hits as a runner, which has led to concerns about his long-term durability. He definitely needs to learn how to slide. His accuracy is additionally inconsistent.
Comp: Michael Vick
Fantasy Fit: According to recent reports, Jackson is expected to come off of the board in the first round, with Arizona being a potential landing spot. Were that to be the case, and given Sam Bradford’s injury history, Jackson may very well see the field in 2018. While a team with a first-time head coach and a depleted receiving corps doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, seeing what Jackson could do with his legs, especially with a healthy David Johnson in the backfield, is certainly intriguing.

Where would you like to see each QB land? Follow Liz and tweet her your projected landing spots @LizLoza_FF.


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