The San Francisco 49ers are not in the market for a quarterback. Let’s just get that out of the way right off the bat. Kyle Shanahan mentioned at the NFL Combine that the 49ers will look to improve at every position outside of quarterback and fullback.
But that doesn’t change the fact that this draft class is loaded with talented signal callers. USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Wyoming’s Josh Allen appear to be locks to go in the top 10. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield also has a chance to go early with so many QB-needy teams selecting at the top of the first round. Louisville’s Lamar Jackson is a wildcard, but still likely to go in the first round.
The best case scenario for San Francisco is that teams become enamored with as many quarterbacks as possible. That will push down more blue chip talent to the 49ers at No. 9. Should a top QB remain on the board when San Francisco goes on the clock, John Lynch could find himself fielding trade calls.
With that, let’s dive into who experts believe is the top QB in the class and how many signal callers they believe will go in the top 10.
Matt Bowen, ESPN: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; Four QBs in the Top 10
For me it’s Baker Mayfield. I know he doesn’t have the measureables that some of the other quarterbacks do, but I think he’s a fit for the modern pro game. He completed 70 percent of his passes in college. He knows how to attack throwing windows. He knows how to anticipate throwing windows. When I saw him live at the Senior Bowl, you could see the way guys gravitated around him by the end of the week. If I’m a coach, I want that in my quarterback. He’s also a gamer. He’s got the traits right now. You can’t teach his accuracy. At this point, I’m going to say that four will go in the top 10. I think the Buffalo Bills are going to trade up and get one.
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com: Sam Darnold, USC; Four QBs in the Top 10
I think you could potentially see four quarterbacks go in the top 10. I’ve been with Sam Darnold, and I’m going to go with him to the finish line. I know he can do everything. He can do it on-schedule. He can do it off-schedule. He can make every throw. He’s got velocity. He’s got touch. I’ve seen him be able to feather the ball when he needs to. He, to me, is an outstanding prospect who has been picked a part a little bit too much.
The NFL Network draft analyst recently announced his updated top-50 prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Dane Brugler, NFL Draft Scout: Sam Darnold, USC; Three QBs in the Top 10
It’s Sam Darnold for me. He needs to cut down on the turnovers, but his ability at only 20 years old to anticipate passing windows, create outside of structure and handle the overall mental battle of the position is outstanding. If I had to bet on one of these guys long term, it’s going to be Darnold. As far as quarterbacks in the top 10, I think it’s three at the minimum with the chance of four. It’s going to be fascinating to see how it all plays out.”
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: San Darnold, USC; Four QBs in the Top 10
I think the best quarterback is Sam Darnold… barely. It’s a weird year in that all of the guys are kind of grouped together. I like Darnold. I like his accuracy. I like his poise. I like his toughness. I think his football IQ and leadership skills are also really good. For quarterbacks, I put a heavy emphasis on that. I think when you look at the total picture, they all have their weaknesses, but Darnold has the most strengths that I feel safely about projecting forward. I still think four of them go in the top 10. Now that Kirk Cousins is in Minnesota, I think a lot of lanes opened up for quarterbacks to go early.