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Ranking the 2019 and 2020 quarterback classes combined

Ranking the 2019 and 2020 quarterback classes combined
Photo Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

We have had and will have a massive influx of talent at the quarterback position in the 2019 and 2020 NFL Drafts. In the 2019 quarterback class, Kyler Murray went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Drew Lock has Denver fans buzzing about his potential after a strong finish last season. And Dwayne Haskins and Daniel Jones have Redskins and Giants fans optimistic about their future at the position. Jarrett Stidham remains poised to potentially be the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots as well, meaning five quarterbacks just from the 2019 crop alone could be starting next season.

The 2020 quarterback class features prospects with even higher expectations. Joe Burrow just put together one of the strongest collegiate seasons of all time. Tua Tagovailoa has been one of the best college prospects in recent memory. Plus, the combination of arm and physical talent from Justin Herbert and Jordan Love are among some of the best in the last decade.

As we rank and compare the 2020 QBs leading up to the draft, the talent of both classes begs the question: What would the two classes look like if they were combined into one?

That’s the question I’ll be answering with my own rankings and impressions of these players and prospects. These rankings will go off of my own grades of these players as collegiate prospects, and will not take into account the 2019 classes’ rookie seasons. I’m using the consensus top quarterbacks from both drafts in this list. Players that I personally like or liked, such as Anthony Gordon, Cole McDonald, and Easton Stick will not be on the list.

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Combining the 2019 quarterback class with 2020 prospects

15. Ryan Finley, NC State (2019)

Starting off our list is the current Cincinnati Bengal from NC State. Finley ended up being drafted with the second pick in the fourth round in 2019 after the Bengals traded up with the 49ers. That was a higher pick than I would have considered for him, as he had a sixth-round grade from me and was one of my lowest graded quarterbacks of the 2019 class entering the draft.

14. Jake Fromm, Georgia (2020)

Jake Fromm is Ryan Finley with a slightly faster brain, but they both share the same limitations that prevent them from being effective starters in the NFL. Fromm is not a play-maker at the quarterback spot. 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 struggles to make a play. To me, Fromm doesn’t fit how the game is trending. I gave him a third-day grade in the fourth or fifth round, though I feel like he’ll be drafted earlier. He finished as my QB10 in the 2020 quarterback class

13. Jacob Eason, Washington (2020)

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 to warrant a pick higher than on the third day of the draft to me. 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. He 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. He earned a fourth-round grade from me.

12. Will Grier, West Virginia (2019)

Is this a miss? The Panthers spent the 100th overall pick on Grier in the 2019 NFL Draft, and he has since faded from their memory, with almost no consideration towards him being the starter of the future in Carolina. He’ll get the chance to improve under Joe Brady and potentially play if Teddy Bridgewater misses time, but it seems like his ship in Carolina has sailed.

I gave Grier a third-round grade based on his play-making ability at the quarterback position, and he ended up as my QB7 from the 2019 quarterback class. Grier was accurate to each level of the field and had the athleticism to make and extend plays. If he could develop his mental acuity, I thought he could be a good starting quarterback in the NFL. It just seems like that isn’t going to happen in Carolina for the former gunslinger.

11. Daniel Jones, Duke (2019)

This one might upset some people.

I thought some of the hate on Daniel Jones was a tad over the top, but he was way over-drafted in my books. Jones had a good frame, athleticism, arm talent, and was relatively accurate. I didn’t like how slow he was mentally in reading defenses and still had some physical limits. He got a third-round grade from me and was my QB6 in the 2019 quarterback class. His Giants tape was largely the same as his college tape, and he’ll have to tone down the turnovers in the future.

10. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn (2019)

I still maintain that Stidham has all the talent to be a successful quarterback in the NFL, and graded out as my QB5 in the 2019 quarterback class. He was miscast at Auburn and never seemed to fit in, despite having lots of talent around him. He needed to improve his poise in the pocket under pressure and his progression speed. Keep in mind, he had the advantage of learning from one of the best in Tom Brady. I put a third-round grade on Stidham, as I’m a believer in banking on his talent to shine through at the next level. With the opportunity to start in New England, we’ll see how far Stidham has come.

9. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma (2020)

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 class. 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.

I put a third-round grade on Hurts as well, based on what he brings to the table and his ability to potentially develop even further. He has to take a step forward as a passer in the NFL to become a franchise starter.

8. Brett Rypien, Boise State (2019)

Oh boy. It seems I missed big-time with Rypien’s grade coming out of Boise State. I put a second-round grade on him because I was enamored with his mental sharpness and accuracy as a passer. He was so far ahead of the rest of the 2019 quarterback class in terms of IQ and ability to read, understand, and attack defenses. He was sharp and accurate at all levels in college and elevated the Boise State passing attack.

Unfortunately, it seems like his physical traits doomed his shot in the NFL before it even started, going undrafted and then landing with a team that already drafted a promising young QB in the Denver Broncos.

7. Drew Lock, Missouri (2019)

Some of the takes about Drew Lock last year were really reaching. My scale always favors talent and ability to develop and elevate a passing game. Lock had that ability in spades and, in my opinion, wasn’t nearly as bad as people made him out to be. He was my QB3 in the 2019 quarterback class. I was a fan of his natural arm talent, as well as his ability on the run. His play at the end of last season in Denver provided many fans with hope that he can be their franchise QB.

I did end up putting a second-round grade on Lock because of the things he needed to develop, but talent was never the issue.

6. Jordan Love, Utah State (2020)

Love is a polarizing evaluation and prospect for many people. Many 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. How he 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 forced big plays to happen. I’d be willing to bank on the traits and his outstanding 2018 tape to draft Love in the top-20. 

His draft stock in various mock drafts has spun between going in the top-10 to somewhere in the 19-32 range. He has a first-round grade from me. His traits stand out in a big way, and he’s comfortably top-four in the 2020 quarterback class.

5. Justin Herbert, Oregon (2020)

Much like many of the quarterbacks on this list, I think the “hate” on Herbert is overblown. He’s got all of the talent to succeed. He’s an outstanding athlete. He’s accurate, smart, tough, and willing to take a hit to make a play. My biggest knock on Herbert is his ability under pressure. He’ll have to learn to remain poised in the pocket and develop his progression speeds.

As evidenced by this list, I’m a huge believer in talent and letting talent develop. Upside and ability to elevate my passing offense play a part in my grades and I firmly believe in Herbert’s ability. I believe Herbert has the most upside in the 2020 quarterback class.

4. Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State (2019)

The arguments about Haskins were odd. To me, his biggest issues were his footwork and ability in the pocket under pressure. When Haskins was rushed in his process, he had a tendency to let his feet hurry, and it would impact the accuracy and velocity of his throws. Haskins wasn’t a great athlete at the position either.

He was, however, sharp on the football field. He made throws at all levels with routine ease, scanning the field and going through his progression calmly yet quickly. Haskins was precise with his accuracy, which made the Ohio State passing game lethal. There were question marks about Haskins’ arm talent, but he graded fairly well in that category for me as a prospect. Haskins was my second of two first-round grades I gave from the 2019 quarterback class.

3. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (2020)

Tua has been one of the best quarterbacks in college football since the infamous national title game, where he stepped in to relieve the aforementioned Jalen Hurts to win the game over Georgia. He’s sharp, accurate at all three levels of the field, and has a great combination of physical traits that gives him a well-rounded yet dynamic skill set as a quarterback. 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 projects favorably to the modern NFL.

Tua has a top-10 grade for me in 2020. The biggest issue with Tua is naturally his health. As an NFL quarterback, I think he compares favorably to current Dallas Cowboy Dak Prescott.

2. Kyler Murray, Oklahoma (2019)

In terms of sheer physical ability, Kyler outclasses every player on this list. The things Kyler Murray did and does on the football field are magical. Nobody on this list sniffed his grade for upside, playmaking, and arm talent on my scale. I knocked him in his progression speed and placement, as Murray had a tendency to lock onto his targets instead of scanning the field (can you blame him with CeeDee Lamb and Hollywood Brown?).

Obviously, his size was a huge projection, but he did just win OROY and his team is only adding weapons for him. Kyler was my highest-graded quarterback in the 2019 quarterback class and certainly played like it.

1. Joe Burrow, LSU (2020)

By the slimmest of margins, Burrow edged out Murray for the top spot. Burrow as a prospect is just a touch more accurate and quicker mentally than Kyler was, and on my scale, it’s enough to push him over Kyler’s advantage in physical ability. Burrow put together one of the best college football seasons of all-time. He checks off every box NFL teams should want in a quarterback and there’s no reason he should not be the first overall pick. He’s my top-ranked quarterback in the 2020 quarterback class.

I do like the Tony Romo comparison of him, but I don’t think Burrow will have the same propensity for late-game turnovers that Romo had.

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