While the 2017 NFL draft featured a few good quarterbacks, the 2018 draft class is going to be deep at the position. Actually, the word deep could be an understatement. This is going to be a wild college football season with all the talented quarterbacks. We all could be looking at one of the best QB classes in recent years and the 2017 season could provide one of the best draft classes of all time. There’s always a few underrated guys that shine and a few that will have a sub par year, but here is the best FBS quarterbacks (in no particular order) returning for the upcoming season.
Jalen Hurts – Alabama Crimson Tide: Hurts had a great year for as a freshman in 2016 for Alabama. For starters, he helped lead the Crimson Tide to the National Championship game. That’s a difficult task to ask an eighteen year old to do, even at Alabama. Hurts had very impressive numbers last season as well. He completed 63 percent of his passes for 2.780 yards, and threw 23 touchdowns to 9 interceptions. He proved that he is a dual threat quarterback rushing for an additional 954 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those numbers helped him become the SEC Offensive Player of the Year as well as the SEC Freshman of the Year. Look for Hurts to have even better numbers this season and he easily throw for 3,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards next season.
Mason Rudolph – Oklahoma State Cowboys: Rudolph is going into his third season as starting quarterback for the Cowboys. The Rock Hill, SC native was a four star recruit coming out of high school and has shown five-star performances throughout his college career. Rudolph makes great throwing decisions and it shows as he threw only four interceptions last season. He was ranked 8th last season in the NCAA with 4,091 passing yards and also threw for twenty-eight touchdowns. Oklahoma State has been close for the past two seasons at reaching the top of the Big Twelve, finishing second in the conference for two straight seasons. Rudolph is the “slinger” that could very well take the Cowboys to that top spot and maybe even more.
Lamar Jackson – Louisville Cardinals: The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner was all the hype throughout most of 2016 and look for the 2017 season to be no different. Last season against UNC-Charlotte, Jackson set a school record having eight total touchdowns in the game. What makes it more amazing is all of them came in the first half. Jackson took the “dual threat” term to a whole new level last season as he threw for 3,543 yards in the air and 1,571 yards on the ground. He also scored 51 total touchdowns. Jackson very well could join Deshaun Watson as the only FBS quarterbacks to have 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season. Along with winning the Heisman, Jackson also took home a number of awards including AP Player of the Year, Walter Camp award, and the Maxwell Award. Louisville is a team that could be contending for a playoff spot with a great athlete like Jackson leading the way.
Deondre Francois – Florida State Seminoles: Francois was a huge impact for the Seminoles from the first game of last season. The redshirt freshman started off his career throwing for 419 yards in a 22-point comeback against Ole Miss. He ended the 2016 season with 3,350 yards, 20 touchdowns, and led Florida State to a 10-3 record and an Orange Bowl victory over Michigan. All three of Florida State’s losses came to ranked opponents. Francois was awarded the starting job after an injury to Sean Maguire and never looked back. He should show more dominance this coming season. The Seminoles are considered as one of the best teams in the ACC for 2017 and with Francois at the helm, they could be one of the best teams in the country.
Wilton Speight – Michigan Wolverines: Jim Harbaugh is great at developing quarterbacks and Speight should be one of college football’s best QB’s this season. His numbers last season weren’t as appealing as other quarterbacks on this list as he threw for only 2,538 yards and 18 touchdowns, but he excelled converting on third down plays. He’s an accurate passer and his numbers will be a lot stronger this season after gaining some valuable experience in 2016. The Wolverines only lost three games last season by a total of twelve points. If Speight can put it all together this year, Michigan will compete for the Big Ten title.
Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma Sooners: Mayfield had an interesting moment this off-season as he was arrested for public intoxication back in February, but he should be good to go at the start of the college football season. The former walk-on (and Texas Tech transfer) will give defensive coordinators nightmares once again this season as he will pick opposing secondaries apart. Last season, Mayfield ranked first among all FBS quarterbacks with a 70.9 percent completion percentage and a 196.4 QB rating. He also ranked in the top ten in both passing yards (3,965) and touchdowns (40). While Mayfield didn’t scramble much in 2016, he does have good running ability. So hopefully he can out run defensive linemen better than he can the law. The Sooners lost a lot on offense, but with a playmaker like Mayfield on the field, look for Oklahoma to shoot for their third straight Big Twelve title.
Logan Woodside – Toledo Rockets: Even though Woodside plays in a smaller conference, he still has big time potential. The Frankfort, KY native led the FBS with 45 touchdowns 2016 and he ranked in the top ten among all other passing categories. In 418 passing attempts, he threw for 4,129 yards and only 9 interceptions. If Woodeside can produce similar or better numbers like he did in 2016, you could hear his name called early in the 2018 draft. Even though Toledo had a successful season in 2016 going 9-4, look for Woodeside’s big arm to move the Rockets to the top of the MAC conference this season.
Jake Browning – Washington Huskies: In 2016, Browning was a major factor in the Huskies earning a spot in the College Football Playoff. As a sophomore, Browning threw for 3,430 yards and a FBS second best 43 touchdowns. His numbers should improve in Chris Peterson’s offense, but it will be difficult since they lost NFL draft picks Darrell Daniels and John Ross. Even with losing football’s fastest receiver, Browning is a great pro-style QB and his mobility skills are above average. The Washington Huskies will contend again for the PAC-12 title and Browning will once again be the main contributor on offense.
Luke Falk – Washington State Cougars: Mike Leach has been known to produce some great college quarterbacks and Luke Falk could be one of his best ever. In the past two seasons for the Cougars, Falk has thrown for 9,029 yards and 76 touchdowns. While he completed 70 percent of his passes, the walk-on did have a spike in interceptions throwing eleven picks in 2016. The Cougars will have another decent season in 2017, however Falk is destined to have a great season. If he can get his interceptions back down to single digits, look for him to lead all of college football in passing yards.
Trace McSorley– Penn State Nittany Lions: McSorley is going to have another outstanding year at Penn State. Last season, he led the Nittany Lions to the Big Ten title and almost a spot in the College Football Playoff. He had great numbers as a sophomore throwing for 3,614 yards, 29 touchdowns, and only 8 interceptions. While he isn’t necessarily considered a dual threat QB, McSorley did show a little running ability in 2016 with 365 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground. Ohio State and Michigan will get all the hype for the 2017 season, but watch out for Penn State. James Franklin is doing extraordinary things in University Park and believes in his young quarterback. With McSorley taking the snaps, Penn State will be a contender.
Quinton Flowers – South Florida Bulls: Flowers is another dual threat phenom that will have NFL teams drooling in the 2018 draft. Last season, Flowers had 42 total touchdowns with 24 in the air and 18 on the ground. He threw for 2,812 yards and only gave up 7 picks. He has arguably the best mobility of all FBS quarterbacks and a lot of speed. In 2016, Flowers rushed for 1,530 yards and averaged 7.7 yards per carry. He’ll dominate defenses one way or another, and should have the Bulls riding high for the 2017 season once again.
Sam Darnold – USC Trojans: Sam Darnold will be a household name in the 2017 college football season. Already projected as a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, Darnold is expected to be the best quarterback in the FBS in 2017. In the 2016 season, Darnold threw for 3.086 yards and 31 touchdowns. Although he is more of a pocket passer, the freshman is very athletic and has enough mobility to scramble to keep drives alive. USC had a rough start last year, but finished 10-3 and ranked in the top five in both the AP and coaches polls. Look for Darnold to lead the Trojans to a PAC-12 championship and possibly a College Football Playoff spot. He could very well be the first QB off the board in the 2018 NFL draft.