Sports | April 18, 2022 1:04 pm

So, About That Super-Hyped QB Class From the 2018 NFL Draft…

Top pick Baker Mayfield and No. 3 selection Sam Darnold may soon be competing for a job with the Panthers

Baker Mayfield congratulates Sam Darnold after the Jets defeated the Browns in 2020. The super-hyped quarterback class from the 2018 NFL Draft isn't looking too hot in 2022.
Baker Mayfield congratulates Sam Darnold after the Jets defeated the Browns in 2020.
Sarah Stier/Getty

With the Cleveland Plain Dealer reporting that the Panthers have “the inside track to land” Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, Carolina could soon have two of the top three picks from the 2018 NFL Draft competing for a job down in Charlotte.

That neither Mayfield, who was selected No. 1 overall by the Browns, nor current Carolina starter Sam Darnold, who was taken at No. 3 by the Jets and dealt from New York last offseason, will be starting and playing for the team they were selected by just four seasons ago is somewhat of a shock considering the level of hype that surrounded their draft class. Perhaps even more surprising is that Josh Rosen, who was selected at No. 10 overall by the Cardinals, is basically out of the league after flaming out with Arizona before spending time with both the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Of the four quarterbacks who were chosen in the top 10 picks in 2018, only Josh Allen has solidified himself as a legitimate franchise QB after being taken at No. 7 by the Buffalo Bills. Lamar Jackson of the Ravens is also a legitimate starting QB but was not picked nearly as high (No. 32) as Mayfield, Darnold, Allen or Rosen.

If Mayfield does end up in Carolina, he could find himself competing with Darnold for the starting job as well as a rookie quarterback if the Panthers elect to select a signal-caller in next week’s draft with the sixth overall pick. Were that to happen, the Panthers would have an absurd amount of projected quarterback talent on their roster but possibly still not have a legit starting QB.

As the results of the 2018 draft make clear, projected quarterback talent is just that — a projection. For the Panthers, who started a washed-up Cam Newton last season as well as former XFLer Phillip Walker at quarterback last season when Darnold was hurt, that may have to be enough as they do not have any better options.

The test of time has proven that Mayfield, like Darnold and Rosen, was not worthy of where he was selected in the draft. That being said, he played well enough for Cleveland that he deserves a shot at landing the starting gig in Carolina or anywhere else he ends up (possibly Seattle). But a fifth-year player with just a shot of being a starter is not what an organization is looking for with a top pick. Unfortunately, that’s the overall story of the much-hyped 2018 QB draft class.