An Early Look at the 2020 NFL Draft Class: Quarterbacks
In the days leading up to the 2019 NFL season, we’ll take a sneak peek at the college prospects that could be primed for success this year. Today, we look into the quarterback position that centers on two names: Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.
Tagovailoa wasn’t eligible for the 2019 draft and Herbert, somewhat surprisingly, chose to return to Eugene for his senior season, setting up a race for the #1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft between the two superstar signal-callers.
Here’s a look at the top draft-eligible quarterbacks for the 2020 NFL Draft:
Justin Herbert (Oregon)
6-6, 225 lbs
Herbert was the favorite to be the #1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft going into last season. Unfortunately, he saw his accuracy dip below 60%, causing some concern among scouts. Ultimately, Herbert chose to return to school for his senior season. Despite the criticism, he still managed a quality 2018 campaign with 3,151 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions.
Herbert would remind Bills’ fans of current 2nd year QB Josh Allen. He’s a tall, strong-armed pocket passer with above-average athleticism for a man of his size. Herbert possesses the size and arm talent that render it a near certainty that he will be chosen in the first round next year.
Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)
6-2, 215 lbs
Entering the 2019 season, Tua Tagovailoa is the overwhelming favorite to be the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. His sophomore season at Alabama was one of the greatest seasons we’ve ever witnessed from a college quarterback as he threw for 3,966 yards while tossing 43 touchdowns. And he rarely played in a 4th quarter due to the Crimson Tide’s dominance.
Tagovailoa has it all: accuracy, arm strength, intelligence, and mobility. My main reason for ranking him slightly behind Herbert is the superior weapons Tagovailoa has at his disposal. His receivers often overwhelmed their defenders, leaving Tua wide-open targets to throw to. In the NFL, the talent gap won’t be there that he experiences at Alabama. Unless something very strange happens, expect Tagovailoa to be a first round lock in 2020.
Jacob Eason (Washington)
(6-6, 230 lbs)
Eason is probably the best quarterback you’ve never heard of. Three years ago, Eason was the nation’s top high school quarterback recruit and started as a true freshman for Georgia. He played impressively for a true freshman, throwing for 2,430 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. During the first game of his sophomore year, Eason tore his ACL and was replaced by Jake Fromm who led Georgia to the national title game. Eason transferred to Washington after the season.
Eason is a prototypical pro-style quarterback. He has a fantastic arm and is one of the best pure passers in this draft class. He can make all of the throws and after sitting out the last two years, he will be motivated to show the nation what he can do. I expect Eason to have a monster season for Chris Peterson and the Huskies and don’t be surprised if his name is in consideration for a first-round pick come 2020.
Nate Stanley (Iowa)
(6-4, 240 lbs)
Nate Stanley is a bit of an enigma. He has prototype size, a rocket arm, and can make every throw in the book. On the other hand, he’s inconsistent and will too often make head-scratching mistakes. He’s entering his third year as Kirk Ferentz’s starting signal-caller and will look to build on solid, if unspectacular, sophomore and junior seasons.
Stanley is the type of quarterback I expect some teams will fall in love with in workouts. He looks the part and has the physical tools to be a starting NFL quarterback. I suspect Stanley will have a better career in the NFL than in college, in part due to Iowa’s out-dated, traditional offense. In a different offense, Stanley would be putting up better numbers.
Shea Patterson (Michigan)
(6-2, 205 lbs)
Patterson fits the mold of the current NFL trend of quarterbacks (see: Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray). He’s a bit undersized but he has an above-average arm, is extremely accurate and is an elite thrower on the run. While not known for his running ability, Patterson has an excellent feel for when to pull the ball down and pick up yardage with his feet.
After transferring from Ole Miss to Michigan, Patterson had a successful yet underwhelming year for the Maize and Blue. Michigan’s offensive attack didn’t utilize Patterson’s unique skill set, instead focusing heavily on the run game. In the offseason, Jim Harbaugh hired offensive coordinator Josh Gattis away from Alabama with the intention of transforming Michigan into a spread offensive attack. Shea Patterson should thrive and will be in contention to be an early-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Bills aren’t likely to be in the market for a quarterback early in the 2020 draft. However, if a quality quarterback were to fall to the middle or later rounds, they could find themselves a steal. It’s the most important position in all of sports and every team in the NFL is always focused on strengthening the position wherever possible.