There is a growing movement in the Dynasty community toward “devy” players. The term “devy” refers to developmental players carried on the dynasty league rosters. These devy players are usually college players but can even be high school athletes. During each week of the offseason and season, we will look at a different set of devy rankings.
We begin the season looking at the top devy players, beginning with the Top 10 devy players at each position without regard to draft class. In general, we value the players entering the 2018 NFL Draft higher than future classes just due to the added risk associated with projecting into the future.
As we survey devy prospects, we will be looking at traits, abilities, and skill sets that will translate to the NFL. This week, we will look at the Top 10 devy passers eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft.
10. Jarrett Stidham (Auburn) – Stidham redshirted last season after leaving the Baylor program following his Sophomore year. He left the program just as the scandals were hitting the news. The 6’3”, 220-pounder is a redshirt Sophomore. For those that have forgotten about the buzz Stidham garnered as a high school recruit, here are a few quotes. Former Baylor coach Art Briles called Stidham "the best young guy [he's] ever been around." Let’s remember that Stidham played high school football in a Briles’ system at a high school Briles previously coached and played well as a Freshman after Seth Russell went down with the neck injury. In its recruiting profile, ESPN compared Stidham to "Derek Carr as a passer and Marcus Mariota as a runner." While that may be too a little too ambitious, Stidham does have the tools to be successful. He ran a 4.66 40-yard dash in high school. The ESPN scouting profile said, "He is only going to get bigger and better with more experience … He's the type of player that can fit into any scheme and add the dimension of a constant running threat. He is extremely attractive because there is a high ceiling for development." At Auburn, Stidham possibly has the best set of wide receivers in the country. We are intrigued to watch him continue to grow and develop. After the shellacking of Mississippi Saturday, Stidham has completed 85 passes of his 118 passes for 1110 yards and 5 touchdowns with 2 interceptions on the season. Notice the completion percentage over 70%. This is a great sign for his future success. He has added one rushing touchdown to the total.
9. Daniel Jones (Duke) – The Redshirt Sophomore has played well since grasping the starting job. As a Redshirt Freshman in 2016, he garnered Honorable Mention Freshman All-America pick by Campus Insiders and was the recipient of Duke’s Carmen Falcone Award as the team’s Most Valuable Player. He was an easy recruit as a 6’5”, 190-pound, dual-threat quarterback playing high school football in Charlotte, NC, just down the road. Jones had a monster game in the victory over Northwestern on September 9, 2017. In that game, he completed 29 of 45 passes for 305 yards and 2 touchdowns compared to 1 interception. He added another 108 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. For the year, Jones has 1070 passing yards and 172 rushing yards, 8 combined touchdowns, and completing 59.4 % of his passes. We do not hold his subpar performance Friday night against Miami against Jones. The Blue Devils were overmatched against the Hurricanes. Now, up to 230 pounds, Jones is a player to watch the rest of the year. He could turn professional after the season or wait another year or two.
8. Mike White (Western Kentucky) – The redshirt Senior is just now starting to get known nationally. He joined the Hilltoppers after beginning his career at South Florida. White started 15 games over two years for the Bulls. In the 2016 season, his first in Western Kentucky, White completed 280 of 416 passes for 4,363 yards, 37 touchdowns, and just 7 interceptions. Further, his eight games of 300 yards or more passing were fifth-most nationally. In an August Sporting News article, Eric Galko said, “Mike White belongs in the same class as Darnold, Rosen, and Jackson, and he’s set to produce like a Heisman contender in 2017 while impressing NFL scouts like a first-round pick. White’s underdog story has built up to this season. And there’s every reason to be bullish on what he’ll make of it.” One note in that Galko article is that Steve Spurrier, Jr. is White’s quarterback coach. Spurrier said this of his passer, “Mentally he’s so smart. He’s always prepared. He’s very detailed, takes a lot of notes, asks a lot of questions … He’s ready to learn, always asking me questions at all times of the day. And that’s before you pop in the tape on him.” White is a name to remember in devy leagues. He is one of a few quarterbacks who could jump into first-round consideration in the 2018 NFL Draft from off the national radar. In 2017, he has passed for 1,047 yards on 101 of 153 passing and has 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. White has added two more scores on the ground.
7. Josh Allen (Wyoming) – Allen is one of the more intriguing prospects on this list. He has great physical talent and size (6’5”, 235 pounds) with a strong arm. Allen was not highly recruited, beginning his football career at a community college in California. However, there are few quarterbacks in the NFL with stronger arm strength than Allen. But, it is his consistency and accuracy that cause concern. The Redshirt Junior completes under 60% of his passes on his career. In addition, many question the level of competition since he plays for Wyoming. Bruce Feldman tweeted earlier this year, “Wyoming QB Josh Allen has gotten a lot of hype. He has a big arm & moves well but in 2 games vs Power 5 opponents he's thrown 1 TD & 7 INTs.” These numbers will scare off some NFL evaluators while others will be enamored by the potential. He has completed 77 of 139 passes (55% completion percentage) for 877 yards and 6 touchdowns as opposed to 3 interceptions on the season. The completion percentage is a little down from last year and will cause some to doubt Allen’s NFL appeal.
6. Luke Falk (Washington) – Many overlook the redshirt Senior due to playing in a Mike Leach-coached offense. It is true that few of Leach’s quarterbacks ever sniff the NFL. We think Falk is different. He has the requisite size (6’3, 214 pounds) and is a very good passer with great pocket presence. NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote last year that Falk looks like a future NFL starter. That is high praise for the passer. Zierlein went on to say, “Falk will stand in and take the hit to deliver a strike, and he has mobility outside the pocket as well." One thing to watch when evaluating Falk’s chances at being a NFL-viable quarterback is his ability to throw accurately down the field. In the season opener this year, Falk completed 32 of 38 passes for 307 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, he was 31 of 32 on passes thrown nine yards and shorter, according to Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus. So, yes, Falk has a great completion percentage. But, we need to keep in mind that most of the damage is done on short throws. He did play well against USC Friday night, leading the Cougars to a 5-0 start to the season. For the 2017 season, Falk has 1,718 yards on 167 of 220 passing, 16 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The 74.5% completion percentage is awesome, but also a reflection of the short passes Flak is asked to throw.
5. Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) – Few college quarterbacks are as fun to watch as Mayfield. He is elusive, inside and outside of the pocket, and makes plays keep drives alive. For us, the issue for the redshirt Senior is his size. Standing just 6’0” tall, Mayfield will be overlooked by most draft evaluators. While Mayfield checks many of the other boxes (leadership, arm strength, playing in a pro-style offense, and pocket awareness just to name a few), his lack of height could keep Mayfield from being selected on the first two days of the NFL Draft. We expect him to measure a little less than his school-listed size, too. Also, his arrest this past February may be a distraction come NFL Draft season. Mayfield has grit and it showed in the upset at Ohio State. He threw for 386 and 3 touchdowns in that contest held in Columbus. This may have been Mayfield’s best game in his collegiate career. He looks like an NFL starter with the only question being his height. Even after losing his best two running backs and top wide receiver to the NFL, Mayfield has accumulated 1,329 yards on 76 of 101 passing and 13 touchdowns compared to 0 interceptions.
4. Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State) –The Senior has the look of an NFL quarterback with his 6’4”, 235-pound frame. He was inconsistent a year ago but has been on the top of his game for most of 2017. Mark Cooper had a crazy Rudolph stat after the Tulsa opener, “Since the start of last year, Mason Rudolph has thrown more passes of 70+ yards (5) than interceptions (4).” That is very impressive. The strong outing against Tulsa got several national writers talking. Bruce Feldman tweeted, “Mason Rudolph's last 11 games for #okstate: 28 TDs, 2 INTs. Pretty good.” It is very good. Jake Trotter tweeted, “Mason Rudolph, through two games (not playing the fourth quarter of either): 45 of 62 passing, 638 yards, 8 total TDs, 0 INTs.” The poor showing against TCU may quell the adoration. Rudolph was not sharp in that contest. The weak defenses left on the Big 12-schedule may allow Rudolph and Mayfield to rack up the numbers. A positive sign for Rudolph is that his completion percentage has risen each year.
3. Lamar Jackson (Louisville) – The 6’3”, 210 true Junior has been electric this season, continuing the play that led to the Heisman Trophy a year ago. He has drawn comparisons to Michael Vick and other elite athletic quarterbacks of the past. What makes Jackson so difficult to defend is his combination of arm strength paired with speed and elusiveness with the ball in his hands. NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter had this to say about the Louisville star, "Jackson shows excellent speed and agility in the open field as well as enough toughness to get that last yard … The Sophomore isn't consistent with his accuracy, but he could improve in that area with time." Jackson has relied on his naturally-given talent that he now needs to work on improving as a quarterback. In a NFL.com article, an NFC executive said that Jackson "has the look of a first (overall) pick." The executive went on to say, "The thing I took away from the (Clemson-Louisville) game (last year) is that Lamar Jackson has the look of a first (overall) pick, but I don't think (Deshaun) Watson has the same look." Last year, Jackson looked like a better prospect than Watson. After the season opener against a scrappy Purdue defense, Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus had this to say about Jackson, “It was a strong game for Jackson who showed excellent accuracy on a number of passes, particularly in the middle of the field. Aside from one poor decision in which he tried to force a pass through multiple Purdue defenders, Jackson dominated in between the numbers, going 20-for-28 for 282 yards and two touchdowns, good for an NFL passer rating of 127.4.” Many criticize Jackson for his slender frame giving his scrambling ability but he has shown to be stronger than expected and will continue to add muscle to his frame. But, consider this stat from ESPN, “Jackson is 2nd player in FBS history to have back-to-back games with 300 Pass yds and 100 Rush yds.” This is after facing a solid North Carolina defense earlier in the year. Jackson has 2,037 total yards and 18 touchdowns through 5 games. Very impressive.
2. Josh Rosen (UCLA) – As a true Freshman, Rosen showed the poise and a strong arm of an upperclassman. There were rumblings from the scouting community that many were worried Rosen might have attitude and leadership concerns. This was the reasoning given for the lackluster 2016 campaign. Given his talent, these may be the only major concerns for Rosen’s professional chances. He has NFL size (6'4”, 208 pounds) and has excelled as a pocket passer. The season opener put Rosen back in the good graces of fantasy owners and devy enthusiasts. In the fourth quarter of the come-from-behind victory against Texas A&M, Rosen completed 19 of 26 passes for 292 yards and 4 touchdowns. These numbers were just for the fourth quarter. His offensive coordinator, Jedd Fisch, had this to say about the performance, “… Rosen’s composure that impressed him most about his starter’s performance. The bullets were flying Sunday night, and he was very business-like. Very mature. He just handled himself in a way that was way above his years.” Rosen’s arm strength and his ability to play from the pocket are NFL-level competent. He has thrown for 2,135 yards on 159 of 245 passing (64.9% completion percentage) and 17 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Unless he falls apart the rest of the season, Rosen looks like a Top 10 NFL pick.
1. Sam Darnold (USC) – The redshirt Sophomore played very well after getting the starting nod a few games into last season. After his first collegiate outing, Dane Brugler tweeted, “Only a RS freshman, but I've already had NFL scouts bring up Sam Darnold's name during convos. They love him.” In his first season, Darnold completed 68.3% of his passes and owned a 24-8 TD-INT ratio. But, in the opener against Western Michigan, Darnold struggled. One flaw that was worse in that game than last year was the elongated throwing motion and dropping his elbow ala Blake Bortles when pressured. This flaw slows down the throwing motion and results in less velocity on deeper passes. As opponents see this on tape, expect the Trojans passer to be pressured often this season. In that game against the Broncos, Darnold only completed two of seven passes greater than twenty yards down the field, including an interception, as per CFB Film Room. His numbers for the game were not as bad as most portray but appeared worse due to heightened expectations. The rebound performance against Stanford solidified this ranking. He was impressive … just like we have come to expect after last season. The game Friday night at Washington State was another poor performance for the Trojans passer. He showed glimpses of greatness but struggled versus the immense pressure as USC had injuries to the offensive line. On the season, Darnold has completed 113 of 175 passes for 1,389 yards and 9 touchdowns compared to 8 interceptions. He has added three more scores on the ground. We still have him as the top devy quarterback but the top three are very close.