Quarterbacks/2020

Updated Jan. 29, 2020. Post-Senior Bowl; pre-combine.

2020 NFL Draft:  Top Rated QBs

1. Joe Burrow, LSU, 6-4/216

Photo: David J. Phillip|AP

If there was any doubt about Burrow being the favorite to go No. 1 overall in the draft, those doubts were dispelled in the National Championship game as Burrow methodically picked apart Clemson’s secondary.

Borrow’s magical season came to a perfect end by winning a National Championship, a dream Burrow said he’s had since he was 5-years old.

During LSU’s drubbing of Clemson, the defending National Champions, Burrow continued to rewrite history. By tossing five touchdown passes in the game, the Heisman Trophy winner up his season total to 60, breaking the previous record of 58 held by Colt McCoy. He also took possession of the top spot in passing yards (5,671) this season.

2. Tua Tagovailoa*, Alabama, 6-1/218

On Nov. 16, Tua dislocated his hip as he was tackled by two Mississippi players. On Nov. 18, Tua underwent surgery on his hip, and his doctor said everything went well. Prognosis was excellent for a return to the field. He is expected to be throwing the ball by spring. He’s already up and walking about with minimal assistance.

Just based on past performance, Tua is clearly a top-tier quarterback. His ball placement is excellent; decision-making outstanding. Is he perfect? No. Tua has room to grow – which is encouraging. How much better can he be with professional coaching and more game experience? The ceiling is high. At this point, it looks like where he goes in the draft will be determined by his medical reports.

3. Justin Herbert, Oregon, 6-6/233

Had Herbert decided to turn pro last year, he quite possibly could have been the number one overall pick. He said one of the reasons he returned for his senior season was to help the Ducks win a Conference Championship. He did just that on Dec. 6, leading Oregon to a 37-15 win over a stingy Utah defense to win the Pac-12 Championship. The Ducks are now ranked No. 6 in the nation and will take on the eighth ranked Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.

On Dec. 10, Herbert was named the winner of the Campbell Trophy, commonly known as the “academic Heisman.” Herbert beat out 11 other finalists for the award, which is presented annually to the top scholar-athlete in college football, during the 62nd National Football Foundation annual awards dinner in New York.

Herbert’s 4.01 GPA is highest among the 12 finalists, who included Eastern Washington’s Spencer Blackburn, Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship, Ohio State’s Jordan Fuller, Minnesota State’s Alex Goettl, Kansas State’s Adam Holtorf, Carnegie Mellon’s Michael Lohmeier, Virginia’s Jordan Mack, Montana’s Dante Olson, Cornell’s Jelani Taylor, Stanford’s Casey Toohill and Western Michigan’s Jon Wassink.

The Ducks senior is 272 of 408 for 3,333 yards with 32 touchdowns and five interceptions this season. Herbert had thrown an touchdown in 34 consecutive games, a streak that was broken Oct. 26 vs Washington State. He’s thrown for over 10,000 yards in his career, with an 95-22 Td/Int ratio. He’s possesses an incredibly strong arm, and his passes look effortless – he throws the football as if it were a baseball. He has deceptive speed, when he chooses to use it. For the most part, he’s been primarily a pocket passes the last two seasons. There’s no reason Herbert’s stock won’t stay at the top of scouts draft boards.

Senior Bowl: Herbert had a great week at the Senior Bowl. He was named the game’s MVP and only solidified himself as a top 10 pick.

4. Jordan Love*, Utah State, 6-4/220

Love played his final game in an Aggies uniform on Dec. 20 in the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl against Kent State. Ten days earlier, the junior from Bakersfield, Calif., decided to forego his final year of eligibility and declare for the 2020 NFL Draft.

In his final collegiate game, Love threw for 308 yards with three touchdowns and an interception for Utah State, becoming the Aggies’ school-record holder with 9,003 yards of total offense. He finishes his career with 689 completions, also a record, for 8,591 yards and 60 touchdowns.

Love flashes NFL talent. He can extend plays, showing shiftiness in the pocket; he has plenty of arm strength to make even the most difficult of throws to the sidelines; and has shown on film, over and over again, that he is a superb athlete. Scouts love his potential but worry about his accuracy, poise and decision-making. “When you look at Jordan Love,” said Daniel Jeremiah, an NFL Network analyst, “you’re intrigued not by what he is right now, but by what he can become.”

Senior Bowl: Did do anything to help or hurt himself.

5. Jacob Eason*, Washington, 6-6/227

A five-star recruit from Lake Stevens, Washington, Eason originally signed at Georgia. In 2016, his freshman year, he played in 13 games for the Bulldogs, throwing for 2,430 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Georgia finished 8-5 that year, and many thought the team underperformed.

In 2017, Eason was beat out by another five-star recruit, freshman Jake Fromm. With Fromm at the helm, the team finished 13-2 and it looked like Eason would have a difficult time finding his way on the field, so he transferred to Washington.

Per NCAA tranfer rules, Eason sat out the 2018 season. In 2019, he started all 13 games, throwing for 3,132 yards, 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Washington finished with an 8-5 record, and many thought the team underperformed.

Eason makes scouts drool with his physical traits. He big, tall, has a rocket for an arm. However, he isn’t the most consistent. On one play he looks like an all-star; on the next play, one wonders, “What was he thinking?” Reminiscent of Jameis Winston in that way. Eason’s biggest question heading into the draft is will he be able to put it all together.

6. Jake Fromm*, Georgia, 6-2/225

Fromm is the guy who beat out Jacob Eason at Georgia in 2017. The Bulldogs are 36-7 in Fromm’s three years under center. He has thrown for 8,236 yards with 78 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

He’s shown himself to be a capable leader of the offense. He’s best when throwing underneath. He has a high football IQ and can handle all the pre-snap reads. He reads the field well and routinely goes through his progressions. He’s more of a west coast offense, dink-and-dunk quarterback. He’s not going to threaten opponents with deep shots down the field, and he won’t wow anyone with his athleticism. He hardly runs with the ball and doesn’t show the feet to slide in the pocket to avoid the rush they way elite quarterback do.

Fromm will need to show well in pre-draft workouts to prove to scouts he has what it takes to be successful at the next level.

7. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma, 6-2/219

This season, Hurts is completing 71% of his passes for 3,634 yards and 32 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions. Hurts is also producing on the ground, as one of the top dual-threat snap takers in America Hurts has rushed for 1,255 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging 5.7 yards a carry.

“He’s an outstanding runner, first and foremost,” Baylor coach Matt Rhule said. “He can run, both in terms of keeping plays alive, first in the conference in passing, and they do a lot of play-action. He’s able to move around and keep plays extended. … So they present a lot of challenges and a lot of that is a credit to him. He’s a great runner, has great vision, he’s accurate — he can do it in a multitude of ways.”

Senior Bowl: During Senior Bowl week, reports were that he continued to have issues with consistency in hitting his targets. He had terrible protection in the game which didn’t help him at all.

8. Anthony Gordon, Washington State, 6-3/210

Entering 2019, Gordon had thrown for all of 17 yards during three seasons at Washington State (one year was a redshirt). But Gordon has had plenty of experience throwing the ball up and down the field. As a junior at Terra Nova High School in Pacifica, Calif., he threw for 3,410 yards and 32 touchdowns. Then, as a senior, he set the Central Coast Central Section record with 4,899 passing yards and 49 touchdowns.

Gordon, who pitched and played in the infield for Terra Nova, was drafted in the 36th round by the New York Mets in 2015.  But he picked football over baseball and went to City College of San Francisco. There he threw for 3,864 yards and 37 touchdowns while leading his team to a 12-1 record and the state community college title.

So far, this year, Gordon has completed nearly 72 percent of his passes and is on track to throw for over 5,000 yards. He’s also thrown 45 touchdowns this season. Gordon has been called a “gunslinger” by teammates. He loves to take chances and throw the ball downfield, with an arm that running back Max Borghi describes as “a cannon.”

But he picked football over baseball and went to City College of San Francisco to play football. There he threw for 3,864 yards and 37 touchdowns while leading his team to a 12-1 record and the state community college title.

Senior Bowl: Played better in the game than in practice, showing he’s a gamer. A former shortstop, he can throw from all angles.

9. James Morgan, FIU, 6-5/221

Perhaps no quarterback did more to help his stock during the all-star games than FIU’s James Morgan. Morgan played in the East-West Shine game and led all passers with 116 yards. He also won the the Pat Tillman Award to recognize the player who best exemplifies intelligence, sportsmanship and service. The award celebrates a student athlete’s achievements and conduct on and off the football field.

Morgan finished his senior season at FIU with 2,585 passing yards and 14 touchdowns. His 14 touchdowns added to his career FIU total of 40, which ranked as the second-most all-time in program history.

A little known fact, but Morgan won a state title in track and field as a senior in high school, running the first leg on the 4×400-meter relay team. “I was the slowest leg,” he told the Miami Herald, “but it felt good because the knock on me at the time was that I was a pocket passer and not as athletic. That gave me a lot of motivation.”

10. Shea Patterson, Michigan, 6-2/205

Patterson’s career at Michigan hasn’t gone the way most had figured. Prior to Nov. 12 vs Michigan State (week 12), Patterson hadn’t passed for 300 yards in a game since was the starter at Ole Miss in 2017. Up until the Michigan State game, his best statistical peformances were both for 276 yards (vs Rutger and Penn State). He’s had to overcome some fumbling problems, fumbling five times in the season’s first three games and losing four; and he threw for a career low 100 yards on 12 attempts earlier this year in on a rainy night (Oct 26) in Ann Arbor against No. 8 ranked Notre Dame. He did, however, manage to throw two touchdown passes and get the win.

Patterson led the Wolverines to a 10-3 finish last season, but then they were soundly beat down by Florida (41-15) in the Peach Bowl. A Big Ten East title was anticipated this year, if not a Big Ten Championship, but losses to No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 7 Penn State have already made this season a disappointment for the Maize and Blue faithful.

As a passer, Patterson can push the ball down the field. He is a good scrambler, and might make his best throws on broken plays. He flashes the ability to make some really fine touch passes downfield, and he can also throw the fastball down the middle. Patterson is a good athlete with excellent mobility to dodge sacks and extend plays with his feet. He is dangerous at picking up yards with his feet and improvising on plays to make something out of nothing thanks to his light feet and escapability.

Senior Bowl: Just like in the regular season, Patterson looks great on one play and then not-so-much on the next. He has the tools though, he’ll get drafted.

11. Nick Tiano, UT-Chattanooga, 6-5/240

Tiano earned MVP honors in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl after completing eight of ten passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.

Tiano outplayed Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke and Ohio’s Nathan Rourke. He looked better than Oregon State’s Jake Luton too. He put nice touch on his passes; he showed he has the arm strength needed for the next level. He’s more althletic and agile than Montez or Stanley.

12. Steven Montez, Colorado, 6-5/230

Analysts have been talking about Montez’s arm-strength since he replaced the much lauded Sefo Liufau in 2017. Liufau led Colorado to a 10-4 season and had set school records for career touchdown passes and career passing yards.

Like Eason, scouts look at Montez’s physical traits and think what might be. Montez can really sling the ball in the short area, putting plenty of power behind his throws. He throws a nice tight spiral. He’s been fortunate to have several quality receivers – Laviska Shenault, Tony Brown, and K.D. Nixon – who get plenty of yac.

Athletic enough to scramble for a few yards, but not a threat. Throws are not consistent, and doesn’t do well when the pocket collapses around him. Has thrown 33 interceptions in his career. He has a lot of upside because of his physical traits.

Senior Bowl: Pretty much looked like he did during the regular season. Can make some really nice throws, but doesn’t see the field well. Not a threat to run. He’s a developmental prospect.

13. Nate Stanley, Iowa, 6-4/242

Stanley is an old-fashioned pocket passer. In his four years at Iowa City, he has rushed for exactly -95 yards. Although, it should be mentioned, he did run the Wing T in high school. He is the Hawkeyes first three-year starter at quarterback since Ricky Stanzi graduated in 2010. From his junior to senior season, Stanley has a four-year completion percentage of 58.1. He threw 26 touchdowns in ’17 and ’18, but has only connected for 14, so far, in ’19. He also lost two of his favorite targets, Noah Fant and Noah Hockenstein to the first round of the NFL Draft at the end of last season. Stanley currently happens to be fourth in the Big Ten in yards passing with 2,738. While his quarterback rating is down (slightly) from previous seasons, Stanley is also not getting the protection he had the two years prior, causing him to force throws or throw the ball away more often. Stanley possess ideal size and plenty of arm strength for the next level.

14. Bryce Perkins, Virginia, 6-3/210

In just his second season in Charlottesville, VA, Perkins recently moved into fifth place on UVA’s all-time career passing list. He is just the seventh Cavalier all-time to pass for over 5,000 career yards. Earlier this year, on Nov 2, Perkins set a UVA school record with 490 total yards on offense (378 passing, 112 rushing) leading the Cavaliers to a win over North Carolina.

Perkins, at native of Queens Creek, Arizona, had originally signed with Arizona State. After sitting out the 2015 season at ASU as a redshirt and the 2016 season with an injury, Perkins transferred to Arizona Western Community College, where he helped lead the Matadors to the 2017 junior college national championship game.

Last season, Perkins and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray were the only two players in the country with more than 2,600 passing yards and 900 rushing yards. The most intriguing part about how good Perkins has looked over the last two seasons is that with just 23 starts as a Division I quarterback, he is just beginning to fully tap into his potential. He’s explosive and his straight line speed and elusiveness are impressive at his size. He’s got a rifle for an arm, a quick release, and surprising accuracy for a dual threat quarterback.

15. Brian Lewerke, Michigan State, 6-3/214

Lewerke has been a bit of a puzzle. His best season was his sophomore year in 2017. He threw of 2,793 yards with a Td/Int ratio of 20-7. He also led the team to a 10-3 record. Lewerke started ’18 by completing over 64% of his passes, but he hurt his shoulder vs Penn State. After the injury, he only completed 43% of his passes. He finished 2018, passing for only 2,040 yards and had a Td/Int ratio of 8-11.

Big expectations were in line for Michigan State this year, and they didn’t live up to them. Lewerke’s performance this year isn’t wowing scouts. He’s completed over 58% of his passes for 2,759 yards while throwing 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

When healthy, Lewerke looks like he’ll have no problems playing at the next level. He has a quick release, can make the touch pass, or throw a dart to the sidelines. He has enough wiggle to avoid the rush and just enough athleticism to scramble for a first down.

***

OTHER PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

  • Cole McDonald*, Hawaii, 6-4/205
  • Jake Luton, Oregon State, 6-7/234
  • Tyler Huntley, Utah, 6-1/210
  • Tommy Stevens, Mississippi State, 6-5/232
  • Nathan Rourke, Ohio, 6-2/209
  • Carter Stanley, Kansas, 6-5/215
  • Kelly Bryant, Missouri, 6-4/220
  • Ty Storey, Western Kentucky, 6-2/220
  • Mason Fine, North Texas, 5-11/180
  • Gage Gubrud, Washington State, 6-2/205
  • J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech, 6-1/226
  • Brandon Wimbush, UCF, 6-2/209
  • Jon Wassink, Western Michigan, 6-2/205
  • Justin McMillan, Tulane, 6-3/210
  • Khalil Tate, Arizona, 6-2/215

***

SMALL SCHOOL PROSPECTS

  • Kevin Davidson, Princeton, 6-4/225
  • Reid Sinnett, San Diego, 6-4/225
  • Case Crookus, Northern Arizona, 6-4/200
  • Kurt Rawlings, Yale, 6-2/210
  • Jacob Knipp, No. Colorado, 6-4/215
  • Ryan Boyle, Indiana State, 6-2/215
  • Ronald Rivers, Slippery Rock, 6-3/230
  • Deondre Francois. Hampton, 6-1/215
  • Jake Maier, UC Davis, 6-0/200
  • Tom Flacco, Towson, 6-1/208
  • Jayru Campbell, Ferris State, 6-5/215
  • Jackson Erdmann, St. John’s (MN), 6-4/215
  • Broc Rutter, North Central (Il), 6-2/195

***

*Denotes underclassman.

***

QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | OG | OC

Nat L. Faybian’s 2020 NFL Draft Players Position Rankings

DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | ST

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