2020 Senior Bowl Preview: Quarterbacks

Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

From Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott to Baker Mayfield and Drew Lock, we've seen many of the league’s young quarterbacks participate in the Reese's Senior Bowl. 

Competing in the post-season All-Star circuit can help boost a prospect’s draft stock, but with quarterbacks, there's an added element of teams getting first-hand knowledge about each one. This position is obviously the most important in sports and can make or break the tenure of many front offices. 

Executives, scouts and evaluators are always seeking extra avenues to learn as much as possible when scouting signal-callers. A hit on the position could set your team up with a quick turnaround due to the cheap contract throwers play on relative to the market value of the deals they will eventually sign. Accumulating as many pieces to the puzzle as possible is what teams opt to do as every bit of information is essential when putting together the final opinion on prospects.

The 2020 Senior Bowl crop contains many different varieties of signal-callers, but the three headliners will be Justin Herbert, Jordan Love and Jalen Hurts. But Anthony Gordon, Shea Patterson and Steven Montez could enter April as late-round options to take a flyer on that could provide value.

Top Talent: Justin Herbert, Oregon

The debates will go back and forth as to who the best quarterback in Mobile, Alabama, will be, but the most talented of the group is Herbert. His intangibles, mental makeup and overall off the field acumen are a coaches dream. Herbert also has the baseline traits that coaches will love to work with as a starting point. He will be the 39th Oregon player to appear in the Senior Bowl. After completing 66.8 percent of his passes for 3,471 yards with 32 touchdowns and six interceptions this season, he exited Eugene as one of the most decorated players in program history. 

But even as a four-year starter, opinions remain mixed. All are in agreeance that Herbert is supremely talented, but there have been a lot of lapses in his play. If he was able to better string together some promise on the field, he had the potential to turn into a franchise quarterback. However, after returning for his senior season, Herbert still managed to be a streaky QB. Getting outside of familiar confines could help him blossom and grow in order to reach those levels many think he's capable of sustaining over the long haul.

Most Potential: Jordan Love, Utah State

It has been a tale of two seasons for Love. As a sophomore, Love threw for 3,567 yards with 32 touchdowns and only six interceptions. It was a season that resulted in excitement over his future. But prior to his junior year, former Aggies head coach, Matt Wells, moved onto Texas Tech and Love's game suffered as a result.

Last season, his numbers dwindled to 3,402 passing yards and 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Outside of the game against Fresno State, Love never looked comfortable in the team’s new scheme. His footwork and decision making took a massive step back and there were other bad habits that were created. Mixed in those rough patches were stretches of encouraging play, ones that will make you sit up in your chair with intrigue. While his numbers spiraled, he still showed off rocket arm strength, improvisation skills and the mental toughness to keep firing away while still dealing with a heavy amount of drops.

There will be a lot of eyes on Love as teams try to figure him out. The 2019 version is destined to be a Day 2 selection, while the 2018 form is one that has the potential to rise all the way to being a top-15 pick.

Late-Round Steal: Anthony Gordon, Washington State

Following in the footsteps of Luke Falk and Gardner Minshew, Gordon became the third consecutive WSU signal-caller to receive an invite to the Senior Bowl. Throughout time, now Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach has been able to find success with quarterbacks who maybe aren't the most physically gifted but are able to win with quick and decisive decision making. Minshew’s name will be thrown around soon after mentioning Gordon because they come from the same system and have nearly identical traits. While Gordon may not have the moxy Minshew had, he has more arm strength and was another thrower who mastered Leach's air raid system.

As with most late-round targets, their competitive fire and football intelligence help them overcome many physical warts that are associated with their game. During practices, it will be easy to see the step down in traits that Gordon has, but he can help compensate that by continuing to show his accuracy, quick processing and awareness. The former Cougar quarterback is the exact type of late-round lottery ticket you take a chance on in hopes of cashing it in to reap the benefits of a low-risk high-reward investment.

Most To Prove: Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma

After the outstanding college career Hurts had at Alabama and then Oklahoma, it's hard to believe that he has any more to prove. In a controlled environment with 7-on-7 sessions, live team periods and throwing one-on-one matchups between wide receivers and defensive backs, Hurts will get a chance to show off how well he's able to layer the ball with touch, but also how much juice he has behind his arm.

Hurts will undoubtedly be knocked because of his unconventional playing style but the continued growth in his game as a passer was evident during his final season with the Sooners. I will be paying close attention to see if Hurts can successfully test condensed windows after he was part of a wide-open offense. The scheme made things easy for Hurts; taking chances downfield during man coverage paired with accuracy over the middle are areas of importance for his Senior Bowl week to be considered a positive.

Written By:

Jordan Reid

Senior NFL Draft Analyst

Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-Founder of ClimbingThePocket.com. Former QB and Coach at North Carolina Central Univ.

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