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Ranking best QBs in college football: Sam Darnold leads top five

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Editor's note: NFL.com analyst and former scout Bucky Brooks will unveil his top five players at marquee positions this month to preview the 2017 college football season, beginning today with quarterbacks. Click through the tabs above to see other positions.

The 2017 season has already been dubbed "The Year of the Quarterback" due to the excitement surrounding the top players at the position. Coaches and scouts are not only excited about the top talents -- they're raving about the depth at the position, too. With the college football season less than a month away, I thought it was a good time to rank the best prospects at the position as I see it entering the 2017 campaign. Here are my top five.

5. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

An athletic playmaker, Mayfield is a superb quick-rhythm passer with a lightning-fast release and a decisive approach. He's an efficient passer inside and outside of the pocket, displaying outstanding accuracy, ball placement and touch on short and intermediate throws. As a slippery run-pass threat, he's ideally suited to play in a movement-based offense that showcases his athleticism and improvisational skills. With Mayfield completing nearly 70 percent of his passes during his time at Oklahoma, he could move up the charts if he shows better efficiency and range as a deep-ball thrower.

4. Lamar Jackson, Louisville

The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner is an explosive runner with A-plus arm talent. As a rare playmaker capable of scoring from anywhere on the field on a designed or improvised run or a homerun throw, Jackson is an A-level prospect who piques the interest of scouts looking for a game changer at the position. While scouts will certainly want to see him evolve as a pocket passer (improve completion rate, accuracy and overall efficiency), he possesses a rare set of skills that could make him Mike Vick 2.0 in the right system. With Bobby Petrino slated to feature more pro-style (under-center) formations and plays this season, the football world might get a better feel for Jackson's potential during his junior campaign.

3. Josh Allen, Wyoming

The Wyoming QB is a big, athletic gunslinger with extraordinary arm talent and outstanding movement skills. Allen is the new prototype at the position as a 6-foot-5, 233-pound playmaker with the capacity to work on or off a script. He can make every throw in the book, and is also capable of dropping dimes while fleeing the pocket to either side. As a crafty runner with a strong nose for the goal line, as evidenced by his seven rushing touchdowns in 2016, he's a threat to score on designed quarterback runs whenever the Cowboys reach the 10-yard line. If Allen can harness some of his gunslinging ways to reduce his turnover rate (15 INTs in 2016) while continuing to shine as an improvisational playmaker, he could shoot to the top of this list by the end of the season.

2. Josh Rosen, UCLA

Rosen is a pure pocket passer with the cleanest release and throwing mechanics we've seen in years. He not only makes every throw in the book with ease but he shows exceptional velocity, touch and accuracy to match his textbook footwork/mechanics. With the UCLA star also showing outstanding timing and anticipation, he's built in the mold of the franchise quarterback that coaches and scouts covet. Although there are concerns about his prickly personality and questions about his love for the game, Rosen's impressive skills as a pocket passer will make it hard for scouts to bypass his talent whenever he decides to enter the league.

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1. Sam Darnold, USC

The reigning Rose Bowl MVP displayed an outstanding combination of athleticism, arm talent, poise and confidence as a first-time starter for the Trojans in 2016. Darnold connected the dots efficiently as a passer, exhibiting exceptional timing, anticipation and accuracy as a rhythm passer. In addition, he displayed magical improvisational skills operating outside of the pocket on impromptu scramble tosses. With the redshirt sophomore also showing a knack for playmaking in key moments, he has all of the core traits that coaches and scouts covet in a field general. Although there are certainly some concerns about his long windup/unorthodox delivery, Darnold has been so effective against elite competition that it shouldn't be a major issue going forward. If the USC standout continues to build upon the momentum he created at the end of 2016, he could cement his spot at the top of these rankings by the end of the season.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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