A total of five quarterbacks were selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. While young quarterbacks historically take time to develop, all five of the rookies received significant playing time this season. Here is a review of how the 2018 rookie quarterbacks performed in their inaugural NFL season.
The top overall pick in the 2018 draft did not disappoint. After taking over the starting assignment in the Cleveland Brown’s fourth game, Mayfield displayed the skills and talent that marked his electric college career. Mayfield threw for more than 3,700 yards and his 27 touchdown passes were an all-time record for a rookie quarterback. Most important, his leadership helped turn around the hopeless franchise and took a winless team the season before and turned them into a serious playoff contender. Dan Marino, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton are the only quarterbacks to have as productive rookie seasons as Mayfield.
Sam Darnold did not have a lot of offensive weapons in New York, but he still managed to throw for 2,865 yards with 17 touchdown passes. His 15 interceptions were a little concerning but that can be contributed to a young player trying to do too much on a struggling team. With the hire of new Head Coach Adam Gase who is known as a quarterback coach guru, look for Darnold to make consider progress to becoming an elite quarterback in the NFL.
The Baltimore Ravens had no intention of starting Lamar Jackson when they entered the 2018 season but a serious hip injury to starter Joe Flacco forced the rookie quarterback into the starting lineup. Jackson proceeded to lead his team to the playoffs by winning six of his seven games as the starter. He completed 58.2% of his passes with a solid 6-3 touchdown pass to interception ratio. In addition, Jackson ran for 695 yards and five touchdowns. With continued improvement in his passing game, Jackson looks ahead to a very solid NFL career.
Josh Allen struggled at times during the 2018 season but he seemed to be figuring things out as the year progressed. With a cannon of an arm, Allen completed just 52.8% of his passes for over 2,000 yards. He will need to improve on his 10-12 touchdown passes to interception ratio but he surprised many with his superior running ability as he racked up 631 rushing yards.
Josh Rosen struggled the most of the rookie quarterbacks and never seemed truly comfortable during the 14 games he played in his rookie season. Despite playing with some outstanding offensive weapons, Rosen struggled with his accuracy and wound up with an unimpressive 11-14 touchdown passes to interception ratio. It is still to early to throw in the towel as Rosen has significant talent but he will need to see much improvement going into year two in the NFL.
by Matt Kupec
January 21, 2019
As I marveled watching Clemson’s convincing win over Alabama recently to capture the NCAA College Football national title, I began to think about Clemson’s remarkable success in Head Coach Dabo Swinney’s tenure. In ten years, Coach Swinney has bought a powerhouse at Clemson that some of our now thinking may be the best program in the country. At worst, Clemson is second only to the Alabama Crimson Tide juggernaut.
But in thinking about Clemson and their run to the national championship, I kept having thoughts back to the UCLA Bruins in basketball under legendary coach John Wooden and the seven consecutive national titles the Bruins won from 1967-1973. Many consider the UCLA streak the #1 untouchable streak easily in the history of college basketball.
So, how am I connecting Clemson’s recent surge with the UCLA basketball Bruins nearly 50 years ago?
It’s called an easy path. At least an easier path. Taking nothing away from the powerhouse Clemson and UCLA squads, one key characteristic for both teams was the relatively easy path to the championships because of their light schedules. Granted no matter what the path, you must win on the field or court. And UCLA during those seven years had a record of 205-5! Wow!!
Clemson’s undefeated season was the finest in college football history and this squad ranks up with the top 3 – 2001 Miami Hurricanes, 2005 Texas Longhorns and 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers – as the best college football teams ever.
But let’s take a look at the paths to National Titles for Clemson this year and the seven year magical run for UCLA in basketball years ago:
- UCLA’s Seven Consecutive NCAA Basketball Titles. Here is a summary of UCLA’s path through the NCAA Tournament as it captured seven consecutive National Championships (1967-1973). The NCAA Tournament had only 25 teams not today’s 64 teams so many of the best teams were left home as only conference champions were invited to the dance. With fewer teams, it took just four teams to capture the national title whereas today a team must win six games to become national champs. Finally, teams were kept in their respective regions until meaning that no teams from other regions outside the West were placed in UCLA’s region. UCLA did not face a team from the ACC, Big Ten or other Power 5 Conferences until the national semi-finals.
- UCLA’s NCAA Tournament Record (1967-1973)
Year # Teams # Teams Game #1 Game #2 Game #3 Game #4 Tournament West Region Regional Semi-Final Regional Final National Semi-Final National Final 1967 22 5 Wyoming Pacific Houston Dayton 1968 23 5 New Mexico St. Santa Clara Houston North Carolina 1969 25 6 New Mexico St. Santa Clara Drake Purdue 1970 25 6 Long Beach St. Utah St. New Mexcio St. Jacksonville 1971 25 6 BYU Long Beach St. Kansas villanova 1972 25 6 Weber St. Long Beach St. Louisville Florida St. 1973 25 6 Arixona St. San Francisco Indiana Memphis St.
- Clemson’s 2019 National Football Championship. The Tigers play in the Atlantic Coast Conference which is the lowest ranked Power 5 Conference. Florida State is in the Central Division with Clemson and has been a major national power for years but the Seminoles have struggled mightily of late as a .500 club. As a result, Clemson does not face significant conference competition during the year. And in the ACC Conference Championship game Clemson had to face the very weak Pittsburgh Panthers, winners the ACC Coastal Division the weakest division in major college football. Throw in Clemson’s very average non-league schedule this past year which included Furman, Texas A&M, Georgia Southern and a very average South Carolina squad and you can see the Clemson path to the national title was much easier than the path of Alabama, Oklahoma and an Ohio State team that did not receive an invite to the national playoffs.
- Clemson’s 2019 Football Sechule:
Opponent Final Score Furman 48-7 Texas A&M 28-26 Georgia Southern 38-7 Georgia Tech 49-21 Syracuse 27-23 Wake Forest 63-3 NC State 41-7 Florida St. 59-10 Louisville 77-16 Boston College 27-7 Duke 36-6 South Carolina 56-35
- Summary. Congratulations to great Clemson and UCLA squads. Both had magical runs, maybe the greatest of all time. But sometimes a “path of least resistance” is an easier way to get to your final destination. We probably will never see a UCLA-like run in basketball now that the tournament has 64 teams, you must win six games, and schools are seeded throughout the country regardless of their location.
For Clemson, perhaps the ACC’s continued mediocrity will allow the Tigers to have a magical run over the next decade. Let’s hope not and that Florida State returns to its former greatness and other ACC teams rise to challenge to compete with the Clemson Tigers. College football will be better for it.
- About the Author
- Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience. He has directed three major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership. He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit. He is currently serving as Senior In-House Fundraising Counsel for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.Matt is a former record-breaking four year starting quarterback for the UNC Tar Heels. During his career he set 19 season and career passing records. Two of which still stand – most consecutive games with a TD pass and most wins as a starting QB. Matt also set the ACC record for TD passes his senior year at UNC. Matt was named MVP of the 1977 Liberty Bowl and the 1979 Gator Bowl becoming the 1st player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named MVP of two bowl games.
Athletics have always been an important part of Matt Kupec’s life. Born and raised in Syosset, NY on Long Island as the middle child of seven children of Bill and Helen Kupec, Matt enjoyed a prolific high school career as an outstanding student-athlete to become one of the most decorated high school athletes on Long Island.
A three sport star – football, basketball and baseball – Matt Kupec earned many honors and awards including prep All-American in football where he led his Syosset HS football squad to an undefeated season and #1 ranking as the top High School team in New York. Matt was also awarded the highly coveted Thorp Award, given to the top player in Nassau County.
Matt Kupec was an all-county player in all three sports during his high school career. Please remember that Nassau County has over 80 public and private high schools. As a basketball player, Matt was a sharpshooting point guard in basketball with a career high game of 34 points at a time when the three-point shot was yet instituted. In baseball, he was a pitcher and shortstop. In Matt’s senior year in high baseball, he pitched three games during Syosset’s march to the Nassau County semi-finals – a one-hitter, a two-hitter, and a three-hitter. Matt struck out a combined 21 batters, gave us just 6 hits, and walked zero – yes zero – batters in those 21 innings.
With many full scholarship offers to choose from following his successful football career, Matt Kupec chose to accept a full scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill because of its high academic standing and strong football program.
At UNC, Matt was the starting quarterback for four years and led the Tar Heels to bowl games in three of the four seasons. He was named Most Valuable Player in the Liberty and Gator Bowls becoming the 1st player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to earn two bowl game MVP awards.
Matt Kupec set nineteen season and career passing records while a UNC quarterback. In fact, two of those records – most consecutive games throwing a touchdown pass and most wins as a starting quarterback – remain standing nearly forty years after his playing career. Matt led the ACC in five passing categories his senior year including setting an ACC record for most touchdown passes in one season.
After a brief stint with the Seattle Seahawks as a free-agent quarterback, Matt Kupec began a long career in higher education as a fundraising executive with stints at the University of Bridgeport, Hofstra University and twenty-one years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In these roles, Matt played was actively involved with the athletic administration staffs and coaches in raising money to support the athletic teams at these institutions.
Of the philanthropic gifts that Matt helped to raise for athletics, the most significant gift was the lead gift form Charles “Charlie” Loudermilk to fund the building of the Loudermilk Center for Excellence within Kenan Stadium on the University of North Carolina campus, a 150,000 square-foot facility that serves all of UNC’s nearly 800 student-athletes across 28 sports.
All of these experiences as an athlete and as a higher administrator supporting a wide variety of men’s and women’s athletic programs, have given Matt Kupec an insight and perspective to the athletic world that few have experienced.