Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold Declare for NFL Draft

Written by ESPN News Staff at ESPN.com

Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold were often compared to each other as the starting quarterbacks of Los Angeles’ top two college programs; now they’ll be in the same draft class as each has declared for the NFL draft.

Rosen, UCLA’s signal-caller, made his announcement on Twitter, while USC’s Darnold took to Instagram to inform the world of his decision.

In his Instagram video, Darnold thanked his family, friends and the USC coaching staff, especially head coach Clay Helton, for “trusting in a kid from San Clemente High School with such little game tape and for giving me the opportunity and chance to start at such an incredible university.”

Finding game tape now on Darnold and Rosen won’t be a problem for NFL evaluators.

Rosen threw for 3,754 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season for a Bruins squad that finished a disappointing 6-7.

Darnold bested Rosen with 4,143 yards but threw just as many touchdown passes and three more interceptions for an 11-3 Trojans team that lost to Ohio State in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

Rosen wasn’t available for his team’s Cactus Bowl loss to Kansas State, as he was recovering from a concussion sustained in the team’s final regular-season game. It was the second concussion Rosen sustained during the season; he also missed the team’s Nov. 3 loss to Utah.

“I wish we had won more games, but friendships were forged and memories were made that will last a lifetime,” Rosen said in his statement posted on Twitter.

ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have Rosen as the top-rated draft-eligible quarterback. Kiper has Rosen at fourth overall in his latest Big Board. McShay has him No. 1 overall in his latest Top 32.

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Giants Eying QB’s in 2018 Draft

Written by Chris Pflum at Big Blue View.com

I hadn’t intended on getting to the quarterbacks this early. I had intended to hold off until after the underclassmen had declared whether or not they would stay in school or enter the 2018 NFL Draft.

However, a report Wednesday morning by ESPN’s Jordan Ranaan changed my plans. Ranaan reported that once the New York Giants’ season was all but lost — not coincidentally when Odell Beckham Jr. had his season ended by a broken ankle — John Mara instructed the scouting department to start taking a very close look at the top quarterbacks in the upcoming draft.

All along we suspected, if not outright knew, that the quarterback position would be in play for the Giants with a high draft pick in April. Ranaan’s report confirms the fact that the Giants are seriously looking for their next quarterback. With that in mind, here is my (current) list of the top five quarterbacks in the 2018 draft.

1 – Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)

Mayfield had been creeping up my rankings since last season, and when a scout like Scot McCloughan names him as the top quarterback in the class, you take note.

Mayfield has always been a blast to watch, but what sealed it for me was his performance in the rivalry game with Oklahoma State. While Oklahoma State doesn’t have much in the way of a defense, it still managed to stop Oklahoma’s running game and figure out left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., using the mammoth left tackle’s size against him. The Cowboys briefly stopped Oklahoma’s offense cold, then Mayfield did what he does and willed his team to victory.

Mayfield has plenty of arm strength to drive every throw with accuracy, the mobility to escape pressure, extend plays, and make the defense pay for ignoring him.

On the intangible side, Mayfield is a hyper-competitive and aggressive player and a leader on his team, with good field vision and command of his offense. And put simply, Baker Mayfield is a winner. Like Deshaun Watson, winning is all he knows how to do — he just has that air about him that as long as he is on the field for you, your team has a chance.

He has also shown development in his mental processes since returning as a senior, showing greater understanding of defenses, patience, and decision making.

He isn’t without warts, and listed at 6-foot-1 Mayfield will simply be too short for many teams. Not for me, though, and his mobility helps him find (or create) throwing lanes. His competitiveness and aggression do get him in trouble as he takes a sack or throws to the wrong team trying to make a big play when a modest one will do. But, like Eli Manning or Brett Favre, as long as that spark doesn’t get coached out of him the moments of sheer magic will far outweigh the face-palms.

Interestingly, Mayfield started his college career at Texas Tech, where he won the starting job as a walk-on freshman (a first in major college football history). He later lost the starting job to now-Giants’ quarterback Davis Webb and transferred to Oklahoma.

2 – Lamar Jackson (Louisville)

This is going to ruffle some feathers, but Jackson is probably the most exciting college quarterback since Mike Vick was terrorizing defenses at Virginia Tech.

Insanely athletic, with the kind of twitch that is the envy of receivers, running backs, and defensive backs across the nation, Jackson has the ability to turn any snap into a highlight reel play. He also has one of the most impressive arms to come along in a long time, and can throw darts to any part of the field with a flick of the wrist — even without setting his base.

Jackson is going to be a divisive, boom-or-bust prospect. He is whip-thin (though visibly thickening as he physically matures) and with his penchant for running the ball and playing outside of the pocket, that could result in injuries at the next level. But while the specter of Robert Griffin III raises its ugly head, Jackson’s extreme athleticism makes it tough for defenders to get a clear shot on him. Also of concern is the potential learning curve coming in to an NFL offense. While college concepts are making their way into the NFL, Jackson would still probably be best served by going to a team with a flexible offense that caters to his strengths and can grow with him.

It is worth noting that we know that the Giants have had credentialed scouts at two of Louisville’s games thus far this season.

3 – Sam Darnold (USC)

The presumptive top QB on many lists (including ESPN’s), personally, I think Darnold should stay in school. Should he come out at the end of this season, he would have less than two seasons of starting experience under his belt. I will always say that quarterbacks, in particular, should stay in school as long as they can — the greater maturity and experience are assets going into the NFL.

Darnold is a red-shirt sophomore, and to paraphrase my mother, he isn’t done cooking yet.

However, the upside with Darnold is impressive. He has the prototypical build, athleticism, and arm strength that will get NFL evaluators drooling. Darnold is capable of absolutely incandescent play, such as in the 2017 Rose Bowl, but his decision making is questionable. He has 11 interceptions to 22 touchdowns on the season, completing 63 percent of his passes, down from 67 percent (31 TDs to 9 INTs) the year before.

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Sam Darnold Might Stay In School Next Year (If Browns Get #1 Pick)

Written by Kevin Skiver at CBS Sports.com

Have faith Trojan fans, Sam Darnold might not be done yet. The sophomore quarterback isn’t ruling out the possibility of coming back for his junior year, per Albert Breer of MMQB, especially if things fall in a particular way regarding the 2018 NFL Draft order.

Breer reports that Darnold wants to see what teams are picking first next year. And if one of them is the Browns — or a team like the Browns? He might head back to USC for one more ride.

The San Francisco 49ers, the other winless team in the league, might eschew quarterbacks in the first round after acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo at the trade deadline. The other option, of course, would be to trade that early pick. If the 49ers get the first overall selection, that might be the route that they would want to go if a team has enough interest in Darnold to leap-frog the Browns.

The Browns had initially traded for AJ McCarron on Tuesday, but reportedly the paperwork for the deal with the Bengals didn’t go through before the 4 p.m. ET deadline. Since then, none of the news out of Cleveland has been good. Darnold and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley are considered the top-level talent in this particular draft, and should Darnold not come out, there will be other options for teams at quarterback. UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph would all see their stock rise should Darnold decide to stay.

All of this, of course, would be moot if Darnold drops in the draft. CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso projects Darnold to go as low as 15th, depending how the rest of the season shakes out.

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Preseason All American Teams Released

Written by 247Sports Staff at 247Sports.com

247Sports has released its second annual preseason All-American Team, opening up voting to its vast network of team-based publishers and reporters. The team is listed below in the form of three graphics, weaved in with our five biggest takeaways.

1) Barkley vs. Guice will be one of the hottest debates of 2017

If you read the replies to any tweet about Saquon Barkley or Derrius Guice, you’re guaranteed to find LSU and Penn State fans duking it out over which running back is better. Last year, we saw a similar dynamic between Myles Garrett and Derek Barnett and it appears as though Barkley-Guice is going to be one of the hottest positional supremacy debates of 2017. Unlike last year, when there were five or so running backs with legitimate claims to being the best back in the country, Barkley and Guice stand head and shoulders above peers. The only other backs in the country to receive votes in this poll were Nick Chubb and Royce Freeman. Guice received the most votes for an offensive player, making him the second-most popular overall choice after Derwin James. 

2) We have an upset at QB!

Lamar Jackson is the defending Heisman winner and just last week was named the best player in the country per our College Top247 rankings. But he’ll have to settle for second-team honors for our All-American team, which is selected by a wider pool of voters, who decided Darnold — by a margin of one vote — was the most deserving quarterback. Jackson’s stats were more absurd in 2016 (51 total TDs, 5,114 total yards) but Darnold was close as a passer: More scores, better completion percentage, better QBR, better QB rating, and just below Jackson in yards-per-attempt and interception percentage. Darnold finished the season better, making the Rose Bowl his personal coming-out party — 453 yards, five touchdowns and one of the prettiest passes you’ll ever see — while Jackson sputtered down the stretch. Projecting towards the coming season, both lose a good amount in the passing game, though Darnold’s USC Trojans reload with a higher-rated incoming crop of receivers than Louisville. Given that plus his year-end trajectory, it’s totally reasonable to have Darnold as the first-team quarterback.

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Sam Darnold Doesn’t Think Teams Should Tank For Him.

Written by Kevin Skiver at CBS Sports.com

USC quarterback Sam Darnold is one of the players being watched most closely by NFL teams heading into the new college season. It has already being speculated that he may go first overall in the 2018 draft. Darnold, however, doesn’t want teams to take the wheels off to get him. Several teams snatched up quarterbacks in the first round of the 2017 draft, which changes the 2018 landscape a bit, but Darnold is hoping that whatever team picks him isn’t completely awful.

In an interview with ESPN’s Michael Smith and Jemele Hill, Darnold — who is a way-too-early front-runner for the Heisman — said that he’s heard of the hype. When Smith mentioned a “Suck for Sam campaign,” Darnold didn’t downplay that it exists, but he certainly didn’t offer much in the way of feelings on it. “I don’t really have many thoughts about that,” he said. “But I’ve definitely heard of it.”


When Hill pressed him, asking if it was flattering, Darnold added: “I don’t think any team should tank their season because of me.” The New York Jets may be early contenders for Darnold, with a current quarterback competition that consists of Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. The Jets were in dire need of a quarterback heading into the 2017 draft, but after drafting safety Jamaal Adams in the first round, it became apparent that they were planning to sit on their hands for a different guy. Darnold may be that guy, but only time will tell.

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NFL Teams Looking for A Franchise QB… in 2018

Written by Pete Prisco at CBSSports.com

Where are all the quarterbacks?

That’s a question being asked a lot these days in the NFL, as the franchise passers that star on Sundays get up in years, guys like Tom Brady and Drew Brees, and the younger generation, including this year’s draft class, comes into the league with major questions.

So, again, where are the quarterbacks?

“Next year’s draft,” one NFL personnel director said. “Next year’s draft is loaded.”

With less than a month to go before the 2017 NFL Draft, evaluators desperate for quarterback help are already peeking ahead to next year’s class. It could be a top heavy, which this year’s class isn’t. By top heavy, I mean franchise-quarterback heavy.

The names being mentioned are Southern California’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Wyoming’s Josh Allen, who some scouts are already saying is the next John Elway. There are several others, like Washington’s Jake Browning, who could also play into the top quarterback argument.

But that group does nothing now for the quarterback-needy teams like the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans and New York Jets. That’s why they prepare for the draft with an eye on potentially making a veteran move — maybe the Browns trading for Jimmy Garoppolo or the Texans getting Tony Romo — while also spending a lot of time evaluating this year’s class.

As one AFC personnel man said, “It’s just not a great class.”

Take the Browns. It’s unfair to think coach Hue Jackson can win consistently with what he has had at quarterback and what he has on the roster right now. If the season started today, the Browns would start either Cody Kessler or Brock Osweiler — yes, he’s still on the roster.

Now you wonder why we ask the question: Where are the quarterbacks?

It’s the same in Houston, where the Texans might make a move for Romo, but if not they will likely start the season with Tom Savage, who has two career starts and isn’t exactly considered a franchise passer for the long haul — at least as of right now.

“Everybody wants a quarterback, but you have to understand you have to have the right guy,” Jackson said here at the league meetings. “You can’t force it. You force it and you might create a different kind of problem.”

“We can’t rush just because we have a need at the position,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said.

Evaluating quarterbacks has always been a tricky exercise. It’s hard to get inside the man’s head, let alone try to translate the college skills to the NFL game. It’s even harder now because of the way the college game is played.

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Why We Should Stop Labeling Quarterbacks.

Written by Erik McKinney at ESPN.com

In mid-August, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson gave a scathing critique of people who referred to him as a dual-threat quarterback. In an interview with Bleacher Report, Watson said, “People think, ‘Oh, he’s a black quarterback. He must be dual-threat.’ People throw that word around all the time. It’s lazy.”

Well, good news, Deshaun: You might have personally played a critical role in making that “dual-threat” label obsolete.

Watson and quarterbacks with similar skill sets have changed college football and quarterback recruiting, and they should change the accepted definition of what a “dual-threat” quarterback is.

Almost exclusively, dual-threat quarterbacks have been those whose scrambling ability far outweighed their talent throwing the ball, while those without that running ability were deemed “pocket passers” and “pro-style” quarterbacks.

What happens now, when agility, mobility and movement in and out of the pocket aren’t just bonuses — they’re necessities — when it comes to quarterbacks? Maybe it’s time to slide that “pro-style” designation away from “pocket passer” and over to “dual-threat,” where it truly belongs.

Watson threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns in leading Clemson to a win over Alabama in the national championship game. He rushed for 43 yards and another score. And the Tigers aren’t the only program heading that direction, as three young signal-callers took over at historic bluebloods and led the way to successful seasons.

With Sam Darnold at USC, Trace McSorley at Penn State and Jalen Hurts at Alabama, three programs where pocket passers have dominated the landscape went to dual-threats this year. None of it involved moving away from pro-style offenses.

“It’s been all year we’ve found his ability to create in the pocket,” USC head coach Helton said of Darnold before the Rose Bowl. “We’ve been able to call our pro-style passing game, knowing his elite arm strength and being able to throw the ball down the field, and in trusting him … It just gives you so much trust in being able to call those passes — [not just] run game with perimeter but truly the pro-style offense that we want to be — and he’s been really effective in creating.”

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