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NFL rookie first-round QBs: The good, bad and what's next

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Berry: Mayfield, Samuels, Humphries are top waiver-wire adds (1:31)

Matthew Berry advises fantasy managers to consider Baker Mayfield, Jaylen Samuels and Adam Humphries as top waiver-wire adds heading into Week 14. (1:31)

The five quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2018 draft -- Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Josh Rosen -- might all start in Week 14.

Here’s a closer look at how they are doing this season:


Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Stat line: 101-of-191 (52.9 percent), 1,223 yards, 5 TDs, 7 INTs; 57 rushes, 389 yards, 4 TDs; passer rating: 66.3; Total QBR: 53.0

Positives: Allen is 3-4 as the Bills’ starter, but his exciting playing style has injected energy into a team out of the playoff race and optimism into a fan base eager to see what he can do in 2019. The No. 7 overall pick has lived up to his billing as a fearless passer with rare arm talent, but his athleticism in escaping pressure and scrambling seems to have caught defenses off guard. Allen has 234 rushing yards in the two games since his return from an elbow injury, the most rushing yards for a quarterback over a two-game span since Green Bay’s Tobin Rote had 281 in 1951.

Negatives: The Bills had one of the NFL’s most risk-averse quarterbacks in Tyrod Taylor, whose 1.3 interception-per-attempt rate from 2015 to 2017 ranked second only to Tom Brady among qualifying quarterbacks. Allen has been intercepted on 3.7 percent of his passes this season, the sixth-highest rate in the NFL. He must learn to make smarter decisions when faced with low-percentage throws and also fine-tune his arm strength to be more accurate on high-percentage throws. His 52.9 percent completion rate would rank 324th among 330 qualifying quarterbacks over the past 10 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

What's ahead: Allen’s 53.0 Total QBR this season would rank 15th among 62 rookie quarterbacks with at least 50 pass attempts since ESPN began tracking Total QBR in 2006. Ranking that high would be an impressive feat for Allen, who was in the statistical gutter when he was injured in Week 6. The four games on the sideline seemed to help Allen’s growth, but he must protect his body over the final four games and stay on the field. The only quarterback to attempt more rushes per game than Allen (7.1) this season is Cam Newton (7.6). If Allen does not slide or go out of bounds when running, the hits will add up. -- Mike Rodak

Sam Darnold, New York Jets

Stat line: 159-of-289 (55 percent), 1,934 yards, 11 TDs, league-leading 14 interceptions; passer rating: 68.3; Total QBR: 31.5

Positives: He has arm strength and athleticism. He can avoid the rush and throw accurately on the move, essential traits in today’s NFL. He displays next-level thinking in certain situations, especially when the play veers off script. He played very well in the Jets’ three victories, looking very much like a franchise quarterback. His demeanor is remarkably even-keeled for a 21-year-old, which will serve him well.

Negatives: He led the nation in turnovers last season at USC, and the trend has continued with the Jets. Darnold has cut down on his fumbling, a major issue in college, but the interceptions have to stop. Specifically, he struggles against zone defenses -- 10 interceptions and only one touchdown pass, according to Pro Football Focus. Like many young quarterbacks, he sometimes won’t see a safety lurking in coverage.

What’s ahead: After missing three games with a foot strain, Darnold should be able to start Sunday against the Bills -- the first of four new opponents for him. The more opponents he sees, the better off he’ll be in the long run. Problem is, he’s returning to a bad situation. The Jets’ offense is in such a funk (only three touchdowns in the past five games) that it will be difficult for him to rise above the ineptitude around him. -- Rich Cimini

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Stat line: 46-of-77 (59.7 percent), 540 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs; 82 rushes, 404 yards; passer rating: 73.5; Total QBR: 38.5

Positives: Jackson has provided a much-needed dose of excitement and a run-first offensive identity. Since Jackson took over for the injured Joe Flacco, he ended a three-game losing streak and has won all three of his NFL starts, making the Ravens a favorite for the final playoff spot in the AFC. How elusive has Jackson been? His 265 yards rushing are the most by a quarterback in his first three starts in the Super Bowl era.

Negatives: There are major questions about whether he can win a game with his arm. Jackson has struggled with his accuracy and has missed open receivers for big plays downfield. On throws of 15 yards or longer, Jackson has completed 5 of 10 attempts as a starter. He also has been prone to turnovers with one lost fumble and three interceptions in three games.

What’s ahead: Ravens coach John Harbaugh wouldn’t commit to Jackson as the starter for the remainder of the season, but it will be difficult to take the job away from Jackson if he continues to win. Jackson isn’t close to being as polished as Flacco. He is the better fit in Baltimore’s run-heavy offensive game plan. He adds an explosiveness and unpredictability that is tough for teams to prepare for in a week. How much the Ravens can overcome his growing pains will dictate whether they can reach the playoffs and make an unexpected championship run. -- Jamison Hensley

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Stat line: 224-of-345 (63.3 percent), 2,638 yards, 18 TDs, 10 INTs; passer rating: 91.1; Total QBR: 50.6

Positives: At long last, the Browns have their quarterback. Mayfield has played with confidence and chutzpah since he took over in the fourth game of the season. He does not let much faze him. After throwing for 46 yards with three interceptions in the first half Sunday, he came back to throw for more than 350 in the second half. The only thing that would prevent the Browns from going into 2019 with Mayfield as their starting quarterback is a bad injury.

Negatives: The league adjusted a bit to Mayfield on Sunday, as veteran coordinator Romeo Crennel undercut some of the routes Mayfield and the Browns like to throw. That helped contribute to the turnovers. But with a rookie like Mayfield, every game is a growing experience. If he takes the loss in Houston that way, he will be better for it. Mayfield also got into a social media spat after the Cincinnati game with former coach Hue Jackson, in part because he says he is not a "cookie-cutter quarterback." He might not be, but less off-field drama benefits the entire team.

What's ahead: At 4-7-1, the Browns are the longest of long shots to make the playoffs, so it’s about reps and growth for the young quarterback -- and as many wins as the Browns can find. Mayfield will get a second crack at the Bengals' woeful defense in Cleveland, but he faces three other teams still in the playoff hunt: Carolina, at Denver and at Baltimore. Even with the tough half in Houston, Mayfield has improved steadily as the season has gone on. Continuing that trend bodes well for 2019. -- Pat McManamon

Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals

Stat line: 148-of-273 (54.2), 1,670 yards, 10 TDs, 11 INTs; passer rating: 68.2; Total QBR: 30.7

Positives: Rosen’s best attribute is his mental fortitude. He has an ability to forget about bad plays -- and there have been plenty of them this season -- and move on to the next play. That’s part of the reason he has thrown for 656 yards in the fourth quarter, which accounts for more than 39.2 percent of his passing yards, while leading Arizona to two fourth-quarter comebacks in his three wins.

Negatives: Rosen has shown week after week that it takes him too long to get in the rhythm of the game -- usually two or three quarters. By that time, he already has thrown a few high passes that were makeable throws or an interception or two, with the Cardinals playing from behind. He also has struggled in throwing the touch pass, sometimes rifling a short pass that, with a little finesse, could’ve been made.

What's ahead: Nine games into his NFL career, Rosen continues to figure out how to be an NFL quarterback behind a patchwork offensive line and with limited offensive resources. But he’ll have a chance to win a few more games and build confidence as Arizona has the Lions, Falcons, Rams and Seahawks to finish the season. -- Josh Weinfuss