James Morgan

2020 NFL Draft: Scouting the top quarterbacks

2020 NFL Draft: Scouting the top quarterbacks

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 Rumors: Patriots held video conference with QB prospect James Morgan

NFL Rumors: Patriots held video conference with QB prospect James Morgan

The New England Patriots once again may be looking to add a quarterback who isn't near the top of many 2020 NFL Draft boards.

According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, the Patriots recently held a video conference with Florida International quarterback James Morgan. New England reportedly has been one of many teams eyeing the under-the-radar prospect.

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Reiss writes:

With only 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer on the depth chart, the Patriots almost certainly will add a rookie quarterback. The question is when.

They will cast a wide net, as usual. One example: League sources say Florida International quarterback James Morgan had a videoconference meeting with the team. Morgan, who grew up in Green Bay and naturally modeled his game after Pro Football Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre, is an intriguing prospect who scouts say performed well in the East-West Shrine Game.

Morgan spent two years at Bowling Green State University and his next two at FIU. In 2019, he completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,585 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. In his previous season, he set a school record with 26 touchdown passes.

While the Patriots selecting Morgan wouldn't be the sexiest pick of the draft, it wouldn't be a huge surprise. After all, they have some experience drafting under-the-radar QBs in the later rounds. That strategy has worked out OK for Bill Belichick and Co. in the past.

For Phil Perry's latest mock and more information you need to know heading into the 2020 draft, check out the Next Pats Podcast below:

NFL Draft Rumors: Patriots interested in this quarterback prospect

NFL Draft Rumors: Patriots interested in this quarterback prospect

The New England Patriots lost Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency this offseason. And as a result, the team is going to be searching for a new full-time starter at quarterback for the first time in 20 years.

Original indications are that the Patriots view Jarrett Stidham as their future starter. Stidham, a fourth-round pick in 2019, saw minimal action as a rookie but looked good in the preseason. Aside from him, the team has Brian Hoyer, who just returned to the team on a one-year deal after spending last season with the Indianapolis Colts, and Cody Kessler, a veteran who provided depth behind Stidham last year.

But the Patriots may not be done at the quarterback position. They may not target the bigger names available on the quarterback free agent and trade markets like Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, and Andy Dalton. But they could invest in a 2020 draft pick to compete with Stidham for the starting gig.

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According to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle, the Patriots are among many teams eying a particular quarterback. That would be Florida International University's James Morgan.

Morgan played four years of college football and spent two at Bowling Green State University and the other two at FIU. In his final collegiate season, he completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,585 yards, 14 touchdowns, and five interceptions. In the previous season, he set a school-record with 26 touchdown passes and completed 65 percent of his passes.

Morgan (6-foot-4, 229 pounds) has had a good offseason so far. He looked good at the East-West Shrine Game and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah named him the week's Offensive MVP. He built on that strong performance at the 2020 NFL Combine, as Aaron Wilson detailed that Morgan "interviewed well" at the event:

Florida International quarterback James Morgan created a lot of buzz at the NFL scouting combine with [his] combination of arm strength, size and leadership skills.

That description would seemingly fit a Patriot well. So, it's easy to see why the team might be interested in Morgan at this point in time.

Still, it's too early to predict exactly which quarterback the Patriots may target. They rarely tip their hand ahead of the draft and there are a number of passers that could ultimately interest the team, including one that our own Phil Perry mocked to the team in his latest Patriots seven-round mock draft