The 2020 Senior Bowl Quarterback class is maybe the best in years, and it still has the chance to get better. So far, the quarterbacks who have accepted invites are Washington State’s Anthony Gordon, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, Utah State’s Jordan Love, Colorado’s Steven Montez, and Michigan’s Shea Patterson.
Of this group, I have two players with a first-round grade and two more with top-100 grades. Additionally, the final two both have above-average physical abilities and will benefit from work with NFL coaches. This group is already strong, and if LSU Heisman winner Joe Burrow also chooses to attend, this could be the greatest group ever.
Each with their own strengths and weaknesses, this group is full of different types of play style, physical abilities, and people. How these passers perform could very well dictate their draft stock. For some, it may be the difference between a top-10 pick and a fall. For others, it may be the difference between being drafted or not. That type of competitive environment sets the week up for explosive plays.
Expect these guys to play off each other all week. If someone does a rep well, expect the next man up to try and top him. With some luck, we’ll get the best football out of each guy. If the 2020 Senior Bowl Quarterback class is going to be the best ever, it will take the efforts of each passer, so what are the strengths and weaknesses of each of these passers?
Anthony Gordon, Washington State
Strengths: Underneath accuracy, ball placement outside the pocket
Weaknesses: Footwork, mechanics, pocket presence
Anthony Gordon is one of the more unique names in this 2020 Senior Bowl quarterback class. He possesses requisite arm talent and a frame that should fill out in the NFL. He’s also a solid athlete and can work well outside of structure. His most marketable trait is his ability to consistently place balls accurately on underneath routes. He’s rarely off-target when throwing anywhere on the field within 0-12 yards. This is a skill that will help during Mobile when he needs to get into a rhythm.
Gordon’s weaknesses, however, are similar to that of every former Wazzu QB. He lacks proper mechanics, his footwork is abysmal, and his pocket presence is uninspiring. While Gordon does have above-average arm talent, he’s not even in the top three of this group. Gordon might have the most work to do in Mobile, as far as preparing for the NFL, but his ability to hit the open man consistently is going to help him out. He’s also liable for one or two “wow” throws a session. Whether it’s a crazy arm angle or some impressive placement down the field, Gordon has shown flashes.
Round Grade: Fourth
Team Fits: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts
Justin Herbert, Oregon
Strengths: Physical talent, deep ball placement
Weaknesses: Game-to-game consistency, mental make-up (?)
Justin Herbert has arguably the most impressive physical skill set in this 2020 Senior Bowl quarterback group, and one could argue his talents are best in class as well. The arm talent he has showcased at times, and his ability as a runner, are both well above average. Pair that with his ideal NFL frame, and you’ve got a special physical specimen. Herbert’s flashes are unmatched by any draft-eligible quarterbacks, and he was hindered by Oregon’s offensive play calling. He possesses elite deep ball placement and arm strength to boot, but Oregon tended to rely on quick screens and underneath patterns. Herbert, in the right offense, could very well end up being the best quarterback from this draft class.
Unfortunately, the one thing we never got from Herbert was a sense of consistency. One week, he could struggle to find a rhythm, the next, he could throw 400 yards and four touchdowns. We also never saw the growth many hoped we would get. He never seemed to develop much as a passer. This week in Mobile will be huge for Herbert because many will get to see what he’s actually like in a locker room setting and on the field. There are some concerns with who Herbert is as a leader, and if he can command respect in an NFL locker room. While I don’t believe you have to be loud and outspoken to be a leader, it will be interesting to see how he can lead a team of strangers.
Round Grade: Top 15
Team Fits: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers
Jalen Hurts Oklahoma
Strengths: Mobility, leadership
Weaknesses: Accuracy, down-to-down consistency
Jalen Hurts is one of the best runners in the country. Not just among running quarterbacks, either; he’s one of the best pure runners. His spacial awareness is excellent, and he has a fundamental understanding of how to hurt a defense with his legs. He also possesses the frame to compliment his running ability. Additionally, Hurts is a known leader, and he’s a guy that others flock to and rally behind. That’s an underrated part of his game, and it should be on display in Mobile.
While many think Hurts could be the next Lamar Jackson, they don’t realize that even as raw a passer as Lamar was, he was still comfortably better than Hurts. Hurts’ accuracy is spotty at best, and he’s never shown the ability to cripple a defense from the pocket. Some of these issues were masked by the offensive genius of Lincoln Riley, but Hurts won’t necessarily have that in the NFL. He also struggles with finding consistency as a passer from down to down. He may have one throw well-placed down the field, but the next, he’ll miss an open receiver eight yards down the field. His ball placement in Mobile will be crucial.
Round Grade: Late-Second
Team Fits: New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys
Jordan Love, Utah State
Strengths: Physical ability, ball placement outside the pocket
Weaknesses: Consistency, development
Similar to Herbert, Jordan Love is a supreme physical specimen. He’s an above-average athlete with elite arm talent. Before the season, Dane Brugler of The Athletic quoted an NFL scout saying Love was “Mahomes-Like.” While I personally feel this may be a bit of an overstatement, it shows just how impressive Love’s arm is. He showcases this talent commonly and can do it both in the pocket or out. Unfortunately for Love, his talent was subdued by a Utah State team that lacked any resemblance of competent offensive game-planning, and he had a supporting cast of future gym teachers, accountants, and hotel managers.
Consistency is becoming a common theme among the weaknesses of these players. Love struggled to consistently put together quality games, though I do wonder how much of that was due to coaching and overall team talent. Due to the coaching change at Utah State, I worry that Love’s development may have been stunted. Working with NFL coaches will be good for Love as he prepares for the next level.
Round Grade: Late-First
Team Fits: Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts
Strengths: Arm strength, size
Weaknesses: Pre-snap, accuracy
Steven Montez has one of the better arms in the country, and he possesses excellent size and solid mobility. These physical traits will be on full display in Mobile and are likely what will get Montez drafted. Expect teams to fall in love with his physical presence before they even get to his nuance at the position (which is the best-case scenario for him).
Montez struggles with consistent accuracy, his mechanics are lacking, and he has a hard time identifying defenses. He is the rawest prospect of this 2020 Senior Bowl quarterbacks group, but his physical gifts will draw attention to him all week.
Round Grade: Seventh
Team Fits: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers
One of the biggest disappointments of the college football season was the Michigan passing offense. A team that had four future NFL receivers didn’t have a single receiver go for over 750 yards. Some of it was due to poor coaching, but much of it had to do with a lack of touch accuracy from Shea Patterson. Early in the season, the Wolverines receivers were consistently open, and Patterson consistently missed them. Patterson is a former top QB prospect and Elite 11 MVP, so there is some hope for his physical abilities. However, as of now, I don’t see someone that could ever play football in the NFL.
Round Grade: UDFA
Best Team Fits: Seattle Dragons (XFL)