I remember sitting down to write my prospect preview for quarterbacks last year and having a bad taste in my mouth. Last years class was bad, especially, when you consider that Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins were not on people’s radar until the middle of the college football season. This years class, however, is much better with some established talents along with quarterbacks I’m excited to see make big improvements in their play this season. I’ll break down my top 5 quarterbacks from the film I’ve watched so far and then give you the rest of my list after that. I watched 15 quarterbacks in total so far, but still have some I will get to before the season starts.
For each of my top 5 quarterbacks, I’ll include a brief explanation of what they do well and what they need to improve on this season. I will also link a Twitter thread that I posted with some game film explaining some of their better plays from last season. Also, remember these are preseason rankings a lot will change by the time I start actually grading these players. Let’s get the ball rolling with number one, shall we?
Tua Tagovailoa, Junior, Alabama
Tua burst onto the scene when he saved the Alabama season two years ago by leading a second-half comeback against the Georgia Bulldogs in the National Championship game. Since then, the draft community has billed him as a future number one pick with lots of potential. The tape that I watched was very impressive and might be worthy of the top overall pick. Tua’s ability to throw with touch to all three levels of the field jumps out right away. He anticipates well and throws before his receivers make their breaks. He does a great job using pump fakes to move safeties off of his eventual target. My favorite trait, however, is his movement while inside the pocket. He does a masterful job of stepping up and sliding left or right to avoid pressure in order to make accurate throws. My biggest concern right now with Tua is centered around his health. He was banged up during the end of the season and had a minor procedure done on his ankle. If Tua can stay healthy and improve with processing coverages it will be hard to argue against him as QB 1 next April.
Justin Herbert, Senior, Oregon
Last year, Justin Herbert entered the season as my QB 1 and remained there until he chose to go back to school for his senior year. He gets unseated by Tua here, but I think the gap between them is much closer than people think. Herbert is a big athletic quarterback who throws a beautiful ball. Herbert looks like he has above-average arm strength that lets him work in the middle of the field effectively. He works the quick game well by being on time with the football and taking what the defense gives him. Herbert is great when asked to throw on the run keeping his accuracy and velocity despite being off platform. My biggest concern with Herbert is centered around how much the Oregon offense inflates his stats. This isn’t uncommon for college quarterbacks, but the Oregon offense does give him a lot of easy completions that won’t be there in the NFL. If Herbert continues to improve in the mental areas of the game (and gets some receivers who can catch) he has a chance to compete for the number one quarterback spot in the 2020 class.
Jake Fromm, Junior, Georgia
If you are heavily involved in draft Twitter then you know that Jake Fromm is not exactly loved by the community. I understand the concerns that some people have with Fromm, but I think he does way more things well than he does poorly. Fromm works the quick game exceptionally well working on time with his receivers and has good ball placement. Fromm is a master of the back shoulder throw consistently throwing it with timing and accuracy to all levels of the field. Fromm, typically, does a good job with reading defenses and attacking his one v one matchups which is a trait that few college quarterbacks have. The complaints against Fromm I feel like can be summarized into one category “he plays it way too safe by checking down all the time”. I agree with that complaint and would love to see him stretch the field more while being more accurate with his deep ball. Saying Fromm is bad because he plays it safe at times is just a bad take though. I think the real issue is that he has some unfair expectations placed on him. People are expecting him to be more dynamic than he is because he forced two other 5-star quarterbacks to transfer out of Georgia. Fromm is a super solid option at quarterback and has a whole year to show he is more dynamic as a passer so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
KJ Costello, Junior, Stanford
Costello caught my eye last season when I was watching tape on former Stanford receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside. After doing my film study on him earlier this week I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Costello works the seams and the middle of the field very well because of good arm strength and good ball placement. I mention this trait because some college quarterbacks can be totally averse to using the middle of the field. Like Fromm, Costello throws a lot of nice back shoulder throws, especially in the red zone. He knew the strengths of his receivers and tight ends, and he always gave them a chance to go up and make a play on the ball. I liked that he took advantage of soft coverage a lot allowing his receivers to just eat up easy yards. Costello struggles at times with his accuracy when he has to move off of platform. If he’s allowed to stand in and make throws he is fine but when asked to move he can struggle. He has a tendency to throw off his back foot at times which needs to be cleaned up this season. One last thing about Costello, I would like to see him throw with way more touch in 2020 its missing from his tape. If Costello can clean up those things then I think you have a quarterback prospect who makes NFL throws and has improved every year. That is really all you can ask for at this point in the draft process.
Jordan Love, Junior, Utah State
I tend to be pretty skeptical of small school quarterbacks with big-time arms, so Jordan Love was pretty far down my watch list. Clearly, he surprised and impressed quite a bit to make into my top 5. The first thing that jumped out to me was Love’s arm strength to all levels of the field. He’s got an absolute cannon and can rip it with the best of them. He surprised me by showing off some touch throws, which I highlighted in my mini film breakdown on Twitter. Love also has excellent movement skills which allows him to scramble forward for yards and create easy throwing lanes for himself. I liked that Utah State, despite running a very simple offense, gave Love some freedom to audible at the line last year. The problems with Love are typical of quarterbacks with a lot of arm strength. He can be erratic at times and will overthrow receivers leading to easy interceptions. Utah State’s offense gives him a lot of easy looks with screen and swing passes, so that’s another concern for me as well. If Love can take a jump in the mental part of the game and improve his accuracy then we might be looking at a first-round quarterback in April.
Number 6: Jacob Eason, Junior, Washington
Number 7: Brian Lewereke, Senior, Michigan State
Number 8: Cole Mcdonald, RS Junior, Hawaii
Number 9: Shea Patterson, Senior, Michigan
Number 10: Steven Montez, Senior, Colorado
Number 11: Jake Bently, Senior, South Carolina
Number 12: Joe Burrow, Senior, LSU
Number 13: Sam Ehlinger, Junior, Texas
Number 14: Felipe Franks, Junior, Florida
Number 15: Nate Stanly, Senior, Iowa
Players I still need to watch
Number 1: Jalen Hurts, Senior, Oklahoma
Number 2: Blake Barnett, Senior, South Florida
Number 3: Shane Buechele, Senior, SMU
Number 4: Anthony Russo, RS Junior, Temple
Number 5: Riley Neal, Graduate Student, Vanderbilt
Number 6: Jarrett Guarantano, RS Junior, Tennessee