The five quarterbacks who were taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft got their first taste of life in the pros at rookie camps earlier this month, with OTAs going on right now and mandatory minicamps coming next month.
Even though none is projected to start in Week 1 this season, we know it's likely that all of them will get regular-season snaps at some point in 2018. Coaches can't keep these players off the field for long -- they have to see what they've got.
So what should we expect from Baker Mayfield (No. 1 pick), Sam Darnold (3), Josh Allen (7), Josh Rosen (10) and Lamar Jackson (32) this season? I go back to the tape -- always. That's where we can see strengths and weaknesses and how their traits will translate to the next level.
I picked out the best games to watch for each of these quarterbacks. And not just for their best performances; I picked out games in which you can see their worst performances too. Let's see how good -- and bad -- they could be in the NFL. I'll run through each game that shows a ceiling and floor, and I'll pick out the QB's best traits, note where he must improve and give a tip for his offensive coordinators in how to get the best out of him.
Game that shows his ceiling: I look at the tape from the Big 12 championship game versus TCU to highlight Mayfield's pro-ready traits. The efficiency jumped on the film, and so did the quick release and ability to anticipate open windows. That showed up on Mayfield's red zone touchdown pass off play-action. Pull the linebacker downhill, and release the ball before the tight end clears the second level. That's an NFL throw, along with the deep ball shot Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley dialed up versus a single-high safety look. Mayfield held that free safety in the post and dropped a dime -- with some touch on the ball -- to the slot receiver running the vertical. Mayfield displayed the movement skills to navigate the pocket, and he attacked all three levels of the TCU defense to rack up four touchdown passes to get the Sooners into the College Football Playoff.
Mayfield overthrows target, resulting in pick
Baker Mayfield's pass sails over the head of his tight end and into the hands of Dominick Sanders for an interception.
Game that shows his floor: Mayfield went to work on the Georgia defense in the first half of the Rose Bowl, but I have some concerns after rewatching the second half of that game. With Georgia making coverage adjustments while increasing the defensive tempo with pressure, Mayfield struggled to find open windows, and his footwork looked rushed in the pocket, leading to this interception in the middle of the field (check out the video clip above). Yes, Mayfield's intangibles showed up late in the fourth quarter when he put together a game-tying drive, and his touchdown throw was off-script. Get outside the pocket, create and deliver an accurate ball from an unstable platform. Those in-game adjustments from Georgia are exactly what Mayfield will see in the NFL, however, and he has to show the ability to adapt when defenses take him out of his comfort zone as a passer.