The quarterback position is the most important position on a football team, there’s no debating this. Each year, teams are itching to find that quarterback that will take their team to the next level. There are some very talented quarterbacks who are eligible for the draft this year, and before the season ends, I’m going to give my top five.
*Disclaimer*: I am ranking these players based off talent, injuries and other red flags will be factored into my final grade, but for now I am not taking them into account.
1. Joe Burrow, LSU
Joe Burrow has been the best quarterback in the nation this year. He’s taken the LSU Tigers’ offense to the next level and has made them the best team in the nation. Burrow has fantastic accuracy and can drop the football into the bucket on all three levels of the field. He does a great job of reading the defense and rarely puts the ball into danger. Under pressure, Burrow is calm; he can maneuver around the pocket and seemingly knows where the pressure is always coming from. Burrow can effectively escape the pocket to extend plays; he does well to keep his eyes downfield, but he knows when he needs to run and gain a few yards. There are negatives to Burrow’s game, but they shouldn’t deter his path to the NFL. The big negative is the fact that he doesn’t have any elite physical traits; he isn’t the fastest, and he doesn’t have the strongest arm but that isn’t a deal breaker. His other con is the fact that he doesn’t protect himself very well. Because Burrow is such a competitive guy, he never likes to slide and always takes the hit. All the things that Burrow does well translate quite easily to the NFL. Come draft day, it’s highly likely that we hear Burrow’s name called before anyone else’s.
2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
As I said in the disclaimer, these rankings are solely off talent and injuries are not factored in until my final grades. Before his injury, the leader of the Crimson Tide offense was having a fantastic year. The gap between he and Burrow is not a big one, and Tua has the advantage of having been playing at a high level for multiple years. Accuracy, arm strength, progressions are all plus aspects of Tagovailoa’s game. He has good mobility and can escape the pocket run for a few yards. One of the obvious negatives in his game is the fact that he’s had multiple lower leg injuries throughout his career. The other negative in his game is that it seems like he has trouble reading defenses at times and will throw interceptions to a lurking defender. I’d be surprised if Tua finishes at QB2 for me just because of injuries, but if he has a good recovery, there should be no reason he doesn’t make an immediate impact in the NFL.
3. Justin Herbert, Oregon
Herbert was a popular choice for QB1 over the summer, but the emergence of Joe Burrow and the continued consistency of Tua Tagovailoa knocked him down to QB3. Hebert has a cannon of an arm and can fit any throw into any window. The Oregon offense doesn’t help Herbert’s case as a passer; they have a lot of short yardage routes, screens and check-downs. However, just because his offense is designed a certain way doesn’t mean he isn’t talented. Herbert has the accuracy, arm strength, and athletic ability you want to see in an NFL quarterback. He has good pocket poise and can extend plays by escaping the pocket, keeping his eyes downfield and make a play. One big knock on Herbert’s game is his ability to progress through his reads; he occasionally locks onto one receiver and won’t budge. Durability could be a concern as he’s had both a broken leg and a broken collarbone in his career. If Herbert can become more consistent with his progressions, he can be a fantastic quarterback in the NFL.
4. Jacob Eason
This ranking is based off his upside. For what it’s worth, I think Eason should go back to school and I’ll say why later. Eason has fantastic arm strength and accuracy and can fit any throw into any window. He has a great frame and can withstand hits in the pocket. He can progress through reads well to find the open receiver and can deliver the ball faster than you can blink. However, the negatives are clearly there. The biggest problem in his game is his consistency; one play, he’ll deliver a beautiful deep ball on the money and the next will be a throw to a receiver with a defensive back waiting to jump on the ball and he’ll throw an interception. Another negative is that everything is a fastball, Eason doesn’t really know when to gear down on his throws and will deliver heaters on 5-yard crossing routes. The last big negative of his game is his ability to work outside of structure. Once a play breaks down, Eason panics. He can escape the pocket but will get frantic and try to fit balls into incredibly tight windows that usually results in an incompletion or interception. The peaks in his game are sky high but the valleys are very low. His upside is astounding but for the betterment of his game, and his consistency, Eason needs to remain at Washington.
5. Jake Fromm, Georgia
The best way to describe Jake Fromm is high floor, low ceiling. He does things well, but his physical limitations seriously restrict his ability to grow as a quarterback. Fromm is a very smart quarterback; he doesn’t put the ball into harm’s way, and he delivers an accurate ball. If his receivers can consistently find space, he’ll quickly find the open man and put the throw on the money. The problem with Fromm is that he has serious physical limitations. His arm strength doesn’t allow him to drive the ball or fit throws into tight windows. As a runner, Fromm doesn’t possess any threat; he isn’t the most athletic with his legs and will struggle to extend plays with them in the NFL. He works well within schedule, but that schedule needs to be well designed for him to truly succeed. Put him in a system with a coach who knows how to use his strengths and he will shine, but try to make him do things he physically can’t do, and he will fail.