Predicting Landing Spots for 2020 NFL Draft's Top Quarterbacks
The first round of the 2020 NFL draft is set to kick off Thursday. While there will be plenty of drama throughout the opening round of the virtual event, this year's crop of incoming quarterbacks will carry the most suspense.
It's the NFL's most vital position, and it's always exciting when new signal-callers enter the league. There are several who could hear their names called on Day 1.
The question is: Which teams will draft them?
We'll examine the top six quarterbacks on Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller's latest big board and pair them with a likely landing spot. Choices are based on team needs, but things like scheme fit, draft stock, draft positioning and any relevant predraft buzz also factored in.
Tune in to our 2020 NFL Draft Show for live, in-depth analysis on what each pick means for your team, with hosts Adam Lefkoe, Matt Miller and Connor Rogers. No fluff, no B.S. Download the B/R app and watch starting Thursday, April 23, at 8 p.m. ET.
Joe Burrow, LSU: Cincinnati Bengals
This one is pretty much a done deal. The Cincinnati Bengals are looking for a new franchise quarterback—though Andy Dalton is only 32 and an above-average starter. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow is perceived as a can't-miss prospect, and Cincinnati owns the No. 1 overall pick.
A trade down is possible if Cincinnati gets an overwhelming offer, but it doesn't appear likely.
"You know, people all the time ask me what would it take to give up that pick. And if there's somebody there that people are willing to give up a lot for, that they believe in, then that just really verifies what we think about those players as well," head coach Zac Taylor said on The Dan Patrick Show.
Burrow could be Cincinnati's franchise signal-caller for the next decade-plus. Nearly everyone expects him to be the pick at No. 1, including Burrow himself.
"I expect to be No. 1, but you know I am not positive about it," he told Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama: New England Patriots
It's looking like injury concerns could cause the No. 2 quarterback on Miller's big board, Tua Tagovailoa, to fall in Round 1. According to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., Tagovailoa's stock is dropping, which could lead him to the New England Patriots.
"You hear people in the league saying he could fall, and everybody is doing their due diligence, including the Patriots," Kiper told WEEI's Ordway, Merloni and Fauria recently.
The Patriots may have to trade up from pick No. 23, but if Tagovailoa slides toward the middle of Round 1, they may do exactly that.
Kiper isn't the only one who believes a Tagovailoa-Patriots match make sense. NBC Sports' Peter King recently explained how Bill Belichick's relationship with Alabama head coach Nick Saban could play a role.
"Nick Saban loves Tua Tagovailoa. He loves his competitiveness, he loves his drive, his ability to come back from injury. He loves everything about him. And in my opinion, that’s exactly what he would tell Bill Belichick," King said on NBC Sports (h/t Ricky Doyle of NESN).
New England needs a new quarterback after it lost Tom Brady in free agency. It does have journeyman Brian Hoyer on the roster, though, which could give the Patriots time to develop Tagovailoa and allow him to fully recover from last year's dislocated hip.
Justin Herbert, Oregon: Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins own the No. 5 pick and will have a crack at Tagovailoa long before the Patriots do. However, injury concerns have them targeting Oregon's Justin Herbert instead, according to Miller.
"There is growing buzz that Herbert is Miami's man," he wrote.
Herbert carries his own questions, of course. He was inconsistent as a passer in college, and he lacks pocket presence.
"No one's going, 'Man, he's got great instincts,' or 'Gosh, his accuracy is ridiculous,' or 'He's just got this ability to make all these different kinds of throws.' Those are all the things that people talk about—or I talk about—that he struggles with," ESPN's Dan Orlovsky said on The Dan Patrick Show.
However, Herbert offers an archetypal frame (6'6", 236 lbs), a powerful arm and athleticism to spare. He has the sort of physical upside that Miami understudy Josh Rosen does not.
Based on that upside and the team's longstanding need for a quarterback, the Dolphins could pull the trigger on Herbert at No. 5. He isn't a complete prospect, but they have Ryan Fitzpatrick on hand to help him develop.
Jordan Love, Utah State: Jacksonville Jaguars
Yes, the Jacksonville Jaguars got a promising season out of rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II in 2019—he finished with 3,271 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions. However, this doesn't mean Jacksonville won't consider quarterbacks in this draft.
"We'll get through the draft and see what comes out of the draft. If one presents itself, we'll pull the trigger," general manager David Caldwell said, per ESPN's Michael DiRocco.
Enter Utah State's Jordan Love, yet another quarterback with question marks but strong physical upside.
"His size, mobility and arm talent combined with his 2018 flashes could be a winning hand that leads a team into the future or a siren's song of erratic play and unfulfilled potential," NFL.com's Lance Zierlein wrote of the 6'4", 224-pounder.
The Jaguars have two first-round picks, including the ninth overall selection. While they aren't likely to take Love that early, they'll be on the board again at No. 20, where he would make sense. With Minshew on the roster, Love can be afforded time to develop.
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma: New Orleans Saints
Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts is perhaps the wild card of the position this year. Though he is coming off a successful passing campaign with the Sooners—he threw for 3,851 yards and 32 touchdowns—his time as a dual-threat quarterback at Alabama has led many to view him as a run-first option.
While Hurts could grow into a polished signal-caller over time, he can also make an immediate impact as a change-of-pace quarterback or gadget player. This may lead him to the New Orleans Saints, who have exactly that sort of quarterback in Taysom Hill.
Hill, who is under contract through this season, is viewed as a potential replacement for Drew Brees when the star retires.
"I think Taysom sees himself as being a starting quarterback in this league, and we do too," head coach Sean Payton told ESPN last month (h/t Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk).
Adding Hurts would give the Saints a similar option, one with more upside than Hill. It would probably make sense to trade down from the 24th pick to grab Hurts, but with no second-round selection, New Orleans may be eager to make that move anyway.
Jacob Eason, Washington: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made one of the offseason's biggest moves by signing six-time NFL champion Tom Brady. However, while Brady should hold down the starting job for a year or two, he won't be a long-term answer.
This is where Washington's Jacob Eason comes in. A possible Round 2 target (45th overall), Eason has the size (6'6", 231 lbs) and arm talent needed to succeed in Tampa Bay's aggressive vertical passing attack.
"He's perfect for a Bruce Arians offense in Tampa," one AFC executive said, per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
Eason isn't polished, though, and would benefit greatly from a season or two behind Brady. Fortunately, Brady isn't opposed to playing the mentor's role, according to CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora.
"Brady also is eager to take on the role of mentor to a young quarterback, no matter where he plays," La Canfora wrote before the start of free agency.
With Brady's protege not yet on the roster, Eason would make a ton of sense.