2018 NFL Draft: Rounds 2-7 Quarterback Review
The second day of the 2018 NFL Draft didn’t bring us much excitement in terms of signal-callers drafted, with only Mason Rudolph selected in the third round. With only one quarterback selected in rounds two and three, we decided to combine rounds 2-7 in one recap article. You can read my thoughts here on each of the five first-round QBs drafted, and then read my thoughts below on how the rest of the incoming rookie class fits within their respective new teams…
Mason Rudolph (Pittsburgh Steelers, Round 3 – Pick 12 – 76 Overall)
It’s Groundhog Day … again. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected their annual Ben Roethlisberger “successor” in Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State. Oddly enough, the Steelers were the only team to draft a quarterback on Day Two of the draft, drawing a clear line between tiers of quarterback prospects in this class.
By and large, the 2018 NFL Draft class was a four-quarterback class. Josh Allen finagled his way into the first round, but did not belong among the other four who were drafted in the first round. Rudolph, however, served as the buffer between the top end of the class and the bevy of backup talents, occupying a unique space in this class.
While at Oklahoma State, Rudolph put together one of the most complete and productive careers in BIG 12 history. Rudolph ended his career with top-10 marks in conference history in passing touchdowns, adjusted yards per attempt, and passing efficiency rating. Additionally, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Sammy Baugh Trophy were bestowed upon Rudolph following his senior season, putting the bow on his collegiate career.
It may be easy to brush off Rudolph’s success as being a Mike Gundy quarterback, but Rudolph was not just a cog in the system. Few quarterbacks in college football had the autonomy and understanding of their system the way Rudolph did. Rudolph steered the ship to near perfection by blending smooth on-schedule execution with daring, explosive deep passing. Furthermore, Rudolph displayed rare poise and clear-headedness in critical situations. Third downs, red zone situations, and dire fourth-quarter scenarios never seemed to bother Rudolph. Rudolph was as close to a true football veteran that a college quarterback could be.
Transitioning into the league, Rudolph’s mental skill set should translate well. Being able to execute with confidence and through diversity are key components to successful quarterback play.
Where Rudolph may fall short is with his physical skill set. Rudolph is a tall, thick quarterback, but he lacks desirable arm strength and will leave the Steelers wanting more out of him as an athlete. Rudolph’s arm strength, in particular, is troubling because very few quarterbacks get by with sub-par arm strength. Chad Pennington made a half-decent career for himself, and end-of-career Carson Palmer was a decent starter, but playing without ample arm strength is seldom a recipe for sustained success. Rudolph’s physical tools lend to a backup career, while his mental traits may suggest there is a starting quarterback within him. More so than any other quarterback in this class, Rudolph feels like a coin-flip as to whether he can carve out a successful career as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Kyle Lauletta (New York Giants, Round 4 – Pick 8 – 108 Overall)
Davis Webb is sweating. The New York Giants’ third-round pick from a year ago already appears to be in trouble with the drafting of Kyle Lauletta. It would not make sense for the Giants to bite on a third rostered quarterback if they had faith in Webb.
Even more intriguing, Lauletta is as far removed from the tall, rocket-armed statue prototype that Webb is. Lauletta is a shorter, more nimble quarterback with an underwhelming arm. The drafting of Lauletta is notable in and of itself, but the juxtaposition of his skill set and prototype with Webb’s feels all too telling.
As for Lauletta himself, there are traits to be enticed with. Wasted time is a foreign concept to the Richmond product. Lauletta plays with command and decisiveness, helping to ensure each play is executed on time and with the correct intentions. He is the brand of quarterback who can ensure the car will stay on the right side of the road.
Lauletta drives under the speed limit, though. Lauletta’s overall skill set is hindered by sub-baseline arm strength. His velocity and ability to drive the ball down the field are worse than that of the previously mentioned Mason Rudolph, who is already on the fringe requisite arm strength. Even if Lauletta may have the general sense of quarterback play, it will require him to perfectly tune his anticipation and accuracy in order to succeed. Luckily, Lauletta has a good foundation to work with in regards to anticipation and accuracy, but will need to turn it up a notch in order to thrive in the NFL.
Mike White (Dallas Cowboys, Round 5 – Pick 34 – 171 Overall)
Mike White is the store-brand version of Jared Goff. Goff was the shiny PAC-12 Air Raid star, while White is a C-USA product who dealt with coaching instability and departing talent in his final season.
Like Goff, White flashes fantastic touch down the field from time to time. Consistency on deep passes, especially in terms of velocity, is to be seen, but White’s peak deep throws look as pretty as anyone else’s. White is also a generally conservative quarterback. When White does not get his immediate option, he often opts for the checkdown without hesitation. On the one hand, White shows great ability to avoid disaster, but there comes a point where too many easy, safe plays puts handcuffs on the offense. White will need to develop better comfort in the pocket and through his progressions while he sits behind Dak Prescott.
The selection of White came as a bit of a surprise, however. Cooper Rush emerged as a preseason favorite last season and appeared to have earned the trust of the coaching staff. For whatever reason, the team decided Rush may not be enough and opted to throw White into the mix as competition and a possible upgrade. White should be able to assert himself as the superior signal-caller among the two, but the pick still caught me off guard.
Luke Falk (Tennessee Titans, Round 6 – Pick 25 – 199 Overall)
Luke Falk is more of a quality quarterback in theory than in practice. He has active feet in the pocket, decent enough arm strength, and a tall, desirable build, but it does not manifest in anything. Despite playing in Mike Leach’s Air Raid, Falk ended his career with a 7.4 adjusted yards per attempt — a pedestrian mark at the college level. In fairness, Falk did eclipse 30 passing touchdowns in each of his three seasons as a starting quarterback.
Mental processing is often Falk’s hindrance. He is capable of making proper reads on simple, spread concepts, but exotic coverages, blitzes, or blanketed primary reads put Falk on the fritz. As a result, Falk tends only to make the easy plays, seldom showing off the high-level plays and traits required of an NFL quarterback.
Falk has enough accuracy to stick around in the league. Quarterbacks of his build who can somewhat throw a football will hang around the league for the better part of a decade. Falk feels like the next in line for that tired, boring backup quarterback archetype.
Tanner Lee (Jacksonville Jaguars, Round 6 – Pick 29 – 203 Overall)
Tanner Lee was a miscalibrated, tuned down JUGGS machine run amok in Mobile. Legit shot to start in Jacksonville.
— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) April 28, 2018
I don’t really know who this is, but everyone in the SB Nation office basically pointed and laughed at me https://t.co/AS3S00f3Ai
— Adam Stites (@AdamStites_) April 28, 2018
Well we had to completely waste a pick at one point
— stopwatch hanx (@HankJoness) April 28, 2018
Wow Jaguars got another Bortles
— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) April 28, 2018
I promise this is all anyone needs to know about Tanner Lee.
Danny Etling (New England Patriots, Round 7 – Pick 1 – 219 Overall)
Danny Etling is every below-average, pocket passer to ever come from the SEC. Zach Mettenberger, John Brantley, Tyler Wilson, Tyler Bray, Greg McElroy — who cares, they are all the same. Like his predecessors, Etling will bounce around for the league as a No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback, somehow clinging to a career longer than you might have expected, but rarely doing so in a way that manifests in playing time. Just forget this pick ever happened. Pretend only 255 players were drafted this weekend. (Editor’s Note/Idea: Replace Etling with Kenny Hill.)
Alex McGough (Seattle Seahawks, Round 7 – Pick 2 – 220 Overall)
Many teams believe in investing in a quarterback who resembles the starting quarterback. In general, the new backup will have most of the same skill as the starter, just not to the same quality. The Seattle Seahawks, specifically, have done this before with Trevone Boykin of TCU.
This time around, the Seahawks wanted just one similarity: a propensity to run for one’s life behind the line of scrimmage. As has been made clear at this point, Seattle does not care about Russell Wilson’s health or well-being, so they count on him to run for his life behind a poor offensive line. Alex McGough will do the same thing.
At FIU, McGough made a name for himself by dancing around the pocket and regularly escaping. McGough is a reckless, free-flowing quarterback who appears to prefer chaos to coordination. In Seattle, chaos is a constant.
That being said, McGough does not have many quality traits. He is not impressively accurate, nor does he process the field the way one would expect of a pro quarterback. McGough is a shot in the dark on a fun project player, as are most sixth- and seventh-round quarterbacks.
Logan Woodside (Cincinnati Bengals, Round 7 – Pick 31 – 249 Overall)
Every draft class has the guy you want in the quarterback room, but hope does not have to play. Logan Woodside is that guy this year. One of the last picks in the draft, Woodside lacks desirable size and physical tools. Woodside measures in at just over 6-foot-1 and 213 pounds. In addition, Woodside does not have the “cannon” or “rocket” arm that high-end quarterbacks have. “Popgun” may be a more appropriate way to describe Woodside’s arm talent.
However, what Woodside lacks in physical tools, he makes up for with the finer parts of quarterback play. Woodside displayed impressive footwork and ball placement while at Toledo. Granted, Woodside’s arm strength was less prone to being exposed in the MAC than in a Power-5 conference, but it is hard to penalize Woodside for dominating in his arena.
Woodside is the ideal player to round out a quarterback room. Though lacking in stature, Woodside “gets” how to manage the quarterback position and is the type of player who will sharpen those around him. It is unlikely Woodside overcomes his lack of size and arm strength, but he still has intangible value that should benefit the Bengals’ quarterback room.