There is no position in sports more scrutinized than the quarterback. They are pinned with the success of their team more than anybody else and they have more control over the game itself than anybody else. There are less than 40 quarterbacks on the planet that are capable of playing in the NFL at an even above average level, that makes finding them nearly impossible. No position has the same hype as the QB when it comes to the NFL Draft and that usually leads to a QB being the first pick. With the 2019 college football season on the horizon, who are the names to look for at QB in the 2020 NFL Draft?
Justin Herbert, Oregon, Sr
- Chances are everybody knows Justin Herbert at this point. He was considered the top QB prospect for much of the 2018 college football season before announcing his return to Oregon. Now, Herbert has another year to solidify his status as QB1. The NFL is going to love his physical tools. He’s 6-6, 233 pounds with the arm talent to make every throw, the athleticism to escape pressure, and flashes of ball placement brilliance downfield. The mechanics are nearly flawless and he has one of the highest floors in recent memory among QB prospects. Herbert has the making of a franchise QB, but needs to become more consistent game to game as a senior for the Ducks.
- Pro Comparison: Carson Wentz
These flashes of elite ball placement are why Oregon QB Justin Herbert is QB1 in the 2020 NFL Draft. He has all the tools to be a franchise passer. pic.twitter.com/t1FVxApUDB
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) June 22, 2019
The Heisman Favorite
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama, Jr
- There are few players in the country, if any, that are more well known than Tua Tagovailoa. He led one of the greatest National Championship wins of the century as a freshman and then returned to the game as a sophomore. Tua is now the Heisman favorite and likely bound for another College Football Playoff run. As a prospect he’s not as clean as some say, but he’s looking like a likely top 10 pick. Tua has the arm to make every throw, crisp footwork, and the mobility desired for today’s NFL. He doesn’t come without flaws though, there’s a hitch in his throwing motion and he struggles with pre and post-snap reads. Tua will be heavily dissected this year.
- Pro Comparison: Russell Wilson
This is the stuff Tua Tagovailoa needs to cleanup as a Jr. in 2019. Stares down his WR and Richard LeCounte makes a great play reading his eyes. pic.twitter.com/lyFDTB5Z41
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) May 6, 2019
The Group of 5 Darling
Jordan Love, Utah State, RS Jr
- There’s always going to be a QB prospect in the Group of 5 or FCS who Draft Twitter falls in love with, but unlike many of them, Jordan Love has a legit shot to go in the first-round. Love put up huge numbers for Utah State last season but will have a new coaching staff calling the shots in 2019. Love is a terrific decision maker who can spin the ball with impressive velocity, this is a big part of the reason he has some of the best ball placement in the class. He needs to clean up some mechanical issues and work on consistency in his deep throws, but Love’s name will be buzzing all year long.
- Pro Comparison: Jimmy Garoppolo
Jacob Eason, Washington, RS Jr
- It’s been a while since anybody has seen Jacob Eason play meaningful football. After flashing tons of potential as a true freshman at Georgia he was injured and replaced by Jake Fromm as a sophomore. Now, Eason is fresh off a redshirt transfer season and ready to give the Huskies the type of QB talent they haven’t had since the Huard brothers or Mark Brunell. Eason has a rocket arm and great size but will need to show improved accuracy on every level. He’s also going to need to prove he’s cleaned up some footwork issues and can play more calmly from the pocket. It’s hard to strongly evaluate a guy off his freshman tape, but Eason has BIG tools.
- Pro Comparison: Jameis Winston
Can’t wait to see Jacob Eason at QB for Washington this season. Has a live arm and showed it off as a frosh at Georgia. Big upgrade over Jake Browning for the Huskies. pic.twitter.com/jyYJCeWAaZ
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) March 28, 2019
The Dark Horse
D’Eriq King, Houston, Sr
- There are going to be A LOT of split opinions on D’Eriq King. He put up video game numbers for Houston last season (3,668 total yards and 50 TDs) and now he’s got Dana Holgorsen as his head coach. King’s had a weird journey that involved him starting off as a receiver before taking over at QB. His lack of size is clear at just 5-11, 195 pounds and a history of knee injuries is concerning, but he could follow in the footsteps of Kyler Murray. King might lack size, but he has NFL arm talent and consistently pushes the ball downfield. His accuracy can be sporadic at times on short to intermediate passes, but he makes impressive downfield ball placement throws. There’s also no ignoring his gifted ability as a runner.
- Pro Comparison: Kordell Stewart
In an era where small QBs matter less than ever Houston D’Eriq King might be a name to watch. Has impressive arm talent. Can’t wait to see what Dana Holgorsen does with him. pic.twitter.com/dwpyC16DCk
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) April 28, 2019
The Forgotten Man
KJ Costello, Stanford, RS Jr
- Stanford has a long history of being a ground and pound team under head coach David Shaw, but last season we saw them begin to shift to a heavy passing attack. That change was because of KJ Costello and it should continue in 2019 if Stanford wants to be successful. Costello is their best QB since Andrew Luck, but he’s rarely mentioned with the rest of the top QBs in the country. Costello doesn’t have any elite traits, but he’s got a good enough arm, an accurate downfield ball, clean footwork, he’s poised under fire, and he’s a quick decision maker. Costello could be a developmental starter option.
- Pro Comparison: Kirk Cousins
The Game Manager
Jake Fromm, Georgia, Jr
- There’s always going to be a QB prospect who is considered with the top talent when really they shouldn’t be, that’s Jake Fromm in the 2020 NFL Draft. Honestly, Fromm doesn’t even seem like the type of QB to declare early so this awful and constant conversation about his draft stock might not hit until 2021. Fromm is fine. He’s smart, poised, accurate on the short stuff, clean enough mechanically, and knows how to manage a game. The issue is, he lacks NFL starting QB traits. He’s got the tools to be a good backup for a long time, but he’s far from being in the first-round convo.
- Pro Comparison: Case Keenum
The QB on a Redemption Tour
Brian Lewerke, Michigan State, RS Sr
- This time last year there were serious conversations about Brian Lewerke and his potential as an NFL franchise QB. He crashed and burned gloriously in his junior season and wisely returned to East Lansing. The major struggles last season have been linked in part to injury, but there was a clear lack of development. Lewerke has the arm, he has the mobility, and he has improvisation skills. As a senior, he must show an improved ability to make plays from the pocket, cleaner upper and lower body mechanics, and more consistent accuracy. There are plays Lewerke makes that are WOW plays, but he needs to make the smart consistent plays in-between to be anything more than a late-round flier.
- Pro Comparison: Brady Quinn with flashes of Sam Darnold
The Underrated Senior
Bryce Perkins, Virginia, RS Sr
- Perhaps no QB is getting less buzz that deserves some than Bryce Perkins. Brother of New York Giants RB Paul Perkins, it’s been a long journey for Bryce who transferred from Arizona State to Arizona Western College before ending up the starting QB at Virginia. Perkins set school records in his first year as the Cavaliers starter and flashed NFL traits. He brings rare athleticism to the position along with a solid arm and decent ball placement. Perkins is also one of the better decision-makers in the class and rarely turns the ball over. He’s got the tools to be a long-time NFL backup.
- Pro Comparison: Robert Griffin III
The Gunslinger from the Island
Cole McDonald, Hawaii, RS Jr
- One of the most polarizing QB prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft will be Hawaii’s, Cole McDonald. McDonald burst onto the scene last season in Week 0 with five TDs in a win over Colorado State and the hype began to build. He finished the season with 40 total TDs and some draft hype. One thing is clear with McDonald, he’s got one of the most unique throwing motions in the country and that’s a bad thing. His mechanical flaws are blatant and clearly affect his accuracy on short throws, but the arm talent is real. McDonald can spin it with the best of them and that will attract scouts. He needs to improve his decision making and poise along with cleaning up his mechanics to help his accuracy.
- Pro Comparison: Ryan Fitzpatrick
The Mel Kiper Guy
Nathan Stanley, Iowa, Sr
- Mel Kiper is a trailblazer in the NFL media scout industry, but Kiper has lost his touch and will always bang the table for a random QB. Jimmy Clausen was an all-timer in this category, but this year it looks like his guy is Nathan Stanley. There are things to like with Stanley. He’s got arm talent, size, and some move movement skills, but he’s lacking a ton. With his mechanical flaws, lack of poise, and inaccuracy, particularly on deep balls, he’s far from being more than a late-round QB prospect. Stanley needs to become a consistent short to intermediate passer this season. Right now he’s an NFL backup type.
- Pro Comparison: Chad Henne
The Notre Dame QB
Ian Book, Notre Dame, RS Jr
- When Notre Dame is good their QB will always be talked about, and right now they’re good. A big part of the reason they made the CFB Playoff last season was due to a switch at QB that led to Ian Book being their guy. Book is exciting with his mobility and accuracy, but there’s not a whole lot there to build on. He lacks size and arm strength and isn’t the best decision maker. Book plays loose and fast and could be a thrilling college QB, but his NFL ceiling will be that of a solid backup.
- Pro Comparison: Colt McCoy
The Grad Transfer
Riley Neal, Vanderbilt, Sr
- Nobody has a chance to help themselves more than Riley Neal. Neal also has the best chance to disappear into obscurity. The Ball State grad transfer dealt with injuries in the last two years but flashed NFL talent when healthy. Now, he’s in the SEC and can show off his arm talent and downfield accuracy to the vast majority of college football fans. Neal has the size and arm to play in the NFL, but he’ll need to stay healthy and improve his poise and touch as a senior. If he develops a more consistent underneath game, then he should be able to show enough at Vanderbilt to create some NFL Draft buzz.
- Pro Comparison: Garrett Gilbert
The Big Recruit
Shea Patterson, Michigan, Sr
- There was a time when Shea Patterson was a star QB recruit at Ole Miss putting up numbers that led many to believe he would be a first-round pick one day. Patterson is now entering his final year of college and his second season as Michigan’s starting QB and he’s far from a first-round prospect. Patterson hasn’t developed much since his freshman year and could end up irrelevant. He’s got a solid arm and the mobility to extend plays, but he’s far too inconsistent and inaccurate. A lot of his successful plays come when the pocket breaks down and he chucks a prayer, luckily for him, he’s played with a ton of talented WRs. He’ll need to prove he can play in the Michigan pro-style from the pocket to help his draft stock.
- Pro Comparison: Brian Hoyer
The Height-Arm-Inaccurate Darling
Steven Montez, Colorado, RS Sr
- Thanks to Laviska Shenault Jr., Steven Montez will have a ton of eyes on him this season. LSJ is a first-round prospect and Montez is the guy throwing him the ball. On paper Montez is impressive standing at 6-5, 230 pounds with a big ol’ arm. The issues once you start watching Montez are clear, he’s a poor decision maker with little feel for the game and huge mechanical flaws. His inaccuracy issues are scary and despite the arm talent, he isn’t a great deep thrower because of the accuracy. There will be hype for Montez because of the physical tools, but he’s a raw project.
- Pro Comparison: Cardale Jones
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