2018 NFL Draft rankings: Accuracy, arm strength and everything to know about QBs

Everyone knows Josh Allen has the strongest arm in the 2018 NFL Draft, and Lamar Jackson is the most athletic. But who's the best down the field? Which quarterback's the most calm under pressure? Who's most ready to run an NFL offense featuring RPOs?

In one of the most-hyped quarterback classes of this generation, it's vital to break down and rank the individual capabilities of each signal-caller.

The first installment of this series will do exactly that. After closely examining the specific "skills" critical to each position -- in this case, the quarterback spot -- it's time to rank prospects in each facet.

Below I've ranked each of the consensus top six quarterbacks in the qualities I deem most necessary to be a successful quarterback in the NFL (listed in order of importance). I've also added one player who should be available a bit later in the draft that excels at each particular trait.

Short/Intermediate Accuracy

  1. Josh Rosen
  2. Baker Mayfield
  3. Mason Rudolph
  4. Sam Darnold
  5. Lamar Jackson
  6. Josh Allen

Rosen's clean delivery, quality arm strength, and natural talent allow him to repeatedly throw with high-level ball placement on short and intermediate passes. And relative to the added difficulty of the throw, he's actually more accurate in the 10-19 yard range than he is close to the line of scrimmage.  

Mayfield and Rudolph are closely behind Rosen in this category and demonstrated frequent pinpoint accuracy on quick passes and beyond the linebackers and in front of the safeties. Jackson, as you'll notice is a trend throughout in this article, drastically  improved in this aspect of his game during his time as Louisville's starter.

Sleeper: Mike White

White operated a true spread system at Western Kentucky that prominently featured four and five wide receiver sets. His attack was based on the quick game, and he displayed consistent accuracy on those passes just beyond the line of scrimmage.

Processing

  1. Rudolph
  2. Rosen
  3. Mayfield
  4. Jackson
  5. Darnold
  6. Allen

Admittedly difficult to decipher what's going through the mind of a quarterback on film, in this class, Rudolph appears to possess the most speed moving from read to read. Some of those looks were seemingly predetermined pre-snap, but he made a variety of full-field reads at multiple levels, quickly scanning across the field split seconds after his initial read was covered.  

Rosen is deft in this area as well on most of his snaps, yet I noticed him get "stuck" on his initial read a bit too long on a few too many plays, especially over-the-middle tosses to his tight ends. Jackson made gigantic strides in this area from 2016, and this facet of playing quarterback is the main knock I have on Mayfield. The Oklahoma scheme didn't help him here. 

Sleeper: White

White is the sleeper here based on his vast experience throwing the football at Western Kentucky. 

Pocket Movement

  1. Rudolph
  2. Rosen
  3. Jackson
  4. Mayfield
  5. Darnold
  6. Allen

At times, Rudolph held the ball too long and was sacked from behind on a chase-down pass rush. However, as he's going through his progressions, he naturally steps into the pocket. He often showed an awesome shoulder dip as he looked downfield when edge-rushers tried to get their hands on him around the corner. He also can move laterally and usually maintains a wide base to throw after drifting inside the pocket.  

Jackson put some ridiculous pocket movement plays on film -- against free blitzers -- which led to him narrowly beating out Mayfield here, although the two are similar in this category. There are special flashes of creativity and a fair amount of times in which they run into pressure. Darnold has anxious feet in the pocket and can pull off incredible improvisational throws on the run. He's not refined calmly drifting from pressure right now though. Allen does tend to leave clean pockets much more than anyone listed above. I did notice a few plays of in-pocket maneuverability. He just needs to reign in his hyperactivity when things break down. 

Sleeper: Logan Woodside

Woodside likes to lean on his passing prowess instead of his underrated scrambling ability and has some athleticism, which puts him at No. 6 in this category.

Decision-Making

  1. Mayfield
  2. Rudolph
  3. Jackson
  4. Rosen
  5. Darnold
  6. Allen

Mayfield rarely put the ball in harm's way in 2017. He had the luxury of throwing to wide open receivers time and time again and appeared to understand when it wasn't worth it to fire the football to a well-covered pass-catcher.  

Rudolph is another quarterback who only made clearly bad decision a few times on nearly 500 pass attempts in 2017. Jackson has significantly improved in this area in his three years as the Louisville starter and was docked for his performance in the bowl game against Mississippi State, which did appear worse live than it did on the re-watch. Rosen's "over-improvisation" is the reason he's No. 4 here, although typically knows where to go with the football. Darnold is capable of elite-level anticipatory throws but is apt to be overly aggressive as well. 

Sleeper: Brandon Silvers

On 443 passes in 2017, Silvers tossed just seven interceptions. His accuracy needs major work, as does his ability under pressure. He does do a good job keeping the ball away from the opponent. 

Passing Under Pressure

  1. Rudolph
  2. Mayfield
  3. Jackson
  4. Rosen
  5. Darnold
  6. Rosen

Similar to his No. 1 ranking in the Pocket Movement category, Rudolph makes the most of plays in which he's pressured. Many of his long-ball connections -- and a handful of touchdowns -- came after a defender got free along the line of scrimmage.  

Mayfield wasn't under pressure much behind Oklahoma's dominant offensive line yet showed the ability to make plays happen with pressure mounting. Jackson lacks some accuracy when protection cracks and counters that by being capable of making game-changing plays with his arm in those instances  Rosen is probably the most accurate in this scenario. It's also when he tends to force the issue and either throw across his body, as he's falling down or off balance, or when coverage is too tight. The same goes for Josh Allen. 

Sleeper: Woodside

Toledo had a strong offensive line in the MAC last season, yet blocking weakness showed against top competition. Check the game against Miami (FL). Woodside threw two touchdowns on under-pressure plays.

Deep Accuracy

  1. Rudolph
  2. Mayfield
  3. Darnold
  4. Jackson
  5. Rosen
  6. Allen

Yes, Rudolph threw to two NFL-caliber wideouts in James Washington and Marcell Ateman. He made the most of his enviable situation at Oklahoma State. Sometimes, he underthrows his deep tosses. Much more often than not, he drops passes 20-plus yards down the field right in the bucket.  

Early in the season, Mayfield was more accurate down the field than he was later, yet overall, he exhibited fine ball placement on shot plays. This is one area where Rosen clearly struggles. Darnold and Jackson will misfire on two deep throws, then place the football perfectly downfield on their next five attempts. Allen, mainly due to his arm, is capable of connecting on outrageous long passes. 

Sleeper: Woodside

Woodside's downfield ball placement deep leaves a little to be desired. He does have a tendency to find his receivers down the field though, even if a slight adjustment needs to be made. 

Arm Strength

  1. Allen
  2. Jackson
  3. Rosen
  4. Darnold
  5. Mayfield
  6. Rudolph

No surprise here. Allen will have one of the NFL's strongest arms right away. Up there with Matthew Stafford and Joe Flacco

Jackson possesses the Michael Vick-esque "flick" delivery that somehow leads to lasers being sent all over the field. The three in the middle all have underrated arms capable of fitting the ball into tight windows at the intermediate level and throwing the typical max distance in the NFL of 55 or 60 yards if need be. Benkert has a wide frame and a well-built upper body. That combination allows him to frequently throw the football at a high velocity. As for Rudolph, this is one area in which he's clearly behind his contemporaries. At times his aforementioned underthrows appear to be due to a lack of arm strength. Despite his reputation, at times, especially in the intermediate range where arm strength is needed most, Rudolph's passes arrive with plenty of zip.

Sleeper: Kurt Benkert

Benkert has a wide frame and a well-built upper body. That combination allows him to frequently throw the football at a high velocity. 

Mobility

  1. Jackson
  2. Allen
  3. Mayfield
  4. Darnold
  5. Rosen 
  6. Rudolph

No-doubter here. Jackson is the most electric, athletically gifted quarterback to enter the NFL since Mike Vick.  

The top five quarterbacks in this category are well-rounded, highly sought after passers, so it's easy to assume they can't move. That isn't the case. They're all "new-age" signal-callers capable of scrambling when necessary.

Sleeper: J.T. Barrett

Barrett carried the football often at Ohio State, and is a proficient reading blocks.

Scheme Fits

West Coast 

  1. Rosen
  2. Mayfield
  3. Rudolph
  4. Jackson
  5. Darnold
  6. Allen

Rosen is a rhythm passer who's the furthest ahead from under center than any of the top quarterbacks in this class. He works the middle portion of the field very well with impressive timing. 

Mayfield and Rudolph are almost strictly shotgun passers -- which is not nearly as big of a deal as it's sometimes made to be -- and both are effective on timing throws in the short to intermediate range. 

Sleeper: Nick Stevens

Each year it's getting more difficult to find the traditional "pro-style" offense being run at the collegiate level. Stevens took an assortment of snaps from under center and is comfortable operating deep-drop play-action plays. 

Air Coryell 

  1. Darnold
  2. Jackson
  3. Allen
  4. Rosen
  5. Rudolph
  6. Mayfield

Man, if Bruce Arians were still in Arizona, Darnold would've been the absolute perfect fit in his ultra-aggressive, vertical passing offense. For a 20-year-old quarterback, Darnold is immensely confident in his arm, often letting it rip down the field, and he has the arm and accuracy to threaten defenses.  

Because of their ability to rocket the football downfield, Jackson and Allen would be fun in a Norv Turner-like play-action, deep-ball based system. Rosen, Rudolph, and Mayfield could theoretically work here, but a downfield scheme wouldn't be the best fits for their skill sets.

Sleeper: Riley Ferguson 

Ferguson is well above-average on intermediate throws and doesn't shy away from the chance to hit a shot play down the field. He has a slightly unusual, almost three-quarter delivery yet the ball jumps out of his hand.

Spread/RPO

  1. Mayfield
  2. Rudolph
  3. Jackson
  4. Darnold
  5. Rosen 
  6. Allen

The Oklahoma offense was the most creative attack I've ever watched. It manipulated linebackers on almost every snap with a dizzying variety of motions, misdirections, offensive linemen pulls, and options. Mayfield undoubtedly can efficiently run a spread attack, although I'm worried the scheme provided him with too many "easy" throws to wide open targets.  

Rudolph's offense featured a fair amount of RPOs as well, and he played in a clear-cut spread scheme at Oklahoma State. This was a tough ranking because all the systems run at Louisville, USC, UCLA, and Wyoming had many spread concepts and utilized four and five wideouts plenty.  

Sleepers To Watch: Nic Shimonek

Any Texas Tech quarterback is ready to call the shots in a spread offense after his time in college. While his arm or athleticism aren't close to Patrick Mahomes, Shimonek is one of the more physically capable Red Raider signal-callers of the past decade.

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