Like the rest of the country, I glossed over J.T. Barrett as a legitimate NFL prospect after he flopped against Michigan and Clemson last season and was wildly inaccurate with spotty decision-making earlier this season against Oklahoma.
Since then, Barrett has been on a torrid pace, and his comeback against Penn State was one for the ages. No hyperbole there either. He threw with mastery-level assertiveness and ball placement and was efficient as a runner.
Barrett is only 6-feet-2 and doesn't have a rocket arm, but there's no replacement for his experience, and he's peaking at the right time.
Here's a look at the updated stocks of the draft's top signal-caller prospects.
Another game, another weird gameplan for Oklahoma State. While not as run-heavy as the previous week against Texas, the Cowboys were dedicated to ground game early, then opened up the playbook in the second half. Rudolph finished 20 of 34 for 216 yards with three touchdowns and a pick -- not the type of numbers he complied earlier in the season -- but he showed outstanding resiliency after an average start to the game and a lull in the third quarter when he threw that interception. He had good velocity on passes outside the numbers and routinely read through his progressions to find the open man. Not an excellent outing, but a solid performance against a mediocre defense in a difficult environment.
Jackson was transcendent against Wake Forest. Seriously. He was accurate to all levels of the field -- nevermind more drops by Cardinals pass-catchers -- and was unstoppable running the football as usual. The reigning Heisman winner accounted for 491 of Louisville's 523 total yards. That's 93.8 percent; think about how bananas that is. Jackson was calm in the pocket, stayed in the pocket more often than he ran, and eluded free blitzers with ease to throw strikes on the perimeter. Don't let Louisville's poor record fool you -- Jackson's stock is skyrocketing.
3. Josh Rosen, UCLA
Rosen left with what head coach Jim Mora Jr. said was "multiple things" in the third quarter, but it wasn't pretty before that against Washington. He was sacked four times and was averaging just 4.4 yards per attempt. Rosen's dip is more about Jackson's brilliance than anything else. UCLA is a severely flawed team with a brutal defense, porous offensive line, and a lacking group of play-makers. Rosen is in a similar situation to that of Jackson. It's the Louisville quarterback's tremendous mobility and decision-making have led to his UCLA contemporary dropping to No. 3 at the moment.
4. Sam Darnold, USC
Darnold is inching closer to the No. 3 spot after a fine effort against Arizona State late Saturday. He tossed three touchdowns, two of which were exquisite passes, and he didn't have an interception. There was a fumble and few off-target shots down the field, but overall, despite not an especially high completion percentage, it probably was Darnold's most impressive outing of the past month. He finished 19 of 36 for 266 yards. The anxiousness in the pocket he's demonstrated often this season was toned down slightly in the win over the Sun Devils.
5. Ryan Finley, NC State
Finley was 17 of 37 for 213 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the loss to Notre Dame. Blah game, right? Nope. This was Exhibit A of a quality performance from a quarterback prospect in an outing in which his statistics didn't indicate that. Many of Finley's incompletions came in garbage time, and while he was late on a few out-breaking routes early, he also connected on two passes with a high degree of difficulty in the first half. His touchdown was a thing of beauty. The interception was on a broken play in which the entire NC State offensive line didn't block. Finley also fired some accurate passes as he was being hit. Looking beyond the numbers and the scoreboard, the Wolfpack signal-caller prospect had a respectable game against the Fighting Irish.
I think I may be one of the few draft analysts left not on Mayfield bandwagon. That could change, but based on what I've seen from him this season, and more specifically against Texas Tech, I don't see an early-round pick. Mayfield was super-improvisational against Texas Tech without the huge gainers on the ground, found a bevy of wide open receivers who were awesome after the catch, and had some misses deep. In this game, I saw flashes of Russell Wilson -- especially on throws toward the sideline at the intermediate level -- yet saw much more Johnny Manziel. I've used those comparisons before, and I'll probably go back to them again.
Honorable Mention: J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Barrett is in full command of Urban Meyer's offense. That showed against the Nittany Lions and has been apparent for more than a month now. He hasn't thrown an interception since that loss to the Sooners on Sept. 9 and has 22 passing touchdowns plus a completion rate of 75 percent since that game. Barrett has emerged as a mid-round prospect, and his stock is rising.