2017 Preseason All-American Projections: Quarterbacks

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2017 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises and the stars of next fall could be the headlining players next April in the 2018 NFL Draft.

First-Team Quarterback: Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Last year, there was a lot of excitement and hype about Deshaun Watson being the top quarterback in the ACC and in college football. Jackson ended up being the star who put up more staggering production while winning the Heisman Trophy. Watson won the ultimate prize by leading his team to a National Championship, but nobody can deny that Jackson was an amazing quarterback during the regular season.

Jackson dominated college defenses in 2016. The sophomore was a massive point-producer for the Cardinals. Jackson completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,543 yards with 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year. He also ran for 21 touchdowns and 1,571 yards while averaging six yards per carry.

There is no reason to think that Jackson won’t put up massive numbers in 2017. Playing in the ACC, Jackson will have plenty of easy opponents to cruise over. There are a few good teams with a lot of NFL talent, however, that will test Jackson. Still, he has one of the most brilliant football minds in head coach Bobby Petrino, who is superb at identifying and manipulating mismatches. Jackson should produce a huge junior year and could easily be the most productive of the star quarterbacks in college football.

Second-Team Quarterback: Sam Darnold, USC

Last year, Darnold was an extremely efficient passer who led the Trojans to a 10-3 record. After a 1-2 start to the season for USC, the redshirt freshman was made the starting quarterback. He lost his first start against a good Utah team, but after that, he led his team to rip off a nine-game win streak to close out the year, including impressive wins over Colorado, Washington and a Rose Bowl comeback over Penn State. Darnold completed 67 percent of his passes in 2016 for 3,086 yards with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions in his debut season.

Darnold should produce a big 2017 season and will have plenty of attention as perhaps the most high-profile player in college football. The Trojans have good receiving talent for Darnold to work with, and he has played at another level compared to the competition. There is no reason to think that Darnold won’t have a big season for USC and earn plenty of postseason honors.

Third-Team Quarterback: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Other quarterbacks are held in higher regard for the NFL, but Mayfield could end up getting more postseason accolades because he should produce a huge stat line. In 2016, Mayfield completed 71 percent of his passes for 3,965 yards with 40 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He picked up six rushing touchdowns as well. Mayfield should produce more as a runner in 2017 as Oklahoma lost both Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine to the NFL. Mayfield could easily end up winning a ton of awards with a staggering stat line in 2017.

Honorable Mentions: Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Washington State’s Luke Falk, Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald, Marshall’s Chase Litton, Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, Memphis’ Riley Ferguson, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, Florida State’s Deondre Francois, Washington’s Jake Browning, South Florida’s Quinton Flowers, Texas’ Shane Buechele and Penn State’s Trace McSorley.

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