NFL Draft: Top five QBs heading into the Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is right around the corner and so it’s time to take a look at our list of top quarterbacks entering the event, along with two others to watch heading into Indianapolis.
ASK FARRELL: Which three-star LB will emerge in the 2020 class?
CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State
1. Joe Burrow, LSU
Recruiting: In the spring before his senior season, Burrow committed to Ohio State over West Virginia, Boston College, Iowa State and others. He was a three-star prospect who was No. 24 at dual-threat quarterback while having 20 offers. Burrow did not get much of an opportunity with the Buckeyes and transferred to LSU, where he won the Heisman Trophy this season and led the Tigers to the national title.
Stats: After transferring to LSU, Burrow threw for 2,894 yards with 16 touchdowns and five picks in his first season in Baton Rouge and then absolutely exploded this past year with 5,671 yards, 60 touchdowns and six picks. It has propelled him into the consensus No. 1 quarterback and probably the No. 1 pick overall.
Farrell’s take: There’s no way anyone saw this coming a year ago, let alone when Burrow was coming out of high school. Burrow was a mid-range three-star out of Ohio who had good size but was erratic with his accuracy and mechanics. He certainly wasn’t the confident signal caller we see now. Burrow did everything well, but nothing great despite putting up some good numbers, so to see him emerge as such a dominant passer all these years later is fun. He’s having one of the best seasons in college football history and is clearly the No 1 pick in the NFL Draft.
2. Justin Herbert, Oregon
Recruiting: Herbert broke his leg during his junior season of high school and was not a heralded recruit with offers from only Oregon, Montana State, Northern Arizona and Portland State. He picked the Ducks midway through his senior season as it was always his dream school and he was a season-ticket holder.
Stats: Herbert had four productive seasons at Oregon but especially this past season where he threw for 3,471 yards with 32 touchdowns and six picks. It was actually after his junior season where he had slightly lower numbers across the board where he was mentioned as the possible No. 1 overall pick if he left school. He returned to Oregon and posted even better stats.
Farrell’s take: Herbert is another great find by the Ducks as his only other offers were FCS programs, and last year some were talking about him as the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft if he decided to come out. He was a big, raw, dual-threat coming out of high school who could sling it, but had some accuracy issues and some mechanical problems. He also looked skinny despite being 210 pounds or so. Herbert has filled out, has improved his accuracy a bit although he remains inconsistent at times. He’s big, he can move, he has a strong arm and he has all the intangibles NFL scouts love and someone will fall for him as a top-10 pick.
3. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Recruiting: Tagovailoa took visits all over the country and early on it felt like Oregon was the leader in his recruitment especially after Marcus Mariota shined for the Ducks. USC became a major contender as well along with Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and others. He picked Alabama in the spring before his senior season, about two months after Jake Fromm flipped from the Crimson Tide to Georgia.
Stats: In nine games this season before getting injured, Tagovailoa threw for 2,840 yards with 33 touchdowns and three picks. It was actually his sophomore season when he shined the most throwing for 3,966 yards, 43 TDs and six picks. Injuries have been a concern for Tagovailoa during his time in Tuscaloosa and it will be a focus at the combine. He will reportedly not run or throw at the combine, but he will be evaluated by NFL doctors after getting positive news on his hip last week and conduct interviews with teams. He is scheduled to resume football activities in March.
Farrell’s take: Tagovailoa was highly ranked, but fell short of five-star status by about 20 spots or so. Oops. We liked his arm strength and accuracy, but he didn’t have great size and struggled a few times in evaluations. However, he had one of the best seasons in recent memory and has become a superstar. This year, he was the leader for the Heisman (as he was last year) before his injury and there are still plenty of questions to answer about his hip. I don’t like lefty quarterbacks, but he’s the exception but I do like Herbert’s upside a bit better.
4. Jacob Eason, Washington
Recruiting: Eason committed to Georgia, but then seriously considered many other options, including Florida, after then-coach Mark Richt was fired. Coach Kirby Smart made Eason a priority and he ended up sticking with the Bulldogs. After losing the starting job to Jake Fromm, Eason transferred to Washington.
Stats: In his freshman season at Georgia, Eason threw for 2,430 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight picks. He then got injured, lost his starting job to Fromm and transferred home to Washington. In one season there, Eason completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,132 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Farrell’s take: Eason reminded me a lot of former five-star quarterback Matthew Stafford even before he committed to Georgia. He had great size, a cannon arm and good pocket presence and I loved his field vision. Like many quarterbacks these days, Eason had to transfer to find his fit after a solid freshman season at Georgia. His year at Washington was up and down and he’s inconsistent, but some have him as a late first-rounder. Like Herbert, his size and arm strength will be tough to pass up.
5. Jake Fromm, Georgia
Recruiting: In the spring of his junior year, Fromm flipped his commitment from Alabama to Georgia, a huge recruiting win for Kirby Smart over Nick Saban. Former UGA coach Mark Richt did not recruit Fromm all that much, but Smart made him a top priority in the 2017 class.
Stats: Fromm was consistently good if not ever spectacular for Georgia in three years as he threw for 8,236 yards with 78 touchdowns and 18 interceptions during his time in Athens. His numbers declined as a junior, as he had his lowest rating and completion percentage of his career and had a stretch of five straight games late in the season where he completed under 50 percent of his passes.
Farrell’s take: Fromm became a five-star late in the process, earning that fifth star after a great week at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and was a huge flip for Smart from Alabama. He was a kid we felt was a “gamer” who might not have as many natural skills as some other five-star quarterbacks, but had more of the intangibles. His efficiency and maturity were off the charts as a freshman and he led his team to the title game, so bigger things were expected last year and he delivered. However, he regressed this year and it’s not clear whether coming out early is the right decision or not. I can’t see anyone reaching on him before the second round at the highest.
TWO TO WATCH
Jordan Love, Utah State
Recruiting: Love committed to Utah State in the summer before his senior season over Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona, Sacramento State and Northern Colorado, his only other offers.
Stats: Love had a phenomenal sophomore season where he emerged as one of the top quarterbacks on the radar for the NFL Draft as he threw for 3,567 yards with 32 touchdowns and six picks. However, Love lost a lot of his top targets heading into this season and his numbers turned much worse with 20 touchdowns and 17 picks.
Farrell’s take: Love was a two-star prospect out of California who was lightly recruited and very skinny. However, he could extend the play and was a very good athlete and had a frame that he has filled out very well. He’s on the NFL radar now for good reason and is one of those guys who many think will be a huge surprise in the league. Love is a high-risk, high-reward prospect.
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
Recruiting: While working out at the Elite 11, Hurts committed to Alabama over Mississippi State, Texas A&M and many others in the summer before his senior season. He ended up winning the starting job at Alabama but lost it at halftime of the national title game to Tagovailoa and ended up transferring to Oklahoma for this past season.
Stats: Hurts put up incredibly impressive stats during three seasons with the Crimson Tide, but they did drop off year by year after the four-star threw for 2,780 yards with 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions in his freshman year. This past season at Oklahoma, Hurts thew for 3,851 yards with 32 TDs and eight picks and he rushed for 1,298 yards and 20 scores as some believe he should switch positions to play in the NFL.
Farrell’s take: Hurts was always known for a big arm, but his touch wasn’t consistent. However, he was the kind of kid who seemed very relaxed on and off the field and never shied away from the moment. Hurts was smart with the football and his accuracy improved greatly between his junior and senior seasons of high school. He took his game to the next level at Oklahoma this year as a passer but many still wonder if he’s a quarterback at the next level or would be better off as a running back. It will be interesting to see who takes a chance on him.