The top quarterbacks have been analyzed and over-analyzed, and they'll be overly over-analyzed during the final run-up to the NFL draft. You've heard from the draft experts, so now it's time for my take.
This is a fascinating quarterback class because it's top heavy with good prospects, but there's no can't-miss star. Each of the top prospects has obvious flaws, some more worrisome than others. Their games and personalities are so different, which adds intrigue to the selection process. The New York Jets, who own the third pick, aren't just picking a guy who throws the football. They're anointing a future face of the franchise, a player whose leadership style will set the tone for the entire organization.
Not too much pressure, right?
Anyway, here's how I'd rank them, based on their potential fit with the Jets:
1. Sam Darnold, USC: He's the most complete prospect because of his ability to extend plays, an important trait in today's NFL. Darnold's play slipped last season, but you saw in 2016 a player with franchise-changing ability. Dude went 20-4 in two seasons, and it's not like the USC offense was loaded with NFL talent. Yeah, the turnovers are a concern -- tied for the FBS lead with 22 -- but people said the same thing about Matt Ryan when he came out in 2008. Darnold isn't a rah-rah leader, but he endears himself to teammates with a gym-rat work ethic and a personality that is SoCal cool. The Jets would be lucky to get him, but it's unlikely unless they trade up.
2. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma: There are reasons not to like him: He's cocky, he's a shade under 6-foot-1 and he comes from a spread offense. Ordinarily, that combo isn't a recipe for NFL success, but Mayfield is an exception. He dominated for three years at the highest level of college football, posting ridiculous passing numbers and winning 33 of 39 starts at Oklahoma. His arm is plenty strong enough and his accuracy is uncanny, which should make him an ideal fit in the Jets' West Coast scheme. Some believe he could be a handful in a big market like New York, but he has presented himself well during meetings with the Jets, I'm told. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, and maybe it's about time the entire Jets' organization developed that mentality.
3. Josh Rosen, UCLA: In an interview with ESPN The Magazine, Rosen described himself as "monotonously consistent." After decades on the quarterback rollercoaster, the Jets would sign up for that. Rosen is a gifted pocket passer whose cerebral approach makes him the most pro-ready of the top quarterbacks. If he's picked by the Jets, he'll look fantastic in the spring and training camp, prompting a "Make-Rosen-the-starter" groundswell from fans and media. That said, I have him below Mayfield and Darnold because he's not efficient outside the pocket and because of questionable durability (missed eight of the last 19 games). His leadership traits also have been questioned.
4. Josh Allen, Wyoming: He has the highest ceiling, but the lowest floor among the quarterbacks. When you're picking third overall, it's best to avoid that kind of risk-reward scenario. Allen can throw it like nobody's business. His arm is so strong that fans will be clamoring for "Hail Mary" situations just to see how far he can sling it. Unfortunately, there's the accuracy issue (56 percent completion rate), and that can't be ignored because history shows it won't improve in the NFL. Some evaluators also have questioned his ability at the line of scrimmage. Allen is a project and you wonder if he'd be ready to take over in 2019. His intangibles are good and his physical ability is off the charts, but he still hasn't put it together.