- Isaiah Ortiz
Can the 2020 QB draft class become the greatest ever?
- By Isaiah Ortiz
Since the 2020 draft even took place, this class was destined for greatness. This class had special talent coming into the league. The group was headlined by LSU’s Joe Burrow, who had just come off one of the greatest college football seasons in history. Following Burrow were QBs Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, 2 QBs who had raw talents, but both QBs had major question marks around them at the time. Then you had the wild cards, Utah State’s Jordan Love and Oklahoma’s/Alabama’s Jalen Hurts. Many analysts and scouts questioned how this class would succeed in the league with the only surefire pick being Joe Burrow, who was projected to go #1 overall. 3 years later, this class has exceeded all expectations and is looking to completely change the QB market this offseason. Could this QB class surpass the great 1983 QB class as the greatest collection of QB talent a singular draft has ever seen? Let’s break it down.
Let's start off with the number 1 pick of this draft, Joe Burrow. Cincinnati’s franchise quarterback was originally projected to be a day 2 QB in the draft, but after a heisman campaign and leading a historically great LSU team to a National Championship, Joe Burrow was seen as one of the best QB prospects ever. How could a QB, with all the accolades he received in that magical senior season at LSU, live up to that level of success in the NFL? Short answer, he not only met the expectations, but he also exceeded them in really only 3 years. After his rookie season was cut short due to a torn ACL, Burrow immediately came back firing as he led the Bengals to a 10-7 record, an AFC North Championship, and the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance since 1989. He also racked up his first accolade in the process as he was named the 2022 comeback player of the year. In year 3, he only kept improving, putting up elite stats, which led to his first pro bowl selection. He led the Bengals to another AFC North title in 2023 and their second straight AFC championship appearance. In 3 years, Burrow has helped catapult the Bengals into perennial contenders. The number 1 overall pick exceeded expectations and will continue his path to becoming one of the greatest QBs to ever play.
For the 5th overall pick, Tua Tagovolia, his career has been a complete roller coaster, but the future's still bright for the Alabama QB. Ever since he came in for Jalen Hurt in the 2019 national championship, it was clear to everyone that Tua was destined for greatness. Once projected as the number 1 pick for this class, Tua was projected to be one of this generation's best. However, the biggest notion that has been lingering around Tua has been injuries, which caused his stock to fall to the 5th overall pick, where the Dolphins found their signal caller. His first 2 years were seen with dysfunction around the organization and trade rumors, but by his 3rd year, the world had finally seen his potential. Although his season was riddled with concussions, when he was on the field, he was one of the best QBs of 2022, thanks to the help of new head coach Mike McDaniel and wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Tua helped lead the Dolphins to the playoffs this year and even though he couldn’t play in their game, it’s clear that it won’t be his only chance. Tua would’ve been named a pro bowler in 2023 if not still injured with a concussion as he was the NFL’s leading pro bowl vote-getter. If Tua can stay on the field, he will be added to the list of elite QBs from this class.
Justin Herbert, the 6th overall pick in this draft, was seen as a polarizing prospect in this class. Although he had the raw physical traits needed to succeed in the NFL, scouts were unsure his game would translate in the league, given the offense the Oregon Ducks running at the time. Herbert didn’t show off his arm during his time at Oregon, so his film was questionable, and not having a combine due to the global pandemic only caused more pessimism within scouting circles. However, since he was drafted to be the successor for Chargers legend Phillip Rivers, he has been lighting up the league. Herbert earned honors as the AP Offensive Rookie of the year in 1, was named a pro bowler for the first time in year 2, and led the Chargers to a playoff appearance in year 3. It’s safe to say, the chargers did not listen to the naysayers and took the right guy at number 6. Herbert has arguably the best arm talent in this class that we as NFL fans will be blessed to watch for years. A true gunslinger that from his first game, proved he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
What does the 2020 draft class have that the famed 1983 QB class doesn’t? A franchise quarterback that was drafted in the second round. Jalen Hurts has answered every question that scouts have asked about him in his third year in the league. Hurts was a surprise pick for the Eagles in the second round, as most around league circles believed Carson Wentz was the franchise guy. After Wentz had his disastrous 2020 season, Hurts took over as the QB1 late in 2020 and fully took over the reins in 2021. After a shaky second season and first year as the full-time starter, many doubters were unsure if Hurts was the franchise guy in Philly. In year 3, he took off. With the help of coaches Nick Siranni and Shane Steichen, and wide receivers AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith, Hurts took off and never looked back. Hurts led the Eagles to the top seed in the NFC and led the Eagles to another Superbowl appearance. Hurts even got second place in MVP honors, placing higher than any of his QB counterparts in this class have ever gotten. Hurts also received the pro bowl and second team-all pro honors, the only all-pro of this class. Hurts answered every question that was asked of him and only one question remains, how great can he be?
How can they be?
The 2020 QB class has been great and exceeded all expectations, but how great is this class compared to the greatest QB class of all time. 1983 is considered to be the greatest QB class of all time because it had Hall of Famers in the early, mid, and late portions in the first round. John Elway, Dan Marino, and Jim Kelly led the historic draft class and shaped the 80s and 90s era of QBs. The 2020 class is already doing that as 3 of the QBs from this class have already become pro bowlers and all the QBs who have played have led their team to playoff appearances. The 1983 class saw 5 QBs lead their offenses to Superbowl appearances throughout their respective careers and through 3 seasons, the 2020 class already has 2 appearances with more on the way in the future. There was the sure-fire talent in the front of the draft with Burrow, Tua, and Herbert, and at the back with Jalen Hurts. The verdict is still out on Jordan Love but if he becomes a franchise QB, it’s hard to argue that the 2020 class isn’t the greatest. This class is already on the level of some of the greatest QB classes ever, like 2004, 2012, and looks to become the greatest ever as they continue to play and make the NFL’s future shine bright.