Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: Burrow-Tua Gap Atop Draft Closer Than Many Think

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterApril 8, 2020

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) wams up before the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game between LSU and Georgia, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

The Joe Burrow-Tua Tagovailoa debate is getting interesting, where would Cam Newton make the most sense and the NFL's All-Decade teams have some eye-opening choices. All that and more in this week's 10-Point Stance. 


1. Not quite a split decision

There are few things about the 2020 NFL draft that teams agree on, but most do believe that LSU's Joe Burrow and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa are the two best quarterbacks in it.

The real question is what separates them? And why do most teams seem to rank Burrow ahead of Tagovailoa?

While there does seem to be a gap between the two, it turns out that some teams believe the distance isn't that great.

According to one head coach, the differences between the two QBs could make for some interesting draft-day debates.

"Tua is a good athlete," the coach explained. "Great leader. Mark Brunell comparison is a good one. The big concern [with] him is medical. Not just [his] hip, which is significant, but ankle, foot, etc. His injury history will be a big factor considering where you have to draft him."

Burrow, the coach explained, "is built differently. More linear. One-year wonder, but tape is impressive. Can move if he has to. Clean medically. If Tua had a better medical grade, then I think the league would be split with ranking. There is a much higher risk injury-wise [with] Tua."

What does that all mean for each quarterback's future? Let's break it down the coach's main points:

• The Brunell comparison. Brunell made three Pro Bowls while with the Jaguars from 1995 to 2003. The then-expansion Jaguars made the playoffs four times in their first five years of existence, and Brunell was a big reason why. If Tagovailoa could be the 21st-century version of him, that would be pretty damn good.

• The medical history. It's fine for Tagovailoa to say his injured hip has healed and he's good to go. However, some teams remain skeptical.

• The track record. The notion that Burrow is a one-year wonder is gaining momentum from some teams, although they still believe he's a franchise-type player.

In sum, teams don't believe there's a huge difference between the two quarterbacks' skill sets. Burrow is considered the slightly better prospect, and Tagovailoa's injuries make that small gap bigger.

But with not much separating the two, would anyone in the NFL be stunned if Tagovailoa stayed healthy and ended up as good as Burrow, if not better?

In a word: no.


2. Will anyone trade for Tua?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama looks on during the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The persistent concerns I've heard about Tagovailoa's health have me convinced that no team is likely to give up a huge number of picks to trade up for him.

However, teams constantly lie at this time of year. So some team may be preparing to unload its next six drafts to get him.

But the worries about the multiple injuries and surgeries he has undergone seem more problematic to teams than they're publicly stating.


3. No guarantee

Despite how good Burrow and Tagovailoa are projected to be, the odds remain slim that they'll reach the pinnacle of the sport, as ESPN's Adam Schefter noted.

Twenty-eight quarterbacks have been selected in the top five since 1999, and Eli Manning is the only one of those players with a ring.

Despite all of the information, all of the scouting and all of the metrics, the quarterback position remains the most difficult to predict in all of sports.


4. Available: One former NFL MVP

Mike McCarn/Associated Press

I recently asked an AFC assistant coach to pick the best potential landing spots for Jameis Winston. This week, I asked him to do the same for Cam Newton.

Here's where he sees the field:

Dolphins: "They'll probably pick [Tagovailoa], and that would be a smart choice, but they should give strong consideration to Newton. He still has three or four really good years left."

Bears: "[Acquiring Nick] Foles over Newton was a terrible mistake."

Rams: "Same as Jameis. He'd be an instant upgrade."

Patriots: "I wouldn't be stunned if this happened."

Raiders: "They'd make the playoffs with him at quarterback."

Colts: "He'd beat both of them [Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett] out. He's significantly better than both."


5. Brady makes history, again

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

It's smart to take a pause every now and then and fully absorb the meaning of something that happens in this league. The latest example is how Tom Brady became the first quarterback ever to make two NFL All-Decade Teams.

That is just...wow. Just wow.

For someone to play at such a high level over 20 years is one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of American professional sports.

Considering Brady's career, that's saying something.


6. A well-deserved honor

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 12: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks talks with head coach Pete Carroll as they take on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 12, 2020 in Green Bay, Wiscons
Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Though it may be a surprise to some, Seattle's Pete Carroll is one of the two head coaches on the 2010 All-Decade Team. It's welcome praise.

Carroll remains one of the most underratedif not the most underratedcoach of his generation.

He's been far from perfect, but he's guided the Seahawks to multiple Super Bowls and has missed the playoffs only twice in the decade while altering his team on the fly.

The Seahawks initially were a run-heavy team that also relied on the Legion of Boom defense. Carroll then oversaw a shift that put the team in the hands of Russell Wilson, one of the most dynamic best pure passers in NFL history.

Shape-shifting is one of the best traits of a top coach, and few did that in the 2010s better than Carroll.


7. All-Decade Team predictions

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

The NFL eventually will embark on its next decade, so this seems like a good time to get ahead of the pack and forecast who'll make the 2020 All-Decade team (offensive skill-position players only, and no flex because flex is trash):

QB: Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson

RB: Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley

WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Odell Beckham Jr., Michael Thomas

TE: Hunter Henry, George Kittle


8. Drew Brees' next career awaits

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 31: NFL quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints speaks onstage during day 3 of SiriusXM at Super Bowl LIV on January 31, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM )
Cindy Ord/Getty Images

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, ESPN is still chasing Saints quarterback Drew Brees to become an analyst on Monday Night Football after he retires.

Brees would be an excellent addition to any network. The 19-year veteran has the makings of someone as good at broadcasting as CBS' Tony Romo, whom ESPN chased earlier this year. 


9. Spyware 

Steve Helber/Associated Press

In the wake of the NFL's decision to conduct the draft virtually this year, teams across the league have begun worrying about the possibility that their drafts will get hacked. I've heard about this repeatedly from some front offices.

They aren't worried that someone will hack into the system and have the Browns draft Sidd Finch. They're more concerned that a hacker will fake what seems like a reasonable pick.

That means the league not only will need to have extensive online security in place, but it will also need protocols to deal with a potential hack.

Hopefully a team doesn't accidentally launch missiles when making one of its picks


10. A special man

HIRAM, OH - JULY, 1961:  Runningback Bobby Mitchell#49 of the Cleveland Browns, poses for an action portrait during training camp in July, 1961 at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. (Photo by: Henry Barr Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
Henry Barr Collection/Getty Images

You may not have heard about the passing of Bobby Mitchell. You may not even know who he is. You should.

Mitchell, a Hall of Fame halfback, died Sunday at the age of 84. He lived a remarkable life both on and off the field.

He helped to integrate the Washington football teamthe last team to do so in the NFLand became one of the fastest and most devastating offensive players in league history while enduring horrific racism. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.

Mitchell was one of the kindest, most decent people I've ever interviewed. Only a handful of people have helped change the course of the NFL for the better. Mitchell was one of them.


Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.