Yesterday, I went over my top quarterback draft prospects from the 2018 and 2019 drafts. It’s still obviously very early, but today I’m going over my preliminary ranking of the 2020 and 2021 NFL draft quarterback prospects. I don’t anticipate the top two guys not being my top overall players the next two seasons (assuming they both leave school after three seasons) because they’re just that good, but the next two years look promising overall.
1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (2021/2022)
If Trevor Lawrence were coming out of school this year (which obviously isn’t allowed after just one college season), he’d probably be the first pick in the draft at 19 years old. At six-foot-six with a rocket arm, natural touch and accuracy, above average athleticism, big-time smarts, clear leadership qualities, and an undoubtedly-calm demeanor after the way he played in the CFB Playoff as a true freshman, Lawrence is the total package as a quarterback. Assuming Lawrence doesn’t play four seasons at Clemson, the team that has the first pick in the 2021 draft is going to be extremely happy—it’s not a bad idea to stockpile 2021 first-round picks via trades with the hope of one of them ending up in the No. 1 draft slot.
2. Jake Fromm, Georgia (2020/2021)
While I think the top two are locked in as the best quarterback prospects in the next two drafts, the order might change: I think Jake Fromm is so good that he might be just as highly rated of a prospect as Lawrence by next year, if not higher. There’s a lot to like about Fromm’s game, as he’ll “wow” you because he simply plays the position so well even if he doesn’t have elite skills across the board—still, he has a quick release and very strong arm, he knows where to go with the ball on every snap, and he throws back-shoulder passes remarkably well. The Georgia starter just seems to have the intangibles that’ll make him a great franchise quarterback, and I think he might be one of those players that is undersold for whatever reason—like a Tom Brady or Russell Wilson type—but we’ll see next year. Fromm’s shown he has ice in his veins on the biggest stages, and he’s forced two former No. 1 overall recruits to transfer because they weren’t going to see the field over him.
3. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (2020/2021)
Considered the early favorite for the first pick in next year’s draft, Tua Tagovailoa is an extremely accurate passer with exceptional arm strength and escape-ability that’s at times reminiscent of Russell Wilson. The Samoan star from Hawaii comes from a family and college football program that’ll help make him one of the NFL’s hardest workers and most discipline players when he enters the league. Despite some struggles late last season (while dealing with an ankle issue), there shouldn’t be any talk of Tua not showing up for big games after he sparked the Crimson Tide’s comeback win in the title game 13 months ago.
4. Justin Herbert, Oregon (2020)
Justin Herbert could’ve left school this year and he would’ve been in discussion for the top quarterback off the board. Instead, he returned for his senior season at the program he grew up cheering for in Eugene, with the chance to play with his brother Patrick, who is joining the Ducks as a freshman tight end. Herbert is six-foot-six with encouraging tools, and he’ll have a ton of experience before heading to the NFL as someone that’s already appeared in 29 games through three seasons at Oregon. Next year looks like a great draft class to need a franchise quarterback, but they might fly off the board quickly.
5. Justin Fields, Ohio State (2021/2022)
2018 No. 1 recruit Justin Fields barely played for Georgia, as he wasn’t able to get Jake Fromm off the field much before transferring. Thus, there isn’t much to look at when it comes to evaluating him as an NFL prospect, but he’s received a waiver to immediate play for Ohio State this season, so we’ll see him on the field plenty in 2019. Fields must be confident in himself to think that he was going to go to Georgia and take the starting job away from Fromm, which is a positive; and he appears to have the natural athletic ability as both a thrower and a runner to become an exciting quarterback prospect.
6. Jacob Eason, Washington (2020/2021)
A former No. 1 recruit himself, Jacob Eason also left Georgia because he couldn’t get on the field behind Jake Fromm—but things might be different if Eason, who won the quarterback competition as a sophomore over a then-freshman Fromm, didn’t hurt his knee in the season opener in 2017, giving Fromm an opportunity that he ran away with. Eason had to sit out last season after transferring to Washington, but he’ll now have a legitimate chance to win the Pac-12 and make the College Football Playoff, which could vault him to the high-first-round discussion if he plays well. Eason has prototypical size at six-foot-five along with a top-notch arm and the ability to scramble around and make plays. Georgia has certainly done a fine job of recruiting top quarterbacks, with three potential first-round picks (if not top five or ten picks) choosing the program the last few years.