When it comes to the NFL Draft’s top quarterbacks, some of the top names available are obvious, others may not be what meets the eye. The consensus No. 1 overall pick is Joe Burrow, but from that point on, things could get dicey, as teams could decide to go in a multitude of directions.
One thing is certain: the quarterback selection is one of the best in recent years, as these future starters have the potential to completely turn around a franchise and make a huge difference in their rookie seasons. Here are the top five quarterbacks available in the 2020 NFL Draft, compiled from Rotoworld analysis.
1. Joe Burrow, LSU
Burrow is the obvious No. 1 pick — and with good reason. Son of former NFLer and longtime coach Jim Burrow and a descendant of various athletes, Joe veered off the family tradition of playing defense and started at quarterback when he started playing football at age 6, mainly because his youth team didn’t have anyone starting at QB.
From there, Burrow turned heads at Athens High School in The Plains, Ohio, completely turning around his team by leading his school to its first seven playoff victories. His standout performance, which included passing for 11,416 yards and 157 passing touchdowns, as well as 2,067 rushing yards and 27 rushing touchdowns, led him to commit to Ohio State as a four-star recruit.
While he did show plenty of promise, the Buckeyes never utilized Burrow in the starting position,. After two years backing up J.T. Barrett, Burrow realized that Dwayne Haskins would win Ohio State’s starting position, and in turn, Burrow transferred to LSU, where things took off.
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After impressing in his first season with the Tigers, Burrows’ career took off in 2019 as he established himself as a surefire franchise QB. He broke numerous school records in his senior year, and his 60 touchdowns and passer rating of 202 in the 2019 campaign were both new single-season NCAA FB records. In turn, Burrow took home the Heisman Trophy, Manning Award and Davey O’Brien award for his performance, which is noted as one of the most remarkable turnaround campaigns.
His offensive prowess, accuracy, agility and decision-making makes him one of the best all-around starters available in recent years, and it’s pretty much a consensus that the 23-year-old is headed to the Cincinnati Bengals first overall.
2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Although Burrow’s a sure pick, things get a bit dicier down the line. But as of right now, heading into Thursday, Tua Tagovailoa is the next best QB available in a very impressive pool.
From a young age, Tagovailoa’s throwing arm and talent was notable, as he’d throw 30-plus yard passes at the age of 8 during Pop Warner games. He worked his way up the food chain in his school, throwing 33 passing touchdowns with 2,583 passing yards in his first varsity season. In 2016, he impressed playing in the All-American Bowl and also cracked the Elite 11 roster as one of the best QBs in the United States. He attended Saint Louis School in Honolulu and was Hawaii’s top high school player, which ultimately earned him 17 collegiate football offers. Ultimately, he decided to join the Crimson Tide.
Starting off as a true freshman backup to Jalen Hurts, Tagovailoa was still able to get playing time, and having come in and impressed in the 2018 National Championship Game, where he led Alabama to a 26-23 victory coming in relief for Hurts, subsequently being named the game’s offensive MVP. The following year, Tagovailoa was able to take the starting job with a standout performance to start the year and led the Tide to its fourth straight CFP National Championship game, while also setting an NCAA record with a 199.4 passer rating. He also racked up 3,966 passing yards, 43 passing touchdowns, 190 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns, while coming in second in Heisman Trophy voting behind Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and also winning the Walter Camp Award and Maxwell Award.
However, 2019 would tell a different story, as a high ankle sprain, dislocated hip, broken nose and concussion limited him to just nine starts.
There’s a lot to like about Tua as one of the NFL draft top quarterbacks. His throwing arm and pinpoint accuracy makes him a lethal force, as well as his speed and ability to make plays on the fly.
The main concern is a glaring one: can he stay healthy? His 6-0 frame and durability also presents some concern, as does some of his trouble with timing and completing plays and passes under pressure.
3. Justin Herbert, Oregon
There’s a lot to like about Justin Herbert, and in some instances, he’s even ranked higher than Tua.
It seemed like destiny for Herbert to suit up for the Ducks; not only did he grow up 10 minutes from Autzen Stadium, but his grandfather, Rich Schwab, played receiver for Oregon in the 1960s. He was a standout offensive player for Sheldon High School in Eugene, Oregon, passing for 3,130 yards and 37 touchdowns and rushing for 543 yards and 10 touchdowns. However, a broken leg in his junior year led to no major offers before he eventually committed to play for his hometown team in 2015.
From there, he hit the ground running with the Ducks, becoming the first true freshman to start at QB since Chris Miller in 1983. In his first year, he went 2-6, racking up 1,936 passing yards and 19 passing touchdowns. However, he couldn’t completely turn around the team, as the Ducks went 4-8 and failed to make a Bowl Game appearance. In 2017, he came back from a collarbone victory and was named the Ducks’ Offensive MVP after throwing for 1,983 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions, completely 67 percent of his throws.
Over the remainder of his time at Oregon, he stood out academically and on the field, going from a standout first-year player to navigating his way through three different head coaches to finally turn around the Ducks and lead them to a 12-2 record and Rose Bowl victory in his senior year. He received the William V. Campbell Trophy for his combined academic and on-field performance, and finished his college career as a top-rated QB prospect due to his leadership, offensive awareness and throwing arm, as well as his drive and ability to learn on the fly. He also takes good care of the ball and reads the field well.
Still, as is the case with QBs in this draft besides Burrow, there are questions as to how he will stack up at the NFL level. Although he did appear calmer and more poised in his senior year, there are instances where he finds himself rushed under pressure, while he also needs to get more air under the ball and put more strength behind some of his throws. He could also be more confident and trusting in his decision-making process.
4. Jordan Love, Utah State
Anything goes for Jordan Love at this point, and there’s a lot to like about the young QB who shows a lot of promise.
Having been a strong presence on offense at Liberty High School in Bakersfield, California, passing for 2,148 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushing for 806 yards and eight touchdowns, Love received just one offer for Utah State, but made the most of his time with the Aggies. In 2018, he earned second-team All-Mountain West honors and looked the part of an NFL QB back in 2018, while he also ranked eighth with 32 passing touchdowns through 13 starts, while also completing 64 percent of his passes (267 of 417) and setting a Utah State single-season record with 3,567 yards and six interceptions.
Despite a strong showing in 2018, where he completed 64 percent of his attempts and threw for 3,567 yards and 32 touchdowns, his performance declined in 2019, as he became less accurate and quick in his decision-making and read process. His passer rating dropped from 158.3 to 129.1, and he threw 17 interceptions after registering just six a year prior.
Although there was a lot of turnover both from the staff and starter standpoint that could have impacted Love’s performance, he found himself unable to adapt well to the changes, which could be a major problem during his transition to the NFL. He also needs be faster in making reads, utilize all of the space he’s given and work on his accuracy to make things easier for his receivers.
Still, he has good size and speed, as well as a strong arm, confidence and the ability to complete plays and get rid of the ball under pressure. Those qualities can serve him well moving forward, especially as he develops and learns as a backup in his first year, but there’s still a lot of work to be done before he establishes himself as a starter.
5. Jacob Eason, Washington
Right now, Eason seems likely to go in the second round, but stranger things have happened. In the end though, wherever he does end up, he’ll be fun to watch.
Growing up in Lake Stevens, Eason became a sensation in 2014, when he led his high school to a 9-2 record, playing in all 11 games and completing 68.6 percent of his passes for 2,829 yards and 32 touchdowns. He followed up on that year with a 69.5 percent completion rate for 3,585 yards, 43 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2015 en route to a 12-1 record for Lake Stevens. He was ranked as a five-star recruit and was considered to be the best overall player in the 2016 class, earning him numerous offers before he decided on Georgia.
In his first year with the Bulldogs, Eason started 12 of 13 games, impressing with a 55.1 percent completion rate as he threw for 2,430 yards and 16 touchdowns, but in 2017, he saw his playing time take a drastic cut after he injured his knee and subsequently lost the starting job to Jake Fromm, who took the reins with Eason out of the lineup. In turn, Eason chose to trasnfer back home and play for the Washington Huskies, and although he had to sit out 2018 due to eligibility rules, he turned heads in 2019 and completely put himself back on the radar, completing 64.2 of his attempts and throwing for 3,132 yards and 23 touchdowns, while also registering a 143.9 passer rating.
The 6-6 quarterback benefits from size and a strong throwing arm that makes him a thrill to watch, especially when it comes to deep throws and play-action shots. He’s able to make accurate passes from pretty much anywhere, and isn’t afraid to throw through defenders.
However, there is concern when it comes to his consistency, but mainly, his mobility. He doesn’t make the most of his space both inside and outside the pocket, and he doesn’t work the best under pressure. Not only that, he does struggle to get rid of the ball if he can’t get a good read.