NFL Draft 2020: Latest Expert Mock Predictions for Herbert, Top QB Prospects

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Quarterback Justin Herbert of Oregon throws a pass 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 2020 NFL draft is going to be unlike any in recent memory. Commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Monday that the draft will be "virtual" with clubs conducting the selection process away from team facilities remotely.

While the lack of crowds and fanfare will mirror the early days of the draft, it will be a foreign experience for an entire generation of football fans.

What isn't different this year is mock-draft season. We're in the middle of it now, with several new ones arriving daily. While mock drafts are mostly a fun exercise, the occasional trend or nugget of insight can be gained from examining the mock-draft landscape.

For example, NBC Sports' Peter King believes that some people in the Cincinnati Bengals organization believe in Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, and that Cincinnati could trade away a shot at Burrow to move down and acquire him.

It's rare to find a mock draft that bears this scenario out, but it isn't impossible. NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein had a trade involving the Bengals and Burrow at the top of last month's mock. Instead, he has the Miami Dolphins moving up to take the No. 1 selection.

"If there is any sense in Cincinnati that Burrow doesn't want to be a Bengal long term, then the team should listen to offers. An NFL executive I consulted with felt that including all three of Miami's first-round picks in this deal would be too much, so I'm sending Cincy Pick Nos. 5 and 18, as well as second-round selections," Zierlein wrote.

Now, it's worth noting that Burrow stated he would play for the Bengals if selected No. 1 overall. However, that sentiment is a far cry from actually wanting to play for the Bengals.

"I'm not going to not play," Burrow said, per ESPN's Ben Baby.

Anyone who says this statement put to rest the idea that Burrow doesn't want to be a Bengal is being disingenuous.

So, yes, a trade at the top of the draft is entirely possible. It is, however, unlikely, as Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller pointed out in his most recent mock.

"Burrow wanted to go to a team committed to winning Super Bowls, and the Bengals have shown a commitment to building a winner around him in the 2020 offseason," Miller wrote. "In a time of great uncertainty, Burrow to the Bengals is a done deal."

As for Herbert, there's a growing belief that he could be the second quarterback off the board instead of Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa—though mock drafts remain split between the two.

Miller has Tagovailoa going to the Dolphins at No. 5, with Herbert going to the Los Angeles Chargers at six. Zierlein has Herbert going to Miami at No. 5, with the Chargers moving up to No. 3 to grab Tagovailoa.

NFL Media's Maurice Jones-Drew also has the Chargers moving up to take Tagovailoa—at No. 2, with Herbert going No. 1 to Cincinnati.

There's a chance, though, that Los Angeles may not have to jump Miami in order to land Tua. As Miller recently pointed out, the Crimson Tide product's injury concerns may have the Dolphins zeroing in on Herbert instead.

"I'm told by multiple league sources that the Dolphins aren't convinced Tua is the best option and could instead target Oregon's Justin Herbert," he wrote. "The situation is fluid, but the buzz around the league is that Herbert has the most fans in the Dolphins draft room."

While landing spots for Herbert and Tagovailoa are mixed, most mocks seem to agree that three quarterbacks will go early, and that the Bengals, Dolphins and Chargers are all likely to land one.

Miller has three signal-callers going in the top six. Jones-Drew and Zierlein have Burrow, Herbert and Tagovailoa all going in the top five. Of the seven analysts compiled at NFL.com, only Cynthia Frelund mocked fewer than three quarterbacks in the top six.

Longtime ESPN mock draft machine Mel Kiper Jr. also has Burrow, Tagovailoa and Herbert going to the Bengals, Dolphins and Chargers, respectively.

It seems at this point that the biggest surprise in the draft will be if the early first round isn't dominated by quarterbacks.