2020 NFL Draft: Best Fits for Top QBs After Early Free-Agency Action
The first week of NFL free agency has drawn to a close, and while several quality players remain unsigned, most of the biggest names are off the market.
The list of players who have signed new deals, been given the franchise tag or been traded includes many quarterbacks, which shifts the draft landscape. Not every offseason quarterback move will preclude a team from drafting a quarterback, but for some, it will.
Here, we'll examine the top six quarterbacks from Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller's big board and the best NFL team for each based on roster makeup, team fit, scheme fit and need.
We'll only be examining realistic options here, so while the New Orleans Saints may be the best "fit" for LSU's Joe Burrow—the Tigers' 2019 passing game coordinator, Joe Brady, came from New Orleans—they're not landing him with the 24th overall pick.
Who Signed, Who's Left
Before we dig into the draft's top signal-callers, let's run down the notable names from this year's quarterback carousel.
Teddy Bridgewater (from New Orleans Saints) signed a three-year deal with the Carolina Panthers.
Tom Brady (New England Patriots) signed a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Dak Prescott was given the exclusive franchise tag by the Dallas Cowboys.
Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers) signed a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts.
Case Keenum (Washington Redskins) signed a three-year deal with the Cleveland Browns.
Chase Daniel (Chicago Bears) signed a three-year deal with the Detroit Lions.
Ryan Tannehill signed a four-year contract extension with the Tennessee Titans.
Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans) agreed to terms with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Brett Hundley re-signed with the Arizona Cardinals.
Top quarterbacks still available:
*contract information via Spotrac.
Joe Burrow, LSU: Cincinnati Bengals
Burrow projects as a solid fit for the Cincinnati Bengals, and not just because they have the No. 1 pick.
The perceived top quarterback in this class, the LSU product possesses a toolbox similar to that of Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff. Burrow doesn't have the strongest arm, but he sees the field well, delivers an accurate, catchable ball and has enough athleticism to buy time in the pocket—though his athleticism and running ability are more similar to those of incumbent Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor helped mentor Goff for two seasons in Los Angeles, one as his quarterbacks coach. Taylor will know how to get the most out of Burrow's skill set, and he should have little trouble building an offense around him.
Cincinnati's roster should also provide Burrow with the chance to grow quickly. Though the Bengals were awful in 2019, their cupboard is not bare of skill-position talent. With A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard in tow, Burrow will have weapons.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama: Miami Dolphins
While Burrow is coming off a magical Heisman Trophy- and championship-winning season, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa had the longer, more consistent college career. From a physical standpoint, Tagovailoa is arguably a more impressive prospect than Burrow.
Arm strength, accuracy and athleticism are far from question marks for the former Crimson Tide star. The only real unknown is his health. A dislocated and fractured hip ended his 2019 season.
Medical checks at the combine, however, were positive. It appears Tagovailoa will make a full recovery. Fortunately, the Miami Dolphins are in a position to give him time to do so. Journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is under contract through the 2020 season, meaning Miami won't need to rush Tagovailoa into action.
Schemewise, Tagovailoa's arm talent and mobility should make him a perfect fit for coordinator Chan Gailey's West Coast-inspired attack.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Tagovailoa was to be Miami's first scheduled predraft visit before the league banned such meetings, pro days and travel because of COVID-19 concerns.
Justin Herbert, Oregon: Los Angeles Chargers
Despite parting with Philip Rivers in the offseason, the Los Angeles Chargers also have an experienced signal-caller under center. Tyrod Taylor has been a full-time starter before and could groom a rookie much like Fitzpatrick could in Miami.
What the Chargers don't have is a long-term answer at the quarterback position. This is where Oregon's Justin Herbert comes in. Though not an entirely polished product, Herbert has the arm talent to take advantage of L.A.'s collection of deep threats—most notably, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Hunter Henry.
"The 6'6", 236-pound athlete with a big right arm and impressive mobility could draw in the West Coast fans while also giving head coach Anthony Lynn a young quarterback to groom and grow with," Miller wrote.
The Chargers own the sixth pick in the draft, one spot below the Dolphins. They may have to jump Miami to secure Herbert if the Dolphins also have interest.
Jordan Love, Utah State: New Orleans Saints
With Drew Brees under contract for two more seasons, the New Orleans Saints have an opportunity to groom a young quarterback over time. Though there has been speculation that backup Taysom Hill could be that quarterback, Utah State's Jordan Love could be an even better option.
Love is a relatively raw prospect who struggled with turnovers in 2019. However, his arm strength and accuracy on the run make him a potential future star in the NFL.
"Teams are falling for his arm strength and ability to make off-schedule throws and win while on the move. As the NFL continues to evolve at quarterback, Love's positives fit the mold teams want," Miller wrote.
In New Orleans, Love would be able to learn under Brees for a season or two, and he could eventually become a downfield bomber in Sean Payton's open passing attack. While he develops, his size (6'4", 224 lbs) athleticism and quickness could allow Love to be a utility weapon much like Hill has been over the past couple of seasons.
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma: New England Patriots
With Tom Brady now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are in need of a new signal-caller. Second-year QB Jarrett Stidham may take the reins in 2020, but it would fit with Belichick's track record for the team to bring in another quarterback in the draft.
Even with Brady on the roster, the Patriots have drafted several quarterbacks—notably Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett and Stidham—often on Day 2 of the draft.
This could be where the Patriots take Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts, an ascending passer who shined throwing the ball at Oklahoma after being considered a running quarterback at Alabama. Hurts has continued to improve as a passer through the predraft process.
"Hurts looked more refined in these drills than he did at times in college," Yahoo Sports' Eric Edholm wrote. "His passing mechanics and effectiveness improved sharply in his one season at Oklahoma after three at Alabama."
Hurts' competitive fire would likely appeal to Belichick. His mobility and arm strength could make him dangerous in Josh McDaniels' offense. He could be the perfect prospect to draft and develop, as the Patriots did with Brissett and Garoppolo before him.
Jacob Eason, Washington: Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts do not own a first-round pick due to their trade for defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. This means that a crack at one of the draft's top quarterback prospects is unlikely.
However, the Colts could take a flier on a developmental prospect on Day 2, and Washington's Jacob Eason could fit the bill. He is an unpolished prospect, but he has the sort of arm talent that causes offensive coordinators to drool.
"Eason is fun to watch when he's ripping throws around the field and taking deep play-action shots, but a lack of mobility inside and outside the pocket is troubling, considering his ineffectiveness when pressured," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote.
Eason will need coaching up, and Frank Reich is just the man to provide him guidance. He's helped groom players like Brissett and Carson Wentz and knows a thing or two about playing quarterback in the NFL. The presence of Rivers would give Eason some time to develop.
Reich could tailor his offense to Eason with little trouble. He built a Super Bowl-winning attack around Nick Foles, a similar player in terms of height (both are 6'6") arm strength and limited mobility.