Five quarterbacks from 2018 NFL draft 1st-round: The rise of Josh Allen


Five quarterbacks were taken in the first-round of the 2018 NFL draft. This is the continuing series following their careers, now through four games of their third season.

The ascension of Josh Allen into the top tier of NFL quarterbacks continues. 

In 2020, he is putting up the numbers and the wins to prove it.

Allen and the Buffalo Bills are off to the races, putting up a perfect 4-0 record. They are winning behind an array of weapons and the arm of Allen, with a little bit of close-game magic to boot.

Allen has thrown for 1,326 yards through the season's first four games, with an impressive 12 touchdown passes and only one interception. More importantly, Allen has taken his accuracy to a whole new level, something that has haunted Allen in the first two seasons of his career. 

Only once has Allen dropped below the 70 percent mark en route to a 70.9 percent completion percentage, good for ninth in the league.

His passing yards rank him second, behind Dak Prescott (1,690), and his QBR rating of 87.1 places him third, behind Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. 

Allen started things off smoothly, passing for 300 or more yards for the first time in his career. How did he follow up his 312-yard performance in week 1 against the Jets? Simply by throwing for a career-high 415 the next week in a victory over the Miami Dolphins. He added a third 300-yard+ game against the Los Angeles Rams in week 3. 

After carrying the ball 14 times in week 1, Allen has totaled only 11 carries since. In the first two seasons, Allen's legs did much of the talking for the young quarterback. In season three, he's still using his legs, except so far it's been to extend plays within the pocket. In doing so, he's saving some wear-and-tear on his body and for the most part, making something positive happen.

Sometimes, however, he does find himself doing a little too much as was the case against the Rams. His only interception of the season occurred in this game. This, and a fumble, helped the Rams claw back from a 28-3 deficit to take a 32-28 lead. Of course, Allen also led the Bills on the comeback trail, throwing the winning touchdown with 15 seconds remaining.

Allen has also been sacked nine times and has lost three fumbles.

Still, things have gone swimmingly through four weeks for Allen and the Bills. If he continues down this path, he will hold the spot in 2020 among the five quarterbacks taken in the first-round of the 2018 NFL draft.

Allen's next five games should give a true barometer of where he and the Bills stand in 2020.

Next 5 weeks: @TEN (10/11), vs KC (10/15), @NYJ (10/25), vs NE (11/1), vs SEA (11/8)

Lamar Jackson

The reining MVP isn't putting up quite the same numbers as he was in 2019, but Lamar Jackson still has the Baltimore Ravens sitting pretty at 3-1.

If only he could figure out how to defeat those pesky Kansas City Chiefs. 

Jackson has only six losses, including the playoffs, in his young career as a starting quarterback. And three of those have come at the hands of the Chiefs, who defeated the Ravens 34-20 in week three.

The Ravens are still putting up 30.5 points per game, but Jackson's numbers have fallen back to earth here in the early going of 2020. He's thrown for a little more than half the yards Allen has thrown for, with 769. He threw for only 97 against against the Chiefs and followed that up with 193 in a victory over the Washington football team. 

Jackson has seven touchdown passes against only one interception while completing 68.4 percent of his passes. He missed on only 11 of his passes in the season's first two weeks but had 20 in the next two games. 

The passing yards are down but Jackson is certainly still getting production out of his running game. He leads the Raven with 236 yards on the ground and is averaging six yards per carry. Jackson also got his first rushing touchdown last week, a 50-yard scamper.

Jackson did sit out practice on Wednesday to rest an ailing knee, but the injury isn't deemed to be a serious one.  

Next 5 weeks: vs CIN (10/11), @PHI (10/18), Bye, vs PIT (11/1), @IND (11/8)

Baker Mayfield

Don't look now, but Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns are also sitting 3-1. They are doing so with a ball-control offense in which Mayfield has thrown for over 200-yards just once. In turn, some of Mayfield's cringe-worthy turnovers from years past have been eliminated.

Cleveland is coming off a 49-point performance against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, a game in which the Browns ran for 307 yards. The Browns, after scoring only six points in their season-opening loss to Baltimore, have averaged 39.3 in their last three games.

The combination of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt has taken the focus off of Mayfield, but it will interesting to see if the Browns turn up the passing game with Chubb now on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Mayfield threw an interception in each of the first two games but hasn't thrown one since. He's thrown seven touchdown passes and is completing 62.6 percent of his passes. 

Mayfield has 9 carries for 15 yards in 2020, but the offensive line has been doing a good job of protecting him, allowing only five sacks.

The passing game will have to likely open up more if the Brown are to emerge with a playoff-spot from the brutal AFC North. If Mayfield can bump up that accuracy slightly and, with the re-emergence of big-play Odell Beckham, Jr, the Browns will provide a lot of excitement in 2020.

Next 5 weeks: vs IND (10/11), @PIT (10/18), @CIN (10/25), vs LV (11/1), BYE

Sam Darnold

Four-straight losses to begin the season is not likely how Sam Darnold pictured things going. Neither was once-again hitting the injury list.

Darnold injured his shoulder in last week's loss to the Denver Broncos. And while he finished that game, he will not play in week five as Joe Flacco takes over the starting reins

There had already been plenty of struggles for Darnold and the Jets so far in 2020. The nine-point loss to the Broncos was their closest game and their 28 points in that game was the only time scoring over 20 so far.

A lot of the problems haven't really resided in Darnold. Outside of a three-interception game against the Indianapolis Colts, Darnold has only thrown one pick. Much of the season has been played without his top receivers and without Le'Veon Bell. 

Improvements can be made, of course, including bringing up his 59.4 completion percentage. Darnold has thrown for 792 yards and three touchdowns.

Darnold has also run for 117 yards, 84 of which came against the Broncos. He scored on a 46-yard run but also took six sacks that game after only getting sacked six times in three games prior.

Next 5 weeks: vs ARI (10/11), @LAC (10/18), vs BUF (10/25), @KC (11/1), vs NE (11/9)

Josh Rosen

Josh Rosen remains on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad. He has yet to be active for a game in 2020. 

Next 5 weeks: @CHI (10/8), vs GB (10/18), @LV (10/25), @NYG (11/2), vs NO (11/8)

Be sure to check back in after week 9 to keep up with the progress of these five quarterbacks.

photo credit:

1st-round QB's from 2018 draft: 2020 part 1