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These young men will be tasked to be the future leaders of an NFL franchise. Today I rank the top five quarterback prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.
1. Joe Burrow- LSU
Bio: The Ohio Mr. Football in 2014, Joe Burrow committed to Ohio State. After graduating in three years, he transferred to LSU in 2018 and was immediately eligible to play. In his first season as a Tiger, he helped the team to a Fiesta Bowl victory. In 2019, Burrow had arguably the best season ever by a college quarterback by completing 76.3% of his passes for 5,671 passing yards and NCAA records with 60 touchdown passes and a 202 passer rating while winning the Heisman Trophy and helping LSU to an undefeated season and a National Championship victory.
Strengths: High football IQ. His father, Jim, was a defensive coach for nearly 40 years. Knows what to look for pre-snap and audibles to best possible play to beat the coverage. Thorough understanding of leverage, spacing, and rotations. Great anticipation as a passer. Leads receivers away from the coverage to allow for run after the catch opportunities. Helps his receivers get open by tricking defenders from the pocket with his eyes and body. Throws with soft touch, making it easier for receivers to catch. Deadly accurate with ideal ball placement at each level of the field. Calm and clean footwork in drop backs. Not afraid of pressure, keeps his eyes downfield while climbing the pocket. Able to escape rushers and keep plays going. Willing to take the hit if he knows a play can be made. Not reckless with the ball, even on more aggressive throws downfield. Doesn't panic in the pocket when the play breaks down. Reads the field as he goes through his progressions. Accuracy on the move doesn't wain. Mechanics are clean and able to alter his arm flow to stay accurate. Sneaky athleticism as a runner. Raised the LSU offense to unimaginable new heights. Looks to have the intangibles and leadership skills to be a franchise signal caller.
Weaknesses: Good, but not great arm. Rainbows some long balls short, causing receivers to have to come back to the ball and could cause an opportunistic defensive back to make a play. Lacks throw velocity for deep out routes. Has the occasional flat footed throw when he is forced to speed up his timing. Will turn 24 during his rookie season. Stats prior to 2019 are fairly mediocre. Questions raised about why he couldn't beat out Dwayne Haskins at Ohio State.
Pro Comparison: Tony Romo
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Cincinnati Bengals
2. Tua Tagovailoa- Alabama
Bio: As Alabama's backup quarterback as a true freshman, Tua Tagovailoa saw mainly mop up duty until the National Championship when he relieved a struggling Jalen Hurts in the second half. He sparked Crimson Tide comeback, throwing three touchdowns as Alabama won the National Championship in overtime. The following year, he set the new NCAA record with a 199.4 passer rating by completing 69% of his passes for 3,966 yards and 43 touchdowns while finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting. He decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
Strengths: Naturally right handed, but throws left handed. Cool customer, rarely loses his composure. Stays and rhythm and wins from the pocket. Knows how to navigate the pocket and keeps his eyes downfield. Locates his checkdown target when play is collapsing. Not ideally tall, but has a thick enough frame to take NFL hits. Balanced footwork inside the pocket and keeps poised through throws. Solid accuracy at all levels of the field. Takes advantage of Alabama's speedy receivers and drives the ball downfield. Rarely throws off balanced, keeping aligned with his receiver. Good follow through in his lower body. Generally comfortable reading defenses and knows how to anticipate throwing windows. Reaction speed is above average. Quick to recognize formations and executes best play. Smooth tempo from drop back, progressions, and throw. Transitions from quick throws to touch passes with ease. Throws a phenomenal touch pass that arrives on target in the hole of the defense.Tremendous character and leadership traits.
Weaknesses: Slight hitch in his delivery. Roots occasionally narrows, affecting the release point. Has had issues with delivery on quick outs. Missed some reads against strong defensive teams like Georgia and Clemson in 2018. He and his receivers were not on the same page on deeper throws in those games. Good enough arm strength, but not elite by any means. Durability red flags. Missed two games in 2019 with an ankle sprain which required surgery. Missed Alabama's final two games in 2019 after dislocating and fracturing his hip.
Pro Comparison: Russell Wilson
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Miami Dolphins
3. Justin Herbert- Oregon
Bio: After limited scholarship offers due to breaking his leg in high school, Justin Herbert committed to his hometown school Oregon. He became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Ducks in 33 years. As a senior, he led Oregon to a 12-2 record and a Rose Bowl victory while being named the Rose Bowl Offensive MVP.
Strengths: Scout's dream with combination of size, arm, and mobility. Ball zips out of his hand. Capable of making every NFL throw. Has some phenomenal ball placement at each level of the field. Knows how to thread the needle and fit the ball in tight windows. Not afraid to attack route spaces to gain leverage on throws. Works best by the design of the play and doesn't mess around too much improvisation. Keeps eyes downfield against incoming pressure and when rolling out of the pocket. Able throw from a few different arm angles. Switches from darts to floaters with ease. Physical tools come in handy when forced to abandon original play. Build and athleticism to be effective as a runner. Experience with high tempo, spread, and pistol offenses while at Oregon. Book-smart, Academic All-American.
Weaknesses: Struggles working through his progressions. Gets uncomfortable when first option isn't there. Often stares down his main receiver and disregards his other targets. Frustrating stretches with bad accuracy. Edge rushers affect his mechanics, which lead to poor throws. Internal clock needs to speed up. Has to identify the blitz pre-snap quicker. Takes sacks rather than taking the incompletion and won't climb the pocket in the face of pressure. Not an accurate passer on the move.
Pro Comparison: Sam Darnold
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Carolina Panthers
4. Jake Fromm- Georgia
Bio: After initially committing to play at Alabama, Jake Fromm chose instead to stay home and play at Georgia. As a true freshman, he replaced an injured Jacob Eason and led the Bulldogs to an SEC title and an appearance in the National Championship Game while being named the SEC Freshman of the Year. He decided to forgo his senior year and NFL Draft.
Strengths: Intelligent, natural leader of the offense. Comfortable working through his progressions. Throws knowing where his target is going to be. Processes the defensive formation quickly and knows where the best option will be. Played against elite defensive teams and coaching staffs in the SEC. Confident and knows what the best match up is week to week. Throws with impressive touch downfield. Ball placement leads to big plays in the passing game. Leads his receivers into holes in the coverage to allow for more separation. Quick and efficient throwing motion. No wasted windup in his release. Takes care of the ball, doesn't put the offense in bad situations. Three straight SEC East titles.
Weaknesses: Won't wow people with his mobility or arm strength. Pocket passer who hasn't shown he is capable of improvising to extend plays. Average arm strength, leaves a lot to be desired in terms of velocity on quick throws. Internal clock is inconsistent at times and struggles to speed it up when needed. Culprit of some flat footed throws and doesn't generate much throw power the belt. Back foot doesn't drive through passes and lacks rotation. Throws have little pop. Opens up opportunities for turnovers in between zones and on out routes, leading to unnecessarily contested passes. Have we seen his peak?
Pro Comparison: Andy Dalton
Projected Round: 1-2
Possible Landing Spot: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5. Jacob Eason- Washington
Bio: The top rated quarterback coming out of high school, Jacob Eason chose to attend Georgia. As a true freshman, he helped the Bulldogs to an 8-5 record and a Liberty Bowl victory. Following 2017, he transferred to Washington and was forced to sit out the 2018 season. In 2019, he led the Huskies to an 8-5 record and a Las Vegas Bowl win.
Strengths: Tall with a cannon for a right arm. Has the arm strength to make every NFL throw and fit the ball in tight spots. Phenomenal play action passer and gets the ball downfield. Can make every deep throw. Average accuracy, but displays some solid ball placement. Won't make many risky decisions with the ball. Throwing mechanics are textbook. Ball comes out fairly quick when he fires. Stands strong in the pocket to throw even against incoming defenders.
Weaknesses: Slow working through his progressions, even in Washington's simplified offense. Didn't play with elite wide receivers, but too often put them in contested situations and didn't create much opportunity for yards after the catch. Decision making has to be quicker. Inconsistent weight transfer in base affects his ball placement. Classic pro style passer with passable pocket mobility, but won't extend plays downfield with his legs. Takes his share of hits and sacks when throwing the ball away was an option. Panics under surprise blitz packages as eyes don't stay downfield.
Pro Comparison: Matthew Stafford
Projected Round: 2
Possible Landing Spot: Los Angeles Chargers
Other Notable Prospects
Jordan Love- Utah State
- Good combination of size, arm, and mobility; poor ball security
Jalen Hurts- Oklahoma
- Phenomenal athlete; average quarterback play prior to joining Lincoln Riley
Nate Stanley- Iowa
- Good size and arm; poor accuracy and decision making
Anthony Gordon- Washington State
- Strong arm; lazy footwork
Steven Montez- Colorado
- Good size; struggles with mental aspect of the game
Cole McDonald- Hawaii
- Big frame and strong arm; irregular throwing motion
Bryce Perkins- Virginia
- Dual threat ability; inconsistent passer
Jake Luton- Oregon State
- Elite size; poor arm strength
Brian Lewerke- Michigan State
- Gunslinger mentality; poor accuracy
James Morgan- Florida International
- Good size; accuracy must improve
Kevin Davidson- Princeton
- Intelligent; work is needed on throwing motion
Kelly Bryant- Missouri
- Ideal RPO quaterback; throws lack velocity
Shea Patterson- Michigan
- Solid athleticism; never lived up to expectations
Mason Fine- North Texas
- Quick, mobile passer; short stature