1. QB Joe Burrow, LSU
After struggling to earn a starting job for Ohio State, Burrow made the jump to LSU in 2018. His play that season was below par, which led to a low completion rate (57.8) and only 16 passing TDs over 13 games. He finished with 2,894 yards passing with some value as a runner (128/399/7) while minimizing the damage in his mistakes throwing the ball (five INTs).
His rags to riches story in 2019 ended with a Heisman Trophy and a national title. Last year Burrow lit the college world on fire at the quarterback positions. His completion rate (76.3) was off the charts great, which led to 5,671 passing yards and an astounding 60 passing TDs and only six interceptions. Burrow chipped in 368 yards on the ground on 115 carries (3.2 yards per rush) and five more touchdowns.
The LSU passing game was helped dramatically by the emergence of WR Ja’Marr Chase (84/1780/20) and WR Justin Jefferson (111/1540/18).
Burrow brings to the table a deceiving arm while relying more on touch and feel over the short areas of the field. When asked to fire into tight quarters or add gas to his deep passes, his arm plays up. I get more of a Peyton Manning feel to his throws and reads while having the ability to make running plays off run/pass options.
His pre-snap reads gain an edge while showing the ability to look off the deep safety. If a play breaks down, Burrow keeps his head up with the talent to make big plays on the run.
At the next level, his passing window will shorten, and his desire to float balls into a crowded area will have less chance of success.
Burrow seemed to speed up his game as the level of his competition improved. His pocket presence graded well.
Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals (1.1)
READ MORE: Which Player Gets Drafted First Overall?
2. QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Over the last decade, the Crimson Tide has been a powerhouse in college football after the arrival of head coach Nick Saban. Tagovailoa stepped into a great situation in a split role in his freshman season. He came off the bench in the National Championship game in 2017 to lead Alabama to the title. In that game, Tagovailoa went 14-for-24 for 166 yards and three TDs while more than doubling his previous passing opportunity in any game college.
In 2018, Saban handed him the keys to the starting quarterback job. Tagovailoa went 14-0 before losing to Clemson in the championship game. On the year, he passed for 3,996 yards with 43 passing TDs and six INTs while adding some value in the run game (57/190/5). His completion rate (69.0) was elite while gaining 11.2 yards per pass attempt.
Last year Tagovailoa was on a higher path after nine games (2,840 passing yards with 33 TDs and three INTs), but his season ended in mid-November with a significant hip injury and a broken nose. In Week 8 of the season, he passed for 418 yards with four TDs and one Int against LSU, but Joe Burrow (393/3) won the game 46-41.
Tagovailoa should be ready for training camp this summer while being drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
His movements in the pocket under duress have a kamikaze feel at times, which may lead to some bad hits at the next level. Tagovailoa shows much more upside as a runner if asked to do so. When given a clean pocket and length to his passing window, his feel, accuracy, and velocity look top-notch. Tagovailoa makes good reads with the arm to stick a ball into tight coverage. He’ll be dangerous inside the ten-yard line with his legs while being expected to extend drives in the run game. Tagovailoa throws the ball well on the move.
In the pros, he’ll need to work harder on scoring drives while not having the luxury of having the edge in offensive talent.
Prediction: Miami Dolphins (1.5)
READ MORE: Who Will Be the Second QB Off the Board?
3. QB Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
Hurts had one of the more interesting quarterback careers in college football. He earned the starting role for Alabama early in 2016, which led to 2,780 passing yards with 23 TDs and INTs. His success on the ground (191/954/13) helped the Crimson Tide go 14-1 with a loss to Clemson in the national championship game.
The following season Hurts saw most of the quarterback action during the regular season. Still, Tua Tagovailoa came off the bench to steal the show in win over Georgia in the championship game and eventually the starting job in 2018.
Between 2017 and 2018, Hurts passed for 2,846 yards with 25 TDs and three INTs. He also ran for 1,022 yards and ten touchdowns on 190 carries.
After a transfer to Oklahoma, he went 12-2 with his best success throwing the ball (3,851 yards with 32 TDs and eight INTs), leading to a 69.7 percent completion rate. The Sooners worked him hard as well in the run game (233/1298/20).
There’s a lot to like here while not his proper due by scouts. His movements in the pocket as a runner have similarities to Deshaun Watson while also having Daunte Culpepper feel.
Hurts went 38-4 in his college career while playing for two top programs. He plays with a physical style with the ability to drive the ball deep downfield with velocity with a flick of the wrist. His run reads are exceptional at times, especially in the red zone.
His next step in his development is a better pocket presence as far as commitment to the pass. His shortfall in this area is coachable, as well as teaching him to make quick, accurate throws over the short areas of the field.
Without a doubt, Hurts could help the right team win in 2020, and I project him as a top-three quarterback in this class. The NFL game for the QB position is changing, and he has plenty of upside as a passer as well.
Prediction: New England Patriots (1.23)
READ MORE: When Will Jalen Hurts Be Selected?
4. QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
The Ducks gave Herbert playing time at QB in four different seasons. After taking over as the starting QB in 2016, he missed five games the following season with a broken collarbone. Over the last two seasons, Hebert started 27 games. His best year came in 2019 (3,471 passing yards and 36 combined TDs).
READ MORE: Is Justin Herbert a top ten pick?
Over his first three seasons, Herbert showed more value as a runner (58/161/2, 44/183/5, and 71/166/2). Last year he gained only 50 yards on the ground on 58 carries, but he did score four TDs.
Overall, his arm is NFL ready. Herbert looks to drive the ball downfield with velocity and accuracy. His next step is growth in his touch in the red zone while improving his decision making against better zone defenses.
Herbert is a better runner than I first envisioned. He breaks pocket with acceleration and power, which will help score TDs in close and extend drives.
Over his final three games in his senior year, Herbert passed for fewer than 200 yards in each contest (174, 193, and 138) with one combined passing touchdown.
I don’t view him as a franchise QB out of the gate.
Prediction: Los Angeles Chargers (2.5)
READ MORE: 2020 NFL Draft: Top RB Prospect Rankings
5. QB Jordan Love, Utah State
Based on 2019, Love doesn’t belong in the top college QB conversation. He passed for 3,402 yards with 20 TDs, but 17 of his throws ended up in the hands of his opponents. Love also rushed for 175 yards on 81 carries while failing to score on the ground. Rumor is he could go to New England.
His stock was trending up after his sophomore season (3,567 passing yards and 39 combined TDs). Love saw his yards per pass attempt fall from 8.6 to 7.2 in 2019.
Love comes to the NFL with size (6’4” and 225 lbs.) and a strong arm. He’ll make easy deep throws with a flick of his wrist. At times, he has a looker feel as he waits for a player to break open. I expect him to have success if given time to throw and surrounded by talented receivers. His decision making and reads need improvement while owning some concern with his accuracy.
I don’t like the way he slides in the pocket on some rollout passes, leading to a longer transition time to unload the ball. Love will struggle to break free from a tight pocket under pressure while lacking the release to get the ball out quickly and on time.
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers (3.38)
6. QB Jake Fromm, Georgia
My first thought when doing some research on Fromm was that he had a lot in common with Tom Brady. His slow-footed style makes him a pure pocket passer, but his arm doesn’t have the zip required to match the top talent in the NFL. Fromm minimizes the damage in interceptions by showing the ability to get the ball out quickly when a play breaks down to avoid sacks. He has been a winner his whole career with a tendency to rise in big games. His draft stock appears to be slipping.
Fromm grades well in reading defense with a willingness to stand tall when needing a player to break free downfield. His pre-snap reads allow him to find the best option in coverage, creating a quick release after his drop back from the center.
Over three seasons at Georgia, Fromm went 36-7, highlighted by his play in his freshman season (13-2 with a loss in the national championship game). He passed for 8,236 yards with 78 TDs and 18 INTs with no value as a runner (134/40/3). His passing total rose slightly every year (2,615, 2,761, 2,860) while playing in a run-heavy offense. Fromm had his best completion rate (67.4) and the highest number of touchdowns (30) in 2018.
Heading into this year's draft, his value will take a hit due to a string of five straight games with weakness in his completion rate (44.8, 46.4, 47.8, 48.3, and 47.6) over his final six starts. On the positive side over this stretch, Fromm delivered five wins with 13 TDs and two INTs.
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons (4.13)
READ MORE: 2020 NFL Draft: Top WR Prospect Rankings
7. QB Jacob Eason, Washington
After a mediocre rookie campaign at Georgia (2,430 passing yards and 16 TDs over 13 games), Eason missed 2017 with a left injury in Week 1. He transferred to Washington in 2018, leading to a lost season. Mel Kiper is a big fan.
In his first and only year behind center for Washington, he passed for 3,132 yards and 23 TDs.
Eason is a slow-footed pocket passer with questionable upside when under duress. His ticket to success is his right arm while needing to improve his drop back, reads, and decision making.
Defenses will attack him with the blitz, which closes his edge with his big arm. If given time to throw, Eason will challenge defenses at the second and third levels. He has no value with his legs.
Prediction: Indianapolis Colts (4.16)
8. QB Nate Stanley, Iowa
Over the last three seasons at Iowa, Stanley passed for 8,235 yards with 68 TDs and 23 INTs while owning some concern with his accuracy (58.3 percent in his college career). In 2019, his touchdown total (16) slipped well below his previous two years (26 and 26) while only delivering one game with over 300 yards.
His best asset is his NFL arm with also owning the prototypical build (6’4” and 235 Lbs.) targeted by many teams at the next level. Stanley has plenty of work to do in reading defenses and adding more touch to his passes to help make more plays in the short passing game. He’ll struggle when facing pressure from the outside.
His game projects better for a team with receiving talent while needing time to develop. He started many of his plays out of the shotgun, which helped extend his passing window. At set up when getting ready to throw paired with his size, Stanley looked like a Ben Roethlisberger while lacking the career resume at college and Roethlisberger’s intangibles.
Prediction: Tampa Bay (4.33)
9. QB Jake Luton, Oregon State
Before 2019, Luton didn't have much of a resume between Idaho and Oregon State. He passed for 2,913 yards with 17 TDs and 12 INTs over this span. Last year his game looked much improved, leading to career highs in passing yards (2,714) and touchdowns (28). His best stat was his low number of interceptions (3) over 358 pass attempts. He met with the Texans at the NFL Combine. And the Patriots.
He ran a play-action type offense that had success running the ball (408/1884/21). Luton threw the ball with velocity while having the extra zip if needed to drive the ball in tight coverage. His mechanics played up with showcasing vision and the ability to get the ball where his receivers could gain extra yards after the catch. Luton trusted his wideouts enough to give them 50/50 chances downfield.
His next step is his growth in lengthening his progressions to help move the deep safety in what will be tightly contested deep passes. Luton likes to make pre-snap reads and get the ball out quickly, but this plan takes a step back in value in the NFL as teams are better as disguising their coverage. He’’ climb the pocket if needed with some success when asked to make rollout type plays.
Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars (5.19)
10. QB James Morgan, Florida International
Morgan had a chance to play quarterback over four different seasons in college, but only once did he flash any intrigue (2018 at FIU – 2,727 passing yards with 27 TDs and seven INTs). Over 42 career games, he passed for 8,654 yards with 65 TDs and 34 INTs. His completion rate (57.2) was a liability in every season except one (65.3). He is a fast-riser among QB prospects. Really fast. Seriously.
Last year he played through a knee issue, which hurt overall production. Morgan is big QB (6’4” and 230 lbs.) with a live arm. He wants to drive the ball to his receivers, but his mechanics need work to improve his accuracy. Morgan has a long motion while holding the ball at waist level at times, which will lead to many fumbles at the next level. He doesn’t read defenses well and his rhythm, feel, and touch in the short passing game needs plenty of work.
Only a late draft flier for a team willing to bet on his arm, not his overall foundation skill set.
Prediction: Green Bay (7.28)
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