After evaluating one of the more underwhelming quarterback classes during the 2019 NFL Draft cycle, 2020 has been a much appreciated group with a large amount of talent-upside. Everyone knows about Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. Everyone also knows about University of Oregon signal caller Justin Herbert and Georgia’s Jake Fromm.
Be assured however, the cupboard is not bare outside of those three. This class possesses a high level of expectations and tantalizing skill sets. So as we move quickly toward the beginning of the 2019 college football season, the quarterback summer evaluation period has come to an end.
So what does my end of summer quarterback big board look like? Who is standing on top and who has a lot of questions to answer?
I present my personal 2020 NFL Draft summer quarterback rankings.
1. Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)
Weight: 218 lbs
Positives: Incredible touch to deep sections of the field, nice ball placement, good arm strength, solid athlete, can create off script, nice pocket awareness-toughness, maintains a good base
Negatives: Long release, below average height, some misidentifications of coverage pre and post snap, inconsistencies against better defenses in 2018
2. Jordan Love (Utah State)
Weight: 220 lbs
Class: RS Junior
Positives: Nice size and athletic profile, great intermediate touch, very nice ball placement, above average arm strength, can throw from different angles-arm slots, compact release
Negatives: Level of competition, needs to throw with better trajectory as a deep passer, one year starter, eye manipulation is non-existent
3. Justin Herbert (Oregon)
Weight: 237 lbs
Positives: Has every tool in the book, generally accurate, outstanding size and arm strength, legit athlete, three year starter in major conference, shorter delivery for a taller quarterback
Negatives: Upper and lower body can be disjointed, durability concerns
4. Jake Fromm (Georgia)
Weight: 220 lbs
Positives: Short-smooth stroke, battle tested, good accuracy, stays in rhythm, recognizes various coverages and pressures, high floor
Negatives: Not physically gifted, struggles against pressure, low ceiling
5. K.J. Costello (Stanford)
Weight: 222 lbs
Class: RS Junior
Positives: Great frame, good arm strength, decent timing, has made some big time throws
Negatives: No ability out of structure, statue in the pocket, makes some bone headed decisions
I have admittedly been on the Jordan Love hype train for some time now. The 6’4” 220 pounder possesses several traits that remain vital for the transition from college star to potential franchise quarterback.
Among those traits being his prototypical size, accuracy and athletic prowess. But there is one trait that stands above them all… his touch to the intermediate levels of the field.
Often you see quarterbacks struggle to attack the middle of the field, regularly struggling to fit into compressed throwing windows. He has that, and in leaps and bounds. He regularly fits those types of throws with an effortless approach. Everything he throws is with conviction.
The sky’s the limit for a player with this type of skill set and calm demeanor.
Some of those same attributes has left Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa at the top of the list exiting the summer evaluation period. While some might try to knock his arm strength, Tua possesses possibly the most talented arms in this year’s class.
He is no stranger to changing platforms and release points, showing the ability to make all the big time throws needed to cement his status as the cycle’s top quarterback when the 2020 NFL Draft comes around.
A naturally accurate passer, Tua presents a relatively high floor as a nice rhythm passer who is able to affect multiple levels of the field. As a deep passer is where Tagovailoa separates himself into the potential special category.
His deep accuracy and touch are eye popping traits. He seems to get more and more comfortable the further you get down the football field. Add in the above average athleticism and ability to win outside of structure, I’m all in on Tua.
He is just beginning to scratch the surface of how good he can be. Combine his talent level with the deepest group of pass catchers in college football, good luck SEC defenses.
Tua’s main competition for that number one spot for most people is Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert.
Had Herbert elected to forgo his final year of eligibility for the 2019 NFL Draft, there is a real possibility he may have supplanted Kyler Murray as the first overall selection. And it is easy to see why.
Herbert possesses all of the physical tools an NFL evaluator could dream about. He is a huge athlete that demonstrates supreme arm strength. At times, he also shows the ability to be accurate to all levels of the field.
However there is still some inconsistencies to those areas of his game. He still can be erratic at times, showing moments where his arm and legs are not aligned properly. That can drastically affect his overall accuracy.
Perhaps my biggest concern with Herbert is some durability concerns that have bothered him over the last couple of seasons. At the end of the day the greatest ability is availability. So for now, I’m slightly lower on Herbert than most, but he still has a solid first round summer grade from me.
Maybe the guy people aren’t talking about enough is Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello.
Entering his third season of significant action, Costello has demonstrated some nice glimpses to project as your traditional pocket passer at the next level.
While there are some inconsistencies still, he has shown some nice ball placement and ability to fit the ball into tight windows. He’s going to hold steady at number five for me, but has the ability to move further up this list with improvements as a decision maker.
Speaking of holding steady, that perfectly describes Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm in these rankings.
While he doesn’t possess the big time physical profile to profile as one of the top two or three quarterbacks in this class, Fromm possesses a consistent approach to the game which make him a high floor prospect.
You know what you’re getting in Fromm. He is not going to make any major mistakes that cost you football games, but I’m not so sure he’s going to make many to win you a football game. There is something to say about consistency however.
Fromm is going to be a very popular prospect for teams who already possess a solid nucleus. As long as there is talent around him, Fromm should have no issue being a productive passer who can keep a team on schedule.
I’m just not so sure there is any type or substantial ceiling.
6. Cole McDonald (Hawaii)
Weight: 220 lbs
Class: RS Junior
Positives: Very strong arm, good size, nice athlete, has shown the ability to manipulate safeties, very talented arm
Negatives: Super funky delivery, long looping arm motion, takes forever to get to his release point, flat footed too much, rough end to 2018, some nagging injuries
7. Jacob Eason (Washington)
Weight: 227 lbs
Class: RS Junior
Positives: Huge arm, prototype size, makes some big time throws, not rattled against pressure, high ceiling
Negatives: Lack of touch, inconsistent timing, statue in the pocket, needs to drive hips more short-intermediate, wildcard
8. Steven Montez (Colorado)
Weight: 230 lbs
Class: RS Senior
Positives: Has every tool-size, arm strength and athleticism, generally on time, money to the intermediate level of the field
Negatives: Locks in on receivers, lack of touch, doesn’t threaten the middle of the field, needs a huge jump
9. Nathan Stanley (Iowa)
Weight: 243 lbs
Positives: Play action game, great size and arm strength, okay athlete, pro style experience
Negatives: Absolutely no touch, longer release, inconsistent decision maker, struggles out of structure, clunky mechanics
10. Bryce Perkins (Virginia)
Weight: 215 lbs
Class: RS Senior
Positives: Very nice athlete, good touch, recognizes coverages well, takes care of the football
Negatives: Lack of arm strength-talent, one year starter, disjointed release
The ladder part of the top ten is a huge indicator to just how enticing the 2020 quarterbacks really are. With a plethora of next level talent, we are tasked with figuring out the two biggest enigmas across the class as a whole, Hawaii’s Cole McDonald and the former Georgia Bulldog, now Washington quarterback Jacob Eason.
McDonald was everyone’s early season sleeper quarterback following a 29:3 touchdown to interception ratio following the first eight games of the season.
Unfortunately some sloppy play (7:7 ratio over his final five games played) and nagging injuries tempered the excitement down the stretch.
From a physical perspective there is a lot to like. You aren’t going to find many arms as strong as McDonald’s in the entire country. His combination of size, arm strength and athleticism are enticing. He makes some throws that not many guys on this list can make.
It is not inconceivable to believe that McDonald could be much higher on this list by seasons end. It also isn’t a stretch that he may disappear from this list entirely.
That funky release is just hard to get around. His long, looping wide up takes forever to get to his release point. This makes for a very low margin for error. His decision making needs to be on point, and time.
If not, we are playing with fire amongst a ton of dynamite.
Then there’s Jacob Eason, perhaps an even more pronounced enigma. The former five-star recruit is a long way away from his first college stop with the Georgia Bulldogs.
The University of Washington will provide him with a huge opportunity to unlock that tantalizing potential that once made him the toast of the recruiting world.
At 6’6” and 227 pounds, Eason is in a head to head battle with Oregon’s Justin Herbert for the crown for the strongest arm in the 2020 quarterback group. Timing will be everything for Eason. Right now his legs are far too disjointed with his upper body.
Get this young man in sync and now we have a contender for the top-five section.
Speaking of legs, Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins was amongst my most pleasant surprise watches this off season. This young man is a legitimate athlete that can hurt you equally as a runner and as a passer out of structure.
The one time Arizona State Sun Devil is coming off of a dynamite first year under center for the Cavaliers, being one of only two players in the nation to account for 2,600+ passing yards and 900+ rushing yards. The other being 2019 Heisman Trophy winner and number one overall selection Kyler Murray.
In obvious elite company, Perkins was able to spark a rebirth for Virginia football… raising expectations even further heading into the 2019 season. The athleticism is easy to see.
The touch and ability to understand weak spots in zone and man coverage took me off guard. Perkins shows the mental side of the game, consistently making good decisions to go with the football. He clearly understands how to identify coverages both pre and post snap.
His arm strength is what is keeping him from being much higher on this list. He didn’t strike me as a player who possesses a substantial amount of arm strength. It takes a while for the ball to come out and doesn’t always look pretty… but the decision making gives him a chance.
He just might be the quarterback with highest level of variance on this list.
My level of excitement was quickly turned to frustrating when evaluating Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley and Colorado’s Steven Montez.
Stanley is a player who has received some legitimate hype over the last few months. There has even been some first round buzz thrown out there for him.
I definitely don’t see that.
What I do see is a huge kid with one of the strongest arms you will see in the class. You can’t teach 6’4” and 243 pounds with a rocket for a right arm. Unfortunately you can’t always teach touch and accuracy either.
Stanley doesn’t know anything but fastballs. He is a passer who doesn’t demonstrate any changing of arm speeds. This limits his ability to attack different angles, specifically the further he goes down the field.
Steven Montez is one of those players I am just going to be higher on right now than most.
I see the shortcomings. He also struggles to change arm speeds and angles of release. He doesn’t understand the importance of touch to the intermediate-deep sections of the field.
But this is summer scouting, so I’m betting on traits right now.
Montez is a quarterback who seems to check all the physical boxes. He is a big kid with some easy arm strength and wrist snap to drive the football. He is also a tremendous athlete that defenses must account for.
It is just so troubling how irregularly he is able to affect the middle of the field. All of his success seems to take place outside the numbers or on out breaking action.
He’s a weird one but these types of tools is what you bet on this time of year.
Players to Keep an Eye on:
-Zerrick Cooper, RS Junior, Jacksonville State
-Kellen Mond, Junior, Texas A&M
-Sam Ehlinger, Junior, Texas
-Brian Lewerke, RS Senior, Michigan State
-Shea Patterson, Senior, Michigan
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