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

NFL opt-outs: Complete list of players who won't play in 2020 season

NFL opt-outs: Complete list of players who won't play in 2020 season

NFL training camps officially began Tuesday, but there were some notable absences.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season last Friday, citing health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, multiple players have followed suit, continuing a trend across all major North American professional sports of players declining to participate in their seasons as COVID-19 persists in the United States.

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The Patriots especially have felt the impact of this trend: Six New England players -- including star linebacker Dont'a Hightower -- already have opted out, the most of any NFL team.

Below is a running list of the players who have opted out of the 2020 NFL season, according to reports or team/player confirmations. The list is sorted alphabetically after the Patriots, with the date of the players' opt-outs in parentheses.

New England Patriots

RB Brandon Bolden (July 28)
OT Marcus Cannon (July 28)
S Patrick Chung (July 28)
LB Dont'a Hightower (July 28)
WR Marqise Lee (August 1)
OG Najee Toran (July 27)
FB Danny Vitale (July 27)
TE Matt LaCosse (August 2)

Arizona Cardinals

OT Marcus Gilbert (August 4)

Baltimore Ravens

OT Andre Smith (July 28)
WR/KR De'Anthony Thomas (July 27)

Buffalo Bills

CB E.J. Gaines (August 2)
DT Star Lotulelei (July 28)

Carolina Panthers

LB Jordan Mack (July 28)
LB Christian Miller (August 3)

Chicago Bears

DT Eddie Goldman (July 28)
S Jordan Lucas (August 3)

Cincinnati Bengals

OT Isaiah Prince (July 31)
DT Josh Tupou (July 31)

Cleveland Browns

DT Andrew Billings (August 4)
OL Drake Dorbeck (July 29)
OL Drew Forbes (July 29)

Dallas Cowboys

CB Maurice Canady (July 27)
WR Stephen Guidry (July 28)
FB Jamize Olawale (Aug. 2)

Denver Broncos

OT JaWuan James (Aug. 3)
DT Kyle Peko (July 28)

Detroit Lions

DT John Atkins (July 29)
WR Geronimo Allison (Aug. 2)

Green Bay Packers

WR Devin Funchess (July 28)

Houston Texans

DT Eddie Vanderdoes (July 28)

Jacksonville Jaguars

EDGE Larentee McCray (August 1)
DL Al Woods (July 31)

Kansas City Chiefs

OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (July 24)
RB Damien Williams (July 29)

Las Vegas Raiders

LB Ukeme Eligwe (August 4)
CB D.J. Killings (August 3)
DE Jeremiah Valoaga (August 3)

Los Angeles Rams

OT Chandler Brewer (July 31)

Miami Dolphins

WR Allen Hurns (August 4)

Minnesota Vikings

NT Michael Pierce (July 28)

New Orleans Saints

TE Jason Vander Laan (July 28)
TE Cole Wick (July 28)

New York Giants

WR Da'Mari Scott (August 2)
LT Nate Solder (July 29)

New York Jets

OL Leo Koloamatangi (July 28)
LB CJ Mosley (August 1)

Philadelphia Eagles

WR Marquise Goodwin (July 28)

Seattle Seahawks

OG Chance Warmack (July 27)

Tennessee Titans

OL Anthony McKinney (July 28)

Washington Football Team

DT Caleb Brantley (July 27)
LB Josh Harvey-Clemons (August 3)

Free Agents

G Larry Warford (July 28)

Patriots confirm coaching changes, front office promotions for 2020 season

Patriots confirm coaching changes, front office promotions for 2020 season

The puzzle pieces of the New England Patriots' coaching staff and front office have fallen into place.

The Patriots saw turnover in both departments this offseason, as longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia retired while director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort joined the Houston Texans as their director of player personnel.

The club also welcomed some new faces, including former Los Angeles Rams offensive assistant Jedd Fisch (the team's new quarterbacks coach) and ex-Cleveland Browns executive Eliot Wolf.

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So, how have the coaching staff and front office changed since last season? The Patriots have unveiled their 2020 media guide, which confirmed the new roles of several staffers.

Here's a rundown of the notable changes:

- Troy Brown officially is on staff as a running backs and kick returners coach. The former Patriots wide receiver will work with head running backs coach Ivan Fears and special teams assistant Joe Houston.

- Director of pro scouting Dave Ziegler has been promoted to assistant director of player personnel, reporting to director of player personnel Nick Caserio. He'll essentially fill Ossenfort's former role.

- Tyler Hughes, who reportedly joined the team in June, is listed as an "offensive assistant." Hughes most recently was the head coach at Bountiful (Utah) High School.

- Vinnie Sunseri joins the Patriots as a defensive assistant after spending the 2019 season as a graduate assistant for Nick Saban at Alabama. Sunseri had a brief stint in New England as a player during 2016 training camp.

- Wolf's official title is "scouting consultant." He served as Cleveland's assistant general manager in 2018 and 2019 after 14 seasons with the Green Bay Packers.

The Patriots go through personnel changes every year, but 2020 presents a unique challenge: Not only has COVID-19 prevented staff members from meeting in-person, but the club has lost a lengthy list of core veterans to free agency (Tom Brady, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, etc.) and opt-outs (Dont'a Hightower, Patrick Chung, Marcus Cannon, etc.) this offseason.

Head coach Bill Belichick isn't one to make excuses, though, so expect his staff to be hard at work this week as the Patriots begin on-field training camp work at Gillette Stadium.

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