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A month ago, the 2020 quarterback class was a mixed bag. Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert had emerged as stars in 2021, while Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts were entering make-or-break years. Now, the former Alabama teammates have emerged as early MVP candidates for the only unbeaten teams in the NFL -- the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles. And suddenly, the number of franchise quarterbacks from the 2020 NFL Draft may have doubled.

Of course, their stock can go down as quickly as it has risen, but what if it doesn't? They could actually challenge some immortalized classes for the best season by a draft class ever. No, we're not talking best classes of all time in the totality of their careers, but best seasons by a class is in play right now.

In case you need to be reminded of the 2020 star potential:

  • Burrow made the Super Bowl last year while becoming the youngest quarterback (25) ever to lead the NFL in both completion percentage and yards per attempt in the same season.

  • Herbert is the only quarterback ever with 30 touchdown passes in each of his first two seasons.

  • Tagovailoa tied Dan Marino and Bob Griese's franchise-record with six passing touchdowns in Week 2.

  • Hurts is the only quarterback to have produced 300 passing yards per game and 50 rushing yards per game through three games of a season.

Notable QBs in 2020 NFL Draft

Joe Burrow, CIN (Drafted No. 1 overall)

Tua Tagovailoa, MIA (Drafted No. 5 overall)

Justin Herbert, LAC (Drafted No. 6 overall)

Jalen Hurts, PHI (Drafted No. 53 overall)

As a group, they are taking the league by storm:

  • They are four of the top eight Fantasy quarterbacks this season.

  • They are four of the top eight quarterbacks in MVP odds.

  • They are four of the top 10 quarterbacks in pass yards.

Best MVP Odds (Caesars Sportsbook)

Josh Allen


Patrick Mahomes


Jalen Hurts


Lamar Jackson


Tua Tagoavailoa


Justin Herbert


Aaron Rodgers


Joe Burrow


If they keep it up, they'd be in rare air. There may not be one perfect number to compare classes, so here's a few categories to break down the best seasons by QB classes all time, with a focus on depth.


Our first category is stats. To simplify things and just look at one number, I used Fantasy points, which rewards volume and also passing plus rushing production. Burrow, Tagovailoa, Herbert and Hurts all rank top eight in Fantasy points among quarterbacks this season. 

Results: The famed 1983 and 2004 classes are the only ones in NFL history to feature four of the top 10 in QB Fantasy points in the same season. The 1983 class did it three times, and the 2004 class, once. The best season by a single class might be the '83 group in 1986. Five first-rounders -- John Elway, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O'Brien and Dan Marino -- all ranked top 10 in the NFL in Fantasy points, passing yards, touchdown passes and passer rating that season.

Draft class With four of the top 10 QBs in Fantasy points (same season)

2004 Class (2009 Season)

1983 Class (1991 Season)

  • 1. Jim Kelly
  • 2. Dan Marino
  • 4. John Elway
  • 7. Ken O'Brien

1983 Class (1987 Season)

  • 3. John Elway
  • 5. Dan Marino
  • 6. Jim Kelly
  • 9. Ken O'Brien

1983 Class (1986 Season)

  • 1. Dan Marino
  • 3. John Elway
  • 5. Jim Kelly
  • 6. Ken O'Brien
  • 8. Tony Eason


Of course, impact goes beyond just filling up the stat sheet. Fantasy numbers can sometimes be empty numbers. Just look at Blake Bortles in 2015. He had 35 touchdown passes, ranked fourth among quarterbacks in Fantasy points, but was hardly the fourth-best quarterback in the league.

So, my second category is accolades. Are these quarterbacks generally regarded among the best in the league? So far the perception of the 2020 class says they have the potential to be. They have four of the top eight players in MVP odds this season. I used Pro Bowls for this measuring stick as NFL MVP votes can be all over the place. Case in point, Russell Wilson famously has never gotten an MVP vote.

Results: Only one season all time has featured four Pro Bowl quarterbacks from the same draft class. That was the '83 group in 1991.

Four Pro Bowl QBs from same draft class in a season

1983 Class (1991 Season)

  • John Elway
  • Jim Kelly
  • Dan Marino
  • Ken O'Brien

Only two classes have seen four quarterbacks make multiple Pro Bowls at any point in their careers. The 1983 class with the aforementioned four players, and 2004 with Manning, Rivers, Roethlisberger and Schaub. Hopefully you're beginning to see a trend here. Both 1983 and 2004 were good.

Team success

Stats and accolades don't tell the entire story either as quarterbacks are often judged by how much they've won. Since it wouldn't be a surprise to see any (or all) of these 2020 quarterbacks make the playoffs, I looked at postseason starts. 

Results: There's only been three postseasons featuring four starting quarterbacks from the same draft class. The 1971 class, listed below, is one of the first great QB classes, producing multiple MVPs and Super Bowl winners.

Four QBs from same draft class in single postseason all time

2003 Class (2005 Postseason)

  • Carson Palmer
  • Byron Leftwich
  • Rex Grossman
  • Chris Simms

1999 Class (2000 Postseason)

  • Donovan McNabb
  • Daunte Culpepper
  • Shaun King
  • Aaron Brooks

1971 Class (1982 Postseason)

  • Jim Plunkett
  • Lynn Dickey
  • Ken Anderson
  • Joe Theismann

It's impossible to predict what they might do for a career, but if you're a draft nerd like me, you want to know the measuring sticks when talking about some of the deepest quarterback classes ever. Not just for a season, but a career. 

Career success

I used Approximate Value, a metric by Pro-Football-Reference.com that places a single value on a player's career (think WAR in baseball) to look at the highest combined career values by the top four quarterbacks in a single class. Unsurprisingly, 1983 and 2004 lead the way. But 2005, a class headlined by Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers, was not far behind.

Highest Approximate Value Among Top 4 QBs in Single Draft Class 

2004 - Rivers, Roethlisberger, Manning, Schaub


1983 - Marino, Elway, Kelly, O'Brien


2005 - Rodgers, Smith, Fitzpatrick, Campbell


1971 - Anderson, Theismann, Plunkett, Manning


This doesn't quite cover all the great quarterback classes, so here are some other superlatives for you trivia people out there!

The 1983 class is the only one to produce three Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

Most Hall of Fame QBs in single draft class

1983 (3)

  • John Elway
  • Jim Kelly
  • Dan Marino

Five different draft classes have produced multiple Super Bowl-winning signal callers. The 1979 class is the only one with multiple Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks (Joe Montana, Phil Simms).

Most Different Super Bowl-Winning QBs in a Draft Class



Bart Starr, Earl Morrall



Jim Plunkett, Joe Theismann



Joe Montana, Phil Simms



Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger



Russell Wilson, Nick Foles

Three different draft classes produced multiple MVP quarterbacks. 

Most Different MVP QBs in a Draft Class



Bart Starr, Earl Morrall



Ken Anderson, Joe Theismann



John Elway, Dan Marino

Verdict: There you have it. It's only Week 4, but if 2020's foursome keeps this run up, they could be in exclusive company with groups like 1983 or 2004 as one of the best quarterback draft class seasons of all time. There's a long way to go, but the possibilities are exciting for this young group of quarterbacks. Only time will tell!