I’m preview scouting 3-5 of the top players at each position (including IDPs) for the 2020 NFL Draft/Devy Dynasty draft class. I’m looking at 2-3 games (against top opponents they faced), looking at their highlight reel, and looking over their output numbers so far. This is not a perfect way to go about this because I like having their final college season to analyze along with the measurables to compare and profile. It’s early, but I like to take this early look and give my instant reaction. Obviously, we’ll be re-looking at these guys again pre-Draft and at the Combine, etc., next year. For now, here’s my quick take.
*In order of worst-to-best by school grades I assigned. Some of these players will be displayed in our top 300+ Dynasty Rookie Draft rankings going forward so you have an idea – they will be classified on team ‘Devy’ (for your searches of them starting with the 6/14/2019 rankings).
QB Jake Fromm, Georgia (Grade C-/D+)
I saw a lot of interesting passer/pro prospects in this year’s short list group, but Fromm was the one who stood out the most as having the least ‘good impression’ (on me) or things that captured my attention among the group. Fromm did not look comfortable, not in-command like the other 2020 guys…he was more robotic/overcoached it looked like. Is more of a game-manager, quick passer…gets rid of the ball quickly in a fast pace offense but when asked to stand in the pocket and read things and make good throws – his foot position is out of whack (back foot thrower in muddy pockets), he doesn’t read beyond 1st-look and throw, and displays a so-so arm. Not impressed yet.
QB Justin Herbert, Oregon (Grade C-/D+)
Was the sloppiest QB that I watched of the short list of 2020 prospects. Has the look (tall and good throwing motion) but was very inaccurate. He can work the quick passing game well but ask him to sit in the pocket and make smart decisions and accurate throws…it doesn’t happen. He looks like an attractive QB at a glance because of height, etc., and I bet he’s great in t-shirt and shorts practices/throwing but his in-game against top opposition was not impressive to me for the second year in a row (that I’ve previewed him)..
QB K.J. Costello, Stanford (Grade C/C-)
I don’t know why but ‘I really liked this kid’ (I hate that label…but it fits). I thought he was a bit gangly, with a hair too much wind-up in his throwing motion/delivery (throws like a 3rd-baseman), and not overly athletic or overly anything, but I was struck with how smart and poised and sure he was in the pocket. The only guy, or the best guy, of my 2020 QB prospects reviewed who really works like a true NFL pocket passer…him and Jacob Eason and kinda Trevor Lawrence.
Eason and Lawrence run plays…Costello runs the offense, plays chess with the defense. Costello is all over the place pre-snap changing plays, pointing out things. He’s kinda like Kirk Cousins – not the sexiest QB in his division. Maybe the last guy you’d take among the NFC North QBs -- Nothing like effortless Aaron Rodgers. Not close to the five-tool player Trubisky is. Not the cannon arm that Stafford has. Costello/Cousins are just scrappy go-getters who are smart and run through brick walls. Costello will never be mentioned with Tagovailoa-Eason-Lawrence, by analysts, but I wonder, if he lands right, if he might be the more successful NFL QB…a craftsman, a winner. Or…I’m punch drunk on my first viewing and I’m reading too much into a ‘good college QB’, who is average for the pros.
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (Grade B/B-)
A capable QB prospect, but one with all the endorsements and gravitas of ‘Alabama’. He may be the best fantasy QB on my 2020 preview list because of his running skills, but as a passer he’s not as good as Jacob Eason or Trevor Lawrence. Tagovailoa has a mediocre arm and mediocre size…he’s like a left-handed Deshaun Watson, maybe a less-than Watson…but has all the acceptance Watson didn’t have coming out (I was a Watson skeptic, and some others were too because of his style). The NFL is embracing the spread QBs now, so Tua will be highly coveted, whereas 3-5 years ago he’d be an undersized ‘system’ fear. He’d probably be that overlooked guy in 2020 if he played for West Virginia or Kansas State or Oregon State, etc. But playing for Alabama raises his stock probably beyond what it should be. Regardless, he’s good with athleticism and a so-so arm but gets how to play the position.
QB Jacob Eason, Washington (Grade B/B+)
He might be the best QB all-around talent of the 2020 bunch, but there is some hesitation on my part for getting too excited. He has ‘the look’ – a tall gunslinger with a whip-like frozen rope of an arm. Of all the QBs of the 2020 group, I’m most intrigued by Eason. He was the one guy with a ‘plus’ size, ‘plus’ arm, and was really reading the defenses and making good/great technical/timing throws to receivers. I didn’t see any Baker Mayfield or Patrick Mahomes-like domination in the way he picked apart defenses…but that may happen in 2019. In 2016, as a freshman he showed promise for Georgia, then got hurt 2017 and lost the job to Jake Fromm and transferred. We haven’t seen his development because he hasn’t played the last two years, but raw tools-wise he’s probably the best 2020 QB that I watched.
QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (Grade B/B+)
*Obviously is a 2021 prospect, not 2020… I didn’t love the very first look I had of Lawrence months ago but watching more intently here…I see the positives. He has the size and makeup, and a pretty good arm…but he moves around and looks like young Peyton Manning, visually (plus, wears #16), and that + ‘Clemson’ will send people into orbit. When I watched Tua Tagovailoa, I saw an athlete on a great team making plays but not that technically gifted. With Lawrence you can see the wheels turning. He reads situations and makes some real NFL throws. I see the potential here. I also see the scouting problem…being on Clemson makes him a TV star and distorts reality. Will Grier was as smooth and dominant as Lawrence, but Grier played at lowly, system West Virginia. Had Grier played at Clemson last year…he’d have been the #1 QB taken in 2019 without a doubt. The TV aspect, the ‘Clemson’ effect plays into evaluating how good he is by the mainstream. But what I saw, for a freshman, was really very sound/good. We need to see more. I did not think I was watching the next Mahomes-Mayfield-Murray here in 2019. In 2020, maybe he fully pops to the next level. It’s a bit too early to make a call, but I’m making an early one anyway…and assuming he’ll continue to get even better. Jacob Eason could be better than him though…just less sexy surroundings/college he played at.