The Jets didn't lose this week, so we can reward ourselves with a DraftFix focusing on how the top quarterback prospects got on this weekend.
Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen took center stage last night after the other top prospects didn't do much to boost their stock.
While Mason Rudolph saw his comeback bid short in an upset loss to Kansas State, Baker Mayfield blighted another solid performance by courting controversy in a crotch-grabbing display of poor sportsmanship. Lamar Jackson had a good game against Syracuse, but a 56-10 win over a team who gave up 64 to Wake Forest last week won't do much to help his reputation.
What about Josh Allen - the man who, despite some inconsistent play this year - still seems to be considered a likely top 10 pick based on his tools and potential? He ended up not playing in Wyoming's game against Fresno State following an injury last week in the win over Air Force.
The play on which he suffered that injury - although it's worth noting that he did return for a series before deciding to pull himself from the game - sums up the dilemma in evaluating Allen; the standard of play. As you can see, there's some pretty terrible football going on here:
An ill-advised gadget play with the timing slightly off which two defensive backs are completely fooled by, the left tackle picking up the wrong guy, Allen deciding to air it out despite a bit hit, a receiver that makes a lousy effort to go after the ball in a crowd and a third defensive back that might have had a pick if he bothered to look back for the ball all sum up the level of play.
Therein lies the problem because it's difficult to know if Allen only looks as good as he does - which this year hasn't even been that good - because he goes up against bad competition or if he is underachieving because of the abilities of those players around him. After Allen left the game, Wyoming held off Air Force for the win. They also almost beat 7-3 Fresno State last night without Allen, losing 13-7.
Allen's throw on that play wasn't perfect, but it wasn't uncatchable either and if the receiver comes up with that, it would have been viewed as a highlight-reel throw under pressure. Conversely, if the defensive back turned his head a second earlier and intercepted the ball, it would be yet another example of Allen making a bad decision and a mistake.
Some have expressed surprise at the fact that Allen has all essentially already decided he's entering the 2018 draft but he's not improving at Wyoming so if he needs further seasoning, he might as well get that at the NFL level.
With nobody else separating themselves on Sunday, it came down to Darnold vs. Rosen in primetime. USC won 28-23, but Rosen was the more impressive out of the two, passing for 421 yards and three touchdowns. Darnold was held to 264 yards and no touchdown passes, but did have a key touchdown run and Rosen wasn't flawless, losing a fumble and throwing a red zone pick.
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit was insistent that Rosen was the closer of the two to NFL-ready, saying that it "wasn't close" between them. He said Darnold needs an extra year in college because he's not consistent enough in the pocket and was specifically critical of Darnold's footwork on this first half interception:
Sam Darnold throws his 12th INT of the season. He's thrown a pick in all but 2 games this year. pic.twitter.com/xvORLTPVn9— Chris Hummer (@chris_hummer) November 19, 2017
Rosen passed the eye test, making a series of accurate downfield throws, including three touchdown passes to Jordan Lasley. The last of those brought UCLA within five but USC was able to run out the clock with their running game, as that and the special teams were the difference in the game:
You can't get too down on Darnold, though. While he struggles in the pocket, he can be spectacular out of the pocket and has the character, arm, size and mobility to suggest teams will still covet him even if there are aspects of his game that need work.
Just to remind ourselves of the talent Darnold does have, here's a beautiful touch throw he made on the move two weeks ago: