Quarterback prospects to target on the third day of the 2020 NFL Draft

While the top of the 2020 NFL Draft is filled with elite quarterbacks, the late rounds of the draft are riddled with intriguing options. PFN Draft Analyst AJ Schulte examines several Day 3 quarterback prospects.

Many quarterback classes over the years have tended to be pretty top-heavy, significantly dropping off after the third or fourth QB gets selected. My second year scouting was the 2015 NFL Draft that went from Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota down to Garrett Grayson, Sean Mannion, and Bryce Petty. That draft only had three quarterbacks total drafted on Day 3. 2016 was a marked improvement with nine quarterbacks drafted on Day 3, most notably Dak Prescott. However, the 2020 NFL Draft has the deepest group of Day 3 quarterback targets that I’ve scouted in an NFL Draft.

This makes sense, right? As the league evolves into more of a passing league and the college game becomes more and more influenced by quarterbacks, it only makes sense that the talent pool of quarterbacks would become deeper and deeper. I mentioned above how the 2016 draft class had nine quarterbacks taken on Day 3, but I included 15 on this list of Day 3 quarterback targets alone, and I left off a few!

With this in mind, I broke down the notable Day 3 quarterback targets for the 2020 NFL Draft. With some, there’s some legitimate upside to develop into a league starter. For others, it’s far likelier they become a reliable backup in the league. Day 3 quarterbacks are volatile and are entirely dependent on their landing spot. Is the next Prescott or Gardner Minshew on this list? Or, dare I say, the next Tom Brady?

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Kelly Bryant, Missouri

Kelly Bryant was given the unenviable task of trying to replace Deshaun Watson at Clemson. He filled in admirably, but the writing was on the wall when Trevor Lawrence stepped on campus, so Bryant transferred out to Missouri to try and replace Drew Lock. While Bryant didn’t enjoy nearly the same success he did at Clemson, Bryant did enough to get invited to the upcoming NFL Combine.

Bryant is at his best operating in a quick passing game that doesn’t ask him to hold the ball for long and lets him get into a rhythm. He doesn’t meet enough arm strength thresholds to be a full-time starter but could be a capable backup who takes what the defense gives them. Bryant also demonstrated good athletic ability to extend plays past his primary read.

Ultimately, Bryant doesn’t have the upside to be anything more than a solid backup option for an NFL team but brings value as a game-manager with the athleticism to extend plays and keep the ball moving if need be.

Kevin Davidson, Princeton

Princeton tape is incredibly difficult to come by, and Davidson’s tape left me puzzled. I mentioned above how Bryant doesn’t have a ton of upside. Davidson does. One could argue that Davidson is all upside. He needs a complete overhaul of his game.

Davidson was only a one-year starter for the Princeton Tigers, but his blistering start to the season put him squarely on NFL radars, and he’s been good enough to get invited to the NFL Combine. His lack of experience shows up in a pretty bad way with his decision-making, mechanics, and pocket presence.

However, Davidson possesses a pretty great arm that the NFL loves. He’s a complete project, but he has the requisite upside teams love to take in the late-rounds of the NFL Draft.

Anthony Gordon, Washington State

Gordon is one of “my guys” on this list of Day 3 quarterback targets and is one I’d take earlier in the draft. Despite only starting for one season, Gordon had an impressive feel and command for the Wazzu offense. He has a great understanding of leverage and the ability to place precise tight-window throws and throw guys open.

Gordon is a daring, true gunslinger that’s so much fun to watch. There’s a misnomer about the Air Raid that still rings true today, which will ultimately cause question marks to rise about his translation to the game. Still, I’m a firm believer in Gordon’s talent, and he can be an NFL starter over time.

Brian Lewerke, Michigan State

Do you know those guys that seemingly peak in high school and then ride that success all the way to the top? That was basically Brian Lewerke, who had an exciting redshirt sophomore season, then regressed well-behind what he was, and ultimately landed a spot at the NFL Combine.

Lewerke is a good athlete who flashes competent play a few times a game, but then the rest of his tape is littered with headache-inducing plays. I don’t believe there’s a draftable QB in Lewerke to salvage, but the NFL likes to gamble with quarterbacks.

Jake Luton, Oregon State

Luton is an interesting prospect. Ask most people, and they’ll likely respond with “who?” Ask Pac-12 fans, and they might mention how he completely roasted their secondary all game. He and Isaiah Hodgins formed one of the best QB-WR duos in college football last season. Luton has a good enough arm to meet several thresholds, possesses a good frame with good pocket presence.

He’s an efficient gunslinger, as he only threw three picks this season, but isn’t afraid to attack the defense when he senses an opportunity. He isn’t incredibly high-upside like a few others on this list, but Luton has enough to stick on as a good backup/spot-starter in the NFL with further refinement of his mental acuity and footwork.

Cole McDonald, Hawaii

Much like Gordon, Cole McDonald is one of my guys here on this Day 3 quarterback targets list. He’s a player I’ve been a fan of for a long time, and his tape showcased a lot of NFL-caliber traits. I firmly believe McDonald is an NFL-worthy quarterback whose traits will translate well to the NFL level. His arm talent is second-to-none in this draft class.

Steven Montez, Colorado

Steven Montez is all peaks-and-valleys, with a lot more valleys than peaks. He’s got a good arm with noticeable arm strength, but his accuracy downfield resembles a shotgun spray more than anything precise. He participated in the Senior Bowl and was invited to the NFL Combine.

Much like the aforementioned Lewerke, I’m not sure there’s an NFL quarterback in Montez, but he has the frame and upside that NFL teams will look for. He’s also a very respected leader in the Colorado program.

James Morgan, Florida International

James Morgan grew up outside of Green Bay watching Brett Favre, and it certainly shows in how he plays. Morgan was one of the more fun evaluations I had in this entire quarterback class. He’s got a juiced-up arm on his shoulders, plenty of intangibles, and has good size with functional mobility.

He’s a true gunslinger who isn’t afraid to launch the ball all over the field if he senses an opportunity. I wouldn’t be shocked if Morgan is the earliest quarterback taken on this list. He’s one of the most intriguing pure upside picks in this class.

Shea Patterson, Michigan

I said earlier how Lewerke was like a guy who peaked in high school and rode that to success. Patterson literally was that guy. He earned himself a 5-star rating out of high school and took his talents to Ole Miss, where he lost the job there to now XFL quarterback Jordan Ta’amu.

His transfer to Michigan made a lot of people believe the program finally had their quarterback, but his time there was ultimately disappointing. He’s got a good arm and demonstrated ability that may make an NFL team draft him to be an option for their team, but I don’t see NFL starter in Patterson’s future.

Nate Stanley, Iowa

Stanley is a polarizing prospect to many draft analysts. Some think he isn’t worth the time developing, while many (like me) were pleasantly surprised with the tape he produced in 2019.

Coming into the season, I didn’t see a chance for Stanley to develop into an NFL player despite his size and arm talent. This year, his accuracy improved, and he developed his mechanics and really grew as a starting quarterback.

I don’t believe he’ll be a full-time NFL starter, but Stanley’s arm talent, frame, intangibles, and mental acuity will likely see him becoming a great backup/spot-starter for the NFL teams he lands on.

Other quarterback prospects to know in the 2020 NFL Draft

Tyler Huntley, Utah
Josh Love, San Jose State
Tom Flacco, Towson
Mason Fine, North Texas
Kaleb Barker, Troy