By: Ryan Cooley
1. Joe Burrow
Burrow had arguably the best season by a QB in college football history. In 15 games, he had 5,671 yards, 60 TDs to only 6 INTs, and a 76.3 completion percentage. He is the clear cut first overall pick in this year’s draft.
Pros: Damn near everything. Burrow checks almost all of the boxes. He has great pocket presence, accuracy, and athleticism. I was most impressed with his ball placement. This is one of the most underrated factors when looking at QBs. He consistently hit receivers in stride and can fit the ball in tight windows. Any QB can complete passes to wide-open targets, but the great ones can make throws to receivers that have little separation, and that is what Burrow can do.
Cons: There are not too many of these, and the few are not huge concerns. The biggest concern for Burrow is he only performed at this level for one year. Most scouts would like to see players perform at this level for multiple years to make sure it wasn’t just a fluke. However, he only started for two seasons and showed significant improvement from his first year starting, which could be seen as a positive.
For actual football play, Burrow let some intermediate throws sail every now and again. He also needs to learn to slide at the NFL level. There is no need for him to fight for an extra yard or two in the NFL. Along with that, he also needs to learn to live for another down. There were times where he tried to do too much on plays that broke down, which will end up costing him at the next level.
2. Tua Tagovailoa
Tua would be up for debate as the #1 QB in this draft if he were able to stay healthy. Much like Burrow, Tua checks a lot of boxes. Between his athleticism and accuracy, he fits into what the NFL is transitioning to of hybrid QBs.
Pros: He throws a beautiful deep ball. It was a shame he didn’t get to throw much of it this year. Bama ran a lot of short/quick passes to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers. He has the ability to be a threat running the ball at the next level. His accuracy is elite, especially on short passes. He keeps his eyes down the field when escaping the pocket. He has a high football IQ and reads coverages well. He made a lot of throws with great touch.
Cons: Durability is the biggest concern for Tua and could possibly make him fall in the draft. He has had multiple ankle injuries, a knee injury, a broken finger, and now the most significant injury of his dislocated hip. Reports say there is a chance he is able to throw and participate in some of the pre-draft workouts. He needs to improve when throwing under pressure. This is not a huge red flag, but some intermediate throws got away from him. He also does not possess elite arm strength.
3. Justin Herbert
Herbert is a rare QB that stayed at school despite being a first-round prospect. While I admire his dedication, it is usually better to enter the draft in case of injury or not living up to expectations. Nevertheless, Herbert is still projected to be a first-round pick, and I would be surprised if he fell out of the top 10.
Pros: He is the most physically gifted QB in this draft. He has all the tools needed to be a very successful signal-caller in the NFL. He has the best arm talent among all of the prospects. He throws well under pressure and is useful as a runner that will transition to the next level. He also has a good pocket presence and knows when to bail.
Cons: Herbert needs to be able to go through his progressions faster. Many sacks were due to him holding the ball too long. There were also a lot of times when he took off and ran when his first read wasn’t open. He was very up and down at Oregon and will need to play much more consistently in the NFL. He struggled at reading defenses. There were many throws where he didn’t see a safety or linebacker that resulted in an interception. There is also a concern about shrinking in big games. His last two games were against #5 Utah, and #8 Wisconsin in the Pac-12 Championship, and he only managed a grade of 60.4 and 65.3 by Pro Football Focus in both games.
4. Jake Fromm
Fromm is the definition of a pocket passer. Unlike a lot of people, I am a big Jake Fromm fan. He is not one that will produce crazy highlights like other QBs in this draft but is very consistent, and you know what you’re going to get from him. In his three years at Georgia, he threw for 78 TDs to only 18 INTs.
Pros: Fromm is a very accurate QB and has proper ball placement. He always stays calm in any situation, which is a great aspect of his leadership. He is very smart and has a high football IQ. Fromm is very safe and does not force anything that is not there, which led to only 18 INTs in three years. He also made a lot of NFL caliber throws in big games, which shows me he can succeed at the next level.
Cons: Fromm’s arm strength will be a big concern for teams. His fastball is not very fast, which could hurt him at the next level. His lead leg is not always bent, which affects the velocity of his throws, and fixing it could help tremendously. He is not a mobile QB in the slightest, and that could hurt his stock since the league is transitioning to more hybrid QBs. It’s hard to determine how well he can throw into tight windows because he did not do it a lot. He is not a risk-taker, but he will have to start taking chances in the NFL. He also needs to improve on goal-line fades.
5. Jordan Love
Love is going to be a wildcard in this draft. Some people will have him high on their list, while others will have him lower. He has qualities that show he can be successful in the NFL. Love’s biggest concern is his drop off from his junior to senior year. Last season he put up 32 TD to only 6 INTs, but this year he only managed 20 TDs to 17 INTs.
Pros: Love has the quickest release in the draft, which will help him at the next level. He has the ability to hit receivers in tight windows. He is good at keeping his eyes down the field even when the pocket collapses. He throws a beautiful deep ball. Love is also fast enough to where the offense can draw up designed runs for him.
Cons: Needs to be more consistent with his accuracy, especially on short throws. He will fit the ball into a tight window and then overthrow a dump-off pass to the RB on the next play. He is fast, but won’t make a lot of defenders miss after he has taken off. He will tend to stare down his first read too long. Love also needs to improve significantly on his decision making. He had too many throws that should have never been made.