2020 NFL Draft: Overvalued Quarterbacks
With the NFL Combine quickly approaching, now is a good time to take a look at the quarterbacks who may be overvalued at this point in the pre-draft process. This draft class features multiple potential starters, but some of them have much lower floors than others. Not only that, but some of the prospects will only succeed in systems tailored to their strengths. The Senior Bowl and NFL Combine help separate prospects from each other, but only film review and analytic analysis allow for true differentiation.
Unlike other positions, where the NFL Combine can drastically change views on a player, the quarterback position is more static because athletic testing is not make-or-break for a quarterback’s chances of success. Measurements like height and hand size are actually of more interest to an NFL team than a quarterback’s 40-yard dash time or broad jump length.
While I have yet to publish a mock draft this season, my current mock would have five different quarterbacks going in the first round. Some mock drafts have as many as six quarterbacks going in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Six is a little aggressive, but there’s a legitimate debate about which three or four signal-callers will be taken in the first round in most of the mocks published this far. The only pick that seems set in stone is Joe Burrow to the Cincinnati Bengals.
This article will be much like in last season’s installment, but I’ll preface it with the fact that all the quarterbacks I’ll discuss have first-round talent. They have shown flashes of brilliance throughout their careers, and they could very well go in the first round in this draft class or in another. This means only seven quarterbacks are eligible to qualify for this discussion: Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Jordan Love, Justin Herbert, Jacob Eason, Jake Fromm, and Jalen Hurts.
Pinpointing which quarterbacks may be overvalued at this point of the pre-draft process comes down to where draft analysts and prognosticators view a certain prospect versus where the actual NFL teams may have them pegged. This is a much more talented class than what we saw last season, as there are multiple potential day-one talents.
However, day-one talent does not mean the same thing as a day-one grade. A day-one grade takes the rest of the draft class, at every position, into account. It’s important to note that a trade up into one of the final two picks of the first round by a team that picks near the top of round two cannot be ruled out. The extra year of team control afforded to teams who draft players in the first round may cause a team to divest some assets in order to have the all-important option year.
Jake Fromm (QB – Georgia)
Tape evaluated: Alabama (2018), Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame
Depending on who you ask, Jake Fromm is in the mix as a late day-one or early day-two pick. Fromm showed a lot of potential during the 2018 season, and he was expected to be one of the first quarterbacks off the board during the 2020 NFL Draft. He had an uneven 2019 season while under the microscope, and he saw his numbers regress almost across the board. In 2018, Fromm threw for nine yards per attempt, had a 67.3 percent completion percentage, and recorded 2,749 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and six interceptions. In 2019, his numbers fell to 7.9 yards per attempt, a 60.8 percent completion percentage, 2,860 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns, and five touchdowns.
Jake Fromm was one of the top quarterback prospects coming into this season for a reason. He flashed serious upside as a sophomore, and experts expected him to build on his standout campaign to become one of the first signal-callers off the board. When he gets in a zone, he flashes some first-round upside. He was able to answer some of the concerns about his ability to push the ball downfield this season, but he remains much more effective in the short and intermediate areas of the field. He has some issues throwing outside of the numbers, and while he can push the ball downfield at times, he does not have the type of arm that you look for in a first-round prospect. He is inaccurate when throwing deep, and is also inconsistent on shorter passes despite being one the top quarterbacks in this class in going through his progressions. After failing to take a step forward, Fromm looks like a developmental prospect at best, someone a team may choose to draft and stash in the hopes he develops into something more than just a low-end or spot starter.
Fromm lost some weapons to the NFL during the 2019 NFL Draft in Riley Ridley, Mecole Hardman, and Isaac Nauta, but it is hard to argue that freshman George Pickens and Zamir White, coupled with the addition of Miami transfer Lawrence Cager, did not result in an overall upgrade to his supporting cast. Fromm is an intriguing prospect with enough upside to be a starter, but he comes with a career backup floor that’s not normally associated with a player some project to go in the first round of the NFL Draft.
He will fit best in a quick-throw, rhythm-passing offense, but he’s a candidate to get over-drafted due to his name recognition since he played for SEC powerhouse Georgia. Fromm is still a very good quarterback prospect, but he is firmly in the third or fourth tier of signal-callers available this spring. When you couple that with the overwhelming number of potential free agents at the position (and in the NFL, free agency comes first), it would be a surprise to see Fromm hear his name called before the middle of the second round.
What a throw. pic.twitter.com/rBDnUNOS5x
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) January 18, 2020
Jalen Hurts (QB – Oklahoma)
Tape evaluated: LSU, Texas Tech, Texas, Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Houston, Senior Bowl,
Jalen Hurts started his career at Alabama, and despite transferring to Oklahoma when it became clear that Tua was locked in as the starter, he is still a massive fan favorite in the state. Throw on his YouTube highlight package and you may think that Hurts has the potential to be the next Cam Newton or Lamar Jackson. However, watching full game tape tells a very different story.
Hurts is an athletic freak. He has a cannon for an arm and is built like a running back. YouTube his name and videos of the monster squats that he has become known for will pop up. The question before us, however, is whether or not he has the tools and talent not only to become a starter, but also to get drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The answer to that is yes and no. He does have the talent to be an eventual starter, as he shines in clean pockets, but he likely won’t be a Week 1 starter. His NFL team may build a sub-package for him, as the Baltimore Ravens did for Lamar Jackson when Joe Flacco was still there, but that would be the extent of his first-year exposure to playing time on 90 percent of NFL teams. He could be a potential upgrade over a handful of the current starters in the NFL (I’m looking at you Mitch Trubisky), but he’s a much more ideal fit as a developmental play.
Hurts has some notable accuracy and decision-making issues, and he’s more of an all-or-nothing player when it comes to throwing the ball. As a passer alone, Hurts is more of an early day three prospect than one who belongs in the mix for day one or day two. That said, he has a massive arm that will make scouts and general managers drool, but he’s not accurate enough to trust against NFL corners. CeeDee Lamb bailed him out on numerous throws, and he’s a big part of the reason that Hurts boasts an incredible 11.33 yards per attempt and 12.15 adjusted yards per attempt. The rest of his supporting cast and Oklahoma’s offensive scheme also played a major correlative role in his ability to throw for 3,857 yards and 32 touchdowns to just eight interceptions while adding 1,218 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns to lead the Sooners on the ground.
As mentioned earlier, Hurts could indeed provide an upgrade to some NFL teams. The ideal scenario for him would be to land on a team with an elite defense that would ask him to be more of a game manager — but a game manager capable of ripping off chunk plays with his legs when the play breaks down and able to stretch the field with his massive arm due to his play-action upside. The hope is that he lands on an NFL team willing to make eventual wholesale changes to their offensive scheme in order to help him reach his potential, like with Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. The only problem is that Hurts has never shown as much upside as Lamar as a runner or a passer. Hurts will get the African-American quarterback treatment during the pre-draft process, and at least one team and numerous media outlets will wonder aloud if he would not fit better at another position. Hurts has NFL talent at quarterback and should stay there, even if he is two years away from being two years away.
Hurts is an intriguing talent, but much like Fromm above, he’s more of a third or fourth-tier prospect in this particular class. If the NFL Draft was as predicated on upside leans as the NBA is, Hurts would be a first-round lock. He does not have much floor, however, and he could completely bust, and that’s why he does not belong in the first-round conversation. His limited scheme fit could keep him out of early day two. He is going to need some time to address his propensity to lock onto his first read, as going through his progressions will be key to his NFL success. His accuracy and touch issues can be ironed out with an NFL QB coach, but that may take some time. His decision-making and anticipation skills will mature over time, as he has already shown improvement throughout his college career. Hurts has the upside to be an exciting NFL starter, it just may not happen for a few years, if at all.
No matter what your opinion is of Jalen Hurts as a NFL QB, you can't deny that he's fun to watch… pic.twitter.com/t7DiGCOoTy
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) January 20, 2020