In a lot of ways, it was a bad week for the majority of the quarterbacks on this list. All the same, each one is worth inspecting (and one who no longer is worth following) if you’re a New York Jets fan. Maybe New York is on pace for 8-8, and it’s more than likely they’ll finish a few games under .500, but there are enough high-round quarterback prospects to go around this spring.
Sam Darnold (USC vs. Utah): 27-for-50, 358 yards, 3 TD; 3 fumbles lost
It took 50 throws, but Darnold helped the Trojans pull this one out, 28-27, by leading two fourth quarter touchdown drives. Most of the second one was the work of running backs Ronald Jones II and Vavae Malepeai, of course, and it might have gone to overtime had Utah decided to kick an extra point on its final touchdown rather than attempting a two-pointer to win and failing. And it might not have been so close had Darnold not lost three fumbles all in the first half. I no longer want to hear “he’s adjusting to the new skill players around him.” It seems that if he’s not throwing interceptions, he’s losing fumbles, and either way that’s carelessness with the ball.
Josh Rosen (UCLA vs. Arizona): 20-for-34, 219 yards, 3 INT
It’s not like Rosen is taking advantage of the chance to improve his draft stock against his Pac-12, Los Angeles quarterback rival. Rosen put up a turkey of a game with three picks, no touchdowns, a QBR of 20.1 and a 47-30 loss at the hands of that football powerhouse, Arizona. One of his picks was returned for a touchdown, and another was on UCLA’s last drive, in the red zone, on the last-ditch attempt for UCLA to get back into the game. Remember the Bruins’ first game, the amazing comeback Rosen engineered? He seemed to be a leading Heisman candidate with a “Heisman moment” already in his back pocket, but here we are now.
Lamar Jackson (Louisville vs. Boston College): 19-for-39, 332 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 22 carries, 180 yards, 3 TD
Let’s stay on this theme with Jackson, who is in no way in the Heisman discussion 10 months after winning the trophy. Yet Jackson has not been as mistake-prone as many of the other QBs on this list, lately. He simply has had to do everything himself for this team. I’ll start sounding like a broken record before you know it.
The Louisville Cardinals let arguably the worst team in the ACC to come into their house and run right through them. BC won, 45-42. Jackson was leading his team to victory when his receiver lost a fumble on the Cards’ last drive. Look, Lamar Jackson cannot play receiver, and once again, he cannot play defense. He already plays two positions: quarterback and running back. Nothing against Louisville RB Reggie Bonnafon, who gained 107 yards this week, but Jackson is the team’s leading rusher every game. It’s going to be fascinating to inspect Jackson’s draft stock during the offseason, and specifically how his team’s record may or may not hurt it.
Josh Allen (Wyoming vs. Utah State): 18-for-26, 208 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 16 carries, 36 yards, TD
Allen had to overcome his Cowboys only gaining 85 yards on the ground — 49, when you don’t count what the quarterback did himself. Allen’s 28-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Johnson with under four minutes to play was the deciding score in Wyoming’s 28-23 victory. All in all, there’s not much to say otherwise, just an average kind of win against an average kind of opponent. Allen doesn’t have the kind of resume lines that jump out at you the way Power Five quarterbacks do, but he doesn’t have the same intrigue or consistent success as Carson Wentz did at North Dakota State, either.
Luke Falk (Washington State vs. Cal): 28-for-43, 286 yards, 5 INT
It was a big step backward for Falk and the Cougars Friday night, as the Golden Bears not only upset them, but ended up beating them down in surprise fashion, 37-3. It was the first time in five years a Mike Leach-coached offense failed to get to double-digit points, according to Chantel Jennings.
If Falk had been building a case this season that he was worth a pick in the first three rounds, he erased it in one mistake-riddled outing. Sure, one of his picks came when Camryn Bynum jumped a route, and another was batted and kicked around for what felt like half a minute before a Cal defender held onto it, but don’t give the Bears too much credit here. The quarterback under-threw an open receiver in the end zone, letting the ball fall into the wrong hands at the goal line. Beyond the INTs, Falk averaged only 6.7 yards per attempt – ugly for an Air Raid gunslinger – and finished with a dismal 11.0 QBR. He was also sacked nine times, contributing to a net loss of 50 rushing yards on his part.
Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma vs. Texas): 17-for-27, 302 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 7 carries, 27 yards
Oklahoma bounced back from their upset loss to Iowa State by winning the Red River Rivalry game in Austin, 29-24. Texas came back and took a brief lead in the fourth quarter, which probably worried every Oklahoma fan out there. Still, this was no repeat of the Iowa State loss. Mayfield connected with Mark Andrews for a 59-yard touchdown that ultimately put the game away. Is Oklahoma back in the Big 12 conversation now, or with a few more wins? Mayfield can win in the clutch – we’ve all seen it – so if he stays consistent, the Sooners can challenge TCU and still probably make the College Football Playoff.
Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State vs. Baylor): 19-for-31, 459 yards, 3 TD; 3 carries, 11 yards, TD
Baylor is bad. Keep that in mind. Just. Really bad. They’re 0-6 now, after the Cowboys drubbed them 59-16. All of that aside, Rudolph still had an excellent game, the best of any QB on this list this weekend. He had 14.8 yards per attempt, he finished with a 97.3 QBR, he ran for a touchdown as well as his three passes and he just picked apart the Bears’ defense.
The Bedlam Game is still a few weeks away, but I keep thinking about it. Just like in Los Angeles and Washington state, the state of Oklahoma has two powerhouse teams (now ranked No. 9 and 10 in the country) with good quarterbacks. But Mayfield and Rudolph are pretty different. I might like Rudolph a bit more because of his prototypical size (he’s 6-foot-5), but apparently certain general managers have graded Rudolph as a third-day draft pick. The jury is out.
Riley Ferguson (Memphis vs. Navy): 24-for-40, 279 yards, 3 TD
Memphis beat No. 25 Navy 30-27, and in turn, got to take the Mids’ mantle of No. 25 in the new AP poll. The American Athletic Conference has been promoting itself as an equal to the Power Five conferences – specifically with the catchphrase “Power Six.” I tend to agree with that, and for the purposes of this write-up, that means Ferguson is playing against pretty good defenses that aren’t Alabama, but also aren’t the schools Josh Allen plays week to week. This was not Ferguson’s most amazing outing of 2017 (52.7 QBR, 7.0 yards per attempt) but he didn’t make any mistakes and he led his team to a conference victory over a ranked opponent on the road. Good enough for me.
Jarrett Stidham (Auburn vs. LSU): 9-for-26, 165 yards, TD
This is it. Between Auburn’s second loss of the year to LSU and Stidham’s ultimately indifferent role in the Auburn offense, plus our recent addition of Ferguson inflating our total, I hereby remove Stidham from this list. Walter Football had Stidham as a first-round pick even ahead of Rosen at the start of the year, which was one of my main reasons for watching him. Now, the site grades Stidham as a third-to-fifth-rounder.