Scout Evaluates 2018 Quarterback Class; Down on Josh Rosen
Updated May 16, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
During the spring months leading up to the NFL Draft, a few team's area scouts are already working hard on the draft class of the next year. The reason for that is their work is shared with National Football Scouting that provides early watch lists and ratings for prospects heading into fall camp. Those select area scouts are on the road for college spring ball to help set up the scouting community to start on the next draft class in training camp.
WalterFootball.com caught up with one of these scouts to get some insight the 2018 quarterback prospects with a lot of discussion focused on Louisville's Lamar Jackson. Jackson won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 as he was a point-machine for the Cardinals offense. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder could come under the same criticism for pocket passing, accuracy, and size as other college running quarterbacks have. Below is a breakdown on the feedback from that scout who already has done a lot of work on the 2018 quarterbacks. That group of prospects includes USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Wyoming's Josh Allen, Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph, Washington State's Luke Falk, Marshall's Chase Litton, Mississippi State's Nick Fitzgerald, Auburn's Jarrett Stidham, and Memphis' Nate Ferguson.
"Right now I have them rated Darnold, Allen, Jackson, and then Rosen. Darnold seems to have good talent and huge intangibles. Darnold gets outside the pocket or stays in it just as often, and his pure arm talent isn't as good as Lamar Jackson's. Darnold has size and moxie. After Allen and Rosen, Jackson is the best best arm talent.
"Allen has huge talent and obvious intangibles from what I've learned from folks close to him. Allen is a bucking bronco with a rare arm.
"Rosen has huge talent and lacks intangibles. He is a prototypical pocket guy. I love his talent, but his own teammates don't like him. Being a prick is one thing, but there aren't many quarterbacks who stick around long-term and are successful that couldn't get along well with their teammates.
"Falk, I'm not big on. Huge production but very ordinary tools. Too system reliant to see him become a major playmaker at quarterback. I like the upside more with Litton, Rudolph, and Ferguson compared to Falk. As we get closer to draft time it wouldn't shock me to see much of the Falk hype die down.
"Stidham has talent but hasn't played enough. You don't to elevate him too quickly like a Hackenberg. Stidham did what Baylor quarterbacks do, but the SEC has eaten alive some top quarterbacks. Malzahn has no true claim to fame as a quarterback developer. He had one season with Cam Newton and that's it.
"Dan Mullen, meanwhile, had Josh Harris, Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott, and now Fitzgerald. In fact Mullen coached Cam longer than Malzahn. Four of those six had barely one offer coming out of high school. I'd trust Dan Mullen to develop a quarterback over Malzahn. Fitzgerald just broke his school season total offense record following the best player in school history and Fitzgerald is just three years removed from running a Wing T offense in Georgia high school. Plus he's 6-foot-4, 230-pounds. He's basically a faster better arm version of Tebow."
"People at Tennessee will tell every scout that Ferguson was their heir apparent to Tyler Bray. He had beaten out Worley, Josh Dobbs, and Peterman before leaving UT on his own. Ferguson is a better pure passer than Paxton Lynch, better initial season, and has better pro dimensions and arm talent than Peterman or Dobbs ever dreamed of (he was a big time recruit with Michigan and LSU offers).
"Rudolph is talented but plays in that Oklahoma State offense that has never produced a good winning NFL quarterback under Gundy.
"Lamar has huge talent and supreme toughness. His biggest issue is being consistent with his footwork because he's so physically gifted and he'll get away with a lot of stuff that bites him at other times. He has real arm talent. He's way more polished than Michael Vick coming out. Everybody's up in arm's about his games against Houston and LSU without mentioning he had arguably the worst offensive line of any power-five school. Houston just exposed it as they were the first team to beat up on that o-line. Versus LSU, Lamar was making Houdini escapes just to get back to the line of scrimmage. He had no chance in either game. His supporting cast was very average with just two NFL-caliber players in Jamari Staples and Cole Hikutini. Jackson can see the field and work through progressions. Watching him his freshman year to his sophomore season his improvements from year to year were huge. Bobby Petrino is a very talented offensive mind and Jackson had near complete command of his system back in October and that says a lot. His FSU game was the most individually dominant performance of the season because that defenses has multiple NFL players including at least one first-rounder on every level and Lamar looked like he was playing at a different speed than them.
"His upside is scary. His flaws are correctable compared to what he was his first year as he's already made a substantial jump. No reason to believe he won't make bigger leaps. His athleticism and speed are different level type stuff. I did Cam Newton coming out and know Mike Vick well, Lamar is more advanced in the passing game than either of them when they came out. Lamar will be fine sitting in the pocket and getting hit on the chin. It's the reason his toughness is seen already as arguably his best quality because he forces himself to stay in there wanting to show he's a true quarterback.
"You don't know where Lamar's accuracy will top out just yet. He rarely threw the ball in high school. Thus, there is a long way for him to go to be a Russell Wilson type, but he's already made huge improvements. Lamar's biggest hurdle is putting on weight. He's borderline 6-foot-2. He might a tad under and he needs to get North of 215 pounds.
"Quarterbacks depend on people's flavor as well of course. History tells us that quarterbacks with Lamar's skill set don't get outside the top 10. Critics outside the inner circle and some scouts will nitpick like they did with Deshaun Watson, Pat Mahomes, or Russell Wilson. But top evaluators will love Lamar's playmaking, leadership, explosiveness, the strain he puts on defenses, and his big arm talent. They all need development, but Lamar has proven to be a fast study. He's already showing he can throw from the pocket, call audibles (a must in Petrino's offense), and dial up hot reads. He makes just as many plays in the pocket as those other guys when you watch them all. Lamar's just noticed more for what he does outside of it because he's such a rare athlete for the position."