• Garrett Ballard

The NFL Draft Quarterback Controversy

Every year we hear about quarterback controversies from teams all over the NFL. Even though these controversies change from team to team each year, the NFL Draft always has a quarterback controversy. The quarterback position is the most important one on a football team, so these controversies are justified. This year is no different, so let's dive headfirst into this year's NFL Draft quarterback controversy.

There are some big-name quarterbacks eligible for the draft this year, and the one's we'll be looking at are Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm. Some of those quarterbacks were widely known as top tier prospects, while others seem to have risen from nowhere. We'll start with Tua Tagovailoa.

Tua Tagovailoa, the heart of the Alabama Crimson Tide offense. The 2018 national championship was one for the books. A game featuring Alabama and Georgia, two teams known as top programs in the country. The game was a big deal for the Georgia Bulldogs, located in Atlanta and it was their chance to win their first national championship since 1980. At halftime, the bulldogs were up 13-0, and everything was looking great for Georgia. As halftime ended, the Alabama crimson tide offense trotted back onto the field with a different face at quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. Former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts had been struggling mightily against a stifling bulldog defense. Due to these struggles, Nick Saban made the bold move to put his true freshman quarterback into the game, and it payed off. Tagovailoa entered the game and there was an immediate change in attitude for the Crimson Tide. Tua tied the game and continued his pace in overtime; throwing a perfectly place game winning touchdown. Ever since that day, the draft community anointed Tua Tagovailoa as the future number 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Thar anointing is surviving to this day and there's a good chance it doesn't go away. Tua is a very well-rounded quarterback. Accuracy is good and he had enough arm strength to fit the ball into tight windows. He has enough athletic ability to scramble and run for short gains and make accurate throws on the run. One thing Tua will need to work on is reading defenses a bit better. He does tend to miss some coverages at times and results in potential interceptions. Tua is a fantastic prospect and should adjust quite easily to the pace of the NFL. Tua made a name for himself in the biggest game of the year and he has kept that hype going. The other quarterback in that game was also a true freshman whose path to the draft has been a bit different, Jake Fromm.

Jake Fromm, like Tua, gained much hype after the 2018 national championship. Fromm was a true freshman who forced a former 5-star quarterback, Jacob Eason, to transfer out of Georgia. Fromm took over the starting job at Georgia after Eason got injured in the first game of the year. Fromm took the chance and ran with it. That whole year, Fromm outplayed most of the competition. After the national championship, everyone expected Fromm to be a top-2 quarterback in this year's class. However, that's looking like it won't happen. In my opinion, Fromm needs to stay at Georgia for his senior year. Fromm is a high-floor quarterback. He's a smart passer who makes the correct read most of the time. However, there are quite a few downsides to his game. Fromm isn't a very gifted thrower; his arm strength isn't good, and he struggles to push the ball downfield or place it into tight windows. He needs a system that allows his receivers to work into space easily so he can get the ball to his playmakers. Fromm is technically refined as a passer and can get the ball out quickly and accurately. Recently he has been really struggling. Against South Carolina, he threw 3 interceptions and it resulted in a loss, and against Kentucky, he only threw for 35-yards. The problem with Fromm's situation is a tough one to solve. He hasn't performed well enough to warrant a 1st round pick come April and doesn't really show anything that'll make me believe he can be a successful quarterback at the next level. Because of that, I believe that Fromm should return to school next year. However, Fromm hasn't seemed to have improved much since his freshman year. Typically, players return for their senior year to take that next step and improve their game. The unfortunate thing about this is that I'm not sure if Fromm can improve much more at Georgia. Fromm's ability seems to have been stagnating and I don't know if it can pick back up. The player that Fromm took the starting job from, Jacob Eason, seems to have his stock trending in the other direction.

Jacob Eason was a 5-star quarterback coming out of high school and was primed to be the next great SEC quarterback. He came into Georgia and was immediately the starter. Eason was a true freshman, so he obviously had his struggles. One struggle that forced a change was an injury in the first game of his sophomore season. Eason injured his knee against Notre Dame and true freshman quarterback, Jake Fromm came in and took his job as the starter. Because of this, Jacob Eason was forced to transfer to the University of Washington. A year after the transfer, he is named the starter at Washington. Eason's upside is immense and if he reaches it, whoever's team he is on got a good quarterback. He has great arm strength and accuracy, meaning he can fit throws into tight windows and drive the ball to every level of the field. Eason has clean mechanics and throws a beautiful ball. He has shown the ability to throw with perfect accuracy to all levels of the field. Eason seems to be rising quickly up boards around the draft community and it makes a lot of sense. This seems to be the year of the transfer quarterback, as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, Joe Burrow, also transferred.

Joe Burrow was a 4-star quarterback who committed to Ohio State. When Burrow arrived at Ohio State he struggled. In previous interviews, Burrow told reporters that previous Ohio State head coach would insult Burrow, saying he, "threw like a girl." However, according to Burrow, those insults led to him finding a coach to help him improve his arm strength. Even though Burrow improved his game, it was still a struggle at Ohio State. The quarterback at the time, J.T. Barrett was a record setter at OSU and Burrow and another quarterback named Dwayne Haskins were fighting to be his successor. It was clear that Haskins would be that successor, so Burrow made the decision to transfer. After a "recruiting" period for Joe Burrow, he ended up signing with LSU. When that happened, LSU head coach, Ed Orgeron, was interviewed about Burrow. Orgeron said Joe Burrow wanted nothing but football and that he's a smart player and has great accuracy. After a tough stretch of quarterbacks, it had finally seemed like LSU had found their quarterback. In 2018, Burrow seemed like a quarterback who hasn't played an SEC snap, which was true. His accuracy was spotty, and he lost big games to Florida, Texas A&M and, of course, Alabama. People weren't sold on Joe Burrow, but LSU stuck with him, and it's a good thing they did. Burrow has been the best quarterback in the country this year. Through 7 games, Burrow has thrown for 2500 yards, 29 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. Burrow has been doing everything correctly it seems, and he doesn't seem like he's slowing down. Possibly the fastest riser on draft boards, people are putting Joe Burrow as QB1 and no one questions it. He's been on a tear and his improvement this year couldn't have been predicted by anyone, except maybe coach O. I'm excited to see LSU vs. Alabama in a few weeks and more importantly, the performance of Joe Burrow.

One quarterback that seems to be flying under the radar is Justin Herbert. At the beginning of the year it was Tua and Herbert at the top of the race, but after the meteoric rise of Joe Burrow and the emergence of Jacob Eason, Herbert seems to be fading into the background. Even though this is happening, I'm here to tell you that Justin Herbert is still a good quarterback. While he doesn't garner national media attention much, he's currently leading the Oregon Ducks to a solid 2019 season. He has thrown for just under 2,000 yards, 21 touchdowns and just 1 interception. Originally expected to enter the draft last year, Herbert opted to stay for his senior year. He would've likely been a first-round last year and will likely be one this year as well. The first thing that pops out on tape to me about Herbert is his arm strength, he can, as some would say, sling the pill. He has no issue pushing the ball downfield and with his general accuracy, he can usually make tight window throws. Herbert isn't just a threat in the passing game; he has athleticism that allows him to run for solid gains and short yardage situations. Herbert does need to work on decision making, though. He tends to lock onto his first read at times and tries to force a throw. Herbert is a solid all-around quarterback who doesn't seem to make flashy plays all the time, but he doesn't make the stupid plays either. It'll be interesting to hear what people think about Herbert throughout the draft cycle. Herbert has the potential to be a good starting quarterback for an NFL team soon. As for his hype, we'll have to see how people talk about him among the likes of Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow.

Each quarterback has their strengths and weaknesses and I'm sure NFL teams will differ on all of them. The quarterbacks in this class are good and it's going to be a fun time to watch their careers progress once they reach the NFL. But for now, it's another year of the NFL Draft quarterback controversy.


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