The Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned the sports world upside-down this past week with the addition of future Hall-of-Fame quarterback, Tom Brady. Last Friday, the six-time Super Bowl winner signed a two-year, $50 million deal with Tampa Bay. The team is looking to get back to their first Super Bowl since 2002 when they defeated the Oakland Raiders. However, Brady is only a short-term answer at QB, and the Buccaneers will need options while they make preparations for their future. Those options could be in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, including Washington’s Jacob Eason and Utah State’s Jordan Love.
On the other hand, the team could also choose to build around Brady for a potential championship run and focus on his successor in the 2021 NFL Draft. In this piece, I will take a look at the upcoming QB class and analyze some options that could potentially be groomed behind Brady and this Tampa Bay offense.
No risk it, no biscuit
Head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich run a vertical passing attack, which requires quarterbacks to be extremely accurate with the deep ball and to take shots consistently downfield. Their quarterbacks tend to be big in stature with strong arms that can push the ball to test defenses. Many of their offensive formations feature four and five wide receiver sets designed to spread out the defense and take advantage of one-on-one opportunities.
Arians also tends to recruit talented quarterbacks with gunslinger mentalities that are willing to take some chances. He has been quoted as saying “no risk it, no biscuit,” implying the team will be willing to make mistakes on their path to success. Arians has coached big-time throwers such as Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, and most recently, Jameis Winston. The former Heisman-winner, Winston, experienced some extremely mixed results in 2019, as he threw for 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions while recording over 5,000 yards passing.
Finding the right fit for Arians and this offense
As I mentioned above, if the Buccaneers choose to address the QB position in the 2020 Draft, Eason could be one option that interests them a great deal. The former top high school recruit and Georgia transfer is a big man at 6-foot-6, 227 pounds, and has excellent arm talent. Eason is not averse to taking chances and will try to fit the ball into areas it does not belong. This quality leads to some eye-popping plays downfield and some bad interceptions that ended up costing Washington at times this past season.
Eason is also an efficient play-action passer, which could excite NFL teams and the Buccaneers, in particular. PFN’s own Ryan Gosling also wrote about Eason as a match for Tampa Bay back in January. The former Washington passer is not a finished product by any means, but he looks the part and has a ton of natural ability. With the right coaching and Arians’ offensive expertise, Eason could end up being one of the better value picks in the 2020 class. He is a potential first-round pick that could be available at the top of the second.
The other option I eluded to earlier in this piece is the Utah State gunslinger Jordan Love. The big, mobile prospect has seen comparisons from Colin Kaepernick to Patrick Mahomes. That should give you a decent picture of the type of talent that Love possesses. He has one of the strongest arms in the draft and the confidence needed to make all the gutsy throws that Arians wants to make. Take a look at the touch on this beautiful throw downfield on the run against the National Champion LSU Tigers.
The added benefit for Love is his excellent athleticism and ability to make plays outside the pocket when it breaks down. There are some serious flaws in his game, and he will need some refinement and the right coaching to reach his immense upside. The downside can be blamed, in part, to the supporting cast around him for the Aggies.
It will be interesting to see how Love adjusts to the NFL, but he has the intelligence and moxie to make the leap to the next level. Like Eason, he has excellent zip and can make throws in tight windows and down the seam when needed. If Tampa Bay can develop Love and eventually team him with all-pro receivers, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, the Buccaneers’ offense will have a very bright future. If Tampa wants to pull the trigger on Love or Eason, it will likely be at pick 14 or through a trade back into the first round.
Gordon another intriguing option later
One player I have not discussed yet that could be available a little later in the draft is Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon. The redshirt-senior was a one-year starter for the Cougars and put up prolific numbers in 2019. He is another player that comes from a pass-happy offensive scheme that likes to push the ball and put up points in bunches. Gordon wants to sling the ball around and isn’t afraid to throw into tight areas to make a big play.
Gordon also shows decent touch on short and intermediate throws. He has some exciting tools and could be available on the third day of the 2020 NFL Draft. Gordon may not be the prototype in terms of the size that Arians typically looks for in his passers, but I believe he could overlook that aspect in this case. Gordon appears very coachable, and he put on a show during the Reese’s Senior Bowl. If the Buccaneers fail to address the QB position early, Gordon would be one of the stronger options available in rounds three through five.
Scott Gorman is a writer for PFN covering the 2021 NFL Draft. You can follow him at @sgormanPFN on Twitter.