Patriots

2020 NFL Draft player rankings: Top 10 quarterbacks in stacked group

2020 NFL Draft player rankings: Top 10 quarterbacks in stacked group

For the first time in two decades, the New England Patriots face uncertainty at quarterback.

Tom Brady has joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Patriots are now searching for a starter.

Luckily for them, the 2020 NFL Draft class is well-stocked at quarterback. The top seven players in this class all have the chance to become solid NFL starters rather quickly. And beyond them, there are several other intriguing developmental options.

The Patriots may opt to roll with Jarrett Stidham as their starter. Still, they could look to add some young depth to challenge him and/or develop behind him. And armed with many mid-round draft picks, they'll surely have an opportunity to target a passer if they want to.

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Here's a look at the top 10 quarterbacks in the draft, starting with the likely No. 1 overall pick. 

1. Joe Burrow

College: LSU
Class: Redshirt senior
2019 stats: 76.3 completion percentage, 5,761 passing yards, 60 passing TDs, six interceptions, 115 rushes, 368 rushing yards, five rushing TDs

Joe Burrow burst onto the scene for LSU in 2019. After being a solid but unspectacular starter the previous year, Burrow caught fire in Steve Ensminger and Joe Brady's offense. He put up massive numbers en route to a Heisman Trophy and National Championship. Burrow has excellent arm talent, a knack for finding open receivers, combined with good mobility. Barring a surprise, he'll be the No. 1 overall pick for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Projected Round: First (No. 1 overall pick) 

2. Tua Tagovailoa

College: Alabama
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 71.4 completion percentage, 2,840 passing yards, 33 passing TDs, three interceptions, two rushing TDs

It's amazing that Alabama and LSU, two traditionally run-based offenses, have the consensus top two QBs in the draft. Before Burrow emerged, people referred to the process of NFL teams losing last season as "Tanking for Tua". The junior was only a two-year starter at Alabama, but he was a highly accurate passer and made 'Bama's offense one of the most dangerous in the nation. Had it not been for a brutal hip injury, he could've challenged Burrow for the top spot. Tagovailoa is progressing well in his recovery and should have a chance at being a Russell Wilson-type playmaker in the NFL, provided that he can stay healthy.

Projected Round: First (Top 5 picks) 

3. Justin Herbert

College: Oregon
Class: Senior
2019 stats: 66.8 completion percentage, 3,471 passing yards, 32 passing TDs, six interceptions, four rushing TDs

Herbert has a solid 6-foot-6 frame and possesses one of the better arms in this draft. He fits the bill as a prototypical pocket passer who has enough mobility to scramble and make throws on the run as he demonstrated time and time again in his four years as a starter for the Ducks. He seems likely to be a top-10 pick but if he slips, the Patriots could consider making a move up to get him.

Projected Round: First (Top 10) 

4. Jordan Love

College: Utah State
Class: Redshirt Junior
2019 stats: 61.9 completion percentage, 3,402 passing yards, 20 passing TDs, 17 interceptions, 81 rushes, 175 rushing yards

Love is one of the more raw passers in this class, but he has a cannon of an arm. He can make any throw but has to get better at reading the field and avoiding turnovers; those were a major problem for him last season. Love may take time to develop in the NFL, but some team will fall in love with him (no pun intended) and try to groom him as its next franchise QB.

Projected Round: Late First/Early Second

5. Jake Fromm

College: Georgia
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 60.8 completion percentage, 2,806 passing yards, 24 passing TDs, five interceptions

Fromm is almost the inverse of Love as a prospect. He doesn't have a very strong arm, but he reads the field very well and rarely turns the ball over. He may not have the best mobility, but he managed games well at Georgia, became a starter as a true freshman, and led the Bulldogs to a 36-7 record in his time there. His intelligence and high character will make a team believe that he can be an NFL starter.

Projected Round: Second or Third

6. Jacob Eason

College: Washington
Class: Redshirt Junior
2019 stats: 64.2 completion percentage, 3,132 passing yards, 23 passing TDs, eight interceptions

Eason actually started his career at Georgia but was beaten out by Fromm for the starting job. And now, he's behind Fromm on this list. Go figure. Eason, son of former Notre Dame receiver Tony Eason, not the ex-Patriots QB, has a great 6-6 frame and an excellent arm that he showed off at the combine. However, he only has two total years of starting experience that came three years apart (2016 and 2019). So, he may need time to develop at the next level. In particular, he needs to learn to use more touch on his throws and not just fire the ball as hard as he can on every pass.

Projected Round: Second or Third

7. Jalen Hurts

College: Oklahoma
Class: Senior
2019 stats: 69.7 completion percentage, 3,851 passing yards, 32 passing TDs, eight interceptions, 233 carries, 1,298 rushing yards, 20 rushing TDs

Hurts is a true dual threat who made some serious progress as a passer during his lone year at Oklahoma. Before he joined Lincoln Riley and the Sooners, he played at Alabama and was a rare true freshman starter at quarterback for the Crimson Tide before Tagovailoa took over. Hurts enjoyed an excellent season in 2019 and finished second in the Heisman voting. He still needs to work on his passing skill set and confidence in the pocket, but while he does that, he could be a Taysom Hill-type playmaker for a team willing to spend a pick on him.

Projected Round: Third

8. James Morgan

College: Florida International
Class: Redshirt senior
2019 stats: 58 completion percentage, 2,585 passing yards, 14 passing TDs, five interceptions, two rushing TDs

A smaller-school prospect who impressed at the NFL Combine, Morgan has been on the rise during the scouting process. He took a step back as a passer in 2019 but perhaps with a better supporting cast in the NFL, he could find success. He should be a solid mid-round developmental project for the right team and it's worth noting that the Patriots have been linked to him.

Projected Round: Third or Fourth

9. Nate Stanley

College: Iowa
Class: Senior
2019 stats: 59.4 completion percentage, 2,951 passing yards, 16 passing TDs, seven interceptions

Stanley is the latest quarterback to come out of Iowa's pro-style offense which utilizes a run-heavy game plan. He'll need to work on his accuracy as a pro, but he reads the field well and has a good arm.

Projected Round: Fourth to Sixth

10. Steven Montez

College: Colorado
Class: Redshirt senior
2019 stats: 63 completion percentage, 2,808 passing yards, 17 passing TDs, 10 interceptions

Montez has the size (6-5, 230) and athletic ability that teams look for in a QB, but he'll need time to develop. The sky is the limit for him but after a middling performance at the Senior Bowl, it's clear that he'll need a year or two before he can really factor into a starting QB battle.

Projected Round: Fourth to Sixth

Could Patriots ranking among dead money leaders cost team in 2020?

Could Patriots ranking among dead money leaders cost team in 2020?

The New England Patriots have won six Super Bowls over the last 20 years in part by spending wisely.

Is that all about to change?

The Patriots currently have the least amount of cap space of any NFL team at $1.85 million, per Spotrac. Part of the reason for that is the amount of money they're paying to players who won't play for them in 2020 -- otherwise known as "dead money."

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In fact, New England currently owes $24 million in "dead money," which according to Spotrac puts the team in dubious company.

Let's just say the Panthers, Jaguars, Rams and Dolphins aren't expected to be Super Bowl contenders in 2020.

And if the last four seasons are any indication, the Patriots would be bucking a trend just by going 9-7 in their first season of the post-Tom Brady era.

Brady is the primary reason why New England is in this position: He accounts for $13.5 million of that $24 million number, while Antonio Brown is next-closest with $4.5 million in dead money owed.

But such was the contract that Brady signed last August that gave him a potential out in 2020 -- one he took to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rather than take another pay cut to stay in New England.

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The Patriots, who have signed all of their 2020 draft picks, still can create extra cap space by trading or extending offensive guard Joe Thuney, who currently has a $14.7 million cap hit that's second-highest on the team.

New England also could restructure the deals of several other players -- like it did recently with Patrick Chung -- to free up more space.

That dead money isn't going away, though, so Bill Belichick and presumptive starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham have another historic precedent to overcome this season.

What's with Jarrett Stidham's surprisingly strong 2020 NFL MVP odds?

What's with Jarrett Stidham's surprisingly strong 2020 NFL MVP odds?

Christian McCaffrey led the NFL in total scrimmage yards in 2019. Jarrett Stidham attempted three passes that weren't intercepted.

Both players share the same odds to win 2020 NFL MVP.

That's right: The New England Patriots' second-year quarterback, who has yet to start an NFL game after backing up Tom Brady last season, is listed at +5000 to win the NFL MVP award at DraftKings Sportsbook.

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Stidham shares those +5000 odds with eight other players. Here's the list:

Josh Allen, QB, Bills
Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers
Derrick Henry, RB, Titans
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions

To reiterate: Stidham (who might not even start in Week 1) has the same chance to be named the NFL's best player as the league's rushing title holder (Henry), a former Rookie of the Year (Barkley) and the guy who was supposed to be Brady's heir apparent in New England (Garoppolo).

How is this possible? It's all about expectations.

Many expect the Patriots to nosedive following Brady's departure to Tampa Bay. But if Stidham can guide New England to a winning record or even a playoff berth, he could gain traction as a dark-horse MVP candidate who worked wonders with an offense lacking elite weapons.

Considering Bill Belichick's Patriots went 11-5 with Matt Cassel after Brady got hurt in 2008, that scenario isn't totally far-fetched.

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Of course, there still are 11 players with better MVP odds than Stidham, including Brady, whose +1600 odds rank him behind Dak Prescott (+1400), Russell Wilson (+800), Lamar Jackson (+700) and favorite Patrick Mahomes (+400), per DraftKings Sportsbook.

But it appears there's faint optimism among oddsmakers that "The Stidham Plan" will pay off in a breakout season for the 23-year-old QB.