One year ago, exactly zero draft pundits predicted both Mitchell Trubisky, a little-known former backup to Marquise Williams at North Carolina, and Patrick Mahomes II, a "system quarterback" who would've had no business leaving Texas Tech early, would be selected ahead of Clemson's Deshaun Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Had anyone predicted such an outcome, they would've been ruthlessly mocked for months — similarly to the continued trolling of ESPN's Todd McShay for botching his first-round projection of Minnesota's Mitch Leidner.
Lamar Jackson's one-year transformation from inconsistent decision-maker to Heisman winner was remarkable. However, lost among his video-game-like highlights was a low completion clip of 56 percent. He misfired on 50 percent or more his passes in three games, including the 12-for-31 debacle in Louisville's bowl loss to LSU.
"Yes, he’s a runner, but he’s a talented runner," an anonymous NFL scout said last December. "Very talented. I’d like to know more about his football IQ. It seems like the coaches simplified a lot of the reads for him, a lot of the offense."
Lamar Jackson will be the most fascinating prospect to watch during the 2017 season.
Luke Falk may have been a first-round pick had he left Washington State early. Now he has another year to prove he's not just a system quarterback and enter top-10 consideration. At 6-foot-4, 216 pounds, he's big enough but could use a few more pounds to withstand NFL hits for 16 games — or at least give NFL general managers the peace of mind.
Falk has the arm strength, gaudy stats (9,029 yards and 76 touchdowns the last two years) and excellent decision-making (one interception per 67 pass attempts) to warrant first-round consideration again.
Allen rocketed up draft boards despite a mostly average sophomore season at Wyoming and his name was flung 'round the football world when ESPN's Adam Schefter said one NFL personnel director told him to "put it in the books" that Allen would be top pick in 2018 draft.
The first-year starter completed just 56 percent of his passes, threw an interception every 25 attempts and was not good in the Cowboys' only game against a Power Five school — 16-for-32 for 189 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions in a blowout loss to Nebraska.
However, scouts are drooling over his combination of size (6-foot-5, 222 pounds), mobility (512 rushing yards and seven touchdowns) and arm strength. The tools are there but it's too early to put him atop proven commodities.
Oklahoma State rejoiced when Mason Rudolph and his top target, receiver James Washington, opted for a return to Stillwater.
Rudolph, a 6-foot-5, 238-pounder with 7,861 yards and 49 touchdowns the last two years, has been knocked for playing against Big 12 defenses. The senior-to-be can still make every throw on the field, has shown gradual improvement (raised completion percentage and lowered interception ratio each season) and calmly makes his progressions even when under pressure.
Entering his redshirt sophomore season, Sam Darnold will be only 20 years at next year's draft. Another big-bodied quarterback (6-foot-4, 225 pounds), Darnold burst onto the scene last October, throwing 16 touchdowns (two interceptions) in four USC wins.
He'll be constantly criticized for a slightly unconventional throwing motion, and though a bigger sample size is desired before deeming him the consensus No. 1 pick, it's impossible to deny his huge arm, pinpoint accuracy and adequate mobility.
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