This is the first in a series of position previews for the 2020 NFL draft, which runs April 23-25. Today: quarterbacks. Read them all here.
THREE NAMES TO KNOW
Joe Burrow, LSU: Following three seasons on the bench at Ohio State, Burrow transferred and made one of college football’s most dramatic turnarounds. As a fifth-year senior, he won the Heisman Trophy for a national championship team and became the probable No. 1 overall pick for Cincinnati (unless the Bengals trade the pick). He set the NCAA single season record for passing touchdowns (60) and total touchdowns (65) while leading the country with 5,671 passing yards (third all-time). Burrow showed the consistent touch and awareness, whether a play went as planned or not, befitting of a franchise cornerstone.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama: Hyper-accurate and athletic, Tagovailoa has the talent to become the next premier mobile quarterback. Recent hip and ankle surgeries might have cost the lefthander the No. 1 overall spot. He returned from ankle surgery and threw for four TDs in a Nov. 9 shootout loss against LSU; the following week, Tagovailoa suffered a season-ending hip dislocation and fracture. He threw for 87 touchdowns to 11 interceptions for the Crimson Tide.
Justin Herbert, Oregon: Herbert is considered the most physically gifted quarterback in this class. He stands 6-6, weighs 236 pounds and had 32 TD passes and only six picks in 2019. Herbert is plenty athletic for his size, running for three touchdowns against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, and showed he can make throws on the run. He’ll have to improve issues with footwork and accuracy.
Anthony Gordon, Washington State: The Cougars produced another one-year wonder a season after Gardner Minshew went from the sixth round to Jacksonville’s starting job. Gordon (6-2, 205 pounds) was even more successful in Mike Leach’s “Air Raid” offense last fall, trailing only Burrow for the national lead in passing yards (5,579) and touchdowns (48). A slender build and raw positional skills lead to questions about his transition to the NFL.
Kirk Cousins signed a two-year extension to remain in Minnesota through the 2022 season. The Vikings have 12 picks, but haven’t drafted a quarterback outside the first round with Rick Spielman as general manager. Sean Mannion signed a one-year deal to return as the Vikings’ No. 2 quarterback last season. Mannion, who turns 28 this month, may see competition in second-year Jake Browning or an undrafted free agent. The last Vikings quarterback drafted outside the first round was John David Booty in 2008’s fifth round.
VIKINGS' LEVEL OF NEED
Moderately low: Given the Vikings’ heavy investment in Cousins, whose new three-year, $96 million pact awards him an additional $30 million guaranteed at signing and the likelihood of another $35 million guaranteed if he’s on the roster next March, draft picks will be used to replenish other positions.