If any team needs a quarterback, this is the year to get one.
The NFL offseason is unusually quarterback-heavy, with many signal callers available via free agency, trade or in the draft.
Players such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill and Teddy Bridgewater are available free agents. Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr could also be on the move, while the draft boasts several potential franchise quarterbacks.
Some of those players may stay with their respective teams, others may not. Regardless of what happens, there will be a heavy presence of teams evaluating the quarterbacks in this year’s draft over the next couple of months.
With such significant interest in quarterbacks, and plenty to choose from in this particular draft class, there are myriad scenarios that could play out at the 2020 NFL Draft.
While free agency may change some teams’ priorities, here is an early mock at where the top quarterbacks in the draft land.
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (No. 1 pick)
This is a no-brainer. Unless Burrow pulls an Eli Manning/John Elway type situation where he refuses to play in Cincinnati, the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner and national champion will don the black and orange as the Bengals hope their savior has arrived.
Tua Tagovailoa – Miami Dolphins (No. 5)
It seems as if the Alabama quarterback is destined to be a Miami Dolphin. While the Detroit Lions have flirted with the idea of trading Matthew Stafford or the No. 3 pick, the Tagovailoa family has made it clear they want no part of Detroit. That’s not to say another team could swoop in ahead of the Dolphins and take him, but if that were to be the case, Miami has two other first-round picks they could dangle in front of Detroit if they need to make a trade to get their guy.
Justin Herbert – Carolina Panthers (No. 7)
The Panthers pick behind the Chargers, another quarterback-hungry team, but Los Angeles could have its QB situation sorted out in free agency. Carolina, who many believe plan to trade Cam Newton, grab Justin Herbert at 7. Herbert has fallen under the radar a bit after being considered the potential No. 1 pick in 2018 before he declared he would return to Oregon. Herbert would become new head coach Matt Rhule’s guy, and someone the team can build around long-term.
Jacob Eason –Tampa Bay Bucs (No. 14)
Jameis Winston led the league in passing yards last year, but the Bucs seem ready to move on after his 30 interceptions overshadowed his accomplishments. Eason has been linked as a possibility to the Bucs and is the next-best quarterback on the board. The Washington quarterback is pretty raw, though, and a report from Pro Football Network suggests that Tampa Bay will sign Philip Rivers as a bridge to Eason in 2021.
Jordan Love – New England Patriots (No. 23)
Even if Tom Brady returns, the Patriots may want to invest their first-round pick into Love. The Utah State quarterback has some development to do, and his collegiate numbers do not necessarily pop, which has made his draft position hard to pinpoint. Some mocks have him as high as a mid-first round pick, while others project him as a third-rounder. Yet, there is lot to like about Love and his potential, and he has drawn comparisons to a certain recent Super Bowl MVP named Patrick Mahomes — whom teams had concerns about when he was drafted in 2017.
Love is a project, which could be a reach for the Patriots in the first round, but to learn behind Brady and have him in a Josh McDaniels offense, Love could reach his full potential in New England.
Jake Fromm – Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 49, second round)
Fromm was believed to be a first-round pick at the start of the season, but his stocked dipped a bit and now he is likely a second or third-rounder. One team that could be in on Fromm is the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers do not have a first-round pick. Ben Roethlisberger is coming off elbow surgery at 38 years old, and neither Mason Rudolph nor Devlin Hodges appeared to be the answer. Fromm makes a lot of sense for Pittsburgh in the second round.
Jalen Hurts – New Orleans Saints (No. 88, third round)
The Saints fall in the same category as the Patriots. Drew Brees is a free agent and could retire, or he could return for one, maybe two, more seasons. Regardless, the Saints need to start considering who to have in place to succeed Brees. Even if they have confidence that can be Taysom Hill, it’s probably worth getting some insurance.
With just five picks in the 2019 draft, it’s unlikely they take someone who will sit a year when they have a championship-caliber roster as is. But perhaps they seek out an answer in the third round, which is where Jalen Hurts may be.
Hurts is a mobile, dual-threat quarterback, but is not held in the same high regard as Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray. Some may even say he’s a project, but Sean Payton has shown a willingness to be innovative and could make Hurts work in New Orleans.