Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen has had a solid inaugural preseason, though no one would argue that he’s blown expectations out of the water. With his first live game action approaching this week, Allen’s played most of his practices with the third string, occasionally rotating with the starters and the second string. His physical talent is apparent, with at least one “wow” throw in every practice, but the coaches are still working with him to develop consistent throwing mechanics and speed up his progressions.
As part of the “Year of the Quarterback” draft class, Allen will always be compared with the four other passers who were drafted in the first round this year (and with a later pick like Mason Rudolph or Kyle Lauletta, if they enter the conversation). How have these other players performed through the first part of the summer? Here’s a snapshot look at the other rookies of interest around the league.
Cleveland Browns - Baker Mayfield
Mayfield may have had the strongest camp of any rookie QB this year, up until the past few days when he hit a wall. Before that point, he went through more than a week without an interception in practice, but in the last two sessions he threw his first two (one a pick-six).
The Browns assert their plan to use offseason acquisition Tyrod Taylor as the starter, and Mayfield’s been working with the second string in camp. A strong preseason could force the issue, though, considering how well Hue Jackson kept his promise the last time he vowed to sit a rookie quarterback.
Mayfield also set the bar for off-field stunts by a rookie quarterback this year when he and Taylor set up a QB clubhouse in a parked RV.
New York Jets - Sam Darnold
Darnold only recently signed his contract after a short holdout, and has barely a week’s worth of practices under his belt. His first two sessions were rusty. For one instance, Darnold’s second practice saw him going 8-for-16 passing with an interception in team drills.
Thursday was a better practice, and his performance impressed the local reporters. On Saturday, he went 9-of-11 for 89 yards during the team’s Green and White scrimmage, but he’s still working in the mix of backups behind Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown.
Arizona Cardinals - Josh Rosen
Billed as the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft, Josh Rosen came to the desert with high expectations. At the moment, the theme has been to “pump the brakes” on that notion. Offseason signing Sam Bradford is entrenched as the starter. Rosen’s the number 2 guy.
So far in camp, he’s shown flashes of good anticipation and timing, but his ball placement has been inconsistent, and Bradford’s looked like the clear favorite at this point.
Baltimore Ravens - Lamar Jackson
At the moment, Jackson is firmly seated as the backup quarterback. Joe Flacco’s shown flashes of his old playmaking abilities in practice, and free agent Robert Griffin III isn’t a roster lock despite a strong performance in the first preseason game. His athletic talents have flashed in practice, and the Ravens have even found special ways to get him on the field, lining him up as a slot receiver in practice (and giving him the ball in handoffs where he could pass it himself).
Jackson is the only one of the rookie quarterbacks to see game action so far, but his Hall of Fame Game performance was underwhelming. He seemed to hesitate as a passer, and didn’t break open the game as a ballcarrier either. Jackson finished 4-for-10 passing with 33 yards (3.3 yards per attempt), one touchdown, and one interception. He ran eight times for 25 yards.