At the conclusion of the 2019 draft, it seemed that all the buzz was on the 2020 Quarterback class. Instead of watching Dwayne Haskins and Daniel Jones, people wanted Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa.
The 2020 class was apparently going to be far better than the previous 2019 class – which was admittedly rather dull and quite honestly not exciting unless you were watching Kyler Murray. Well, that vaunted 2020 class ramped up my expectations.
No matter how you were trying to slice it, I wanted this class to be what everyone said it would be – truly great.
Unfortunately, it is just okay. Each prospect has significant holes in their game that makes me worry heavily about their transition and there is no slam dunk prospect. This is not a class that will compete on the level of 2018’s class, but still, it is better than what we got last year. The depth, at the very least, seems much better, and the guys are unique case studies at quarterback because of their specific wrinkles. Thus, I enjoyed scouting this class.
And with my summer quarterback scouting officially wrapped up, here are my top 5 quarterbacks for 2020.
1. Justin Herbert, Oregon
I will be honest; even as my QB1, I am not sure if Justin Herbert is even a true slam dunk first round quarterback. He has a lot of improvements to work on this season, especially in his post-snap reads which concerns me. When he doesn’t always identify the correct read, he can go into a panic mode. The fact is, he misses past his first progression and hangs onto that progression. By the time he moves through his reads, sometimes there’s nothing there. That erratic play, lack of poise under pressure, and his less than stable mechanics below the waist bump him down.
Still, though, Herbert’s got the strongest arm by far in this class and is incredible when actually on the move outside of the pocket. He creates something out of nothing very often. There is no doubt that he has some amazing flashes of ball placement and honestly easily has the most consistent elite ball placement in this class. It is just dazzling to watch him fit some of the throws he does in tight windows. Even more important in that is that he has a great feel for touch on the football. There are legitimate frozen ropes that he uncorks and rainbows that are also perfectly placed.
All in all, Herbert is a dual-edged sword, but the upside is what makes him the pre-season QB1.
Just a great play and throw from Justin Herbert. pic.twitter.com/0pgu3gu13H
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) October 13, 2018
2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
The fight at one is firmly between Tua and Herbert, but there are obviously eye-popping flaws with Tagovailoa that are not being talked about.
First, Tagovailoa’s troubles under pressure are absolutely a huge problem. He drops his eyes and goes off of his main reads if he is even faced with pressure in his face. That lack of poise is even worse than Herbert’s and it is one of the main reasons why Tagovailoa is lower. Second, Tagovailoa, while accurate, is not precisely accurate. His ball placement is sometimes sketchy and can leave his receivers out to die. There are absolutely pre-snap issues as well. Tagovailoa needs to read off his keys and go to the hot route much better than he does now. Those all are sure fire weaknesses.
However, I would be remiss to say that Tagovailoa is not impressive in a lot of ways. Mechanically, I don’t see anyone better so far this draft season. He has a silky smooth release and perfect, in-time feet with a neutral base that allows him to deliver accurate balls. His deep ball accuracy in particular is incredible for where he is at and his best trait right now. Really, where Tagovailoa drew me in, was his pocket movement. The lack of poise is evident, but he moves around in the pocket very comfortably and is able to deliver a lot of balls under some duress from that trait alone.
So, again, there are clear issues with his game, but Tagovailoa has incredible upside. He’s a different quarterback from Herbert, but the issues are very similar.
3. Cole McDonald, Hawaii
There is no one more underrated right now in the country than Cole McDonald at quarterback. You may or may not have heard of McDonald, but just to let you know what type of guy he is – he is a beautiful, gunslinging maniac on the football field.
Because of the risks, McDonald will have fans and he will also have deterrents. It actually is what got him injured last season.
Still, he has very tangible flaws.
His lower body can rock a little too much and cause him to sail passes, especially when he is throwing deep. Those mechanics will take time and a lot of repetitions to fix. His release is also erratic and is incredibly inefficient. That is going to have to change. McDonald’s mental lapses, however, might be where his real con is. He loses track of safeties and makes horrific decisions. Such is life with a gunslinger, but the post-snap processing has to improve in that fixture.
McDonald’s the best improviser in the class regardless of his cons. Poised? No. But once he is outside the pocket, McDonald is incredibly dangerous. Whether that is keeping his eyes downfield or making an insane throw on the run, McDonald has done it consistently and done it time and time again. His arm talent is apparent. His arm strength is dazzling and his feeling for change in velocity is impressive. For a gunslinger, McDonald has a good feel of when to take what is given to him by the defense. It is a very valuable tool.
McDoanld has a lot of risk with his shaky mechanics, but his arm talent and improvisation will allure NFL teams in no doubt.
Cole McDonald, you beautiful maniac. pic.twitter.com/66zVn7X4AK
— Bryce Rossler (@btrossler) February 26, 2019
4. Jordan Love, Utah State
All I have to say about Jordan Love is that he has absurdly good ball placement. He splits Cover 2 up the seam as easily as anyone I have seen through ball placement alone. When facing Jordan Love, good luck trying to get a hand on one of his balls because they are seemingly all precisely located to only where his receiver can catch it. That is my favorite part of his game by far.
Love’s mental game is obviously where things go downhill. His eye manipulation and ability to create throwing lanes from that needs a ton of work. There is little to no keying off of defenders likely because he is quite unsure of what he is looking at pre-snap. Disguises can get him in a rut and he doesn’t look comfortable if he can’t recognize the coverage and play off of that knowledge. It is all upstairs with Love and improving his mental game to move up these rankings.
I really like Love in the pocket. He looks comfortable and shows poise. He doesn’t do too much improvising, and I would like to see more of that added to his game, but his pocket movement is very solid. Even more so, his anticipation is incredible. He throws it to a spot before the break is even beginning and it will get there, perfectly placed into the receiver’s hands. I don’t think Love has the arm talent of a Herbert or McDonald and that might limit his overall ceiling, but his arm talent is still plenty good enough to be one of the top quarterbacks in this class.
Just to remind you of how absurd Jordan Love's ball placement honestly is pic.twitter.com/we53fHxkHf
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) June 14, 2019
5. D’Eriq King, Houston
King has to be the most divisive quarterback, and I am kind of in the middle on him if we’re being honest. I see what the detractors are saying about him. He is an erratic thrower who puts far too much of his weight up front and that causes his base to be off-balance. That off-balance base is what causes so many of his throws to sail on him. His mental game has huge holes in there too. For example, eye manipulation is not something that King strives at. He has to improve on keying off of safeties and using coverages to his advantages. He recognizes those coverages, but he just has to exploit them better. Lastly, his release, while quick and efficient, is wonky and leads to some inaccurate throws. That is all true from every detractor he has.
However, King is an athletic freak at quarterback. His improvisation is fantastic. But he is not a quarterback that will run out of the pocket whenever he can just because he runs a 4.4. King stands in the pocket and goes through his progressions very well. His poise under pressure has really impressed me as well. Count in his playmaking ability and that is a fantastic combination to have. His anticipation is all there, and that shows up a ton. The ceiling is obvious with King and the arm talent is eye-popping. The only question is if you are willing to take a shot on all the potential that King has, and personally, I am, especially with his growth on tape.
Oh my I think I’m gonna like D’Eriq King pic.twitter.com/6UgiSZOYvP
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) April 29, 2019