- The 2020 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 23.
- While the set up will be different this year, the stakes remain the same, with all 32 teams in the league hoping to find their next generation of stars.
- It is looking like a potentially huge year for quarterbacks, with four QBs possibly going in the top 10 picks.
- Further down the draft board, teams will still be looking for quarterbacks, whether as a late-round value, a reliable backup, or a future starter in need of some development.
- Below we’ve ranked the 11 most intriguing quarterback prospects of the 2020 NFL draft class.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The 2020 NFL Draft is going to be unlike any event the league has ever hosted.
But while the broadcast and logistics of the draft are new, the stakes are the same, with all 32 teams hoping to land their next great player to help their team to a Super Bowl.
For teams looking to rebuild, no position is more important than quarterback, and this year, there is another talented group of players who could be taking snaps in the NFL very soon.
Take a look below at the 11 quarterbacks to watch heading into the 2020 NFL draft.
11. Nate Stanley, Iowa
2019 stats: 237/399, 59.4% completion, 2,951 yards passing, 16 touchdowns, 7 interceptions
One thing to know: Nate Stanley played in a pro-style offence at Iowa that could be seen as a plus for NFL teams running a similar system and looking for depth. While he never put up “wow” numbers and could afford to be more accurate, he can make the throws he needs to make as long as he can contain his desire to do too much.
Key expert quote: From Lance Zierlein at NFL.com: “Big guy with a good arm who throws with nice touch to intermediate and deep windows, but failed to convince that he could manage games and play with an NFL level of consistency while at Iowa. The physical tools and traits are appealing and potentially moldable, but he may need plus talent to elevate his play rather than the other way around. Stanley has moments where he is comfortable in a pro-style attack, but struggles to find a rhythm in the short passing game.”
10. Jake Luton, Oregon State
2019 stats: 222/358, 62.0% completion, 2,714 yards passing, 28 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
One thing to know: Jake Luton is another likely late-rounder that could be an option for teams looking to invest now for later returns. He takes good care of the ball, a valuable asset, but would likely fall into the role of “game-manager” over “game-changer” without some improvements.
If a few years on the sidelines can help him see the game better, he could become a prospect to watch.
Key expert quote: From Lance Zierlein at NFL.com: “Luton is an intriguing developmental quarterback with good size, adequate accuracy and an NFL arm. He’s operated in a pro-style passing attack with plenty of play-action and has the ability to push the ball into space both intermediate and deep. He values the football with few fumbles and interceptions during his career, but he’s more of a ‘ball delivery’ passer than one who works through progressions and picks the defence apart.”
9. James Morgan, FIU
2019 stats: 207/357, 58.0% completion, 2,560 yards passing, 14 touchdowns, 5 interceptions
One thing to know: James Morgan’s stat sheet doesn’t jump off of the page, and casual college football fans would be forgiven if they didn’t know who he was – it can be tough to catch an FIU game during a stacked Saturday slate.
Still, he’s seen as a developmental project at the NFL level and could be taken by a team hoping to coach him up over a couple of seasons behind an older starting quarterback. He’s got a heck of a fastball but will need to figure out how to throw with a bit more consistency if he’s going to find a regular spot in the NFL.
Key expert quote: From Lance Zierlein at NFL.com: “It’s easy to tell that the Green Bay native favours quarterbacks like Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers when you watch his tape. Unfortunately, while he has similar zip to the Packer legends, he’s nowhere near as accurate and lacks any semblance of touch. Morgan is very capable of making impressive throws to all areas of the field, but his violent release and inconsistent footwork hinder functional ball placement and accuracy.”
8. Anthony Gordon, Washington State
2019 stats: 493/689, 71.6% completion, 5,579 yards passing, 48 touchdowns, 16 interceptions
One thing to know: Last year, Washington State product Gardner Minshew shocked the NFL by becoming the first rookie quarterback to take a snap for his new team in the 2019 season after Jacksonville Jaguars starter Nick Foles went down with an early injury.
This year, Anthony Gordon hopes to follow in that success. Gordon excelled with Washington State’s “pass first, ask questions later” sensibilities, trailing only Joe Burrow in passing yards.
While he’s expected to go in the later rounds of the draft, he could still emerge as a consistent backup at the pro level, and given the right opportunity, could wind up following a similar trajectory as Minshew.
Key expert quote: From Patrick Conn at DraftWire: “Gordon throws with consistent touch underneath and in the intermediate areas of the field. Can drop the ball in the basket. He shows the toughness to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball despite pressure from pass rushers. Does a good job of going through his progressions.”
7. Jake Fromm, Georgia
2019 stats: 234/385, 60.8% completion, 2,860 yards passing, 24 touchdowns, 5 interceptions
One thing to know: Jake Fromm’s journey through his college career will make some scouts swoon. Fromm toughed it out at Georgia after watching Jacob Eason take the starting job in 2017. When Eason went down with a knee injury in the first game of the season, Fromm stepped up and led the Bulldogs to the title game where they pushed Alabama to the brink in overtime.
Fromm has a solid mind and can execute a gameplan. But compared to those above him in the 2020 draft class, his improvisation leaves something to be desired. Should Fromm land in the right spot, surrounded by good pieces, his talent and poise could find success in the NFL. However, if you’re looking to build a franchise from the ground up, chances are you’re looking for a player with a bit higher of a ceiling.
Key expert quote: From Drae Harris at The Draft Network: “Very good competitiveness and efficiency to convert 3rd downs at critical moments in the game. Has shown the ability to change his arm angle to get the football where needed. He will be a QB who wins due to his cerebral play and his ability to take care of the football, not due to his physical attributes. Has shown good leadership in moments of adversity over the course of a game and is a winner, which is critical for the position.”
6. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
2019 stats: 237/340, 69.7% completion, 3,851 yards passing, 32 touchdowns, 8 interceptions
One thing to know: Jalen Hurts has done everything a scout could ask of a young player looking to make it as an NFL quarterback.
He led the Alabama Crimson Tide on an undefeated campaign through the 2017 season. After getting benched in the biggest game of his life, Hurts showed great determination in keeping his focus and wound up rising to the occasion in the 2018 SEC title game. And then in 2019, Hurts jumped from Alabama to Oklahoma and proved that in addition to his threat as a rusher, he could succeed as one of the top passers in all of college football.
Still, Hurts has his areas of need. He is less accurate than you’d like a regular starter to be in the NFL, and while his wheels are an asset, he can sometimes jump the gun and turn to his feet earlier than necessary.
With the prominence of more mobile quarterbacks in recent years, from Lamar Jackson to Josh Allen and even going back to Russell Wilson, it’s clear that the mould of an NFL quarterback has changed in the modern game, but Hurts still needs to make some improvements should he hope to find similar success.
Key expert quote: From Dave Richard at CBS Sports: “A three-year starter – two at Alabama including as a freshman, one as a senior at Oklahoma – Hurts is an improving passer and tough rusher who accounted for 12,791 offensive yards and 124 total touchdowns over 56 games (some of which he didn’t start). This came after a decorated high-school career in Texas that he topped off as a four-star recruit and one of the country’s top dual-threat quarterbacks. Hurts’ style is perfect for the evolving football offence interested in running a scheme similar to that of the Ravens in 2019. “
5. Jacob Eason, Washington
2019 stats: 260/405, 64.2% completion, 3,132 yards passing, 23 touchdowns, 8 interceptions
One thing to know: Back in the early 2000s, there’s a good chance Jacob Eason would have been one of the first quarterbacks off the board out of this draft class. Eason is a sound pocket-passer, willing to stand and deliver with a strong arm and a good sense of where the ball should go. Watch Eason toss up a bomb off of play-action and you’ll see flashes of Kirk Cousins or Carson Wentz on their best throws.
What will determine if Eason can move from good prospect to great pro is how much nuance he can develop in his game. He has a heck of an arm, but can he develop the touch necessary in the NFL? He’s not afraid to stand tall as the pocket collapses around him, but can he improve his mobility so opposing defences will be forced to do more than simply surround and advance on him?
In the right situation, it’s not hard to imagine Eason as a future stalwart of the league, but like any prospect in his position, there’s work to be done.
Key expert quote: From Patrick Conn at DraftWire: “Big-time arm, Eason has a howitzer for an arm. He can stand in the pocket and rip it down the field with ease. He really excels on deep shots coming off of play action. Scouts will salivate at his ability to make deep breaking routes to all areas of the field. He has plus velocity that allows him to get the ball into tight spaces despite coverages.”
4. Jordan Love, Utah State
2019 stats: 293/473, 61.9% completion, 3,402 yards passing, 20 touchdowns, 17 interceptions
One thing to know: While the top three quarterbacks in the 2020 draft class all seem to fit the bill, Jordan Love is a bit more perplexing. The Utah State product has plenty of tools that one can imagine would translate well to the NFL, but he had a tough senior season that saw him throw nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns.
The last quarterback to be taken in the first round after a season in which he threw 17 interceptions was Deshaun Watson in 2017, but Watson threw 41 touchdowns in his final year at Clemson to Love’s 20. If a team believes they can teach Love to protect the ball and improve his decision-making, he could wind up a steal. But those tendencies will only become more glaring against NFL defences should they persist.
Key expert quote: From Joe Marino at The Draft Network: “Jordan Love isn’t without his warts but he possesses a high-level physical skill set and peaks on tape that reveal the ceiling of a potential dynamic NFL starting quarterback. His arm talent and mobility is perfect for the trends of today’s NFL and there is no limitations to what he can do on the field. The full playbook is open for Love and then some.”
“With that said, he does need to make notable strides in several key areas including decision-making, timing and accuracy to achieve his ceiling. An early investment in Love is a bet on yourself to be able to develop his overall game but his upside is worth the calculated risk.”
3. Justin Herbert, Oregon
2019 stats: 286/428, 66.8% completion, 3,471 yards passing, 32 touchdowns, 6 interceptions
One thing to know: More than any other quarterback in the 2020 draft class, Justin Herbert looks the part. Standing 6-foot-6, 236 pounds with a cannon of an arm, it’s easy to see why scouts can fall in love with Herbert.
Herbert’s skills aren’t raw unknowns either – in two years starting full-time for the Ducks, he’s averaged more than 3,300 yards passing and 30 touchdowns per season. In the final game of his college career, Herbert showed an ability to take what the defence was giving him and find a way to win, rushing for three touchdowns to lead Oregon to a thrilling 28-27 win over Wisconsin.
If Herbert can continue developing as he begins his NFL career, he could have a bright future as a starter.
Key expert quote: From Walter Football: “The senior has all the physical tools to be a good NFL starter with a powerful arm, mobility and accuracy. When Herbert is given time, he is utterly deadly in his ability to carve up a defence.”
2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
2019 stats: 180/252, 71.4% completion, 2,840 yards passing, 33 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
One thing to know: Tua Tagovailoa is one of the most interesting quarterback prospects to watch heading into the 2020 NFL Draft. Tagovailoa was pegged as a future first-overall pick since winning the national championship with Alabama in a second-half relief effort as a true freshman in the 2017 season.
After a spectacular second season from Tagovailoa in 2018 that was upended by Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers in the title game, it still looked as though the Crimson Tide quarterback was destined to be the top pick in 2020 as the idea of “Tanking for Tua” was popularised amongst the fans of some NFL bottom-dwellers.
But Tagovailoa’s fortunes changed when he suffered a season-ending injury halfway through the 2019 season. He’s supposed to be ready to go by the time training camp comes around in late summer, but the coronavirus pandemic has complicated matters a bit as teams can’t get a full view of his health status without an in-person meeting.
Tagovailoa is a complete prospect, sharing some important traits with Burrow – remarkable accuracy, keen decision making, and phenomenal vision. That said, he’s dropped below both Burrow and Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert in some recent mock drafts. He won’t fall far, but should an unexpected team be able to sneak into the top 10 to snag him, and his health checks out, they will get a steal.
Key expert quote: From Danny Kelly at The Ringer: “Tagovailoa has an expert feel for the pocket, stepping up or away from pressure while keeping a balanced base and his eyes downfield. The junior quarterback doesn’t have a rocket arm, but the ball jumps off his hands; he can hit deep outs with plenty of velocity and he throws a pretty deep ball. In the short and intermediate areas, he leads his receivers away from big hits or hits them perfectly in stride so they turn upfield and pick up extra yards.”
1. Joe Burrow, LSU
2019 stats: 402/527, 76.3% completion, 5,671 yards passing, 60 touchdowns, 6 interceptions
One thing to know: Heading into the 2019 college football season, Joe Burrow was seen as a middling pro prospect, considered “at best a fifth-round pick” according to Robert Mays at The Ringer, who wrote about Burrow’s unprecedented rise up draft charts in November.
Burrow threw those projections in the trash by putting together one of the most dominant seasons in college football history, tearing through some of the best defences in the country while leading LSU on an undefeated campaign to the national championship.
Through the season, Burrow showed pinpoint accuracy, impressive mobility both inside and outside the pocket, and a field vision that felt lightyears ahead of that of a college athlete. It’s impossible to tell how a player will fare once they make it to the NFL, but Burrow feels as close to a sure thing as the league has seen in close to a decade.
Key expert quote: From Danny Kelly at The Ringer: Burrow tallied 32 big-time throws (a college football best) but just nine turnover-worthy plays during the regular season, grading out tops among all quarterbacks both under pressure and on tight-window passes. The fearless demeanour he showed in the biggest moments in 2019 invites Tom Brady comparisons.