Mock Draft Tips: Where to rank the top QBs

NFL Draft News
2020 NFL draft QB class

As part of an occasional series, Fanspeak will offer tips and best practices for its wildly popular and first-of-its-kind On The Clock draft simulator.

Today’s topic: How do you rank the quarterbacks when putting together your own customized big board?

One player entered the season ranked as a priority free agent, then had one fantastic season to close out his college career.

Another one had three terrific seasons for a top program, but he was injured a lot, too.

And then you have the two prospects who have ideal athletic traits, but, for whatever reason, neither one has put it all together for a full season, showing elite traits one moment and Day 2 traits the next.

That quartet might not be drafted until Day 2 if they played any other position.

Instead, LSU’s Joe Burrow, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Utah State’s Jordan Love will likely get drafted high in the first round during the 2020 NL draft.

Translation: If you want to customize and use your own On The Clock big board, then you need to move those QBs up the rankings – even when you know at least one of them is statistically likely to have a subpar career.

Supply and demand

There are all kinds of statistical analysis’ on what round teams should draft a quarterback. (You can find some good reads here and here on the topic.)

Ultimately, most of them draw the same conclusion: If you want a shot at drafting a franchise signal-caller, then you better take him in the first round, preferably high in the first.

It’s about supply and demand.

The top QBs

Take this year’s draft as an example.

Tier 1 is made up of Burrow, the presumed No. 1 overall pick, plus Tagovailoa and Herbert. Love is alone in tier 2. All four are expected to be drafted in the first round.

Then you have the tier 3 players – any of whom could go in the first round but are viewed as a notch below the first two tiers: Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, Washington’s Jacob Eason and Washington State’s Anthony Gordon.

The QB-needy teams

Now think about the teams that need a new QB:

  • In desperate need: Miami, LA Chargers, Carolina and New England
  • Will likely upgrade but has a veteran QB: Cincinnati
  • Will be opportunistic about drafting a new QB: Washington, Denver and Las Vegas.

That’s eight quarterbacks for eight QB-needy teams.

Works out great, right?

Unfortunately, the disbursement of talent is never that clean and easy.

Say Tampa decides it needs to groom a young QB to back up 42-year-old Tom Brady and figures it won’t be drafting as high next season. Georgia’s Fromm suddenly becomes an attractive option at pick 45 overall.

Or maybe Dallas manages to plug its holes on defense in free agency and takes a cornerback in the first round. With Cooper Rush as the backup quarterback, would Dallas consider drafting Oklahoma’s Hurts in the second round?

An entire city fell in love with Gardner Minshew last year, but Jacksonville has enough draft capital (two first round picks) to move up if it wants to go after someone with a better pedigree, like Alabama’s Tagovailoa or Oregon’s Herbert.

Move them up!

The point is, every team is well aware of the scarcity of the position and why it needs to take a QB high in the draft.

Could Hawaii’s Cole McDonald, Florida International’s James Morgan or Iowa’s Nate Stanley turn into the next Gardner Minshew, Dak Prescott or Russell Wilson?

Sure, but the odds are stacked against them.

That’s why teams tend to overdraft QBs and why you should consider ranking them higher in your big board.


Jake Rigdon covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak. He can be reached at

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