Editor's Note: These rankings were originally published before the combine. We will be updating our position rankings throughout draft season.
Their styles may differ, but we’ve seen second-year quarterbacks—Patrick Mahomes (2018) and Lamar Jackson (’19)—win league MVP honors in their first seasons as full-time starters. The most effective way to set up a franchise for success is getting the most important position in sports right, especially when the signal-caller is on a cap-friendly rookie contract.
Selecting and grooming a franchise quarterback may feel like a hit-or-miss endeavor, but the high reward that comes with getting that pick right often leads to quarterbacks being pushed up draft boards despite the associated risk. Based on my latest mock draft, four quarterbacks are selected in the first round. There has been only one draft over the past seven years with more than three quarterbacks selected in the first round.
With the NFL Scouting Combine behind us, here are my updated draft-eligible quarterback rankings:
1. Joe Burrow, LSU (rSR, 6'3", 221 pounds)
Leading LSU to an undefeated season despite facing seven top-10 opponents along the way, Burrow broke SEC passing records—5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns—and ran away with the Heisman Trophy. Burrow’s precise accuracy and elite decision-making was on display all season as he completed more than 70% of his pass attempts in every game but his last (521 total yards, six total TDs and no turnovers against Clemson). Always composed under pressure, Burrow manipulates the pocket well and uses his mobility to extend plays while always keeping his eyes downfield. Although Burrow will turn 24 as a rookie and doesn't have elite arm strength, his accuracy, intelligence, competitive drive and toughness makes him a safe bet to be the first overall pick in the draft.
2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (JR, 6'0", 217 pounds)
If it weren't for Tagovailoa's hip injury, it’d be an interesting debate for the first overall pick. Before the combine, Tagovailoa stated that his goal was to “wins his medical” at the combine. As much as that is the wild card in his evaluation, all reports are that his recovery is going as well as possible and he will hold his own personal pro day on April 9. When healthy, Tagovailoa has a quick release and throws with elite accuracy, anticipation and touch to all levels of the field.
3. Justin Herbert, Oregon (SR, 6'6", 236 pounds)
A four-year starter, the ball really jumps out of Herbert’s hand and his plus mobility adds another dimension to his game. While he has as much pure arm talent as any quarterback in this class and is highly intelligent (won Campbell Trophy), he has had a propensity to lock onto his initial read(s) and hasn’t shown the consistency you’d expect from a potential top-10 pick. The Senior Bowl MVP built upon his momentum in the pre-draft process with a good showing at the combine.
4. Jordan Love, Utah State (rJR, 6'4", 224 pounds)
Despite high expectations after a strong 2018 campaign, Love threw nearly as many interceptions (17) as touchdowns (20) in 2019. Some of that regression can be attributed to the coaching change and supporting cast (only two returning offensive starters in 2019, including Love), but he pressed at times and often made ill-advised throws. The epitome of a high-risk, high-reward prospect, Love has a cannon for a right arm with the movement skills to extend and make plays.
5. Jacob Eason, Washington (rJR, 6'6", 231 pounds)
Transferring from Georgia, Eason has two full seasons as a starter—2016 at Georgia and 2019 at Washington. With ideal size (6'6", 231 pounds), Eason has the confidence to throw into tight windows and the ball flies off his hand when he lets it rip. At the same time, not every throw needs to be a fastball. While returning to school in 2020 would have made sense for his continued development, there’s a chance that a team with a vertical passing attack takes a chance on Eason in the first round.
Here are the next 10:
6. Jake Fromm, Georgia (JR, 6'2", 219 pounds)
7. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma (SR, 6'1", 222 pounds)
8. Anthony Gordon, Washington State (rSR, 6'2", 205 pounds)
9. James Morgan, FIU (rSR, 6'4", 229 pounds)
10. Cole McDonald, Hawaii (rJR, 6'3", 215 pounds)
11. Steven Montez, Colorado (rSR, 6'4", 231 pounds)
12. Nate Stanley, Iowa (SR, 6'4", 235 pounds)
13. Jake Luton, Oregon State (rSR, 6'6", 224 pounds)
14. Bryce Perkins, Virginia (rSR, 6'3", 215 pounds)
15. Brian Lewerke, Michigan State (rSR, 6'3", 213 pounds)
Kevin Hanson joins SI for the 2020 NFL Draft season. His NFL Mock Drafts have graded as the most accurate over the past five years, per The Huddle Report. His 2015 NFL mock draft graded as the most accurate and his 2019 NFL mock draft was the second-most accurate out of 101 draft analysts.