FIU’s James Morgan moving up draft boards

David Fernandez
A freelance writer with more than 10 years experience, David is based in sunny Miami, FL. He holds a master's degree in English and Creative Writing, and teaches Journalism. As a freelance writer, David concentrates on sports, health, education and entertainment.

Florida International University’s James Morgan has gained traction as a quarterback prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. In recent weeks, the buzz surrounding the fifth-year senior has grown louder.

The top-tier of quarterback prospects for this draft includes Joe Burrow (LSU), Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) and Justin Herbert (Oregon). From there, analysts and fans start to argue the merits of players like Jordan Love (Utah State) and Jacob Eason (Washington).

Morgan remains outside that class of quarterback, but he’s been steadily climbing the ranks over the last several weeks.

Quarterback Prospect: James Morgan

At 6-foot-4, 230-pounds, Morgan sports the prototypical frame for an NFL quarterback. But playing at smaller schools like Bowling Green and then FIU largely kept him off the national radar. However, a solid performance in the post-season East-West Shrine all-star game helped elevate Morgan’s stock.

Morgan helped guide the East to a 31-27 win, completing 9-of-14 attempts for a game-high 116 yards and one touchdown. Because of his performance, he earned the Pat Tillman Award, given to the player who best exemplifies character, intelligence, sportsmanship and community service.

He went on in February to the NFL Scouting Combine where he participated in the medical exams and on-field tests. He ran a 4.89 40-yard dash and similarly demonstrated his toughness and big arm. It’s there where Morgan really began to connect with NFL executives.

As a senior at FIU, Morgan started 12 games. He led the Golden Panthers to the Camellia Bowl versus Arkansas State. The highlight of his 2019 season, though, was FIU’s upset of cross-town rival the University of Miami. Morgan threw for 160 yards and two touchdown passes in the 30-16 victory. In 2018, he set a school record with 26 touchdown passes.

Morgan’s Draft Stock

These days, though, Morgan is moving up. According to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline, Morgan “presently sits at the top of day three on many boards around the league.”

That would put him in the potential company of other quarterback prospects like Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) and Jake Fromm (Georgia). He’s now squarely ahead of players like Anthony Gordon (Washington State), Shea Patterson (Michigan), Kelly Bryant (Missouri), Tyler Huntley (Utah) and Steven Montez (Colorado).

Among the teams known to have interest in Morgan are: Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots. Just last week, the New York Post ran a piece titled: “Patriots’ quest to replace Tom Brady could involve lesser known James Morgan.”

Another interested team is the Green Bay Packers. Morgan grew up in Green Bay and fell in love with football thanks in large part to Brett Favre’s heroics.

According to Pauline, Morgan has had video conferences with almost half of the league’s teams. He’s had multiple calls with teams where he spoke with head coaches and offensive coordinators.

FIU & the NFL Draft

Pauline expects Morgan to go anywhere from Round Three to Round Five. If that’s the case, Morgan will be just the ninth player to drafted in FIU history.

The FIU football program began in 2002. They’ve had limited success, with only one conference championship (2010 Sun Belt champs under Mario Cristobal). But they’ve seen eight players drafted and 12 players land on NFL rosters.

The most recent Golden Panther selected was quarterback Alex McGough, drafted in 2018 by the Seattle Seahawks. The highest selection for FIU is safety Johnathan Cyprien, chosen by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second round in 2013. T.Y. Hilton, drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round in 2012, remains the only Pro Bowler in program history.   

Other draft prospects from FIU for 2020 include linebacker Sage Lewis and defensive lineman Teair Tart, as well as defensive backs Stantley Thomas-Oliver III and Isaiah Brown. All of these players come well prepared by head coach Butch Davis.

While it’s unlikely that Morgan gets selected prior to the 33rd overall selection, where Cyprien was taken, it’s clear he’s become a hot commodity in draft circles.  

Don’t miss the rest of our NFL Draft coverage, and don’t forget to follow @NFLDraftLounge on Twitter

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