Draft

Pac-12 Rivals lead 2018 NFL Draft

Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen

With a tremendous crop of quarterbacks in this year’s NFL draft, it doesn’t come as a surprise that so many teams have been jockeying for draft position. For many teams, the chance to draft a franchise QB only pops up once or so in a decade. As the dust begins to settle, it looks like the Cleveland Browns will have the first pick, followed by the Buffalo Bills.

The Browns have been here several times in the past, only to have squandered opportunity after opportunity to land the team’s QB of the future. One gets the sense this could be the team’s last chance to get it right, and it appears they are headed in the right.

The two leading contenders for the top pick are none other than Pac-12 rivals Sam Darnold out of USC and Josh Rosen out of UCLA. One would have to go back decades to find two QBs from the same conference that are slated to get drafted 1-2. But here we are and it’s really hard to fault anyone who considers these to be the top two choices in the draft.

With the first pick, the Browns figure to go with Darnold. He needs his mechanics adjusted a little and he’s still prone to mistakes, but he also has tremendous upside. At 6’5” and 215 lbs., he had tremendous size. The arm is strong and he’s mobile enough to make rushers miss. The thing the scouts like the most is his leadership skills. He not only commands respect on the field, but he is also likeable. In only 24 games as a starter, Darnold completed 64% of his passes for 7,229 yards and 57 touchdowns. He did throw 22 interceptions, a testament to the fact he is not yet a finished product. The good news is the Browns can afford to be patient after a dismal 0-16 2017 season.

It would seem the Bills have always had Rosen rated at the top of the team’s draft board. The team has been actively moving players around via trades, eventually landing the number two spot. The cost was their two first-round picks, their second-round pick, their first-round pick next year and then some. One of the trades was QB Tyrod Taylor, who ironically could be the Browns starting QB until Darnold is ready to go.

All signs indicate the Bills are all-in on Rosen. According to scouting reports, they might have made the right moves. Rosen is a finished product. He has good arm strength and he’s extremely accurate. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and seems to have a firm grasp on reading defenses. Over a 2 ½ year career at UCLA, he amassed 9,341 yards, 59 TDs and 26 interceptions. He’s a bit outspoken, but all business on the football field.

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