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Year of QB? Reexamining hype for Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen

Editor's note: analysts and former NFL scouts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks of the Move The Sticks Podcast share some of their scouting notes for Week 5 of the college football season, including:

But first, we kick off this week's notebook with Brooks revisiting CFB's ballyhooed top QB prospects now that the first month of the season in the books.

I hate to say I told you so ... but I did tell you the next wave of college quarterbacks was overhyped heading into the season.

There was speculation this group might feature enough franchise QB1s to rival the vaunted 1983 class that included three Hall of Fame inductees (John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino) and six total first-round picks. In fact, there were some observers who suggested "tanking" would be a sensible plan for a team looking to reverse its fortunes with a hot-shot franchise QB.

After watching these players in the first four weeks of the college football season, I believe we can move away from the bold chatter surrounding this year's quarterbacks and appreciate them for what they are: developmental prospects.

Now, that's not a dismissal of the talent and potential of the top signal-callers in the college game, but there isn't a sure thing at the position right now, and any talk about there being a bonafide future NFL game changer in the group should cease.

I still believe USC's Sam Darnold and UCLA's Josh Rosen could be coveted by NFL teams one day, but I don't know if we can confidently call either prospect a transcendent star based on how they've played between the lines. Sure, each guy has flashed big-time talent and potential this season, but they've also provided scouts with enough miscues to raise concerns about their games.

In Darnold's case, scouts will still fawn over his combination of athleticism, improvisational skills and ability to deliver in the clutch. He's a mobile gunslinger with a knack for making splash plays outside out of the pocket. The USC standout is an escape artist who can make laser-like throws on the run.

From the pocket, Darnold throws with outstanding timing and anticipation, particularly on vertical routes inside the numbers. He can finesse throws around defenders to hit receivers mid-stride as they're coming out of their breaks. Darnold's unique ability to throw receivers open will entice scouts and coaches, but he must balance his high-risk throws with better judgment in the future. He has thrown too many picks on "hero" throws and his high interception total (seven INTs in four games) is alarming, particularly for a passer who posted a 31:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio a season ago.

Rosen has earned strong reviews from scouts for his spectacular play to start the season. The 6-foot-4, 218-pound junior has thrown the ball with outstanding velocity and zip, which is critical for him since he's returning from a season-ending shoulder injury.

In addition to his outstanding fastball, Rosen has shown scouts he can change ball speeds and trajectories to hit pass-catchers within the strike zone at intermediate and deep range. With the UCLA standout also displaying "quiet" feet (steady in the pocket) and sound mechanics, it's easy for coaches to fall in love with his talent as a natural passer.

When looking at the flaws surrounding Rosen's game, I would cite his tendency to haphazardly throw balls into traffic. Although he has been able to get away with those blunders as a collegian, Rosen's turnover numbers will rise to epic levels if he continues to make ill-advised throws under duress.

Despite those issues, I believe Rosen has helped himself this season in the eyes of scouts due to the improved leadership skills and intangibles that he has displayed.

As far as the other top talents at the position, Wyoming's Josh Allen, Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph, Louisville's Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield continue to intrigue, but I don't know if anyone from that group has earned franchise-QB distinction to this point. Allen was the front-runner to earn a big grade, but his spotty play has left much to be desired this season. He hasn't played well against big-time competition and it's part of an alarming trend that could torpedo his stock. However, there could be plenty of general managers and scouts willing to bank on his potential over production.

Overall, the QB position is still loaded with talented prospects, but it's beginning to look a lot like the class of QBs from 2017, a year in which NFL teams took chances on developmental players with the hopes of finding a gem at the position. -- Bucky Brooks


I've often referred to Washington State's Luke Falk as the forgotten quarterback. He's in the same conference as arguably the country's top two prospects at the position: UCLA's Josh Rosen and USC's Sam Darnold. On Friday night, he'll share the stage with Darnold when the Trojans travel to Pullman, Washington, to take on the Cougars.

Falk has put up outstanding numbers (14 TDs, 1 INT) this fall, and he quickly rebounded after a spotty game against Boise State in which he was relegated to the sideline down the stretch. He's one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the nation and throws with excellent touch. He added some weight/strength in the offseason and it's showing up on the tape.

USC struggled to defend the deep ball against Texas earlier this season. Falk will have opportunities to generate some chunk plays, although that's not typically the style of WSU's offense. I'll be interested to see how aggressive he is vs. the Trojans.

There will be a heavy scouting presence at this game, as 16 NFL teams are expected to be in attendance. With a quality performance, Falk could give his draft stock a big boost as we approach midseason. --Daniel Jeremiah


If you're looking for the early favorite to clean up the major defensive awards in college football, N.C. State's Bradley Chubb is your guy.

The Wolfpack senior edge rusher is off to an outstanding start to his senior campaign, having already racked up 8.5 tackles for loss, including 3.5 sacks. He was instrumental in the road win over Florida State last week. I studied the tape from that game this week -- Chubb unleashed his full arsenal of pass-rush moves against FSU. He flashed pure power, violent hands and an explosive get-off. He reminds me of two players: Michael Bennett and Derek Barnett. He's built like Bennett and he has the versatility to play inside and outside. He has the same natural pass-rush instincts as Barnett, and his production is exemplary. I'll be very surprised if he doesn't end up as an early first-round draft pick in the spring. -- Daniel Jeremiah


I started to hear some buzz about Florida DT Taven Bryan a few weeks ago. I finally found some time to study the talented junior defensive lineman this week, and I came away very impressed.

His stats don't jump off the page (1.5 sacks this season), but he jumps off the screen with his combination of power, quickness and effort. He's shown improvement each week, most recently in a very disruptive game against Kentucky last weekend. My sources expect him to test off the charts at the NFL Scouting Combine, whether he enters the draft this year or next, and you can easily see why when you study him. Two areas where he can improve: block recognition and pad level. He gets influenced up the field too often on run plays (OL uses his quickness against him) and he has a tendency to play too upright at times. Those are both fixable issues, though. His ceiling is sky high. -- Daniel Jeremiah

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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