Two quarterbacks are virtually guaranteed to be first-round picks in the NFL Draft come April. But those who are not LSU’s Joe Burrow or Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa needed a strong performance at Saturday’s Senior Bowl if they wanted a chance to go early.
In a week of festivities that culminated in Saturday’s full-contact exhibition game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, three quarterbacks rose to the occasion and may have improved their position in the 2020 draft. Justin Herbert of Oregon, Jordan Love of Utah State, and Anthony Gordon of Washington State gave impressive performances.
The Senior Bowl was designed to give NFL coaches and general managers a look at college players in both practice and game settings. The week can be critical for a player who is trying to improve his position — and thus is future income — for the NFL Draft.
Those three could influence NFL Draft Day prop bets. The over/under line on how many quarterbacks are selected in the first round at MyBookie is 4.5. With Burrow and Tagovailoa considered givens, hitting the over likely depends on where in the draft those next three go.
There is no shortage of NFL teams looking for a signal caller. Cincinnati, Detroit, LA Chargers, Carolina, and Oakland could all grab a quarterback in the first 12 picks.
Make-up Test for Justin Herbert
Herbert was the biggest winner of the Senior Bowl. He took a chance returning to Oregon for his senior year. Many had him as a possible No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft had he left early.
Instead, he turned in a lackluster year at Oregon, and fell off the radar of most scouts. Last week he showed he can lead an NFL team.
At the beginning of the week there were questions if Herbert was a first-round draft pick. That eroded after Saturday’s game, when he was named MVP. Now the question is will Herbert be taken with the No. 1 pick?
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor, who coached the South team, told reporters after the game that Herbert was definitely impressive.
“I thought he had a great week,” Taylor said. “We’ve still got a long way to go in making that decision. There are a lot of options on the board, of course.”
Herbert threw for a touchdown for the South team, and looked steady on the field. He told reporters afterwards that it was important to him to win over the doubters.
“It’s been such a great week, but it’s been busy,” Herbert said. “We’ve been tested but we’ve had a lot of fun.”
Finding the Next Mahomes?
Herbert wasn’t the only quarterback turning heads at the Senior Bowl. Utah State’s Love, and Washington State’s Gordon also made NFL personnel think about taking them in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Love has been compared to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Love needed a bounce-back game after a poor performance against Kent State in the Frisco Bowl.
He did just that. Love had a strong week of practice, and managed to make the most of his limited opportunity in the Senior Bowl game. In doing so, he may have cemented his spot as a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft.
Among the potential first-rounders, however, Gordon needed to prove himself the most. The knock against him: poor decision making. He threw 16 interceptions during the 2019 season.
On Saturday, however, he played the third quarter to complete 8 of 12 passes, throwing for 69 yards and two touchdowns.