NFL quarterbacks taken in first-round of 2018 draft: MVP talk


Five quarterbacks were taken in the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft. This continuing series charts their progress, now thru season three, week 13.

Collect your thoughts. Center your breathing. Now gather that energy and scream from the rooftops: Josh Allen is an MVP candidate.

Allen is coming off another outstanding performance, leading the Buffalo Bills to a Monday Night Football victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Buffalo won 34-24, their first win on Monday Night Football since an October 4 victory in 1999.

Putting up numbers that earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week, Allen was dealing throughout the night. He finished 32-40 and threw for 375 yards without an interception. Allen tossed four touchdown passes, marking the third time he's reached that mark in 2020.

It was also the sixth time Allen surpassed the 300-yard mark after not doing so at any point in his first two seasons. The 375 passing yards are the third-best of his young career.

Allen's poise and growth are something to behold in 2020. The Bills are 9-3, with a one-game lead over the Miami Dolphins. They could easily be 10-2 if not for a Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins Hail Mary pass. It was a game in which Allen led the Bills on the comeback trail, taking the lead with :34 remaining on a touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs.

The Bills can clinch a playoff berth with a win in week 14, plus losses by Baltimore, Miami, and Las Vegas (The Patriots lost 24-3 to the Rams on Thursday night to aid the Bills cause.)

Allen has already thrown for a career-high in yards (3,403) and is completing 69.9 percent of his passes, good for fourth-overall in the NFL. He's thrown 26 touchdowns against only eight interceptions and has only been sacked three times in the last three games.

He hasn't had to run as much but is still second on the team with 322 rushing yards. Allen's six rushing touchdowns leads the team.

Fumbling can still be an issue with Allen but even that number has improved in 2020.

Fun things are happening in Buffalo. Getting back into the playoffs and winning a game are the next steps, a journey that continues this coming Sunday night when the Bills host the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Next four weeks: vs PIT (12/13), @ DEN (12/19), @ NE (12/28), vs MIA (1/3/21)

Baker Mayfield

The renaissance of Baker Mayfield continues here in 2020 as the first-pick in the 2018 NFL draft has the Cleveland Browns at 9-3 and in the thick of the playoff race.

Mayfield and the Browns had been winning ugly in five of their last six games. Much like the post office, the Browns deliver in rain, sleet, snow, wind, and sunshine. 

Hoping to prove their naysayers wrong, the Browns went out and laid a first-half hammer on the Tennessee Titans last week. The Browns put up a franchise record 38 first-half points, holding on for a 41-35 victory. 

Mayfield has the Browns two games back of the Steelers in the AFC North and two games ahead of the Ravens.

The numbers of Mayfield aren't overtly impressive with 2,442 passing yards and 21 touchdowns. He's completing 62.7 percent of his passes.

He is, however, coming off one of his best games of the season against the Titans. Mayfield completed 25-33 for 334 yards, his first 300-yard passing game of 2020. He completed passes to nine different receivers and threw four touchdown passes.

Most importantly, Mayfield did not throw a pick (though he did have a costly fumble near the end of the game when Cleveland was trying to run out the clock). Mayfield has not thrown an interception in five-straight games and, a season after throwing 21, has only seven in 2020.

The Browns and Mayfield will get a chance to showcase their improvement in primetime the next two weeks, with games on Monday Night Football this week and Sunday night the next.

Next four weeks: vs BAL (12/14), @ NYG (12/20), @NYJ (12/27), vs PIT (1/3/21)

Lamar Jackson

Losers of three straight and four of their last five, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens were reeling and fighting for their playoff lives.

A little bit of getting back to basics and a matchup against the Dallas Cowboys had the cure for what ailed them.

After missing the previous game due to a positive COVID-19 test, Jackson was back on the field in the Ravens 34-17 victory. Baltimore used a punishing running attack to the tune of 294 yards, with Jackson accounting for 94 yards and a score.

This was Jackson's highest total since week 6 and he did so while doing just enough in the passing game. He was 12-17 for 107 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.

Jackson has been more hit-and-miss in 2020, whether it be by missing open receivers or ailed by dropped passes. Still, he's managed to throw for 2,055 yards in completing 63.8 percent of his passes. The reigning MVP has 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in 2020.

He also is again the Ravens leading rusher with 669 yards and has found the end zone four times on the ground.

Baltimore is very much in the thick of the playoff race. They should finish at the very least 9-7 but it's also entirely possible they win out from here. Jackson rounding back into form is a must and if the Ravens are running the ball like they did on Tuesday, they will again be among the teams vying for a Super Bowl come January.

Next four weeks: @ CLE (12/14), vs JAX (12/20), vs NYG (12/27), @ CIN (1/3/21)

Sam Darnold

Entering Sunday's game against the Raiders, Sam Darnold had not thrown a touchdown pass in 142 pass attempts.

He remedied that situation six attempts into the game with a three-yard strike to Jamison Crowder. And if it weren't for a last-second touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Henry Ruggs III, Darnold and the Jets would have had their first win in 2020.

Instead, the losing streak continued as the Jets fell to 0-12.

After the close of last season on a high note, the Jets seemed poised to make some noise this year. That's all been but an afterthought as the Jets have been in disarray since week one.

Darnold has regressed in some areas. Part of the blame can be put on his shoulders but much of that can also be placed at the headset of head coach Adam Gase. Gase himself even admitted he hasn't helped Darnold develop as a NFL quarterback.

Darnold has not thrown for at least 200 yards since week 4 and has also missed four of the eight games since then. He finished with two touchdowns in the air and one on the ground against the Raiders, but also threw an interception, had two fumbles, and was sacked three times.

In 2020, Darnold is completing 58.9 percent and thrown for 1,428 yards with five touchdowns and nine interceptions.

A fresh start for Darnold might be best going forward, whether that's with a new team, a new head coach, or both. For now, he'll look to keep the Jets from joining the 2008 Detroit Lions and 2017 Cleveland Browns as teams to go 0-16 in a season.

Next four weeks: @ SEA (12/13), LAR (12/20), vs CLE (12/27), @ NE (1/3/2021)

Josh Rosen

Josh Rosen continues to be on the practice squad for the 7-5 Tampa Buccaneers. He has not played a snap and it's looking like it won't be until 2021 that we likely see Rosen on the field again.

Next four weeks: vs MIN (12/13), @ ATL (12/20), @ DET (12/26), vs ATL (1/3/21)

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