AJ Schulte’s Top-25 quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft

With the NFL Scouting Combine finished, PFN Draft Analyst AJ Schulte shares his rankings of the elite quarterbacks the 2020 NFL Draft.

The 2020 quarterback draft class is one of the most talented crops of quarterbacks that I’ve personally scouted since 2014, and it might be my all-time favorite class. There are several truly elite quarterback prospects at the top, and great developmental talent spread throughout the class. 

Since this is going up after free agency starts, maybe you’re a New England Patriots fan, searching for the answer at QB after Tom Brady’s departure, or an Indianapolis Colts fan, searching for the long-term solution behind Phillip Rivers. This class seems to have an answer to fill any team’s unique situation, from first day starters to developmental projects. 

I’ve previously ranked my top-20 offensive tackles and top-50 wide receivers here for PFN. Please note that these are my personal rankings. These are not Pro Football Network’s official rankings, nor should they be confused with Tony Pauline’s grades. You can check out Tony Pauline’s quarterback rankings here.

 1. Joe Burrow, LSU (Top-5)

I’m not sure what more needs to be said about Joe Burrow. We know he’s an elite quarterback and a future Cincinnati Bengal with the first overall pick (at least he should be). There’s really no box that Burrow doesn’t check off. He demonstrated a truly elite grasp of the game in 2019 and is one of the best quarterbacks I’ve ever evaluated. Burrow is my top quarterback in the 2020 Draft.

2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (Top-10)

Up there with Burrow is Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. While I don’t think Tua is some combination of Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, I do think he’s an excellent quarterback prospect who pairs favorably to the modern NFL. The biggest question of Tua is, of course, his health. He’s also behind Burrow in a few cases, but not by much. He’s a play-maker at the quarterback position who will elevate an offense when he’s on the field. If Tua stays healthy, he’s a franchise quarterback, no doubt about it.

3. Justin Herbert, Oregon (Top-15)

I want to get it out of the way: Justin Herbert absolutely deserves to go top-10 in the 2020 NFL Draft and is a franchise quarterback (looking at you, Los Angeles Chargers).

Herbert is a dynamic athlete on the field, capable of extending plays and making them with his legs. He’s a smart player, consistently demonstrating the ability to read defenses at a high level and deliver the ball on time and accurately. I knocked him out of a top-10 grade because I believe his ability against pressure could be improved. Overall, Herbert is a near-elite dual-threat quarterback with an elite combination of size, athleticism, and arm talent, as well as an underrated football IQ.

4. Jordan Love, Utah State (Top-20)

Jordan Love is probably the most polarizing quarterback on this list. Many people see him as a Josh Allen-like prospect that they wouldn’t touch at all in the first round. Many others (like me) see his 2018 season and understand the context around his 2019 season and will ultimately bank on the traits and elite play that Love has put out on tape before.

It’s very easy to understand the lofty Patrick Mahomes comparisons that Love gets on tape. His arm talent is jaw-dropping, and how Love manipulates throwing lanes with his ability to throw from multiple angles is second to none. Love needs to improve his decision-making, as he too often tried to make too many big plays happen. I’d be willing to bank on the traits and his outstanding 2018 tape to draft Love in the top-20. 

5. Anthony Gordon, Washington State (Second round)

Despite only starting for one season, Gordon had an impressive feel and command of the Washington State offense. He has a great understanding of leverage and the ability to execute 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 offense that still rings true today, which will ultimately raise question marks about his transition to the NFL. Still, I’m a firm believer in Gordon’s talent, and he can be an NFL starter over time.

I know I have him ranked higher than most other analysts, but my gut feeling about Gordon is incredibly strong. If he lands in the right spot, I firmly believe that he will be a great starting quarterback at the next level.

6. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma (Third round)

Jalen Hurts is a phenomenal character. He’s a really respectable guy and is the type of presence that any NFL coach would want in the locker room. Intangibles-wise, Hurts is the top quarterback in the 2020 Draft. Is he a franchise quarterback? He can be, but it isn’t as instant as many people assume. He’s a great athlete with good play-making ability, but he has to improve under pressure and on understanding and reading defenses before he can be a reliable NFL starter.

7. Cole McDonald, Hawaii (Third round)

I already broke down Cole McDonald for PFN and why I’m so incredibly high on him. McDonald is far from being the perfect quarterback prospect, but the accuracy, arm talent, and mobility are high level. Add in the ability to throw off-platform, understanding of leverage and timing, and decisiveness, and McDonald has an impressive array of traits to get excited about.

When he throws an interception, he doesn’t start to see ghosts and panic; he bounces right back. If McDonald lands on a team that is willing to fix his mechanics and fit him into their passing scheme, McDonald can become a franchise quarterback.

8. James Morgan, Florida International (Third round)

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. 

Morgan is a true gunslinger who isn’t afraid to launch the ball all over the field with great timing and accuracy. He’s one of the most intriguing pure upside picks in this class.

9. Jacob Eason, Washington (Fourth round)

Jacob Eason has his fans, but I’m not overly bullish on him. He’s got a fantastic arm and is generally accurate. He’s just mentally way too raw and rather clunky as a passer for me to be fully on board with spending a pick higher than on the third day. As a one-year starter, Eason fell well-short of expectations.

Still, there’s enough for an NFL team to salvage and develop in Eason. From a pure arm strength perspective, Eason’s at the top of the 2020 quarterback class. Eason is accurate to all levels of the field and isn’t afraid to take shots downfield. In a vertical pass-oriented offense, Eason has enough traits to develop into something with years of seasoning.

10. Jake Fromm, Georgia (Fourth-Fifth round)

Fourth-fifth round is about where you start to draft backup quarterbacks, so this is the perfect target for the Georgia standout. Fromm is a great quarterback in the film room and pre-snap, as he understands what defenses are throwing at him, and he knows how to keep the offense flowing. Once the ball is snapped, he does a great job of going through progressions, and he understands the leverages the defense gives him.

He’s just not really a play-maker. He won’t elevate a passing offense enough to be an effective full-time starter. Fromm doesn’t have anything resembling NFL-ready in his physical profile, and when he gets pressured, he really can’t get away enough to make a play. To me, Fromm doesn’t fit how the game is trending.

11. Jake Luton, Oregon State (Fifth round)

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 respective team’s 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, and 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, but Luton has enough to stick around as a good backup/spot-starter in the NFL with further refinement of his mental acuity and footwork.

12. Tyler Huntley, Utah (Fifth Round)

13. Kelly Bryant, Missouri (Sixth-Seventh Round)

14. Nate Stanley, Iowa (Sixth-Seventh Round)

Stanley is a polarizing prospect to many draft analysts. Some think he isn’t worth the time to develop, 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 Stanley will be a full-time NFL starter, but his arm talent, frame, intangibles, and mental acuity will likely see him becoming a great backup/spot-starter for the NFL teams he lands on. He may seem low on this list of top quarterbacks in the 2020 Draft, but the class in front of him is awesome. 

15. Kevin Davidson, Princeton (Sixth-Seventh round)

Kevin Davidson’s tape will appeal to some of the more old-fashioned general managers in the league. Davidson was only a one-year starter for the Princeton Tigers, but his blistering start to the season put him squarely on NFL radars, as he was good enough to get invited to the NFL Combine. His lack of experience shows up in a pretty bad way in his decision-making, mechanics, and pocket presence.

Davidson is upside incarnate. He’ll require a lot of patience and seasoning before he should see the field in the NFL. Still, he’s worth a shot due to the pure arm talent and intangibles.

16. Kaleb Barker, Troy (Sixth-Seventh Round)

17. Shea Patterson, Michigan (Seventh Round)

18. Steven Montez, Colorado (Seventh Round)

19. Jake Maier, UC Davis (Seventh Round)

It isn’t often a small school like UC Davis makes its way into many rankings, but with Keelan Doss and Jake Maier approaching in back-to-back seasons, it’s an exciting time for the Aggies.

Maier is an efficient play-maker who gets the ball out on time and on target. He’s at his best when he gets into a rhythm. His tape against North Dakota State really stood out to me as an FCS prospect, as he demonstrated these abilities to full-function, despite getting hammered by the North Dakota State defense all game long.

He doesn’t boast any elite physical traits as a passer or athlete, but Maier can be a solid backup option in the league over time.

20. Khalil Tate, Arizona (Seventh Round-UDFA)

21. Tom Flacco, Towson (UDFA)

22. Brian Lewerke, Michigan State (UDFA)

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 advertised as, 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.

23. Bryce Perkins, Virginia (UDFA)

24. Mason Fine, North Texas (UDFA)

25. Josh Love, San Jose State (UDFA)

AJ Schulte is an NFL Draft analyst for @PFN365. Follow him on Twitter @AJDraftScout and give him feedback on his top quarterbacks of the 2020 class. 

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