Welcome to Mock Draft Monday, a weekly feature from Brendan Dzwierzynski getting you prepared for the 2020 NFL draft from all angles, specifically as it pertains to the Kansas City Chiefs (and the rest of the league, too).
Joe Burrow is going to be the top pick in his year’s NFL draft. Tua Tagovailoa is a top-two quarterback prospect.
That’s what we know for certain in this year’s group of draftable quarterback. We’re going to take it a step further, with a ranking of the top 10 quarterbacks in this class.
We’ll take a look at why each player slots in where they do, plus which ones may be placed differently than what the consensus thinks. We’ll break these 10 passers down into three categories: Face of the Franchise, Potential Franchise QB and Project/Backup.
Burrow is entering the draft off one of the best college football seasons a quarterback has ever had. He threw for 5,671 yards for the Tigers in a national title campaign, passing 60 touchdowns and six measly interceptions, amassing a 202.0 passer efficiency rating. The reason everyone raves about him, beyond just the stats, stands out clearly on film. The arm talent is there, taking advantage of his elite arsenal of receivers by throwing dimes all over the field in the short, intermediate and deep ranges with consistency. He pairs quick decision making with great accuracy, which proved deadly time and time again. It’s almost unnatural how natural it looks. Plus, he’s a phenomenal play extender, a trait which makes him even more enticing in the NFL. Burrow has earned the top spot.
All that being said about Burrow, with how great his senior season was, if Tagovailoa didn’t have any health concerns he would still be my top-ranked quarterback. There’s a reason “Tank for Tua” was the rallying cry for fans of terrible teams for nearly a full year. He’s phenomenal in the pocket, showing top-tier patience and awareness. He knows when to hang in and knows when to bail like a seasoned veteran. He doesn’t have the strongest arm in this class but it’s plenty strong, and he’s still able to fit throws in tight windows with a snappy delivery and pinpoint accuracy. His ball placement is gorgeous, especially on deep throws. It’s my opinion that, if he has a full bill of health, Tagovailoa will be a superstar.
In a lot of ways, Love is this year’s Josh Allen. He’s a Mountain West product who entered his final college season with a ton of hype but didn’t produce to the level that was expected of him, and he has a massive arm. Also like Allen, Love’s good is excellent but his bad is terrible. There were moments his junior season when Love looked like a surefire Day 1 starter at the next level. Against Fresno State he was crisp, he hit receivers all over the field and showed off his arm strength while limiting mistakes. Early against LSU he unleashed a gorgeous deep ball, too. But the bad is a major red flag, mostly because of how often it shows up. A lot of his interceptions, and he threw 17 of them this year (compared to just 20 touchdowns), were either terrible throws or caused by terrible decisions. The size, strength and physical tools are all there, and with good coaching he should be an NFL starter. Spotty accuracy and the turnover problem are a concern, though.
Admittedly, I am a Jacob Eason truther. Everyone who breaks down the draft has their guy, and Eason has been my guy since his days at Georgia and then at Washington. He’s far from a perfect prospect, but he’s an especially interesting member of this class. His arm is a rocket launcher hooked up to his shoulder, and he can use that arm strength to get himself out of tough situations. That’s the truth to a fault, in fact, because he can rely too much on his arm while letting his focus and footwork slip. He throws his fastball all the time, which isn’t always the right move, even if the throw is accurate. He’s got a tendency to frustrate you with overthrows and poor decisions, but he’ll suck you right back in with a gorgeous touchdown throw. He’s got a little Jameis Winston in him in that way. Eason is likely a Day 2 pick, but some team may fall in love with his arm at the end of the first round.
As relatively high as I am on Eason, I’m equally relatively low on Herbert. He’s almost the consensus No. 3 quarterback in this class, but to me he’s a somewhat high-ceiling project. You can’t question his toughness, and while there are questions about his ability to lead that’s not a major concern to me. What’s a far bigger concern is that he’s a risky decision maker who doesn’t make enough big plays with his arm. The most important game of his career, the Rose Bowl versus Wisconsin, showcased his toughness and running ability but didn’t showcase his arm positively, for example. A great deal of his production comes in the short game while there’s a ton that needs to be done throwing it down the field. He’s another guy with prototypical size, but he needs a lot of coaching to turn him into a quality NFL starter.
In his final game at Georgia, Fromm showed off why he had first-round hype once upon a time. He torched Baylor in the Sugar Bowl, throwing the ball all over the Superdome with accuracy and tossing a beautiful touchdown pass in the second quarter. There were plenty of moments during the year, though, when plays like all that were simply flashes, marred by a bevy of ducks and misses. Fromm is clearly rattled by pressure, which he didn’t have to face much thanks to one of the best offensive lines in the country. When that line fell apart, though, Fromm struggled to create for himself. He’s got a tight release on his throws, but the longer they need to travel the more they float. It’s hard to know exactly how to evaluate him, with questions about him mixing with questions about his receiver talent and the offense he was running. He showed impressive flashes, but the obvious distress under any kind of pressure and the weak long throws will scare off GMs.
Hurts is hard to pin down. The positives are obvious and important. He’s a tremendous leader, a hard worker and he’s the most dangerous quarterback of these 10 when he’s using his legs. As a passer he showed flashes of brilliance in his final college season at Oklahoma, showing clear improvement in Lincoln Riley’s system compared to his passing prowess at Alabama. With that in mind, though, it’s important to ask: Can Hurts thrive in a different system than one that always makes quarterbacks look this good? The flashes are there, but the demerits are too. He’s still not a great decision maker when throwing, even if he doesn’t throw a ton of interceptions, and he falls back on bad mechanics often enough that it leads to bad mistakes. What’s the outlook for a run-first quarterback whose best year came in an offense geared to make quarterbacks look good?
When you watch Morgan throw he may remind you of new Indianapolis Colts starter Philip Rivers because of his obscure throwing motion. While it looks strange, he’s got a live arm and is accurate with it. Morgan’s whole career came against a lower level of competition than most of these Power 5 quarterbacks, beginning his college years at Bowling Green before transferring to FIU. Teams will be intrigued by his 6-foot-4, 229-pound frame, though, and his experience in an RPO-heavy offense is also tempting. The negatives stand out, such as his lack of mobility and a tendency to fade back on throws. However, his powerful, accurate arm will be enough to get the Green Bay, Wisconsin native drafted and he will probably turn some heads at his first training camp.
There isn’t much about Gordon that stands out. That can be both a positive and a negative. On the positive side, he doesn’t give the ball away much and he rarely puts his receivers in dangerous situations. He’s accurate, although that’s mostly because he’s got safe, easy reads. There’s nothing dynamic about Gordon, though. He has an OK arm and OK accuracy down the field, and while he’s a surprisingly good scrambler, he doesn’t create big plays on the move. In my opinion, Gordon projects as a safe backup. Not a long-term option as a starter, probably won’t be capable of dragging a team to a win on his own but also a quarterback who won’t throw away a game.
McDonald was one of the most electric quarterbacks in the country in 2019, providing nonstop excitement whether it was beneficial or detrimental to the Rainbow Warriors. His positives include a big arm and above average mobility. He’s fearless, too, willing to take big risks and having a short memory after turnovers. Those turnovers are a problem though, as is a huge, loopy windup that slows down his delivery. He’s a high-variance player, and that variance caused him to be benched multiple times during the season. All in all, the biggest question with McDonald is whether or not he can find success outside of Hawaii’s Run and Shoot offense. There’s a lot about McDonald’s game that will infuriate you, but he still may be worth a late-round flier.