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2018 NFL Draft: Quarterback watch, stock up, stock down

Each week, ROTB Lead Writer Justin Higdon takes a look at the respective NFL Draft stocks of some of the top quarterbacks in college football

North Carolina State v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Stock Up

Baker Mayfield

10/14/17 vs Texas: 17/27 302 YDS 2 TD 1 INT 27 YDS rushing

Season: 117/161 (72.7%) 1937 YDS 12.0 AVG 17 TD 1 INT 101 YDS 2.6 AVG 1 TD rushing

This wasn’t Mayfield’s best day. In fact, he finally threw his first interception of the season. But the 22-year old senior passer also led Oklahoma to a bounce-back win in a rivalry game while topping 300 passing yards for the fifth time in six contests this season. Mayfield’s college production is inarguable. He’s made 40 starts, has passed for over 11,000 yards, averages nearly 10 yards per pass attempt for his career, and has better than a four-to-one TD-to-INT ratio. Mayfield is looking like he’ll be a Heisman finalist for the second year in a row, and he’s drawing comparisons to Johnny Manziel and Russell Wilson. I don’t love his occasionally loopy delivery, and I wonder just how much he’s being tested in the Big 12, so I’m not ready to go all in on him as an NFL prospect, but there is no question he is already a darling of the analytics community.

J.T. Barrett Ohio State

10/14/17 vs Nebraska: 27/33 325 YDS 5 TD 0 INT 10 ATT 48 YDS 2 TD rushing

Season: 138/207 (66.7%) 1838 YDS 8.9 YPA 21 TD 1 INT 359 YDS 5.1 AVG 5 TD rushing

Since losing to Oklahoma on September 9th, Barrett has been on a five-game tear. The redshirt senior has completed 72.3% of his passes, averaged 9.9 yards per pass attempted, and has accounted for 22 touchdowns (18 passing, four rushing) without throwing a single interception. Barrett had all day and all night to throw against a feeble Cornhuskers’ pass rush, but he threw with better anticipation than I’m used to seeing from him, and he dissected a defense that was dropping seven and eight players into coverage. Barrett is a late round-to-undrafted free agent prospect, but he is positioning himself to be a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy.

Ryan Finley North Carolina State

10/14/17 vs Pittsburgh: 14/24 198 YDS 1 TD 0 INT

Season: 172/248 (69.4%) 1968 YDS 7.9 YPA 11 TD 0 INT 80 YDS 3.0 AVG 1 TD rushing

Finley’s numbers Saturday were nothing special, but the Boise State transfer still hasn’t thrown a pick this season, and he has led the Wolfpack to six straight wins since losing the opener to South Carolina. Finley is a game-manager type with a tall, slim frame, who gets the ball out on time while limiting mistakes. If I have learned anything over the years, it’s that quarterbacks like Finley make NFL people feel safe, and thus, hold value in the third-to-fifth round range of the draft. Due to injuries early in his career, Finley is a rare, fifth-year “junior” in terms of eligibility, but he earned his degree before he even left Boise State in the summer of 2016, and he’ll turn 23 in December, so it’s time to keep an eye on him.

Stock Down

Luke Falk Washington State

10/13/17 vs Cal: 28/43 286 YDS 0 TD 5 INT

Season: 216/305 (70.8%) 2286 YDS 7.5 YPA 19 TD 7 INT

In terms of build, arm, and play style, I have compared Falk to a poor man’s Jared Goff, and after last Friday’s debacle, the two passers share something else in common: a five-interception game. Goff became the first player since Joey Harrington to throw five picks in a game and still get drafted in the first round. This year’s draft class will presumably include two members of the club in Falk and Josh Allen. Saturday, I tweeted out the full list of QBs drafted since 2010 who have a five-interception game to their credit. It’s not pretty:

Josh Rosen UCLA

10/14/17 vs Arizona: 20/34 219 YDS 0 TD 3 INT

Season: 179/279 (64.2%) 2354 YDS 8.4 AVG 17 TD 8 INT 1 TD rushing

If drafting a quarterback was all about “looking the part” then Rosen would be a no-doubt, surefire number one pick. But good lord he’s been sloppy this season, even starting with Week One’s furious comeback win against Texas A&M. Last weekend Rosen matched a career-high with three interceptions, and he failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time since November 14th, 2015. Not only is Rosen turning the ball over frequently (eight picks in four games since getting away with a couple in the opener), but he is also one of the shakiest third down passers among 2018 draft-eligible QBs. He has completed just 51.8% of all third down pass attempts and converted only 35.7% of first downs. Here’s a rundown of the top names in the class, for comparison’s sake:

Making matters worse, Rosen is completing passes at a 46.3% clip in the red zone, where three of his interceptions have occurred. There’s a lot to like about Rosen’s physical ability, but his situational play has been concerning.