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Path to the Passer series: An in-depth look at the process of picking a QB

[BN] Blitz's Path to the Passer series explored potential quarterbacks for the Bills and how quarterbacks are evaluated.

How much does a strong arm matter? 

At times, it’s as if no other trait matters. Find a big arm and your passing prayers are answered. Find a big arm and expect big success.

The Browns, who own the first and fourth overall picks in the draft that begins Thursday night, have seemingly been on an endless quest to be successful. Is Wyoming's Josh Allen their answer? And if so, will too much credit have been given to the boom! effect?

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QB consultants provide bridge to NFL for top draftees

It's easy to see why NFL scouts love the pure passing skill of UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.

Watch five minutes of Rosen highlights, and it's obvious he has a beautiful throwing motion and great fundamentals. The ball snaps out of his hands in a perfect spiral, and he's in balance pass after pass.

One might not think Rosen would spend a couple of months before the 2018 NFL Draft working on refining his passing mechanics. Yet that has become standard operating procedure for top NFL quarterback prospects.

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Draft's 'other' quarterbacks feel they have plenty to offer

They’re the “other guys.” They don’t hear their names constantly recited in the media the way Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, and Baker Mayfield do. They don’t even fall into the category of Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph, the fifth and sixth wheels added to conversations about The Big Four of the upcoming NFL Draft.

These are the quarterbacks mentioned in discussions about who a team that doesn’t land one of the four, five or six preferred players at the position might select in the middle or late rounds.

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Who will buy into 'electrifying' Lamar Jackson?

Lamar Jackson is the only player in college football's bowl subdivision era to pass for at least 3,500 yards and rush for at least 1,500 yards in a season. And Jackson did it twice.

Yet at least one NFL team requested that Jackson work out at wide receiver during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month. Jackson declined. Hall of Fame General Manager Bill Polian is on record saying Jackson would be best at receiver.

The perception of the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner as a "dual threat" – is it fair or not? – arguably is the hottest controversy entering the 2018 NFL Draft.

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Sam Darnold is gunslinger who may go No. 1

NFL observers can't resist drawing rave comparisons when watching Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold's ability to improvise big plays from the pocket with his big arm and nimble feet.

"I'll tell you, he reminds me of a younger Tony Romo," said former UCLA coach Jim Mora two years ago. "He's bigger, but that type of ability and he's smart and he's poised and confident."

"Tremendously special kid," said former NFL QB Trent Dilfer on the Rich Eisen Podcast. "He's got a little Romo in him. He's got a little Brett Farve in him. He can play from the pocket. He's does stuff you can't teach."

Those kind of comparisons are why Darnold is being talked about as the possible No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

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Appearances aside, new Bills QB AJ McCarron has 'an edge to him'

It might not be so obvious from his aw-shucks, folksy demeanor, but there's no mistaking that AJ McCarron is comfortable in the skin of everything that goes with being a quarterback.

Calling the shots and taking them. Being the face of his team and one of its primary leaders.

According to those who have watched McCarron from close range, it is far more of who he is than appearances and that disarming Southern drawl might otherwise indicate.

 

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UCLA's Josh Rosen, a natural for the Bills?

When it comes to throwing the football, everyone agrees UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is a natural.

"Rosen is the best pure passer I’ve seen in several years," said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. "He’s on balance on every throw. He’s accurate short, intermediate and deep."

"I think as a pure passer, being under center, taking 3, 5, 7-step drops, the most artistic, picture-perfect, pure passing quarterback, it’s Josh Rosen," said ESPN's Mel Kiper.

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Mason Rudolph offers plenty to like … with a notable exception

Mason Rudolph’s quarterbacking history makes it easy to overlook everything else that would otherwise deem him worthy of pre-draft hype comparable to others at his position.

He has the ideal size: 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds. He has the impressive production, throwing for 92 touchdowns and only 26 interceptions in 42 career starts and an NCAA-leading 4,904 yards with 37 TDs (and nine interceptions) as a senior at Oklahoma State.

Tough. Sturdy. Pretty much the prototypical package of what NFL teams want in a franchise pocket passer.

That is, with one glaring exception. The history.

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Is Wyoming's Josh Allen worth a ransom?

The great debate on quarterback Josh Allen is all about one number: 56.2.

How much of a red flag is the career completion percentage of the University of Wyoming star?

"Find me a guy in the league you would consider a top 20 quarterback who completed under 60 percent," asks ESPN analyst Todd McShay. "You can't."

The issue makes Allen a polarizing figure in the 2018 NFL Draft. Yet his immense physical talent is likely to make him a top five or six pick.

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Is Baker Mayfield the next Drew Brees?

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield has widely been viewed as a first-round draft candidate since late in the college season. He looked outstanding during Senior Bowl practices. Given the need for quarterbacks in the 2018 draft, he might even end up being a top-10 pick.

That means the Bills probably would have to move up to get him, which makes him a longer-shot candidate to fill Buffalo's quarterback need.

A case can be made that Mayfield is a special talent who merits a move up.

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