The 2020 NFL Draft class is shaping up to be quite the game changer. As we already see it, the wide receiver and cornerback classes could feature multiple All-Pros. That’s also without mentioning some of the impact edge rushers and left tackles that could be had in the early rounds.
But we all know that draft classes go as the quarterback position within them goes. Thankfully this quarterback class is poised to be one of the best we’ve seen in recent years.
Going into the year there were really only one or two quarterbacks who were seen as worthy first round picks. Now it’s becoming more and more common to see about four or five projected into the first round.
As it stands today, there are five quarterbacks who have a chance to go round one and wear the title of a potential franchise changers. But we also know that the draft isn’t just about how high you go. It's also -- maybe more importantly -- about the situation you are drafted. “Fit,” if you will.
With that in mind, I decided to pair each potential first round quarterback with a team I feel fits their style the best, and gives them the best pro outlook.
Joe Burrow - Cincinnati Bengals
So far in 2019, LSU QB Joe Burrow has been the best player in all of college football — not just the best quarterback, the best player. His 29 touchdowns (along with throwing just three interceptions) is the most all-time at LSU with six regular season games remaining. Burrow is not only one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country, he is also the most fearless. His ability to throw under pressure has been top-of-the-class, and there is a real debate for him being the top overall prospect in this draft.
The Cincinnati Bengals are a mess. Though quarterback isn’t even their biggest need, they are poised for a total franchise rebuild this offseason. If that is the case, they will likely be picking a quarterback, and they will be picking one early.
Their head coach Zac Taylor has a strong history of quarterback play in his background. He was one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in Nebraska Cornhuskers history, and took that style of play into his coaching career. Taylor began his coaching as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M from 2008-11 where he worked for his father-in-law, Mike Sherman. Sherman is known for coaching guys like Brett Favre in Green Bay, then Ryan Tannehill at Texas A&M.
Sherman is very pro style, and where I believe that is where Taylor’s roots are, I see he has evolved a bit in his approach of the game. During his time as the quarterbacks coach in Los Angeles under McVay, I believe Taylor learned and adapted the importance of a quick-hit offense with built-in play action.
This is why I believe Joe Burrow could be a perfect fit for the Bengals. With a less-than-ideal offensive line right now, and the desire to be a quick-hit but also prolific passing offense, Burrow has shown the ability to be elite both pre- and post-snap. Though a team with a better offensive line might serve Burrow better, pairing him with Taylor's offensive mind could be an ideal pair.
Tua Tagovailoa - Miami Dolphins
The fit for Tagovailoa in Miami is less about the coaching staff than it is about the ability to surround Tua with top young talent.
I am not sure how long Dolphins current offensive Chad O’Shea will be on staff, as the team has currently zero wins. He will likely go before Flores does. So counting on the journeyman wide receivers coach O'Shea to weigh in on a Tua selection would not hold much weight.
I like the Miami fit for him because the Dolphins have so many picks over the next two years where they can truly build an offense entirely around him. They'll also have the freedom to hand-pick the next offensive coordinator around Tua as well.
Such a blank canvas is Tua's best bet, if you ask me.
Justin Herbert - Indianapolis Colts
Jacoby Brissett has been as good as the Colts could have expected him to be so far this season. The Brissett-led Colts are 4-2 and on top of the AFC South. There is a chance they believe in Brissett enough to not spend a first round pick on a quarterback post-Luck retirement. But if they still want to go that direction, I think Justin Herbert is their best fit.
Colts head coach Frank Reich has spent most of his football days managing the quarterback position. He was a quarterback in the NFL for 14 years before getting into coach, and his knowledge of the position is vast. Reich also comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree. Reich was under Eagles head coach Doug Peterson for their Super Bowl run in 2017, and Peterson is a close branch to Reid, first as a player in 1999, then as a coach from 2013-2015.
Such a coaching tree asks for a unique style of play from their quarterbacks, one that demands a big arm, a mobile element, and quick-hit ability. Of the quarterbacks who would likely be in range of a Colts selection, the one who fits the bill there is Justin Herbert. Herbert can go West Coast on you with fast-paced, no huddle quick accuracy, and also hit his deep shots.
Herbert would give Reich that opportunity to get creative in many ways. But, as stated before, they could just as easily roll with Brissett, at this point.
Jacob Eason - Tennessee Titans
Eason has really come on strong over the last few weeks, and with his impressive performances, a heightened draft stock has emerged.
Eason was a former 5-star quarterback who originally committed to Georgia. He was initially the starter going into the 2016 season, but an injury to him allowed Jake Fromm to stepping in, and Fromm has held the position ever since. That led Eason, a west coast native, to transfer back to the state of Washington where he is currently quarterback for the Washington Huskies.
So far in 2019, Eason is having his best year yet. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound passer is having no trouble imposing his will on PAC-12 opponents thought he air, as is evident by his 16 touchdowns to just three interceptions — his 9.3 Y.P.A. average is also a career high.
After deciding to move on from Marcus Mariota, the Titans are going to need someone to take his place as their franchise signal caller. They likely won’t be interested in another quarterback who doesn’t have the arm strength to push the ball down the field or the consistent accuracy to remain reliable on the easy throws. Eason presents the potential to fill both needs for Tennessee. He can give them a fresh start and a high ceiling with that big arm — a style very different from what they’ve been subjected to over the last few years.
Jalen Hurts - New Orleans Saints
A bit off the wall, but if we’re taking about potential fits and landing spots, I love the idea of the Saints drafting Hurts, if they can.
Yes, Bridgewater has been good, but where he’s been good enough to get them wins in Brees' absence, he’s also been good enough to drive up a steep price tag this offseason. Coincidentally, Taysom Hill is also a free agent this offseason. Both of these players hold value to the Saints, but after the success each has been having, they’re going to cost a lot more than what the Saints are paying them now. So, my thought here is why not get the best of both world on a rookie contract in a guy like Hurts who can then learn behind Brees for a year or two before Brees is done?
Hurts is having a fantastic season in his first with the Sooners. Under the tutelage of head coach Lincoln Riley, Hurts has 20 touchdowns passing and an additional 10 touchdowns rushing. He’s also averaging his highest yards-per-touch average for both passes and runs. And on top of all that, Hurts looks more efficient and accurate than he ever has with a career high in completion percentage. I know that some of that comes from playing in the Big 12, a conference that isn’t known for its defense, but if what we’re getting this year is a building block for what could be a future for Hurts in the NFL, I can’t think of many spots where continued grow would be as impactful for him as it would be with him in New Orleans.
Sean Payton is one of the most innovative minds in the NFL, and I’d love to see what he can do with a guy like Hurts.