Draft 2020: Quarterbacks

We’re nearly there! This year’s draft brings us some potentially great QBs, some interesting QBs, some safe QBs and some true QB fliers. This is one of my favourite QB classes I can remember, so lets take a look at them!

 

Joe Burrow – LSU

2018 Joe Burrow is the nerdy kid in a 90s rom-com, that is waiting for Joe Brady to come along and take the glasses off to become 2019 Joe Burrow.

It’s a niche reference, but the fact is that despite an average 2018, Joe Burrow has always been good, he just needed the right coach to come in and make him 2019 Joe Burrow. As a result, Joe Burrow got Joe Brady a job and Joe Brady will get Joe Burrow a job.

What makes 2019 Joe Burrow relevant is that he was running something near to a NFL style offence about as well as any NFL QB would run it. What’s more exciting is that it plays into what Joe Burrow excels at. Burrow just gets it, he understands his surrounding talent and where everyone needs to be to make plays.

Burrow has an ability to hit his receivers in stride to a similar level of skill, to Russell Wilson. Rarely do you see his targets backtrack to get the ball. If you can do that you can add yards onto a play. Whilst the arm might not be as strong as Mr Wilson’s personal arm cannon, his ability to put receivers in a position to add extra yardage means that he’ll move the chains and break off chunk play.

One of the things I love about the future no. 1 overall pick (barring something extraordinary happening), is what he can do under pressure. Tom Brady would stand tall in the pocket when he knew he had the protection, but quickly learnt to move around in the pocket when the plays would break down behind some of his less talented lines. Burrow does this. He can step into the pocket stand tall to make a play, or if the play collapses, start to scramble outside, all whilst looking downfield. Again, this is a trait that Russell Wilson has and in more recent games Patrick Mahomes. When Wilson scrambles, it’s always with an eye to the passing game, which gives defenders a tough choice. Do they charge forward to make a play or do they stick with their potential target and let Wilson get the first down. Andrew Luck had this too, but his choice of target often meant the only option was to tuck and run. What makes these guys different from say, Carson Wentz is that they rarely put themselves in harms way. More often than not they have the ability to read what the defender is doing and take advantage of it, giving them time to slide before taking a potential season ending hit. It is less refined but Joe Burrow has this, which in addition to his feel for when a pocket is collapsing makes him incredibly dangerous.

As mentioned above the catalyst for all of this was Joe Brady, who came to LSU and took the training wheels off. Brady opened up the offence to Burrow, with some spread and RPO concepts that provided mismatches for Burrow to take full advantage of. Burrows ability to see the whole field are rarely seen in college, with an uncanny ability to look off defenders, creating more space for his Receivers.

This is where a comparison to Drew Brees comes in. Tell me if you’ve heard this before “Drew Brees’ favourite receiver, is the guy that is open”. I’ve not just heard that a million times, I’ve said it on the podcast a million times. With the scheme that Joe Brady implemented at LSU, Joe Burrow’s favourite receiver was the guy was going to be open.

So combine an ability to run an NFL style offence, an ability to see the whole field, to hit receivers in stride with anticipation with throws where only they can make plays, scrambling ability whilst not putting his body on the line and I can’t help but get extremely excited about Joe Burrow.

The critics will bring up his surrounding talent and his less than cannon-like arm. Well is it possible that his surrounding talent is good, because he got the most out of them? As for the arm, I don’t really care about that. He knows his limitations and doesn’t make risky plays… whilst racking up 60 Touchdowns and over 5500 yards.

Tie this in to the surrounding receiving talent that could be available to Burrow if he was to go to Cincinnati and you could have something special… as long as the Offensive Line can give him at least a couple of seconds.

Joe Burrow is a bit good.

 

Tua Tagovailoa – Alabama

This was supposed to be Tua’s year, so much that the Miami Dolphins supposedly sabotaged their season to put themselves in a position to get him.

Well despite a herculean effort to win a number of games thanks to the levels of effort inspired by their new Head Coach Brian Flores, they might still be in a position to pick up the former Alabama QB, thanks to an injury that saw Tua Tagovailoa miss a good chunk of the 2019 season.

There won’t have been a player under the microscope more than Tua when the draft rolls around on Thursday. Despite having limited time in a room with him, teams will be reading and re-reading doctors reports to weigh up whether they want to pick him up.

The injury concerns are the big issues with why Tua might slide past the Miami Dolphins if they look to Justin Herbert to be the face of the franchise instead. So let me put it this way. I’m not a doctor. I can’t tell you that the injury issues won’t or will be a concern for teams.

So what about on the field? Well Tua is an exceptional talent, that would almost certainly see teams attempt to move up to take him.

Tua and Burrow are very different players, but both ran their offences very well. Tua ran an RPO offence with a full understanding of what he needed to do, with maybe more of a quick twitch to let the play makers on his offence do just that.

It is considered a potential negative that Tua was surrounded by so many playmakers, but the fact is that a bad QB wouldn’t be able to get them the ball. Tua put the likes of Ruggs and Jeudy in a position that best suited their talents. Yes both are exceptional players, but Tua got the most out of them.

One of the other things Tua can do, like Burrows, is see the whole field. Even under pressure. When other QBs would panic Tua is evaluating which of his talented receivers is open.

If the pocket collapses, he can scramble too, but like Burrows, when he scrambles he keeps his eyes down field, takes advantage of whatever decision the defenders try to make. My one concern there though is that he does put himself in harms way when making these plays. Closer to Carson Wentz than Russell Wilson.

Not enough is being made of the fact that bad Tua tape is hard to find. When you do find it, it’s generally followed up by a ton of exceptional play.

Finally Tua throws to where someone will be, rather than where they are. Hit’s players in stride, throwing them open. Like Burrow this is a talent that the best QBs in the league have right now.

Tua comes with a ton of baggage in the form of durability, but the next part of this is aimed at the Miami Dolphins…

GO GET TUA! Both Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa are rare talents, that do not hit the draft every year and, your front office blew up the team to put you in a position to get Tua. So get him, if it backfires, you’ll sell seats and jerseys, whilst still being in a position to get Trevor Lawrence next year. GO. GET. TUA. There are so many “draft experts” that remind me the Bears didn’t pick Patrick Mahomes and went with Mitch Trubisky. Take the risk because if Tua hits, you’ll know about it.

 

Justin Herbert – Oregon

This is not going to be a glowing review of the possible no. 2 QB off the board…

Let’s start with the positives though. He has insane arm talent and makes throws with crazy velocity and touch. There is some excellent plays, where it feels like he’s totally in sync with the rest of the Offence and if you’re a Coach or Coordinator that thinks they can get that out of him, then he’s going to be the guy for them… There will be Coaches and GMS more concerned about the highlights, than the consistent plays.

It feels like that’s happened before though right? Haven’t we moved past this? Brett Kollmann (check out his youtube channel, it is truly excellent) Compared him to Mitchell Trubisky. Maybe less so stylistically, but definitely production wise, where some plays where he looks like Drew Brees and some where he looks like he has no idea where the receivers are going to break. It’s a concerning trait.

As a long suffering Bears fan, I can tell you that whilst Mitch will make some exceptional plays, it’s of little consequence if generally he’s over or under-throwing receivers and not putting together enough solid plays to actually win games and missing the host of solid talent that they have at receiver.

For the life of me I do not know why Herbert is considered the safe option, outside of Tua’s durability concerns. Herbert could be a solid QB, but I think would benefit from sitting out for a while to re-learn how to make his reads and take the pressure off for him. For me if he’s thrown into a starting job before he’s ready then it could backfire for all involved.

 

Jordan Love – Utah State

Jordan Love has been moving up in mock drafts over the last couple of weeks, to the point where he is generally now a consensus 1st rounder.

Love is another player that has a vast arsenal of throws they can make, but make some really questionable decisions, not least because of his QB blindness, which is a trait we’ve seen in a few QBs. Just an inability to see the 240lbs person in the way of the route that his receiver is running. There are some good throws, but they don’t have nearly the same anticipation that both Burrow and Tua have.

Okay maybe it’s a little unfair to compare him to the 2 most NFL ready QBs we’ve seen in the last 2/3 years. There is some good on the tape that makes him an interesting prospect for potential teams looking for a QB.

One of the factors that might see Jordan Love move up a few draft boards is his scramble ability. He can escape a collapsing pocket to make a play. Sadly though that doesn’t transfer to plays under pressure, where his numbers suffer greatly.

I have similar feelings to Jordan Love as I do Herbert, but maybe to a greater extent. I wonder if there is something there, that’s just never really been tested and whether sitting behind a veteran as the heir apparent is the way to go.

Jordan Love feels like something of an unknown. The tape show a player with ability, but sometimes can’t see the whole film. If he’s drafted in the first, the team needs to know that he’s most likely work in progress.

 

Jalen Hurts – Oklahoma

I like Jalen Hurts a fair amount and think that he’s got a lot to offer as a draft prospect. If a team is after their Lamar Jackson, Hurts is probably the closest they can get.

What I like about Hurts is how in his time at college, he’s absorbed advice, changed his style and become a multidimensional QB. Hurts at Oklahoma became a solid passer, but still needs to improve his decision making in the RPO. Sometimes he’d be too happy to tuck and run, putting his body on the line.

Whilst I think there are some Lamar Jackson like qualities in Jalen Hurts, I think if a team picks him up, there’s a few things to remember.

Firstly, the reason the Ravens offence works, is because they bought into it fully. They built a team to compliment Jackson’s unique abilities. So if a team has plans to start Jalen Hurts in year one, they’ll need to make sure they can protect him and provide weapons that are on the same page as him, as well as having a suitable playbook.

Secondly, I don’t think he’s ready yet. Hurts has all the tools to become a future starter, but needs to improve his accuracy. Hurts got better in 2019, when he was asked to be more of a deep passer, so I do think he can do it. I just don’t think it’s something that teams can force and will probably involve some patience.

 

Jake Fromm – Georgia

There will be teams that have spoken to Jake Fromm and fallen in love with him. Even those teams probably think he could be the ultimate backup QB.

I want to start by saying that I enjoyed watching Jake Fromm as someone who just gets the game. I have heard comparisons to Cody Kessler and that makes a lot of sense to me. Someone who pre-snap has total control of everything, motions, reading defensive coverage and an understanding of how the play is supposed to be run. Then the ball is snapped and everything speeds up, which is when it would be nice to have the same abilities as Burrow or Tua.

Jake Fromm is a student of the game, each play is run perfectly, there’s just not much excitement there. I hate describing it as a lack of physical talent, but I’ll say that Fromm might have the weakest arm amongst the QBs we’ve mentioned so far and isn’t a scrambler.

If you are okay with this, if you trust your defence to keep the score low in games, then maybe Fromm is exactly what your after. Someone that can manufacture long drives with little excitement on what would potentially be a team that would run more than average. But what happens when the team is forced into a shootout. That’s not what you want from Fromm.

So if you can have Fromm on your sideline, I think that’s a good thing. The backup QB is more than just the guy that comes in if the starter goes down, but also someone else to analyse plays and talk to the starter on a personal level. The backup should probably be someone who is a student of the game and then at a pinch come in and not set fire to a lead.

I think that’s Jake Fromm.

 

Jacob Eason – Washington

There is some great Jacob Eason play on tape. There is also some that looks like Blaine Gabbert at his most Gabbert-like. He seems to have that trait, that under pressure he runs backwards to extend the play, but never throws the ball away. A real concern for potential NFL suitors.

The good is pretty damn good though. Hit’s receivers in stride with anticipation for YAC, seems to see the field pretty well and can make tight window throws.

If a team thinks they can teach him to not collapse or tuck and run at the first sign of pressure, but I think it would involve a lot of work to get the most out of him.

 

Anthony Gordon – Washington State

Gordon has decent arm strength and solid accuracy, whilst looking incredibly comfortable in the pocket. Throws with anticipation, leading the receivers, throws into areas that only the receivers can make plays.

There is a monstrous however coming here…

Sometimes the ball snaps and it looks like he doesn’t know what he’s doing, misses wide open receivers and occasionally chooses to ground the ball whilst he has a selection of possible throws.

Gordon needs to spend some time with an Offensive Coordinator to completely re-engineer how he breaks down a defence.

 

And that’s it! QBs done, Tight Ends up later. Tell us what you think, hit us up on twitter (@gridirongents) and enjoy the draft!