The 2020 NFL Combine begins on Sunday, which means the offseason is officially in high gear. This draft class features multiple intriguing quarterback prospects who are looking to put themselves in the first-round discussion. Here are five to keep an eye on throughout the next week.
5. Jake Fromm, Georgia
Fromm was a bit of a surprising entry this year, as he wasn’t seen as a top prospect. He is a three-year starter with an impressive resume; he is 35-7 as a starter, two Sugar Bowl appearances, one National Championship berth, and threw for at least 2,600 yards and 24 touchdowns each season of his career. But Fromm hasn’t developed much since his freshman year, after which he was being touted as a future first-rounder.
On tape, Fromm is a generally smart player, but he doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally well. He isn’t big, is not extremely accurate, is decently mobile, and has an average arm. Throwing drills will be a great opportunity for Fromm to prove he does have what it takes to start in the NFL, and radar gun readings should give insight into how strong his arm really is.
Andy Dalton seems like a good player comparison for Fromm, and if a team is convinced Fromm will turn out like Dalton, he’ll have a good chance at going in the first round.
4. Jacob Eason, Washington
Fromm’s former teammate at Georgia, Eason started 13 games as a freshman in 2016 and showed significant promise. Unfortunately, he was injured in the 2017 opener, and Fromm claimed the starting job from then on.
Eason transferred to Washington, where he threw for 3,132 yards, 23 TDs, and eight interceptions as a junior. Eason is 6’6″ 227lbs and has a cannon arm.
From a physical standpoint, he’s about as prototypical a QB prospect as you can hope to find. But consistency is a major issue with him; in accuracy, mechanics, and decision-making. He’ll turn 23 in November, but really has only two years of experience.
If he can show off some improved footwork and accuracy in throwing drills, it will bode well for his draft stock, which is already hovering around the late first round.
3. Justin Herbert, Oregon
Herbert improved statistically from his junior season, throwing for nearly 3,500 yards, 32 TDs, and six INTs, but skill-wise he failed to show the development many were hoping for.
Like Eason, Herbert is a physical specimen at the position, but lacks the consistency of a top prospect. That hasn’t stopped his stock from jumping into the top 10, even as high as seventh overall to the Los Angeles Chargers.
He had a great Senior Bowl practice week and followed that up with a pristine game performance, and he’ll look to continue his pre-draft success this week.
Scouts will be looking for him to show off improved touch on the ball; it’s obvious he can fire it in anywhere, but when he needs to take some mustard off the ball and drop it into a window downfield, he’s struggled. With a strong Combine showing, Herbert could solidify himself as QB3 and a top-10 pick.
2. Jordan Love, Utah State
Perhaps this class’s biggest wildcard, Love has the potential to be the next Patrick Mahomes, but could also end up as another Blake Bortles, or worse. Love has basically everything you could ever want in a QB, at least from a physical perspective; he’s big, athletic, mobile, and has a howitzer strapped to his shoulder. But Love doesn’t have the production of an elite QB prospect.
His 2018 season was good; over 3,500 yards, 32 TDs, and 6 INTs. But in 2019, he thew just 20 TDs compared to 17 INTs. He lost skill position talent to the NFL and had to deal with the turnover of a new coaching staff, but that’s still a significant dropoff in performance, and should be very worrying to NFL teams.
Love’s decision-making, accuracy, and mechanics are all sub-par, and have to be greatly improved before he ever sees the field, otherwise he’ll get eaten alive by NFL defenses. However, his physical talent is keeping him in a battle with Herbert to be the third signal-caller selected this year, and the Combine is a great opportunity for him.
Love needs to show improved accuracy and especially a sped-up throwing motion. His potential is too much for him to last too long, the question is how early can he go?
1. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
There are very few concerns about Tagovailoa’s on-field play. He’s mobile, accurate, has a good arm, and is smart with the football. The problem is he is undersized at 6’1″ and suffered multiple injuries during his college career, including a serious hip injury this past season that still puts his football future in jeopardy.
Teams don’t need to see Tua throw at the Combine; they know who he is as a player. The medical checks will be incredibly important. If he is making good progress and is on his way to a full recovery, he could be the second player chosen. If there are lingering issues and his career is in doubt, he’ll tumble down the board. A fully healthy Tagovailoa would challenge Joe Burrow for the first overall pick.
As it stands, his stock is entirely dependent on his medical situation. For Tagovailoa’s sake, hopefully he’s recovering well and will indeed be able to play football again. But it would be entirely fair to label him injury-prone, and teams will be wary of that at the top of the draft, no matter how talented the player is.