Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold have gone from competing at the combine to competing for a starting job in Carolina.
The two quarterbacks became teammates on Wednesday when the Cleveland Browns traded Mayfield to the Panthers for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2024 draft. The deal ended a months-long saga between the Browns and their former No. 1 overall draft pick.
Mayfield went at the top of the 2018 NFL Draft, and Darnold wasn’t far behind. He was selected by the New York Jets with the No. 3 pick, but his tenure with his first team ended even sooner than Mayfield’s.
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While the top two quarterbacks taken in 2018 are working to rewrite their careers with the Panthers, other players from their draft class are thriving. The first round of the 2018 draft produced 13 Pro Bowlers, three Super Bowl champions and 22 players who are still with their first NFL team.
Here’s a glance back at the top 10 picks, along with the whole first round, of the 2018 NFL Draft now that Mayfield and Darnold are teammates:
1. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Mayfield’s Browns tenure got off to an electrifying start. He took over as the team’s starting quarterback less than a month into his rookie season and held the position for four seasons. In 2020, he helped guide Cleveland to a 11-5 record and their first playoff appearance in 18 years.
San Francisco 49ers
Things went downhill in a hurry for Mayfield and the Browns in 2021. They missed the postseason at 8-9 as Mayfield struggled while dealing with injuries. Mayfield made a trade request in March and Cleveland acquired Deshaun Watson and handed him a historic contract shortly thereafter. Now, the two sides have gone their separate ways.
2. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Like Mayfield, Barkley’s NFL career began spectacularly before slowing down due to injuries. Barkley beat out Mayfield and the rest of the 2018 class to win the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honor after tallying 1,307 rushing yards and 15 total touchdowns. He has just 12 touchdowns over the last three seasons with various injuries holding him to 28 games in that span.
The Giants picked up Barkley’s fifth-year option, but his plans beyond this season remain unclear.
3. Sam Darnold, New York Jets
Darnold was tossed into a difficult situation with the Jets, and the two sides split after just three seasons. He threw 45 touchdowns and 39 interceptions across 38 starts with the Jets and was traded to the Panthers in April 2021.
Darnold won his first three starts in Carolina, including one against his former squad in Week 1 of last season. His team won just one game in his final eight starts, though, and Carolina decided to bring in Mayfield to share the QB room.
4. Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns
While the Mayfield era is over in Cleveland, the team hit a home run with another premium pick in the 2018 draft.
Ward has started at least 12 games in all four of his NFL seasons and reached two Pro Bowls. The Browns rewarded their top cornerback with a whopping, five-year, $100 million extension in April.
5. Bradley Chubb, Denver Broncos
Chubb has effectively lost two seasons to injuries, but he’s been able to show why he’s a top-five pick when he’s on the field. He tallied 12 sacks while starting every game in his rookie year and made the Pro Bowl in 2020.
Since Von Miller was traded during the 2021 season, Chubb is the biggest star in the Broncos’ front seven. He is signed for the 2022 campaign after Denver exercised his fifth-year option, but he can hit the open market next offseason.
6. Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts got a potential Hall of Famer with the No. 6 pick in 2018. Nelson has been a machine in his early NFL career, making three straight AP All-Pro First Teams from 2018 to 2020. He made his fourth straight Pro Bowl in 2021 and is well established as one of the best guards in the game.
Nelson is only under contract for 2022, but Indianapolis is expected to keep him and make him one of the NFL’s richest interior offensive linemen.
7. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Allen was a polarizing prospect entering the draft, but he has proven the Bills right in a major way.
Buffalo has made the playoffs the last three seasons with Allen under center. Over the last two years, Allen has tossed 73 touchdown passes to go along with 14 rushing touchdowns. His two playoff performances last season were eye-popping, as he dismantled the New England Patriots during wild card weekend and went toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes in one of the most exhilarating playoff games in league history.
The franchise locked up Allen for the long-term with a six-year, $258 million extension in August 2021. Now, Allen and the Bills are viewed as favorites to lift the Lombardi Trophy in Arizona next February.
8. Roquan Smith, Chicago Bears
Smith has been a mainstay in the Bears’ defense since 2018. He has only missed four games over the last four years and has accumulated 524 tackles, 43 tackles for loss and 14 sacks in his career.
The linebacker is still with the Bears heading into the 2022 season under his fifth-year option.
9. Mike McGlinchey, San Francisco 49ers
McGlinchey started 52 games for the 49ers over his first four NFL seasons. He has settled into the role of starting right tackle with Trent Williams dominating the opposite end of the offensive line.
San Francisco exercised McGlinchey’s fifth-year option in April 2021.
10. Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals
The fourth QB taken in the 2018 draft has been through quite the NFL journey.
Rosen went 3-10 as the Cardinals’ starter in 2018 and the team wound up with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft. Arizona used that pick on Kyler Murray and dealt Rosen for two draft picks the following day. Rosen was with the Miami Dolphins for the 2019 season, did not touch an NFL field in 2020 and played four games with the Atlanta Falcons in 2021.
Rosen is currently without an NFL home.
Here is how the rest of the first round shook out:
11. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins
12. Vita Vea, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
13. Daron Payne, Washington
14. Marcus Davenport, New Orleans Saints
15. Kolton Miller, Oakland Raiders
16. Tremaine Edmunds, Buffalo Bills
17. Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers
18. Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers
19. Leighton Vander-Esch, Dallas Cowboys
20. Frank Ragnow, Detroit Lions
21. Billy Price, Cincinnati Bengals
22. Rashaan Evans, Tennessee Titans
23. Isaiah Wynn, New England Patriots
24. DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers
25. Hayden Hurst, Baltimore Ravens
26. Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons
27. Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks
28. Terrell Edmunds, Pittsburgh Steelers
29. Taven Bryan, Jacksonville Jaguars
30. Mike Hughes, Minnesota Vikings
31. Sony Michel, New England Patriots
32. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens