The quarterbacks will dominate the story of any draft class, but that has been particularly true of the 2018 NFL draft.
This year’s quarterback class has been billed as one of the best in recent memory, if not one of the best of all time. And with the New York Giants nearing the end of Eli Manning’s career and picking second overall, fans have been particularly sensitive to the chatter.
The draft writers over at NFL.com spent the 2017 season doing a weekly power ranking of the draft-eligible quarterbacks. Finally, and after the National Championship Game, they have their final ranking — and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield tops the list.
The ranking, incidentally, is based on who had the best season -- not who will be the best NFL quarterback.
Here is what they have to say about the top five quarterbacks:
1 - Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
Bowl game: 23 of 35 for 287 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT in 54-48 loss to Georgia in Rose Bowl.
Season stats: 285 of 404 for 4,627 yards, 43 TDs, 6 INTs; 97 rushes for 311 yards, 5 TDs.
The season didn’t end the way Mayfield would have liked, but he was clearly the best QB in 2017. He rose all the way from No. 7 on this list, where he started the season, to the top spot, where he’s been since the first week of November. It was a remarkable rise for the Heisman winner, who’s put himself in the conversation for the first round of the 2018 draft.
2 - Josh Rosen (UCLA)
Bowl game: Did not play vs. Kansas State in Cactus Bowl.
Season stats: 283 of 452 for 3,756 yards, 26 TDs and 10 INTs.
Rosen’s standing on this list might have benefitted a little bit from his absence from UCLA’s bowl game. While Rosen sat out with a concussion, Sam Darnold and Lamar Jackson struggled in their bowl games, clearing the way for Rosen to rise a spot.
3 - Sam Darnold (USC)
Bowl game: 26 of 45 for 356 yards, 1 INT in 24-7 loss to Ohio State in Cotton Bowl.
Season stats: 303 of 480 for 4,143 yards, 26 TDs and 13 INTs; 75 rushes for 225 yards, 5 TDs.
In terms of pro potential, Darnold is probably the favorite QB of most of the experts on our voting panel, but turnovers (fumbles, in particular) were his bugaboo in 2017. He opened the season No. 1 on this list, but he was well-entrenched in third or fourth spot for the second half of the season, mostly because of the ball-security issues.
4 - Lamar Jackson (Louisville)
Bowl game: 13 of 31 for 171 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs; 24 rushes for 158 yards, TD in 31-27 loss to Mississippi State in TaxSlayer Bowl.
Season stats: 254 of 430 for 3,660 yards, 27 TDs, 10 INTs; 232 rushes for 1,601 yards, 18 TDs.
Jackson is the last QB other than Mayfield to hold the top spot on this list. He slides a little in the final rankings after throwing a career-high 4 picks in Louisville’s bowl loss, but even in that game, his electric ability was on display as he racked up 329 total yards.
5 - Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State)
Bowl game: 21 of 32 for 351 yards, 2 TDs in 30-21 win over Virginia Tech in Camping World Bowl.
Season stats: 318 of 489 for 4,904 yards, 37 TDs, 9 INTs; 10 rushing TDs.
Rudolph was on point to close out his distinguished Oklahoma State career, slicing up the Virginia Tech defense for a bowl win. He might not be as dynamic as some of the QBs ahead of him on this list, but no one threw for more yards than Rudolph this season (4,904).