USC’s Sam Darnold is the best quarterback in this year’s NFL Draft class -- at least that’s what veteran analyst Mike Mayock thinks.
Mayock released the first installment of his annual position rankings, listing the five best players at every position with the league’s annual scouting combine fast approaching.
Leading the way at quarterback through Mayock’s eyes is the 20-year-old Darnold, who completed 65 percent of his passes for 7,229 yards, 57 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in two seasons with the Trojans. Darnold has earned high marks for prototypical size, arm talent, poise and leadership on and off the field. “His floor is solid starter,” NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote of Darnold in his draft profile, “but he has the ceiling to be one of the top-tier quarterbacks in the game as he gains more experience.”
Wyoming’s Josh Allen checked in at second, UCLA’s Josh Rosen at third, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield at fourth while Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph shared the fifth and final spot.
The Browns, owners of the first and fourth-overall picks in the draft, will continue to evaluate this year’s crop of quarterbacks as they search for an ever-elusive long-term answer at the position. With five picks in the first two rounds, Cleveland will also look to add talent and depth across the board following the franchise's first winless season in 2017.
Notable players to make Mayock’s rankings include Penn State’s Saquon Barkley (No. 1 RB), Alabama 's Minkah Fitzpatrick (No. 1 safety), Alabama's, Calvin Ridley (No. 1 WR), Ohio State’s Denzel Ward (No. 1 CB) and Iowa’s Josh Jackson (No. 2 CB).
This time last year, Mayock listed several current Browns in his inaugural 2017 rankings. Former Notre Dame standout DeShone Kizer was his top quarterback; defensive end and first-overall draft pick Myles Garrett was his top edge rusher; David Njoku was his second-best tight end; Caleb Brantley and Larry Ogunjobi were, respectively, his second and fourth-best interior defensive linemen; Jabrill Peppers was his third-best safety.
The combine is set to begin Feb. 27 in Indianapolis.