2018 NFL Rookie Quarterback Rankings




I've watched all of the preseason games thus far and have written about them in my Preseason Recap page. In my write-ups, I've discussed fantasy football implications and broken down how most of the rookies have looked. While doing so, it dawned on me that it might be interesting to rank the rookie quarterbacks (those chosen in the first five rounds) and assign grades to how they've performed and handled themselves this offseason.

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Updated Aug. 31





  1. Sam Darnold, Jets Grade: A+
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: Sam Darnold did not play in the final preseason game, as he's been named the Jets' starting quarterback.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: Sam Darnold was excellent once again. He began the night by zipping in an 11-yard pass to Quincy Enunwa. He misfired on the next attempt, but then scrambled for a first down on a third-and-13 after going through all of his progressions. He then delivered a nice ball to Robby Anderson, ultimately setting up a Bilal Powell touchdown. However, the rest of Darnold's night featured some bad luck and sloppiness. For instance, Clive Walford dropped a pass after Darnold was flagged for intentional grounding. Darnold then converted a third down, but instantly had to burn a timeout because the play clock was about to expire. Darnold followed that up with a terrific sideline throw to Neal Sterling, but the tight end couldn't get both feet inbounds.

    Darnold finished 8-of-16 for 86 yards and a touchdown. The completion percentage looks bad, but Darnold threw three passes away because of pressure, while two other misfires were either dropped or ruled incomplete because a player couldn't stay inbounds. Darnold played well and has nailed down the starting job.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: Sam Darnold played slightly less than a half, and he began by avoiding a sack with good pocket mobility. His second possession featured a third-and-3 conversion in which he recognized the coverage, looked off a safety and threw a strike for a first down. However, he held the ball way too long on the next third down and took a sack as a result. Darnold final possession concluded with an interception on fourth down. The Jets would've turned the ball over on downs anyway, so it wasn't a big deal that Darnold threw into heavy traffic.

    Darnold finished 8-of-11 for 62 yards and an interception. He was 6-of-7 for 47 yards versus the Redskin starters. Darnold made a couple of mistakes, but otherwise had a strong outing. It's looking like he'll be the Jets' starting quarterback in the season opener.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: Sam Darnold took the field with 8:41 remaining in the second quarter and played the rest of the way. Based on his debut, Jet fans must be feeling very optimistic right now. Darnold showed some hesitation before hitting a receiver for eight yards, but then got into an unstoppable rhythm. He found tight end Clive Walford for an 18-yard gain, then appeared to fire a touchdown to Charles Johnson, but Johnson dropped the ball. Darnold went back to Johnson, who caught the pass in the end zone this time. However, he was flagged for offensive pass interference. It would've been a shame had Darnold come away with no touchdowns because that pass featured a great fake from Darnold where he looked left to draw the safety away, then came back to Johnson. However, it didn't matter because Darnold came back to Johnson on a third occasion. This time, the touchdown stood.

    Darnold finished 13-of-18 for 98 yards and a touchdown. The YPA doesn't look good, but Darnold performed on a very high level. Todd Bowles must be considering making Darnold his starting quarterback for Week 1, but he'll have several more weeks to decide.

  2. Baker Mayfield, Browns Grade: A-
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: Baker Mayfield played extensively in the preseason finale. He was on the field for the entire opening half, and he played well. Mayfield's first throw was a 41-yarder to Devon Cajuste, as Mayfield rolled left and connected to his tight end despite Cajuste being held. Mayfield later hit Damion Ratley with great zip for a gain of 21. The rest of Mayfield's completions were short tosses, as he wasn't playing with any starters to help him.

    Mayfield finished 9-of-16 for 138 yards. Two of his misfires was dropped, while another one was thrown away because of pressure. Mayfield looked good, but not great.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: Baker Mayfield had a mixed evening. His first pass that wasn't thrown away had some great zip, as he delivered a dart to Rashard Higgins for 20 yards. He had a similar heave on a 19-yard attempt. However, he was strip-sacked on one occasion because he held on to the ball too long in the pocket. Mayfield, on his final pass, was intercepted. He stared down his receiver, and rookie cornerback Avante Maddox read his eyes perfectly. Adding injury to insult, Mayfield took a blow when his head was knocked into one of his linemen's legs. That was his final play of the evening.

    Mayfield finished 8-of-12 for 76 yards and an interception. He also scrambled thrice for 10 rushing yards. I'd say this was a B-/C+ performance. Mayfield showed some positives, but made two glaring mistakes as well. This is all part of the learning process, however, and Mayfield was definitely not going to be perfect every game. The Browns could start him in the opener without any arguments from me.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: The offensive line couldn't block early, but Baker Mayfield led two consecutive scoring drives to finish his evening. He began by throwing a 9-yard laser where only his receiver would catch it. He then bought time in the pocket to find a teammate for 26 yards, and he followed that up with what appeared to be a short touchdown, but that was nullified by offensive pass interference. Mayfield began his final possession with a nice strike on third-and-long, but then made a horrible throw late across his body toward the middle of the field. He was lucky he wasn't intercepted. Mayfield shook it off and hurled a nice fade pass into the end zone. It was caught for a touchdown, but replay review overturned it.

    Mayfield finished 7-of-13 for 75 yards. He had two touchdowns that were wiped out by penalty and review. He made a couple of mistakes, but played very well overall, especially when considering how poorly he was protected on his first few drives.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: Baker Mayfield took the field with 1:31 remaining in the opening quarter. On his second drive, he began by throwing a nice back-shoulder pass to Rashard Higgins. He then converted a third-and-8 by stepping up in the pocket and finding his receiver for a gain of 22. Mayfield followed up those nice passes with some timely scrambles. He rushed for a first down on third-and-6, making the defense look foolish with some pump fakes. Mayfield always kept his eyes downfield throughout the entire process, which was impressive. The drive concluded with a touchdown throw to David Njoku. Mayfield bought time in the pocket and always kept his eyes downfield, going through his progressions very effectively. Mayfield's final drive saw him cap off his night with a 54-yard touchdown, a bullet on a slant to Callaway on a third-and-4. Callaway took it the distance.

    Mayfield finished 11-of-20 for 212 yards and two touchdowns. The completion percentage doesn't look ideal, but Mayfield had a great debut. He showed off pocket awareness, accuracy, arm strength and mobility.




  3. Chad Kelly, Broncos Grade: A-
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: Chad Kelly had a mixed final preseason outing. He did some good things, including an occasion in which he bought time in the pocket to find an open receiver for a third down, but a holding penalty negated the conversion. He also fired a first down into a tight window while rolling left as he was getting drilled. He later showed some great zip on a pass to a tight end. Conversely, Kelly was picked off. His receiver didn't look for the pass, but it still wasn't a good throw. Kelly's accuracy was a bit off on some other occasions as well.

    Kelly finished 12-of-19 for 126 yards and a pick. I wouldn't put the interception completely on him, but this performance wasn't in line with what we've grown accustom to seeing out of Kelly. Still, Kelly deserves to be the No. 2 quarterback on this roster, and a veteran does not need to be acquired to play behind Case Keenum.

    Chad Kelly is not a rookie, but was injured last summer and didn't get to play in the preseason during his real rookie campaign. I'm going to analyze him here for that reason.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: Chad Kelly wasn't outstanding in his third preseason game, but he did some good things. He launched a nice fade pass to the end zone, but the receiver couldn't come up with the catch. He also showed good touch on a third-down conversion. He made one mistake in which he floated a pass over a defender on a bootleg, and it was nearly picked off by that very defender. Otherwise, Kelly thrived once again, as he finished 7-of-11 for 70 yards.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: Chad Kelly entered the game ahead of Paxton Lynch in the middle of the second quarter. His first real throw was a touchdown to Courtland Sutton, a 16-yard dart that was on the money down the seam. Kelly then hit Tim Patrick with a great touch pass for 27 yards. His next drive featured a pass where he fit a ball into a tight window on a slant to Brian Parker. He then showed good arm strength on a throw outside the numbers where only his receiver could catch it. Kelly made a rare mistake after that, barely missing Patrick on a fade deep down the sideline.

    Kelly finished 7-of-9 for 90 yards and a touchdown. He's been a great surprise for the Broncos, and if he keeps this up, the fans will be calling for him to start if Keenum struggles.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: Chad Kelly opened his evening by drawing a pass interference, then connected with a teammate on a 16-yard screen. He found a wide-open receiver for a touchdown on the next drive. The following possession was his best, and it began when he drilled a 20-yarder to his wideout. He then received a poor snap, but collected the ball and threw it away calmly. Kelly responded by firing a laser for another 20-yard gain. He then impressively recognized the blitz and changed the protection, allowing him to scramble for a first down. Kelly followed that up with his second touchdown; he faced down a blitzer and found the open target for a score as he was getting drilled. Kelly made his first mistake after that, however. He threw an interception, firing a late ball as he stared down his receiver. However, he rebounded by rifling a 19-yard pass on his next throw. He managed to lead the Broncos to the red zone once again, but ran out of time. He was fortunate to have a pick-six dropped, but would've thrown a third touchdown had his teammate not dropped the ball in the end zone.

    Kelly was fantastic. Outside of a couple of plays, he was flawless. Kelly finished 14-of-21 for 177 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and he was as good as those numbers indicate.

  4. Alex McGough, Seahawks Grade: B+
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: I've been a big fan of Alex McGough, and he was impressive once again in the preseason finale. McGough opened the night by stepping up in the pocket and finding a receiver for a 25-yard gain. He then made a throw that made me say "wow" aloud. He kept his eyes downfield amid pressure, escaped the pocket, and launched a bomb for a 52-yard touchdown. The play was ruled incomplete after replay review because the receiver failed to get the second foot inbounds, but it was still a ridiculously great pass. That wasn't the only outstanding McGough play negated by penalty. He rolled out and showed good arm strength for a 15-yard completion, but that was nullified as well. McGough then appeared to complete a nice back-shoulder throw, only to have it dropped. McGough had one blunder, which was an underthrown target on a fourth-and-3 after he escaped pressure.

    McGough finished 12-of-23 for 131 yards and a touchdown to go along with three scrambles for 31 rushing yards. The passing numbers don't look great, but he had two long completions negated by penalty, and he was victimized by three drops. I can't emphasize enough how impressive McGough has been. He's my favorite of the non-first-round rookie quarterbacks, and this might sound crazy, but he really looks like a Russell Wilson clone when he plays. The accuracy isn't the same, but McGough is excellent at navigating the pocket and scrambling around, and he also has the arm to complete downfield bombs like Wilson.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: Alex McGough completed just 5-of-14 passes, but I thought he was impressive. McGough's completion percentage is misleading. Two misfires were because of downfield miscommunications. One was a drop of what should've been a gain of 15. McGough did have a terrible interception in which he threw the ball late across his body over the field. This happened right away, however, and McGough was much better after that. He showed tremendous ball placement on a 14-yard pass along the sideline, then converted a fourth-and-22 with a 25-yard dart to his receiver. McGough also scrambled for a first down, rushing for 22 yards on four runs.

    McGough finished 5-of-14 for 140 yards, one touchdown and a pick. He's not afraid to take downfield shots, and he has a strong arm. He actually completed a 55-yard pass on a Hail Mary, but the receiver landed at the 2-yard line. Outside of the one bad decision on the interception, I thought McGough showed more than enough to vault himself over the anemic Austin Davis as Seattle's No. 2 quarterback.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: Alex McGough opened with some short tosses, but then converted on a deep back-shoulder completion, and he followed that up with a pretty fade touchdown. McGough finished 9-of-12 for 97 yards and a score. He looked good, as one of his misfires was a spike to stop the clock, while another was a failed Hail Mary at the end of regulation. McGough seems like a better quarterback than Austin Davis, so it wouldn't be surprising if he's promoted ahead of Davis at some point in the near future.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: Alex McGough played in the second half. He completed 10 of his 13 passes, but didn't have a very good debut. Most of his completions were checkdowns, which would explain his mere 48 passing yards. He checked down on fourth-and-medium, forcing a field goal. He was nearly intercepted on a throw into heavy traffic. He overthrew a wide-open player for what should've been a 25-yard completion. And on one occasion, he drifted back 20 yards in the pocket to heave a helpless pass downfield that was somehow caught, but was nullified because of offensive pass interference.




  5. Josh Rosen, Cardinals Grade: B
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: Josh Rosen didn't play in the exhibition finale for some reason.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: Josh Rosen was sidelined. He was supposed to play in this game, and he even told the media that he would suit up, but head coach Steve Wilks determined that Rosen should sit out because he banged his finger in practice recently.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: Josh Rosen had two terrific drives in this contest. He was hot immediately, hitting Chad Williams with a 13-yard pass, then drawing a pass interference flag deep downfield on a shot to J.J. Nelson. Rosen capped off the possession by throwing a dart to Christian Kirk on third-and-goal from the 13-yard line. Rosen was then able to hit tight end Gabe Holmes with a 17-yard pass right down the seam that was on the money. This prompted the Cardinals' color analyst to remark, "He looks like a different guy." Rosen followed that up by drilling a deep ball to Kirk down the seam for 21 yards.

    Rosen wasn't perfect, however. He overthrew Kirk at one point, and then he fired behind Holmes. He was nearly picked after holding the ball too long, and he took a delay-of-game penalty in the red zone. Still, Rosen was terrific in his second NFL preseason appearance, going 10-of-16 for 107 yards and a touchdown. It should be noted that he was playing with the starters against the Saints' backups, but this was still a promising development for the rookie.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: Josh Rosen's first pass was a short completion to Christian Kirk, which occurred as Melvin Ingram drilled him. Rosen's initial drive came to a close when he threw too high toward a tight end. His best pass came on his second possession; it was a 21-yarder, and he moved in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. However, Rosen then nearly threw a pick-six, but the ball was dropped by Desmond King. Rosen tried to rebound by connecting on a pretty back-shoulder throw to Greg "Mr. Reliable" Little, but replay review ruled it incomplete because Little had just one foot inbounds. Rosen's night came to an end at halftime, but it should've lasted a bit longer; Rosen failed to call timeout when the clock was ticking down, drawing criticism from the Arizona broadcasters, who gave Rosen a "C" for his performance.

    Rosen was just 6-of-13 for only 41 yards, and he should've thrown an interception. He struggled, no doubt, but it needs to be noted that the offensive line was woeful. Not only did it block poorly, but Rosen received multiple poor snaps.

  6. Chase Litton, Chiefs Grade: B
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: Chase Litton began the preseason finale with a nice throw along the sideline, showing good arm strength. On a later possession, he hit rookie receiver Byron Pringle with a 40-yard pass with fade right in stride down the sideline. Litton nearly capped off the drive with a touchdown, but his receiver fell out of bounds. Litton later completed a 29-yard pass off his back foot, which was impressive to see. Litton has a good arm, so it was shocking that he went undrafted.

    Litton finished 13-of-21 for 166 yards. Two incompletions were thrown away. Litton made very few mistakes on the evening, with one being that he dropped too deep in the pocket in the red zone, but he was able to sail the pass out of bounds to avoid a disastrous sack. Litton has the tools to be a good NFL quarterback, so I'm excited to see if Andy Reid can coach him up, just like he has done with so many other signal-callers throughout his career.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: Chase Litton looked great in his preseason debut. He didn't play last week, but he took the field in the fourth quarter versus the Bears. He completed his first pass, but the ball placement was a bit off. He was nearly picked on the next pass, but then converted a fourth-and-2 with a short toss. Litton managed to scramble for 10 yards to reach the red zone, then did a good job to avoid a sack. He overthrew a tight end in the end zone, prompting a field goal attempt.

    Litton's next possession saw him draw an interference flag on a 15-yard attempt. He then zipped a pass to a receiver, who sprinted into the end zone. Litton finished 4-of-7 for 67 yards and a touchdown. He made a couple of mistakes, but showed that he has good arm strength and mobility.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: Chase Litton did not play in Week 2. For some reason, Andy Reid believed it would be more important to give snaps to a proven failure in Matt McGloin.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: Chase Litton played one drive and looked great. Litton showed off some impressive arm strength and went through his progressions. He was accurate for the most part as well. He converted a whopping four third downs on his sole drive. The first occurred when he fit the ball through a tight window on a third-and-8. Another was a 16-yard deep out to Byron Pringle, which was a very impressive throw. The final one was a scramble on a third-and-7. Litton led the Chiefs down to the goal line, but they couldn't punch the ball into the end zone. Litton seemed to hit a backup tight end for a touchdown, but a defender made a nice play to knock the ball away.

    Litton's final numbers - 7-of-13, 66 yards - don't look great, but he played much better than the stats indicate. Two of his misfires were dropped, and he managed to draw a pass interference in the end zone, so his stat line could've been much better. Litton, an undrafted rookie, looked like a third-round pick at the very least.






  7. Josh Allen, Bills Grade: C+
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: Josh Allen didn't play in the preseason finale, as he's in the running to be the starter.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: Josh Allen was atrocious in the third preseason game. To be fair, he had very little help behind an abomination of an offensive line that couldn't protect him. Despite Allen being mobile, he took five sacks, and that number would've been six had he not thrown the ball away while getting drilled. Allen actually hit his head on the turf during that sequence, and had to be removed from the field to be checked for a concussion.

    Allen was hurt by two drops, but his accuracy was shaky for the most part. He heaved a pass downfield to Charles Clay, but he underthrew it and was nearly picked as a result. He then fired a heater toward Kelvin Benjamin that wasn't even close to his target. Allen finished 6-of-12 for only 34 yards. He has loads of potential, but isn't prepared to play right now, especially when considering how bad his offensive line is.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: Josh Allen misfired toward Kelvin Benjamin to begin his evening and then took a big blind-side hit, where he was at fault for not seeing a safety coming down to the line of scrimmage. Allen then threw behind a teammate coming out of the backfield. He showed no touch on the play, and this prompted the Browns' color analyst to say, "He threw the ball 100 miles per hour behind the running back."

    All of this sounds horrible, and it seemed as though Allen would be in for a rough night. However, he caught fire after that. He began by fitting a ball into a tight window to his tight end, then connected on a touchdown to Rod Streater, as he avoided pressure and stepped up in the pocket to find the receiver for the score. Allen's next drive featured some timely scrambles to put the Bills into field goal range. There were some possessions featuring decent throws after that, as Allen finished 9-of-13 for 60 yards and a touchdown, all while rushing thrice for 18 yards. There was definitely some cause for optimism for what Allen accomplished, but he also made some errors that made it apparent that he still needs a lot of work.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: Josh Allen played the entire second half. Allen wowed the crowd on his first throw, which he hurled from his own 20-yard line to Carolina's 25. The receiver caught the ball, but couldn't stay inbounds, though he was close to doing so. The Bills ended up going three-and-out on Allen's opening possession because Allen's second pass was dropped. Allen's next drive didn't go that well, though he did convert a third-and-4 and then showed some nice touch on a 23-yard completion. The problem was that he panicked on a fourth-down attempt and nearly threw an interception. That lingered into the next possession when Allen misfired a routine pass in the flat. He then nearly hit a receiver for a deep touchdown, but the pass was slightly overthrown. Allen had a very similar throw a couple of drives later, failing to connect on a bomb. He was then nearly intercepted on a miscommunication. However, he showed off his talent right after that, lofting up a 27-yard completion while falling out of bounds. He followed that up with a short touchdown.

    Allen finished 9-of-19 for 116 yards and a touchdown. It was a very mixed performance. His arm strength and mobility (three carries, 29 yards) were very much on display, but his pocket awareness, mechanics and accuracy need to be improved greatly. Allen is a work in progress, but he has the tools to be an outstanding quarterback if he's coached up very well.

  8. Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens Grade: C+
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: Lamar Jackson played the entire first half in this game. It was his fifth appearance of the preseason, and it's clear that he has improved since his disastrous debut in the Hall of Fame Game. Jackson converted an early fourth down by rolling out and throwing a short toss. It was a bit behind his target, but he was still able to move the chains. He was more precise later in the drive, fitting a ball into a tight window to Breshad Perriman. Jackson then had a perfect throw to Mark Andrews down the seam. His worst moment occurred when it appeared as though rookie Adonis Alexander picked him off on a shot to the end zone. Part of the problem was Perriman, who didn't fight to break up the interception. Fortunately for the Ravens, replay review showed that the ball hit the ground.

    Jackson finished 9-of-15 for 109 yards to go along with three scrambles for 25 rushing yards and a touchdown. He still has a long way to go, but the improvement he has shown is crucial.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: Lamar Jackson struggled mightily earlier in the preseason, but enjoyed his best game thus far against the Dolphins. He made one mistake, which was his first throw. He sailed the ball over his tight end's head. However, he had just two misfires after that, as he finished 7-of-10 for 98 yards and a touchdown. He also was a big factor on the ground, scrambling thrice for 39 yards and a second touchdown. One of his rushes was a 14-yard sprint to convert a third-and-13.

    I wouldn't say Jackson did anything extraordinary through the air, but the fact that he didn't make any mistakes beyond the one overthrow was huge. Jackson's best play was when he moved around the pocket to find someone named Tim White for a 31-yard gain.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: Lamar Jackson went 7-of-15 for only 49 yards and a touchdown along with four scrambles for 26 rushing yards. He was so inaccurate as a whole in this game that he didn't complete a pass until his fourth drive. His first heave was underthrown. The second was behind his target. The third was overthrown downfield. Jackson then dropped back 25 yards in the pocket - literally - to avoid pressure. After that, Jackson appeared to lose a fumble on a second-down scramble, though replay review showed that he was down by contact. Jackson finally got moving on the fourth possession. His completion was a short toss, but then he had two inaccurate hurls into the end zone, forcing Baltimore into a field goal try.

    It wasn't all bad for Jackson, who had a great touchdown pass to Chris Moore off a play-action bootleg. The difficult throw featured perfect ball placement, and it was a sign of what Jackson is capable of. He just needs way more seasoning.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: Lamar Jackson began by throwing a bomb to Chris Moore for a gain of 36 yards. Moore was covered, but he was able to snatch a pass over a defender's back. Jackson then scored on the drive, scrambling and eluding defenders to find the end zone. Save for a drop, Jackson completed mostly short throws after that. Some of his longer completions were really just tosses close to the line of scrimmage that his teammates turned into big gains. Still, this was a marked improvement over what we saw in Canton.

    Jackson finished 7-of-18 for 119 yards to go along with five scrambles for 21 rushing yards and a score on the ground. Jackson still has plenty to work on - mechanics, accuracy, his tendency to stop looking downfield - but the potential is certainly there.

    HALL OF FAME GAME ANALYSIS: Things didn't begin well for Lamar Jackson, who didn't have much time in the pocket because the Bears flooded his backfield with blitzes. This is something Jackson is going to see extensively in the pros until he proves that he can beat the blitz. Jackson didn't really seem to know how to react to Chicago's defense, though that was somewhat understandable, given that this was his first NFL action. Jackson's first real throw was a misfire, but it was part of a nice touchdown drive where he found fellow rookie Hayden Hurst in the end zone. Things took a turn for the worse after that, however. Jackson fired an interception on a pass he telegraphed. The throw was inaccurate and late, and it never had a chance. On a later drive, he converted a third down with the flick of his wrist, but then fired incomplete on the next third down. The ball was high and wobbly, and the Chicago defender nearly picked it off. Jackson followed that up by taking a bad sack the next time he had possession.

    Jackson was 4-of-10 for only 33 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He showed off his trademark speed by rushing for 25 yards on eight scrambles, but his passing left much to be desired. Jackson was horrible in his debut, holding the ball too long and showing poor accuracy on too many of his throws. He also displayed no answer for the opposing blitz.



  9. Mason Rudolph, Steelers Grade: C
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: Mason Rudolph began the night by firing a 15-yard slant to Trey Griffey. He then appeared to throw a touchdown, but it was ruled incomplete because the ball trickled out of the receiver's hands. That didn't end up mattering because Rudolph's very next pass was a touchdown, as he hit a receiver perfectly down the seam. Following some drops, including one in the end zone, Rudolph threw another score. This was a poor pass, as he launched the ball across his body way over the middle of the field. Luckily for Rudolph, no one was there besides a Steeler.

    Rudolph finished 5-of-9 for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Three of his incompletions were drops, and two were in the end zone.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: Mason Rudolph played the entire second half. He went 7-of-11 for 65 yards. He didn't do much of note, as almost all of his passes were checkdowns. His best play was when he rolled right and found an open receiver. It was a nifty play, but it happened to be negated by a penalty.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: Mason Rudolph's first pass of the game was pick-sixed by Tramon Williams. Rudolph telegraphed it all the way, and Williams had an easy score. Rudolph was then nearly picked again on a deep floater, and he followed that up by being guilty of a delay-of-game penalty. Rudolph was gifted a touchdown on the ensuing drive by a Packer lost fumble on a kickoff return, and he made a nice pass to Justin Hunter on the following possession. However, Rudolph launched a pass that was too high toward James Washington and fired way behind his next target. Rudolph's final drive saw him fumble; he didn't recognize the blitzer and coughed up the ball. A teammate of his recovered, but it was still an 11-yard loss.

    Rudolph's final numbers looked like this: 5-of-12, 47 yards, one touchdown, one interception. Those numbers are bad, but they're even worse when considering that 21 of his yards came on a routine, short toss, while his touchdown, as mentioned, was a 4-yard pass that came off a lost fumble. It's too early to determine that Rudolph will be a bust, but I was down on him coming out of Oklahoma State in the first place, as he seemed like yet another Big XII lollipop thrower.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: Things didn't begin all that well for Mason Rudolph, as a short pass of his was dropped on his initial possession. However, he managed to locate receiver Damoun Patterson downfield with some nice placement after that. He had a chance to continue the drive, but threw behind a receiver on third-and-3. Rudolph's longest completion came on the next possession, where he took advantage of the Eagles being offside to find James Washington along the sideline. Washington boxed out his defender like a power forward and came down with the ball for a 35-yard gain, setting up a field goal. Rudolph found Patterson with a nice strike to move into Eagles territory on the next possession, but the drive ended because Rudolph held the ball too long in the pocket and was sacked. The same exact thing happened on Rudolph's fifth and final possession.

    Overall, Rudolph threw the ball well, but he needs to work on his pocket awareness. He went 7-of-12 for 101 yards, leading multiple scoring drives.

  10. Tanner Lee, Jaguars Grade: C
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: To start the evening, Tanner Lee made a terrific throw down the sideline over two defenders in the second quarter. It was ruled incomplete, but I thought it should've been a catch, and the Tampa announcers agreed. Lee had better luck later, making a perfect touch throw down the sideline for 26 yards. He later once again showed amazing touch and accuracy on a 44-yard ball in between two defenders. The play was initially ruled a 45-yard touchdown, but replay review was once again cruel to Lee, and the play was ruled down at the 1-yard line.

    Lee made a couple of mistakes - an overthrow in the red zone and a near-pick on a pass thrown behind the receiver - but he was excellent otherwise. Lee completed half of his passes, going 11-of-22 for 164 yards, but was much better than those numbers indicate. Lee has a great arm, so if he can continue to show this sort of touch and accuracy, he could challenge Blake Bortles as the starter next year.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: Tanner Lee didn't play once again.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: Tanner Lee didn't play in the second preseason game.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: Tanner Lee didn't have a good showing, going 4-of-8 for 37 yards. He took two sacks on his first two drop-backs because he held the ball for an eternity. He then overthrew the tall Allen Lazard after making a nice play-action fake. That was followed up by a strip-sack, which the 49ers turned into a touchdown. He was strip-sacked again later on his final drive, but he managed to recover the loose ball. Lee managed to draw a defensive hold, but it wasn't enough, as he came up short in an attempt to win the game at the very end.

  11. Mike White, Cowboys Grade: C-
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: Mike White threw mostly short tosses in the preseason finale, including a meager toss on third-and-6. White did attempt a couple of deep shots, including one toward Dres Anderson that was batted away. White then had a deep pass that was so underthrown that the nearby defender would've caught an interception if the ball was closer to the intended receiver. White also had a short toss to a running back that was way off the mark.

    White finished 13-of-21 for 118 yards. The numbers don't look awful, but White had a poor performance. The Cowboys will be in big trouble if Dak Prescott gets hurt.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: Mike White completed his first seven passes. He showed nice accuracy on his throws, though he didn't really challenge Arizona deep downfield. The mistakes came, however, as White was strip-sacked twice, losing the ball once, and then he sailed a ball over his receiver's head for an interception. White finished 17-of-22 for 157 yards and the pick. He wasn't as great as the numbers indicate, but he made some fine throws. He may have moved up the depth chart to No. 2.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: Mike White didn't have good fortune against the Bengals, as his receivers constantly screwed up. He was victimized by three drops from his wideouts, including one that was a deep shot along the sideline. The receiver who dropped a long pass also slipped on a different route. Otherwise, White completed some short passes and was guilty of taking two sacks because he held on to the ball too long. He also fired wide on one play. White finished 8-of-16 for 76 yards.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: Mike White went 6-of-12 for 63 yards and an interception, though the pick was a Hail Mary attempt. One of his incompletions was a dropped pass. He made some nice connections, but was guilty of holding the ball too long on a couple of occasions. Still, White didn't look totally lost like some of the other rookie quarterbacks, and he has some potential

  12. Kyle Lauletta, Giants Grade: D
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: Things began well for Kyle Lauletta when he showed good zip on a play-action pass for 20 yards. However, things fell apart after that. Lauletta sailed a ball way across his body to the other side of the field, and he was lucky he wasn't picked. He was actually intercepted on a downfield shot on a pass that was horribly underthrown. Following a touchdown to an open receiver that he delivered as he was getting hit, Lauletta had a horrible sequence where he overshot a receiver for a touchdown, then underthrew a wideout for a touchdown, then took a bad sack for a big loss, all in consecutive plays. Lauletta's sole drive in the second half concluded with an interception on an inaccurate ball downfield that was picked off by rookie cornerback JC Jackson.

    Lauletta was awful in the preseason finale. He failed to complete half of his passes, going 8-of-19 for 118 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Two of his misfires were dropped, but Lauletta struggled big time.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: Kyle Lauletta attempted only two passes. His misfire was a deep throw that was way behind his receiver. His completion was a 1-yard pass. He went 1-of-2 for 1 yard. That's all I have to say about Lauletta in this game.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: Kyle Lauletta had a great highlight play when he made a nice juke on a defender during a scramble to run into the end zone, but his passing was just mediocre. He went 2-of-5 for 27 yards. He connected with a teammate on a nice strike in a tight window, but previously overshot a receiver on a deep ball.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: Kyle Lauletta went 7-of-12 for 55 yards. Not included in those numbers was a drawn pass interference on a downfield throw. Lauletta wasn't great, but he did manage to complete a 23-yard pass to Roger Lewis. The rest of his night was nondescript.

  13. Luke Falk, Titans Grade: D
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: Titans color analyst Charles Davis mentioned that Luke Falk has been dealing with deep-ball issues thus far, so it was quite the coincidence that Falk's first pass was a launched deep bomb. Naturally, it was overthrown.

    Falk had a couple of nice throws in this game, showing good touch on a 15-yard out and completing a ball with strong velocity went for about 20. Otherwise, Falk seldom went deep. Most of his passes were just ineffective, short tosses. Falk finished 13-of-24 for 114 yards, with only one incompletion being dropped. Again, he doesn't look like an NFL quarterback to me.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: It didn't look like rookie quarterback Luke Falk would play because Blaine Gabbert was on the field for more than a half. However, the coaching staff gave Falk a chance on the final drive of the game. Falk completed a short pass that went for 13 yards, then sailed a ball out of bounds. He followed that up by taking two sacks, the second of which occurred because he held on the ball to an eternity. Falk's final pass was a Hail Mary, which was picked off. Falk went 1-of-3 for 13 yards and an interception.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: Luke Falk struggled once again. His numbers weren't bad - 8-of-12, 64 yards - but those figures aren't indicative of his play. Falk's first pass was a deep shot downfield that was so underthrown that a confused cornerback was guilty of pass interference because he didn't think a pass could be so weak. Falk then was faced with a fourth-and-12 situation, but tossed a 3-yarder, failing to even attempt to move the chains. Falk completed some short tosses after that, then sailed a helpless pass out of bounds. Falk does not look like an NFL-caliber player.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: Luke Falk played most of the second half, but had his share of struggles. He barely completed half of his passes - 10-of-19 - despite throwing lots of checkdowns. His yardage total was somewhat high (105), but it's worth noting that two of his longer gains were short tosses that his receivers turned into long gains. For example, a 20-yard reception came on a bubble screen. He took some deep shots, but one pass was way underthrown. There were also some helpless fades thrown into the end zone. He had a receiver open for a touchdown, but missed him, though he managed to throw a scoring toss on the next play to someone else who was open.

    The silver lining is that Falk had one very good throw when he placed some nice touch to Deontay Burnett along the sideline. However, it wasn't enough to dispel the belief that Falk won't be anything but practice squad fodder in the pros.

  14. Danny Etling, Patriots Grade: D-
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: Danny Etling had the highlight of the night, rushing for an 86-yard touchdown on a naked bootleg. The Giants color analyst said, "That play just cut seven players. You're cut. You're cut. You're cut." It was an embarrassing showing by the Giant backups. While Etling had the long run, he struggled mightily to throw. He sailed a pass over an open receiver on the second drive, then held the ball too long to take a sack. The next possession saw him throw a ball way behind his target on a routine toss. He then was lucky that the Giants dropped an interception on an underthrown pass, and he followed that up by firing behind his wideout. His luck ran out after that, as he was actually picked on a lollipop throw downfield. Following another dropped interception, his second pick occurred when he telegraphed a throw over the middle of the field.

    Etling went 18-of-32 for 157 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions to go along with his 115 rushing yards and a score on the ground. His best throw was a 45-yard bomb that showed nearly perfect placement, but Etling was otherwise anemic as a passer. It's easy to see why he barely played this preseason before this contest.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: Danny Etling did not play in the third preseason game.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: Once again, Danny Etling didn't get to play much. He threw one pass, and it fell incomplete because the receiver ran the wrong route. The incomplete grade remains.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: We didn't get to see much of Danny Etling. He played half of the fourth quarter and threw just three passes, completing one of them for 18 yards. He had one poor throw, which was a heave over his receiver's head.

  15. Logan Woodside, Bengals Grade: D-
    PRESEASON WEEK 4 ANALYSIS: Logan Woodside opened with a terrific back-shoulder throw to Josh Malone, who made a great catch for 28 yards. Woodside also drew a pass interference in the end zone on a near-touchdown. However, Woodside didn't do much else besides complete short passes. He was nearly picked in the end zone and overthrew a tight end on the final fourth down of the evening. Woodside went 9-of-15 for 96 yards. I don't see him making the final roster.

    PRESEASON WEEK 3 ANALYSIS: Logan Woodside did not play in Week 3 of the preseason.

    PRESEASON WEEK 2 ANALYSIS: Logan Woodside didn't get to play much. He completed 1-of-3 passes for four yards. One incompletion was dropped, while the other appeared to be a downfield connection, but the receiver couldn't land inbounds. Woodside's sample size is so small that I can't issue a grade at the moment.

    PRESEASON WEEK 1 ANALYSIS: Logan Woodside did not play in Week 1 of the preseason.

As a reference, here were my final preseason grades for the 2017 rookie quarterbacks:

Mitchell Trubisky - A
DeShone Kizer - B
Patrick Mahomes - B
Deshaun Watson - B
C.J. Beathard - B-
Nathan Peterman - C+
Davis Webb - C
Joshua Dobbs - C-
Brad Kaaya - C-
Chad Kelly - Inc

For more of a reference, here were my final preseason grades for the 2016 rookie quarterbacks:

Dak Prescott - A+
Paxton Lynch - B
Connor Cook - B
Jacoby Brissett - B
Cardale Jones - B-
Carson Wentz - C+ (only played the first game)
Jared Goff - C
Cody Kessler - C-
Christian Hackenberg - D
Kevin Hogan - F


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