2018 NFL Draft QB Stock Watch: Mayfield, Rosen shine despite not playing full games
Josh Rosen only played one half, and Baker Mayfield was removed from a blowout, but both flourished
We may not see Josh Rosen again in a UCLA uniform, and if that's ultimately the case, it was a nice albeit not super-flashy end to a quality collegiate career for the most technically sound quarterback in this class against Cal.
Meanwhile, we'll definitely see Baker Mayfield again, first against TCU then (potentially ... or should I say "probably?") in the college football playoff. We'll learn a lot about him as an NFL prospect when his Oklahoma team faces a squad on par with its talent level.
Anyway, Mayfield made short work of an overmatched West Virginia team on Saturday, which came as no surprise.
Here's a look at the updated stocks of the draft's top signal-caller prospects.
Jackson had a typical day against Kentucky. He ran for over 140 yards -- 153 to be exact -- for the fifth time in his last six games, and only fired incomplete on six of his 21 pass attempts. One of those was a drop in the back end zone by Jaylen Smith, but Jackson's wideout redeemed himself later with a touchdown grab that needed an extraordinary amount of concentration. As he's done all season, Jackson made free rushers look silly with his freakish athleticism and otherwise maneuvered like a seasoned veteran in the pocket before throwing accurately to all levels of the field.
Rudolph feasted on a Big 12's worst team but showcased important quarterback intricacies. There were two instances in which he converted first downs after drifting away from multiple rushers while keeping a steady base. Also, Rudolph connected on a variety of what I'd say is most labeled as an "NFL throw" in college -- the deep out from the far hash -- with timing and zip. His long ball was back on target after a few "off" weeks. It was a nice rebound game for the Oklahoma State senior.
3. Josh Rosen, UCLA
Rosen only played the first half against California, and that was enough for me, as he was taken to the turf hard late in the second quarter. I mean, he's taken an absolute beating all season, and put on an impressive effort in the first two quarters. Rosen completed 13 of 18 passes for 202 yards with two perfectly placed touchdown passes and a few lasers down the middle against zone coverage. Counting his exquisite game against USC, Rosen finished 45 of 70 (64.2 percent) for 623 yards (8.9 yards per attempt) with five touchdowns and one pick in his most recent (and maybe last?) six quarters in college.
4. Sam Darnold, USC
Darnold's USC club was off this weekend, and the Trojans will prepare for the Pac-12 title game on Saturday against Stanford, a team they beat 42-24 earlier in the season. In that game in September, Darnold went 21 of 26 for 316 yards with four touchdowns but also fired two interceptions.
Stock Up, Slightly
Mayfield was hardly challenged against an essentially nonexistent West Virginia defense and excelled on the RPO play-action over the middle to one of his tight ends or talented receivers. Early on, he flashes the pinpoint accuracy down the field he's displayed all season but ended his day with a few overthrows. Mayfield and Oklahoma takes on the TCU team they beat 38-20 in mid-November. In that game, the Heisman front-runner went 18 of 27 for 333 yards with three passing scores. It'll be interesting to see what adjustments Gary Patterson makes adjustments after his defense was thrashed by Mayfield and Co. in the previous meeting.
6. Ryan Finley, NC State
Finley's interception was ghastly, as he heaved the ball up for grabs on a Derek Jeter-like jump throw across his body near the end of the half. Beyond that, Finley was reliable yet unspectacular en route to a 20-of-30, 204-yard day in the win over North Carolina. Finley has proven to be a quality rhythm passer with strong pocket poise, steady accuracy, and above-average athleticism for a 6-foot-4 quarterback. He had two rushing touchdowns against the Tar Heels.
Honorable Mention: Quinton Flowers, South Florida
Flowers put on as remarkable of a show as I've seen from a quarterback during this college football season. Against undefeated Central Florida on the road, a program with a rather stingy defense, the South Florida signal-caller was electric. He had 605 yards of offense, which included a ridiculous 503 passing yards. Flowers actually regressed as a passer in his senior season, but he deserves an honorable mention nod this week for an otherworldly performance in a spectacular game against UCF and a dynamic career for the Bulls.
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