The quarterback carousel will be very interesting this offseason because impending free agent decisions from Tom Brady, Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill and Philip Rivers will undoubtedly impact the 2020 NFL Draft. Will Drew Brees retire? Will the Bengals trade Andy Dalton? Will the Panthers part ways with Cam Newton? Are the Lions actually considering the option of moving on from Matthew Stafford and drafting a quarterback? Personally, I believe they are posturing for a trade with another team looking to come up for a quarterback. Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn have to be toeing the line of unemployment at this point and another poor season would only secure their respective fates.
Alas, all of this must occur before the quarterback-needy teams of the 2020 NFL Draft come into focus. Today, an attempt is made to identify those teams and pair them with the right quarterback.
Joe Burrow, LSU
Best fit: Cincinnati Bengals
Burrow would be a fit for whichever team holds the No. 1 overall selection. He has the fewest questions regarding his play. The Ohio native is a great leader, possesses good arm strength, throws with great touch and is capable of getting yardage on the ground.
Some teams will question why he was not as successful until his senior season. They will wonder if he can be successful in an offense without Joe Brady and Steve Ensminger. After Burrow gets the chance to meet with teams, those questions will be alleviated.
Andy Dalton led the Bengals for nine seasons before being sent to the bench in 2019. A short-lived attempt by rookie Ryan Finley allowed Dalton the chance to return and break all-time franchise records. The franchise has made clear that neither Dalton nor Finley are the future for their rebuilding franchise.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Best fit: Miami Dolphins
Entering the season, Tagovailoa was the unquestioned top quarterback prospect. A devastating knee injury has teams concerned, but his production has him entrenched as the second-best option for teams in need at the position. Like Burrow, Tagovailoa is a great leader who throws with accuracy. His arm strength will not test off the charts, but it is good enough to be successful at the next level.
Miami traded player after player for additional draft capital, and the one acquisition that they made was second year quarterback Josh Rosen. At the time, the line of thought was that Rosen would be part of the future, but that now seems unlikely. Rosen was unable to hold down the starting job this season and Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a long-term answer.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might be another option if they are willing to trade up. Head coach Bruce Arians has been notably frustrated with Winston's carelessness with the football.
Other potential fit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Justin Herbert, Oregon
Best fit: Carolina Panthers
New Panthers head coach Matt Rhule had a fast-paced offense at Baylor last season. His quarterbacks at Temple and Baylor averaged about one rush for every three pass attempts. The coach likes to utilize the run-pass option, so he will want a quarterback that can process information quickly. Drawing up plays on the whiteboard will carry a lot of weight in their meetings with these prospects. The Baylor offense also called for quarterbacks to roll out of the pocket a lot. Designed quarterback runs can not be as common in his NFL game plan, but Rhule will likely covet a player with the capability.
Herbert would be one of the two best options beyond Burrow. Interestingly enough, Carolina hired the aforementioned Joe Brady, but it is unlikely Cincinnati would part with the No. 1 overall selection. Utah State's Jordan Love would be the other.
Here is an example of Charlie Brewer being used in Rhule's Baylor offense:
Anotherrrr strike for Charlie Brewer today 🔥— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 24, 2018
@BUFootball cushions their lead, 35-24! pic.twitter.com/Oe8z65BXW6
Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has averaged 101 receptions in each of his three seasons. His skill set will be heavily featured in the pass game. Herbert operated a similar offense in Eugene, although it may not have been best suited to his play. Rhule will have to tailor the game plan to Herbert but he is one of their best options.
Here is Herbert running a similar concept:
Justin Herbert can't be stopped!— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 3, 2019
The @oregonfootball QB throws a TD in his first play after leaving the field with an apparent knee injury. pic.twitter.com/yHhZrPb9iT
Other potential fits: Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts
Jordan Love, Utah State
Best fit: Indianapolis Colts
Throughout the process, Love has resembled Patrick Mahomes more than any other player. He is good on the run and capable of throwing from any arm angle. The California native does a fantastic job keeping his eyes downfield when pressured and moves around as well as anyone in the pocket. There are concerns with his accuracy. He needs to be more consistent in that field. Love also throws into tight coverage too often and generally makes poor decisions when frustrated.
The Kansas City Chiefs selected Mahomes No. 10 overall and allowed him to sit and learn behind Alex Smith for a full season. The Colts have Jacoby Brissett on a one-year deal so they could theoretically do the same with Love. John Dorsey was the general manager at the time of Mahomes' selection. His director of football operations was Chris Ballard, who is now the general manager in Indianapolis.
Here is Mahomes throwing from one of those awkward arm angles:
Patrick Mahomes delivers another dazzling throw to tie the Seahawks at 17-17. (Via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/MZeQKqFdM5— USA TODAY NFL (@usatodaynfl) December 24, 2018
Love makes a similar remarkable play:
Took a peek at Jordan Love yesterday and came away with a lot to like. Yes he has a cannon but also check out his mechanics and how he squares his shoulders before making throws. Love his placement on throws away from defenders and ability to throw on the move with accuracy pic.twitter.com/VhfHbpfNix— RealBucsTalk (@RealBucsTalk) January 5, 2020
Other potential fits: Carolina Panthers, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers
Jacob Eason, Washington
Best fit: Las Vegas Raiders
Eason has flashes of brilliance as well as moments of frustration. He is a big body with a strong arm. The Washington native is inconsistent with his accuracy and will not be confused with a dual-threat quarterback. Eason is strictly a pocket passer but Gruden is an old-school coach. His starting quarterbacks in his first stint with Oakland were two players in their 30s, Jeff George and Rich Gannon. In Tampa Bay, he had Brad Johnson in his 30s and an odd assortment of other non-mobile quarterbacks, so let's not pretend that is a key characteristic in his search for a new quarterback.
Eason would allow Las Vegas to push the ball downfield, which should open running lanes for the talented Josh Jacobs. His selection would open doors for the trade of veteran quarterback Derek Carr.
Other potential fit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers