2020 NFL Draft: Predicting Destinations for Every Draftable Quarterback

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2020

2020 NFL Draft: Predicting Destinations for Every Draftable Quarterback

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    The 2020 draft class features three big names at quarterback: Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert. There are also several intriguing prospects who have great upside. Teams may be able to land a starting signal-caller outside the top 15 picks. 

    With the expectations that we hear Burrow, Tagovailoa and Herbert called within the first 10 selections, clubs eyeing talent at the position will have to make a decision on whether to roll the dice on a quarterback's physical tools or intangibles. 

    Suitors will be drawn to Jordan Love's striking deep ball, Jalen Hurts' mobility and Jake Fromm's efficiency.

    Using Bleacher Report draft expert Matt Miller's latest seven-round mock, we'll list all the draftable quarterbacks and project their landing spots in April. 

    The pairings are based on the draft order, situation fit for each team and latest reports around the league.

          

Joe Burrow: Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock with the first overall pick in the 2020 draft. The club may keep quarterback Andy Dalton, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, but team brass had its eyes on Joe Burrow for months, according to Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

    "Bengals sources told The Enquirer Burrow was at the top of the team's draft board before the NFL regular season ended," Dragon wrote. "Bengals brass were reaffirmed of their thoughts when they met Burrow for the first time at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine during an 18-minute formal interview."

    This quarterback-team fit sounds like a done deal. The Bengals will likely select the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner who led LSU to an undefeated (15-0) season and put up eye-popping numbers last term. 

    While throwing for 5,671 yards, 60 touchdowns and six interceptions, Burrow showed poise in the pocket, used his legs when necessary and ran for 368 yards and five touchdowns to frustrate defenses that covered his pass-catchers downfield. 

    Burrow will provide hope for the Bengals' future. He'd join an offense that features seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green and the team's 2019 receiving leader (1,046 yards), Tyler Boyd. The young signal-caller would also have dual-threat running back Joe Mixon to alleviate some pressure off of his arm.

    According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins "want" the No. 1 overall pick, but the Bengals have no reason to move out of the coveted spot and pass on a quarterback who could immediately change their outlook.

Tua Tagovailoa: Miami Dolphins

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    Here's where the potential matches could take an interesting turn. In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Todd McShay slotted Tua Tagovailoa to the Miami Dolphins. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller made the same prediction. The pairing makes sense.

    The Dolphins can roll with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who finished the 2019 campaign on a strong note, throwing for 1,628 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions in December. Miami went 3-2 in those outings. The team wouldn't have to rush Tagovailoa into action.

    In February, the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero suggested the Dolphins had an "increasingly positive view" of Herbert, but that doesn't suggest the team will take him. Perhaps they're trying to hide their intentions to draft Tagovailoa if they're unable to move up to the No. 1 spot.

    Tagovailoa's recovery from hip surgery and the halt on team physicals because of the coronavirus pandemic could turn clubs away. However, all reports about his injury seem positive, including results from a four-month scan, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

    Without predraft visits, prospects with injury concerns can still send a message to teams about their well-being via social media, which is something Tagovailoa did recently on Twitter. Furthermore, he offered some soothing words for clubs that may feel some apprehension about drafting him, per NFL Network's Steve Wyche.

    "I feel 100 percent," Tagovailoa said. "I feel like if there was a game today, I'd be able to go out and perform the same way I was able to perform in previous years. I feel as mobile as possible. I feel 100 percent."

    If not for Tagovailoa's hip injury, he may have challenged Burrow for the top spot in the draft. The Alabama product threw for 7,442 yards, 87 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and completed 69.3 percent of his passes in his three years at the school. The young signal-caller has the precision and mobility to lead an offense from Day 1.

    The Dolphins can afford to wait a year on Tagovailoa with Fitzpatrick's command of the offense.

    Don't let the reports fool you. Tagovailoa should be the guy in Miami, but the team will likely "redshirt" him in 2020. Meanwhile, the Dolphins can work on building chemistry across their offensive line, which ranked 28th in pass protection last year, per Football Outsiders.

Justin Herbert: Los Angeles Chargers

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    The Los Angeles Chargers moved on from Philip Rivers, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts. For now, the club seems prepared to start Tyrod Taylor, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

    Taylor has a previous history with head coach Anthony Lynn between the 2015 and 2016 seasons in Buffalo, but the 30-year-old signal-caller has served as the primary starter in just three out of nine seasons.

    In 2018, Taylor opened the campaign under center for the Cleveland Browns. He lost the job three games into the term after suffering a concussion. Baker Mayfield took over the job and elevated the passing offense. 

    If the Chargers select a quarterback with the sixth overall pick, Taylor would shift into the stopgap role and keep the seat warm for his successor. 

    General manager Tom Telesco filled multiple roster holes, trading for guard Trai Turner, franchise-tagging tight end Hunter Henry, extending running back Austin Ekeler and signing tackle Bryan Bulaga along with nose tackle Linval Joseph. By the way, team brass added four-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris Jr. to a top-five pass defense. 

    The Chargers have addressed enough voids to select a quarterback early in the draft. Justin Herbert seems like a good fit because of his strong arm and mobility.

    Like Taylor, Herbert can evade pressure and buy time with his legs. He can also take a quarterback-keeper into the end zone, logging 13 touchdowns on the ground at Oregon. The 6'6" 236-pound signal-caller could fully utilize the Chargers' receiving weapons as well.

    Henry, a pass-catching tight end, along with wideouts Keenan Allen and Mike Williams may have more productive years with Herbert than Taylor. The veteran quarterback hasn't thrown for more than 3,035 yards or 20 touchdowns in a single season. 

    Herbert would allow Los Angeles to air it out and stretch defenses vertically, which isn't Taylor's style.

    The Chargers' aerial attack would have a notable spark with Herbert under center. They have the weapons to field a high-powered offense that features a big arm.

Jordan Love: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers landed arguably the most coveted free agent on the open market in Tom Brady, but let's not forget the signal-caller will turn 43 years old in August.

    The Buccaneers should have aspirations to compete for a playoff spot next year, but the team cannot stall on a succession plan for their quarterback. If the team wins nine or more games in the next two terms, this club won't have a pick higher than No. 14 for the 2021 and 2022 drafts.

    Based on the thought the Buccaneers could pick in the late teens or early 20s for the foreseeable future, general manager Jason Licht may consider a quarterback with the 14th overall pick in April.

    Secondly, according to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, Brady would like to take a young quarterback under his wing.

    "Brady also is eager to take on the role of mentor to a young quarterback, no matter where he plays, hoping to leave any organization in good shape when he retires. Part of his legacy, he believes, could be tied to seeing future generations embrace the TB12 training and lifestyle regimen that Brady strongly believes has helped him play so long at such a high level." 

    If that's the case, Brady and the Buccaneers can mold Jordan Love. The young signal-caller has the physical tools to excel in the pros but just needs some fine tweaks in mechanics.

    Love's confidence in his arm strength meshes with head coach Bruce Arians' aggressive passing philosophy. He tends to limit his field scan and struggles with disguised coverages, but good coaching can correct both flaws. He's not going to find a better active mentor than a six-time Super Bowl champion. 

    After Brady, Love would inherit a wealth of pass-catching weapons in Pro Bowl wideouts Mike Evans and Chris Godwin along with tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate.

Jalen Hurts: Jacksonville Jaguars

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    The Jacksonville Jaguars traded Nick Foles to the Chicago Bears, which leaves Garnder Minshew II and Joshua Dobbs on the depth chart.

    After 12 starts last season, Minshew will likely go into the 2020 campaign in the pole position to start. However, Jacksonville shouldn't handcuff its future to the 23-year-old signal-caller yet.

    Instead, the Jaguars could have an open competition for the spot under center. For one, a battle would push Minshew. That seemed to work for his rise at Washington State when he and Anthony Gordon vied for the first-unit role, per Crissy Froyd of Titans Wire. 

    "Watching Gordo play with a lot of aggressiveness and creativity challenged me to push outside of my comfort zone,” Minshew said.

    Secondly, the Jaguars would have flexibility with a high-upside option.

    At Alabama, Jalen Hurts had success, leading the program to two national title games as the primary starter. He threw for 5,626 yards, 48 touchdowns and 12 interceptions with the SEC program but made major strides as a passer following his transfer to Oklahoma. 

    Under head coach Lincoln Riley, Hurts threw for 3,851 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He connected with his receiver on chunk plays, averaging a career-high 11.3 yards per pass attempt.

    Hurts is at his best when he's able to use his legs on the move. With running back Leonard Fournette in the backfield, the Jaguars can use run-pass options to keep defenses guessing at the point of attack.

    In the first round, Jacksonville can address its need at cornerback and select an eventual replacement for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who wants to play elsewhere. When the Jaguars go on the clock with the 42nd overall pick, Hurts should be on the board. He still needs to develop as a pocket passer, but inside-outside pocket mobility boosts his draft projection to the second round.

Jake Fromm: New England Patriots

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    The New England Patriots have unassuming quarterback options to replace Tom Brady.

    The Patriots signed Brian Hoyer, who's 34 years old with 11 years of pro experience but only 38 starts for his career. As a rookie, Jarrett Stidham appeared in three games, completing two out of four passes for 14 yards and an interception.

    According to Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston, Stidham leads the group for the starting job.

    Despite Stidham's reported lead over the competition, the Patriots should still contemplate draft options. The 2019 fourth-rounder is an unknown who hasn't experienced much regular-season action.

    Jake Fromm won't wow anyone with a big arm and athletic moves to shake off pocket pressure, but he doesn't throw a lot of ill-advised passes, which led to a low interception rate at Georgia. Through three terms, the 6'2", 219-pound signal-caller registered just 18 interceptions. 

    Typically, Fromm makes good decisions in the pocket. He's not going to lose games for his team, but the former Bulldog isn't an aggressive passer capable of consistent rallies from behind. 

    In today's league, with quarterbacks Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson able to pick up yards with their legs, many clubs may place a higher value on Jalen Hurts. 

    However, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels know how to extract the best out of a quarterback who lacks mobility—just watch Brady in recent seasons. They can mold an efficient signal-caller into a starter. Fromm could go to New England and challenge for the lead role. 

    Without a second-round pick, the Patriots may have to trade up for Fromm on Day 2 or slide back from the 23rd spot.

Jacob Eason: Indianapolis Colts

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    The Indianapolis Colts need to find stability at quarterback in the post-Andrew Luck era. The club signed Philip Rivers to a one-year, $25 million deal, which suggests the 38-year-old will go through a trial term under center with Jacoby Brissett in a backup role next season. 

    Rivers and Brissett will be free agents for the 2021 offseason, leaving the Colts without a long-term plan at the position.

    At Rivers' age, he's not the future in Indianapolis, but he can keep the team competitive while the coaching staff prepares the next man up. 

    General manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich could turn back to Brissett in 2021, but he'll have the option to go elsewhere after the team pushed him aside for a signal-caller on his last legs. 

    Jacob Eason may be available for the Colts early in the third round. He isn't a mobile quarterback and lost his starting job to Jake Fromm at Georgia before his move to Washington via transfer.

    On the flip side, Eason can produce big plays with time to throw downfield. At 6'6", 231 pounds with a strong arm, he physically checks multiple boxes under the prototypical pocket-passing quarterback category. Yet, the inability to use his legs could raise concerns.

    The Colts field one of the top offensive lines in pass protection. The group ranked seventh in the category last season, per Football Outsiders. Eason wouldn't have to worry about constant or immediate pressure in his face right after the snap. He can allow routes to develop and take his shots downfield to T.Y. Hilton and the supporting wide receiver cast.

James Morgan: Green Bay Packers

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    Quarterback Aaron Rodgers can still perform at a high level and remains efficient in the pocket. He threw for 4,002 yards, 26 touchdowns and only four interceptions in his first year under new head coach Matt LeFleur.

    Yet, we have to acknowledge Rodgers' biological clock. He's going into his age-37 campaign. On top of that, the Packers don't have a viable backup on the roster. Tim Boyle has thrown four regular-season passes. As an undrafted product out of Arizona State, Manny Wilkins didn't suit up for a game during the 2019 term.

    Barring a trade, the Green Bay Packers won't have a shot at a top quarterback prospect, but they've shown interest in James Morgan, per Kalyn Kahler formerly of SI.com.

    "Teams in the market for a quarterback have shown significant interest in the 23-year-old who played his high school ball in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin, in the shadow of Lambeau Field. Among them: Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Las Vegas, Miami, New England and Indianapolis, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Buffalo, the Jets and Giants."

    The Packers may be ready to draft a quarterback for the first time since taking Brett Hundley in 2015.

    If so, Morgan, the Green Bay native, could become an instant fan favorite and potential heir to Rodgers' position. He can throw an on-target deep ball and fits passes through double coverage, but the Florida International product doesn't have much of a second gear in terms of delivery. At times, he unnecessarily creates all-or-nothing situations through the air. 

    With that said, Morgan will have time to develop behind Rodgers, who has three more years left on his deal. If the 6'4", 229-pound signal-caller fine-tunes his play style, he could eventually see the field and impress the coaching staff.

Nate Stanley: Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Philadelphia Eagles don't have a quarterback controversy. Carson Wentz is their franchise signal-caller, but he's suffered multiple injuries through four seasons. The 27-year-old has torn his ACL, fractured a vertebra in his back and exited the team's last playoff game with a concussion. 

    Wentz teeters on the line of the injury-prone label. If he misses multiple games in the next campaign, team brass should feel uneasy about their starting quarterback's durability. The four-year signal-caller has been sidelined for eight regular-season games and six playoff outings.

    As a precaution, Philadelphia should cycle through developmental backup signal-callers with upside. Currently, Nate Sudfeld and Kyle Lauletta are the reserves at the position. Neither has thrown more than 25 regular-season passes, so there's room for competition behind Wentz. 

    As former SI.com writer Kalyn Kahler noted, the Eagles are one of many teams eyeing James Morgan. If he's unavailable, Nate Stanley could be an alternative option.

    Over the last three terms, Stanley showed promising flashes in a full-time starting role. The Iowa product finished his collegiate career with 8,297 passing yards, 68 touchdowns and 23 interceptions, but he didn't complete 60 percent of his attempts in a single season.

    Stanley has some wiggle, but he's not going to run away from defenders in the face of pocket pressure. 

    Working in his favor, Stanley can make short, intermediate and deep throws with great ball placement. He doesn't need to set his feet or square his shoulders to fit a pass through tight windows. That trait may drive coaches nuts because of sloppy mechanics, but those plays separate average and above-average arm talent.

    Overall, the Iowa product brings a mixed bag of good and limited quarterback traits, which explains why he'll be available on Day 3. Nonetheless, his size (6'4", 235 lbs) and glimpses of playmaking ability in a pro-style offense exhibit some hope for growth in a backup role.

Anthony Gordon: New Orleans Saints

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    The New Orleans Saints lost Teddy Bridgewater, who signed with the Carolina Panthers. With that said, the front office holds Taysom Hill to high regard. The team placed a first-round tender on the restricted free-agent signal-caller.

    According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Saints plan to sign Hill to a new deal. While the 29-year-old quarterback seems like the potential successor to 41-year-old Drew Brees, he's only completed six of 13 pass attempts for 119 yards and an interception during the regular season. 

    Hill can contribute in so many ways, as a ball-carrier, receiver and on special teams, but he's yet to show anything substantial in the passing game while under center. With Brees in the final stages of his career, the Saints need competition for the No. 2 spot. 

    Before former Washington State head coach Mike Leach accepted the same position at Mississippi State, he prepared one more draftable quarterback in Anthony Gordon.

    Leach's pass-heavy Air Raid offense gives signal-callers plenty of room to show off their arm talent. Gordon took advantage of the opportunity in a full-time starting position.

    Like Gardner Minshew II during the 2018 campaign, Gordon posted gaudy numbers under Leach. In 2019, he threw for 5,579 yards, 48 touchdowns and 16 interceptions with a 71.6 percent completion rate.

    Gordon doesn't have intriguing mobility, but he showed good pocket presence with the ability to throw accurately in the eye of a pass rush. At 6'2", 205 pounds, the young signal-caller may want to avoid contact, but he's a tough competitor.

    In 2019, the Saints offensive line ranked third in pass protection, per Football Outsiders. The group is good enough to keep Gordon upright, which would allow him to use his accurate arm to pick apart defenses. 

Jake Luton: Seattle Seahawks

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    The Seattle Seahawks don't have a backup quarterback behind Russell Wilson. General manager John Schneider should take a look at late-round prospects who can develop in the primary reserve spot.

    As we all know, Wilson can move in and outside the pocket, but he looks to deliver the ball downfield to his receiving options. The Seahawks don't need a dual-threat signal-caller in case the six-time Pro Bowler goes down with an injury. 

    The Seahawks have a strong commitment to the run—even without counting Wilson's carries. They've ranked in the top three in rushing attempts during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. A quarterback who can escape the pocket and feed off the ground attack would likely fare well in Seattle's offense. 

    Jake Luton isn't going to mimic Wilson's mobility, but he knows how to evade pressure and move the ball downfield. Although a strong rushing offense isn't needed for successful play-action designs, consistent production on the ground certainly helps with the scheme.

    At Oregon State, Luton operated in an offense with pro concepts and play-action looks. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes with the ball, throwing for 2,714 yards, 28 touchdowns and just three interceptions last year. The 6'6", 224-pound signal-caller doesn't have a strong arm but shows good ball placement with targets all over the field.

    Luton only has one year of full-time starting experience, but he would have time to develop into a solid backup with Wilson entrenched in the lead role.