The quarterback position is always one of the most intriguing heading into the NFL Draft, and there’s almost always some debate and uncertainty over the order the top QBs will be selected in the first round.
Last year, it was a surprise when Daniel Jones was the second QB off the board, sixth overall to the New York Giants, ahead of Dwayne Haskins.
Two years ago, the eventual order of Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns), Sam Darnold (New York Jets), Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills), and Josh Rosen (Arizona Cardinals) in the first round was in question right up until the picks were submitted.
And three seasons ago, the Chicago Bears drafting Mitchell Trubisky ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson was the first splash of the draft and, in hindsight, a belly flop.
And this year there is some potential for another surprise as well, although almost assuredly not until the first QB is off the board.
The list has been led by LSU’s Joe Burrow since at least his National Championship performance in January, followed by Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, and Utah State’s Jordan Love.
And aside from Burrow, who by all accounts is a lock to go first overall to the Cincinnati Bengals, there are some lingering questions that might be enough to shake up the expected draft order of QBs.
For Tagovailoa, the potential concern is about his health. The Crimson Tide QB may have been able to at least challenge Burrow as the draft’s top prospect at the position this year before dislocating his hip late in the season.
Since that time, all medical checkups have gone well and Tagovailoa has done everything he can to prove to NFL teams he’s on pace for a full recovery.
But the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t allowed for teams to bring in prospects for personal physicals, which could scare away some teams on draft night.
“Yes, they got a look at Tua in Indianapolis, but they’d like a further evaluation and extensive look,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on ESPN’s Get Up. “You want to be as convinced as possible, as thorough as you can get. But the NFL this year has banned players from visiting team facilities. When you’ve got a player like Tua teams want to get their hands on, they can’t do it. Teams are in a little bit more of a guessing game. It was always going to be something of a medical gamble with Tua and it’s an even bigger gamble at this point in time.”
Herbert is a bit of a forgotten man this time around. The Oregon QB was the top QB prospect for a period last year before deciding to return to school for his senior season. While most prognosticators now have Herbert behind both Burrow and Tua, he could still be an early pick with the abundance of QB-needy teams this year compared to last.
And then there is Love, who is likely to go in the first round as well but has both the most questions surrounding his game and biggest range of where he might end up. The Utah State product doesn’t have the stats or the big-school pedigree to match up with the other three top QB prospects, but he has one thing working in his favour: comparisons to reigning Super Bowl champion and former MVP Patrick Mahomes.
“Yeah, I’ve heard that,” Love told Yahoo Sports. “Different teams ask me who I’d compare my game to, and I’d say that too, as well, just as far as arm strength and playmaking ability. I mean, I’m not saying I’m Patrick Mahomes at the end of the day. But I love his game, I love watching his game and, obviously, that’s something I’m trying to implement in my game, as well.”
He could end up being drafted by the first team that agrees with those comparisons.
TSN.ca takes a closer look at the top quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft class:
Joe Burrow – LSU
|15||402-527 (70.6 %)||5,671||60||6|
Burrow put up one of the greatest college football seasons in history last year and was rewarded with a National Championship and Heisman Trophy. He led the nation in passing yards with 5,671 and passing touchdowns with 60. And he saved perhaps his best performances for when everyone was watching, throwing for 493 yards and seven touchdowns in the CFP semifinal against Oklahoma before adding another 463 yards and five touchdowns in the National Championship against Clemson.
In an era of smokescreens, the Bengals seem to have little interest in hiding their intention of selecting Burrow first overall. After long-time starter Andy Dalton was benched last season, it was leaked the team had no intention of trading the first overall pick and Bengals staffers haven’t hidden their thoughts on Burrow either, saying he checks a lot of their boxes.
Tua Tagovailoa – Alabama
|9||180-252 (71.6 %)||2,840||33||3|
Tagovailoa was limited to just nine games last season with his aforementioned hip injury but he started all 15 games the year before as a sophomore. While he obviously didn’t reach his 2018 totals, Tagovailoa improved his accuracy (71.4 in 2019 from 69.0 a year earlier), yards per attempt (11.3 from 11.2), and QB rating (206.9 from 199.4) in his junior season last year.
While Burrow burst onto the scene last year, NFL fans have known about Tagovailoa for a long time. He’s been a star ever since replacing Jalen Hurts (a Heisman finalist and potential first-rounder) and leading Alabama to a National Championship at the end of his freshman campaign in January 2018. He was a Heisman finalist his sophomore season and was in the conversation last year as well before the season-ending injury.
Justin Herbert – Oregon
|14||286-428 (66.8 %)||3,471||32||6|
After deciding to return for his senior season at Oregon, Herbert threw for 3,471 yards, 32 touchdowns, and six interceptions, improvements across the board from his junior year.
Time will tell if Herbert made a mistake returning to Oregon for his senior season (at least in terms of where he’s drafted) and the slot to keep an eye on is No. 6. Herbert was never going to be the first quarterback taken last year after Kyler Murray chose football over baseball and went first overall and the second QB taken was Daniel Jones sixth overall. Burrow and Tagovailoa are both projected to go in the Top 5 while the Los Angeles Chargers, who didn’t replace long-time starter Philip Rivers in free agency this off-season, pick at No. 6.
Jordan Love – Utah State
Love’s stats do not stack up well against the other top QB prospects. He finished the year with 3,402 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. But if you go back to his sophomore year, his stat line is more becoming of an NFL prospect. In 2018 Love had more passing yards (3,567) and a much better touchdown to interception ratio (32:6).
Love has the physical traits and arm talent scouts love but the Mahomes comparisons fall apart when you compare their collegiate production. Mahomes’ junior season at Texas Tech in 2016 yielded 1,500 more passing yards, twice as many touchdowns, and far fewer interceptions than Love’s 2019. The NFL is a copycat league and a lot of teams are looking for the next Mahomes. But copying other teams can lead to as many mistakes as successes.
Some other quarterbacks to keep an eye on in the early rounds of the draft:
Jacob Eason – Washington
Eason finished his junior season with 3,132 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, and eight interceptions for the Huskies. He was a top high school recruit who transferred from Georgia after losing his starting job as a sophomore to Jake Fromm, but could be drafted higher than Fromm this weekend.
Jalen Hurts – Oklahoma
Hurts had a terrific senior season at Oklahoma after transferring from Alabama, finishing with 3,851 passing yards and 32 passing touchdowns, and 1,298 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. He was named a Heisman finalist but it took a monster performance at the NFL Combine before he started shooting up draft boards.
Hall of Famer Unseld dead at 74 – TSN
Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Wes Unseld has died at the age of 74 after a bout of pneumonia, the Washington Wizards announced on Tuesday.
The Louisville native spent all 13 of his NBA seasons with the Baltimore/Washington Bullets franchise.
“He was the rock of our family – an extremely devoted patriarch who reveled in being with his wife, children, friends and teammates,” Unseld’s family said in a statement. “He was our hero and loved playing and working around the game of basketball for the cities of Baltimore and Washington D.C., cities he proudly wore on his chest for so many years.”
Unseld appeared in a Bullets/Wizards franchise record 984 games, averaging 10.8 points and 14.8 rebounds over his career.
Taken with the second pick of the 1968 NBA Draft out of Louisville, Unseld, a five-time All-Star, won both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in 1969.
“We all admired Wes as the pillar of this franchise for so long, but it was his work off the court that will truly leave an impactful legacy and live on through the many people he touched and influenced throughout his life of basketball and beyond,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said in a statement.
Upon his retirement, Unseld joined the organization’s front office, becoming the team’s vice-president in 1981. In 1988, Unseld became the Bullets head coach, resigning in 1994.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1988 and to the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.
Poll: Canadians OK with being benched as NHL playoff venue – Sports – Castanet.net
It looks like hockey fans will be able to cheer on their favourite NHL team this summer but Canadians have issued a collective shrug about whether the Stanley Cup is hoisted on their home ice.
Less than one-quarter of those who took part in a recent survey said it was very important that a Canadian city be host to some of the playoffs.
The web survey, conducted by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, found 47 per cent thought it wasn’t important that the puck drop in a Canadian arena.
The NHL plans to resume its 2019-20 season, brought to a halt in March by the COVID-19 pandemic, with games played in two hub cities.
Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are among the 10 possible locations, but Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for people entering the country remains in place and could scuttle the prospect of hockey north of the 49th parallel.
The survey was conducted May 29 to 31 among 1,536 Canadians and 1,002 Americans, 18 or older, who were randomly recruited from an online panel.
The hockey question, limited to Canadian respondents, revealed 24 per cent felt it was very important for a Canadian city to play host, while 20 per cent said it was somewhat important.
Thirty-five per cent said it was not important at all, 12 per cent felt it was somewhat unimportant and nine per cent didn’t know.
The fact the NHL plans to bar spectators from the stands during playoff games due to COVID-19 “probably cooled off a few respondents,” said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.
FIFA calls on organizers not to sanction in-game gestures supporting George Floyd – CBC.ca
FIFA urged soccer competition organizers on Monday to apply “common sense” and consider not sanctioning players for solidarity with George Floyd during matches.
The recognition of the “depth of sentiment” over Floyd’s death came in a rare statement by FIFA telling the global game to show flexibility and not enforce laws of soccer it helps to set.
Players used weekend games in Germany to reveal messages demanding justice for Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after he pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck in Minneapolis.
Germany’s soccer federation announced earlier Monday that it was assessing whether to sanction the players for breaking laws of the game that prohibit “any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images” on equipment.
WATCH | German league players show support for George Floyd:
“FIFA fully understands the depth of sentiment and concerns expressed by many footballers in light of the tragic circumstances of the George Floyd case,” the governing body said in a statement.
FIFA controls half of the eight votes on the International Football Association Board, with the other four held by England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. A law change in 2014 — proposed by England — led to players being banned from revealing personal statements on undergarments.
England winger Jadon Sancho was booked while playing for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday for removing his jersey — a yellow-card offence — only so he could reveal a T-shirt with a “Justice for George Floyd” message.
WATCH | Canadian athletes speak against racism:
Borussia Dortmund teammate Achraf Hakimi displayed the same message on a T-shirt after scoring in the same game on Sunday but was not booked because he did not lift his jersey over his head.
Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died on Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee for several minutes on his neck. Three other officers were also at the scene. Chauvin has been charged with murder and all four were fired.
On Monday, after the Deutscher Fussball-Bund said it was assessing the players’ actions, Cologne forward Anthony Modeste became the latest to make a gesture after scoring against Leipzig. He stood briefly with his right palm facing out and his left palm facing in to display the darker skin on the back of his hand.
Cologne said it was “a clear signal” against racism from Modeste.
WATCH | ESPN’s Howard Bryant reflects on Kaepernick’s preaceful protest:
DFB president Fritz Keller on Monday showed his respect and understanding for McKennie, Thuram, Sancho and Hakimi’s gestures.
“If people are discriminated against on the basis of their skin colour, it is unbearable. If they die because of their skin colour, then I am deeply distraught,” Keller said in a DFB statement. “The victims of racism need all of us to show solidarity.”
The expressions of protest are being investigated by the German soccer federation’s control body.
“As is the case internationally,” federation vice-president Rainer Koch said, “the game itself should remain free of political statements or messages of any kind.”
FIFA’s awareness of the depth of feeling over the racial inequalities highlighted by Floyd’s death comes amid ongoing criticism soccer is not doing enough to eradicate or punish racism.
“FIFA had repeatedly expressed itself to be resolutely against racism and discrimination of any kind and recently strengthened its own disciplinary rules with a view to helping to eradicate such behaviours,” the Zurich-based governing body said. “FIFA itself has promoted many anti-racism campaigns which frequently carry the anti-racism message at matches organised under its own auspices.”
#BlackOutTuesday spreads across social media in protest against George Floyd killing – CBC.ca
Hall of Famer Unseld dead at 74 – TSN
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