Overwhelming scrutiny part of life as QB in 2018 NFL Draft

DALLAS -- Josh Allen took a deep breath. In a spring filled with interview answers, he prepared himself to give a fresh-sounding one to my question decidedly lacking in newness.

"It would mean I'm going to Cleveland," Allen said after being asked what it would mean to go No. 1 overall.

If you think #DraftSZN has been a grind for fans, writers, and analysts ... whither the quarterbacks? Every draft's signal-callers are dissected beyond belief. But this year's group seems to have withstood an extra level of scrutiny, dating back to last season, when This Year's Class was still Next Year's Class. In the interim, scouts and analysts (both professional and amateur) have scoured through every possible moment of tape searching for an Easter egg to prove why their guy is The Guy. Or the opposite.

The takes ... they are a-plentiful.

"That's just how it is," said NFL Network analyst Charles Davis. "There's no getting around it. We spent this much time talking about quarterbacks when it was Carson Wentz and Jared Goff (in 2016). It's just that we're spreading it amongst five or six now."

Four of those five or six got a brief respite from the draft noise at the NFL's Play 60 event outside of AT&T Stadium on a gray, blustery Wednesday morning. So much of the draft process centers around player and team narratives that it's easy to forget that there is still an actual football element to it. For a couple of hours, the prospects -- especially the quarterbacks -- got to be kids among kids and just play ball for a bit.

Alas, because there are dwindling hours in which these prospects are still prospects and not yet NFL players, we must ask our questions. Draft season might be nearing an end, but we will wring every moment from it yet.

"Whatever perception people want to paint around me. Whatever stories people want to create. 'He's the guy, he's the next QB,' -- which I do understand -- but I'm just going to go in there, be myself and do whatever the coaches ask," affirmed Sam Darnold.

That perception is a tricky thing, especially for a guy like Darnold.

"It's the only position group that we have, I feel like, way too much of a focus on the negatives," said Fox Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt.

The draft microscope doesn't function like the more conventional, scientific kind. Instead it tends to magnify perceived biases while often obscuring those hidden traits that could lead to football glory. Ask anyone who's studied this quarterback class and they can rattle off all the flaws.

"It's Josh Allen's completion percentage," lamented NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci. "It's Baker Mayfield's height. It's Josh Rosen's whatever."

"It's way too en vogue to take shots at the quarterbacks, to be the contrarian, rather than to say why these guys are such great prospects," Klatt added.

That sentiment isn't likely to reassure Allen or any of the rest of his quarterback cohort this week. But at least after this weekend, they'll no longer be prospects.

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