On Wednesday evening, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen and USC quarterback Sam Darnold made official what everyone has long known was coming: They are both forgoing their final seasons of college eligibility to declare for the NFL Draft.
Now that Rosen and Darnold are officially headed to the NFL, the football world will commence the genre of debate that pops up in some form every year but figures to be particularly intense this time around. Prepare yourself for four months of discussion about whether NFL teams should select toolsy players who look like pro quarterbacks, but were not college superstars or proven college signal-callers whose physical attributes are not quite as appealing.
On one side of the argument, you have Rosen and Darnold, the type of tall, big-armed quarterbacks NFL coaches slobber over. Darnold broke out toward the end of his redshirt freshman season at USC and entered this year as a Heisman favorite but wound up throwing 13 interceptions against 26 touchdowns. Rosen lasted three controversial years at UCLA, completing a modest 60.8 percent of his passes and throwing 26 total picks. Both stand 6-foot-4-inches and have been drawing NFL hype since high school.
Thankful to be a Bruin pic.twitter.com/iph754UL2b
— Josh Rosen (@josh3rosen) January 3, 2018
On the other side of the argument, you’ve got Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield, Heisman winners whose games are allegedly tailored more toward the college game than the pro version. Jackson threw for at least 3,500 yards and rushed for at least 1,500 more in each of the past two seasons at Louisville, but is considered undersized and attracts suspicion for being a so-called “running quarterback.” Mayfield passed for an insane 14,607 and 131 touchdowns in four seasons at Texas Tech and Oklahoma but faces concerns over his heights, maturity and fundamentals.
Throw in big, tall Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen (who seems to earn points for playing in the same general region as Carson Wentz) and his highly unimpressive college stats and you’ve got a mess of prospects sure to enflame passions about what makes a good pro quarterback.
There’s no real right answer to the question of which type of quarterback NFL teams should pursue. Proponents of the Allen/Darnold types can point to Wentz and Jared Goff as examples of guys scouts liked more than college fans who made good in the pros. Then again, Blake Bortles and Blaine Gabbert. Proponents of the Mayfield/Jackson mold can cite Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson as college studs who thrived despite doubts about how their games would translate. Then again, Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow.
For what it’s worth, most mock drafts seem to have Rosen and Darnold as the first quarterbacks off the board. If that winds up being the case, expect fans and analysts to yell and scream that those two shouldn’t be selected before proven stars like Mayfield and Jackson. Then check back in five years to see if they were right.