The NFL Draft is still pretty far away, but everyone is thinking about it and what early Christmas gifts their teams could get. Could it be a lineman to block for their quarterback or could it be a running back that can electrify the crowd and jumpstart a team? Those are the things that are running through the minds of many fans as the draft comes along. Along with those positions, there are fans also thinking of who will be leading their teams in the future. Yes, the position that many are also looking at is quarterback. And like previous seasons, there are some candidates to take that top quarterback spot. Recently, quarterbacks Josh Rosen of UCLA and Sam Darnold of USC decided to forgo their eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. Both are projected as the top two quarterbacks in the NFL and both are expected to be the top two quarterbacks taken in the NFL Draft. The hype machine around both seemed to be ratcheted up all season long, but their level of play unfortunately did not meet it this season. So with that being said, which quarterback is actually better?
When it comes to measurables, both are pretty solid there. Rosen and Darnold are both listed as 6'4" with Darnold outweighing Rosen by only two pounds (220 pounds to 218 pounds). After the measurable, there is definitely some differences that go along with both quarterbacks. For example, let's take a look at the accuracy of both of them. Darnold is a has only played two seasons, but his completion percentage was 63.1% at it's lowest. When it comes to Rosen, his percentage was never that high. The best he was able to do was 62.6% completion. So in that aspect, Darnold has the better statistics. Also, another thing that makes Darnold better is his ability to make plays outside the pocket. Darnold is pretty nifty with his feet. He can run to get first downs, but he can also run around a little bit to give some of his receivers time to get open. That type of ability can come in handy in the NFL. Just ask Russell Wilson how handy it is for him. As far as Rosen, he is a solid pocket quarterback but the question has to be out there about his ability to maneuver the pocket. Sometimes he does that very well but at other times, he has issues recognizing where the pressure is coming from. In the NFL, that is something that could get him seriously hurt.
While Darnold may have him beat in when it comes to mobility and accuracy, there is some issues that we have to address with Darnold as well. The former USC quarterback has made some spectacular plays, but there are a couple things that he is going to have to overcome when it comes to the NFL. Darnold was accurate this season, but he was also well-scouted. In his first season when there was no film on him, he was torching teams to the tune of 31 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. That type of play from him led to Darnold being one of the hottest quarterbacks in college football. The hype was around but so was videotape. When the tape began to surface about his habits, the sudden-star started to look a little more normal. Darnold's touchdowns went down and his interceptions went up by four as teams were more familiar with him. When he hits the pros, we could see him have a fast start until that tape surfaces on him. With Rosen, he was solid the entire time with his numbers and percentages even when tape was out there on him. Along with the tape out on Darnold, you have to wonder about his ability to read defenses sometimes. One example would be in the bowl game this season, where one play he just rose up and threw a pass to the slot. What happened was the defensive back just sat on the play and stepped right in front of the pass. The play resulted in a touchdown for the other team. Darnold has to prove that he can read defenses and plenty of them will be more complex than things he saw in college. Rosen may not have many athletic things over Darnold, but he does have the mental aspect a little more intact than Darnold because he reads defenses a little better.
Darnold is the better player when it comes to accuracy and athleticism, but Rosen is the guy when it comes to understanding the position a little more and being able to make adjustments. All in all, both quarterbacks are still unfinished products and could either disappoint or delight the team that selects them. With that being said, at this point, Rosen is the better choice because he gets the mental part of it. Darnold could eventually get it, but he could not get it either.