To QB or not to QB … Just about all eyes were on QBs Josh Allen of Wyoming and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield at this week’s Senior Bowl practices. Both, of course, are among the top prospects overall for the upcoming draft and were hoping to close the gap on Southern California’s Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen of UCLA in the race to be the first overall pick at the 2018 draft with strong performances in Mobile.
And while there is still the actual game to be played on Saturday, Mayfield appears to be the clear winner of the dual with Allen. Mayfield came off pretty much as advertised as he consistently showed the nimble feet, quick release and accurate arm that propelled him to this year’s Heisman Trophy. Mayfield also showed plenty of poise in the pocket and appeared to be quick to pick up the offense. He was also a clear team leader on the field with an infectious energy and enthusiasm for the game. Mayfield also reportedly handled the interview part of the Senior Bowl experience well enough, although the sense one gets is that there are still lingering concerns about his maturity and off-field character.
What isn’t clear, though, is whether Mayfield did enough to vault himself into the discussion to be one of the first 1-2 players selected this year. In fact, the two teams that appear to be most interested in Mayfield in Mobile were Denver and the Jets, who have the 5th and 6th picks respectively. The Broncos, of course, got the best look at Mayfield as their coaching staff ran the North squad practices, while the Jets were one of a group of teams that reportedly spent the most time with him including Buffalo, Miami and New Orleans. There are also unconfirmed reports that while every other team headed out of town at the end of Thursday practice several Jets’ personnel execs have remained in Mobile for tomorrow’s game.
Conspicuously absent from reports about team’s spending time with Mayfield are Cleveland and the Giants who hold the first and second picks respectively where both are expected to take QBs, although to be sure which players teams visit with in these scenarios isn’t all that indicative of their interest.
Meanwhile, Allen, who has arguably the strongest arm in this year’s draft class, had hoped to come to Mobile and dispel concerns about his consistency and accuracy as more products of the scheme and talent around him at Wyoming. Instead, Allen was inconsistent and often inaccurate in Mobile, although he did have his best day on Thursday when he showed great touch completing a number of red zone passes. Still, there were too many passes over the week where it just wasn’t even clear who was the target. As with Mayfield it’s still not clear what impact all this will have on Allen’s final grade, but it is hard to see how it would have helped a whole lot.
At the same time, none of the other QBs in Mobile really stood out. Mike White of Western Kentucky, who showed a smooth delivery and pretty good arm strength, though probably helped his status, as did Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta, who impressed with his quickness and athleticism. On the other hand, Washington State’s Luke Falk had a mixed reception; he’s got good arm strength and solid mechanics, but he was inconsistent at times with accuracy and decision-making in the pocket.