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K.J. Costello
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2020 NFL Draft Stock - Quarterbacks

by Hayden Winks
Updated On: July 16, 2019, 10:21 am ET

Draft capital is the single most important stat for projecting NFL production for rookies, and the goal of this “NFL Draft Stock” series is to accurately project where prospects WILL be selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, not where I think these prospects SHOULD be drafted. I’m using consensus mock draft data, player production and efficiency stats, and historical draft data to guide my draft capital projections. You’ll probably think your favorite draft prospect is projected too low, but the reality is there are more legit draft prospects than actual draft picks. 

Round

QBs Drafted on Average Since 2010

1

3.0

2

1.0

3

1.3

4

1.6

5

1.3

6

1.9

7

1.6

Total

11.7

 

The plan is to update the projections every month until the draft. And with each update, my projections will become more precise. The goal of the first round of projections is to separate prospects by which day they’ll be drafted, but I’ll get down to the actual pick eventually. As always, hit me up on Twitter @HaydenWinks if you have any questions. 


2020 NFL Draft Stock

2020 Quarterback Prospect

Projected Draft Day

Tua Tagovailoa

1

Justin Herbert

1

Jake Fromm

1

K.J. Costello

2

Jordan Love

3

Nathan Stanley

3

Shea Patterson

3

Sam Ehlinger

3

D’Eriq King

3

Jalen Hurts

3

Joe Burrow

3

Steven Montez

3

Blake Barnett

3

 

Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama, JR) - Day 1 Projection

Passing Production: Tua Tagovailoa will enter the 2020 NFL Draft as a two-year starter with age on his side. As a freshman, Tua obviously took over the National Championship game, taking the keys from Jalen Hurts as the clear-cut starter in 2018. Tua went on to toss 43 touchdowns to only six interceptions across 15 injury-filled games. Despite sitting out a bunch of fourth quarters, Tua threw for 3,966 yards (264.4 YPG) while averaging 11.2 yards per attempt. As for this upcoming season, I project Tua to throw for 3,769 yards (314 YPG) and 37 touchdowns over 12 regular season games

Advanced Passing: Last year, Tua Tagovailoa had the fourth-best Total QBR season of any FBS quarterback since at least 2004. And it was the second-best season of any sophomore, narrowly trailing Andrew Luck’s 2010 season. Tua was so efficient because of his accuracy. According to Pro Football Focus, the 2019 Heisman Trophy favorite finished inside the top-10 in their adjusted completion percentage metric among quarterbacks with at least 300 dropbacks. His accuracy was particularly impressive on 20+ yard passes where he averaged 20.9 yards per attempt with a 16/4 TD/INT ratio. 

Rushing Ability: Ankle and knee injuries slowed him down a bit last year, but Tua Tagovailoa is a solid rushing quarterback. He moves around the pocket well, constantly using the Russell Wilson signature spin when faced with edge pressure. Tua can take off for first downs when passing plays break down and can have designed QB runs in the playbook. Last year, Tua scored five rushing touchdowns and is the only returning college quarterback who had an 85+ passing EPA with a 10+ rushing EPA. I project Tua to rush for 241 yards in 2019 but his ceiling is higher than that.

A Play That Summarizes


 

Justin Herbert (Oregon, SR) - Day 1 Projection

Passing Production: Justin Herbert will enter the 2020 NFL Draft with well over 1,000 pass attempts if he stays healthy this season, taking experience off the plate as a potential issue. However, Herbert has missed games with injuries drawing questions about his durability as a thin-framed quarterback. When he’s on the field, he’s productive but not at the level of Tua, Baker, Kyler, or even D’Eriq King. Last year Herbert threw for 3,151 yards (242 YPG) and 29 touchdowns across 13 games while averaging a solid 8.2 yards per attempt. This year I project Herbert for 3296 yards (274 YPG) and 29 touchdowns over 12 regular season games.

Advanced Passing: Justin Herbert took a step back in 2018, going from 12th in the country in Total QBR (80.1) down to 24th (76.4). A lot of the difference came against pressure. Pro Football Focus credited Herbert with an 11.3 YPA  against pressure as a sophomore but that number fell to 5.8 last year. Theoretically, Herbert has the size and athleticism to be an above-average passer against pressure, so that’s something I’ll be watching for in 2019. In terms of accuracy, Herbert grades out well according to Derrik Klassen’s charting, but other analysts have their concerns. 

Rushing Ability: Justin Herbert is (and looks) athletic, and it shows when he takes off on scrambles. Through three seasons, Herbert has racked up over 500 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. His lengthy frame allows him to pick up yards, but it also makes him vulnerable to injuries. Herbert is a candidate to add a few pounds to sturdy up before he faces NFL defenses. NFL scouts have compared Herbert’s athleticism to the wild running Josh Allen and that makes some sense to me. As for 2019, I project Herbert to gain 145 yards on the ground.

A Play That Summarizes: 

 

Jake Fromm (Georgia, JR) - Day 1 Projection

Passing Production: It’s not a lock that Jake Fromm enters the 2020 NFL Draft, but for the time being let’s assume he will. … After the 2019 season ends, Fromm will be a three-year starter with appearances in multiple huge games. However, Georgia doesn’t air it out at the rate of other schools, so Fromm’s total season numbers are just average. But they could be a lot worse. Fromm tossed 24 touchdowns with 2,615 yards (174 YPG) as a freshman and followed it up with 30 touchdowns and 2,761 yards (197 YPG) last year. This season, I expect Georgia to put the game in Fromm’s hands more often, so I project Fromm for 3,022 yards (251 YPG) and 30 touchdowns over 12 regular season games

Advanced Passing: While Jake Fromm’s counting stats and pizzazz are lacking, his advanced numbers are pretty strong. Two years ago, Fromm finished sixth in Total QBR and finished third in Total QBR last year, only trailing Kyler Murray and Tua Tagovailoa. Fromm is accurate -- he finished 15th in PFF’s adjusted completion percentage metric among QBs with 300 dropbacks -- and unlike other quarterbacks, Fromm can read defenses without needing play action to set things up. On his 228 non-play action attempts, Fromm had an 8.4 YPA. Where things fall apart as a passer is downfield. Fromm was graded very poorly in terms of deep accuracy, which is likely a result of Fromm trying to overcome a weaker arm. Is it a big enough concern to drop him out of Round 1? I don’t think so, but it does likely limit his overall potential. With that said, Fromm can pick a defense apart if he can land in a system willing to tailor the offense to his strengths.

Rushing Ability: Jake Fromm isn’t a runner no matter how you slice it up. Last year, he rushed for negative yards and had a negative rushing EPA. And I project Fromm for an electric 33 rushing yards in 2018. With that said, Fromm can move in the pocket well enough to not get crushed by defenders.

A Play That Summarizes: 

 

K.J. Costello (Stanford, JR) - Day 2 Projection

Passing Production: K.J. Costello will be a 2.5-year starter with approximately 1,000 pass attempts when he declares early, which should leave zero doubt if he has enough experience to enter the league. After showing well over a tough four-game stretch to end his sophomore season, Costello broke out to the tune of 3,540 yards (272 YPG) and 29 touchdowns last year in an offense NFL coaches love to pluck players from. Costello is talented enough to overcome the loss of JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Bryce Love, but 2019 will be a challenge. I project Costello for 3,494 passing yards (291 YPG) and 30 touchdowns over 12 regular season games this season.

Advanced Passing: K.J. Costello was the No. 6 quarterback in Total QBR and No. 7 quarterback in Passing EPA last year, showing slightly above-average accuracy to all depths while showing little fear throwing it up to his best players. That in itself is a trait I like, even if it means a few more interceptions per season, and it paid off last year when he was pressured. Costello averaged 8.9 yards on his 97 attempts against pressure per PFF, constantly using JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Colby Parkinson, and other big pass-catchers as outlets to get the ball out in time. To my surprise, Costello was almost dead last in percentage of pass attempts coming off play action. For Costello to average 8.6 YPA while running minimal play action is really impressive. If Costello cleans up his stance/delivery, he has Round 1 potential, especially since NFL types are already praising his football IQ and work ethic

Rushing Ability: K.J Costello doesn’t offer much as a runner -- he had -20 college rushing yards with a negative rushing EPA last year -- but he’s not a complete statue back there. Costello has enough pocket movement to at least not get killed by NFL pressure. I project Costello to rack up a whopping 41 rushing yards in 2019, but maybe he breaks off to run more often with less running back talent on the roster.

A Play That Summarizes: 

 

Day 3 Projections

Jordan Love (Utah State, JR) is being called “toolsy” by NFL scouts.

Nathan Stanley (Iowa, SR) is viewed as a mid-level starter by at least one NFL scout.

Shea Patterson (Michigan, SR) was notably left off this 2020 QB preview.

Sam Ehlinger (Texas, JR) is a second-tier Heisman Trophy favorite.

D'Eriq King (Houston, SR) is an analytics sweetheart, but he’s reportedly 5-foot-8.

Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma, SR) has enough accuracy, intangibles, and athleticism.

Joe Burrow (LSU, SR) brought attention to scouts with a strong late-season push.

Steven Montez (Colorado, SR) has a “first-round arm, but he’s a Day 3 pick, at best.”

Blake Barnett (South Florida, SR) only because of this NFL scout-based column.

 

Read my Top 50 College Quarterbacks of 2019 column for more quarterback evaluations and advanced stats, and I also have 2019 stat projections here.

 

Winks’ Preseason Top 10

1. Tua Tagovailoa (Day 1 grade)

2. Jake Fromm (Day 1 grade)

3. Justin Herbert (Day 1 grade)

4. K.J. Costello (Day 1/2 grade)

5. Jordan Love (Day 2 grade)

6. Nathan Stanley (Day 3 grade)

7. Shea Patterson (Day 3 grade)

8. Sam Ehlinger (Day 3 grade)

9. Jalen Hurts (Day 3 grade)

10. D’Eriq King (Day 3 grade, would be higher if not 5-foot-8)