The 2020 NFL Draft is going to be unlike any we have seen before. Hopefully, it will be like one that we never see again. But, it is one of the deepest drafts in recent memories, loaded up with offensive lineman and wide receivers most notably, but there is also great running back and QB depth. The weakness of the draft is the tight end position.
College production does not always translate to NFL success. And a lack of college production does not always mean a player can’t improve at the highest levels. Where the players land will change a franchise for years, but it will also change the fantasy football landscape. Knowing as much as you can about a player before the draft not only helps you get caught up on the new rookies, who are naturally the players you know the least about. But it also gives you the benefit of being ahead of the curve from a lot of fantasy players.
I am a numbers guy first and foremost and that is what I am looking to bring to you guys! There are countless scouting reports you can read on every player and I encourage you to do so. But I will leave to the scouts and tape grinders. I present to you the stats you should know on the 2020 QB and TE draft class!
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2020 NFL Draft: QBs and TEs
This season will forever be known as the Joe Burrow season. The Heisman winner led the nation in passing yards with 5,671. To put that into perspective, only one other QB threw for over 4,200 yards. Burrow threw for 60 touchdown passes which is absolutely insane. No other QB threw 50 touchdowns and only two other topped 40. It’s also the most passing TDs in a single season in college football history. He threw 60 TDs but just seven interceptions. He had 11 turnover worthy plays on 632 dropbacks and 546 pass attempts, according to PFF. But it wasn’t just raw numbers that Burrow dominated in. He also led the nation with 76.3 completion percentage. His adjusted completion percentage was even better, at 80.1 percent. His 12.5 adjusted passing yards per attempt also paced all other QBs. He also thrived when pressured, leading all QBs with a 66.4 completion percent. He finished second with a 141.1 rating when under pressure.
The one knock you will hear on Burrow is his ability to throw deep. Last season 57.3 percent of the passing yards Burrow picked up were through the air. Only 42.7 percent of those yards came after the catch. His aDOT last season was 10.0, which tied for 20th among draft-eligible QBs. Last season he attempted 83 “deep” passes and had a 56.6 completion percent and 130.9 rating. He threw 26 TDs and two interceptions on those passes. Overall, PFF gave Burrow a 94.2 grade, the highest of all QBs in 2019. He had a 139.4 passer rating which was the second-best in the nation, behind Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (140.2).
Tagovailoa entered the 2019 season as the face of college football and the expected first overall pick. That was until his season was cut short with a dislocated hip. He also suffered a high ankle sprain after having ankle surgery last year. His medical history is the reason he may slide in the NFL Draft, but when he was healthy he put up numbers. Tua threw for 2,840 yards and 33 touchdowns in just nine games in 2019. In 2018, he passed for 3,966 yards and 43 scores. The best part is in 684 college pass attempts, he has thrown just 11 interceptions (87 touchdowns). Additionally, he made strides throughout his college career. His completion percentage increased every year from 63.6, to 69.0 to 71.4 percent in 2019. His adjusted completed percent was even better, at 76.3 percent. His air yards per attempt also improved yearly from 9.9 to 12.8 to 13.4. He did have the privilege of playing with two of the top receivers in this draft class in Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III and it shows in the numbers. Of his passing yards last season, 61.1 percent of them came after the catch, the second-highest clip in the nation.
Justin Herbert is Tagovailoa’s biggest competition to be the second QB off the board. Herbert threw for a career-high 3,471 yards and 32 touchdowns as a senior at Oregon this season. He topped 3,100 yards and 29 TDs in each of the last two seasons. Herbert is a big-bodied QB at 6’6 and 237 pounds with a rocket for an arm. Some say he has Patrick Mahomes upside (no one has Mahomes upside fwiw), but there were concerns after his junior year that he would be the next Josh Allen. And by that I mean, inaccurate (before you come for me Bills Mafia, know I am one of you!). Herbert’s completion percentage dropped to 59.4 percent in his junior season. He increased it back to 66.8 percent last year. He’s finished with a completion percent of 63.5 percent or higher in three of his four NCAA seasons, so the junior year is looking like the outlier. But, even last year he had an accuracy percentage of 59, while the other top QBs were all 63 percent or higher. Herbert has a strong arm, but he did not throw down the field as much as others in college. His aDOT of 9.0, which ranked tied for 41st of draft-eligible QBs with Tagovailoa.
Jalen Hurts led the nation with 11.3 passing yards per attempt. He narrowly edged out Burrow, who sat at 10.8. Hurts (191.2) was also second behind Burrow (202) in passing efficiency rating. Hurts ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Only Cole McDonald (4.58) ran faster among QBs. Hurts has a sky-high fantasy ceiling due to his legs. Last season with Oklahoma he rushed for 1,298 yards and 20 touchdowns. I would say those are video game numbers, but I mean we can just call them Lamar Jackson type at this point. He rushed for 954 and 855 yards in his first two seasons with Alabama (before he was replaced by Tua). Hurts also made strides as a passer, throwing for a career-high 3,851 passing yards 32 touchdowns in his first season with Oklahoma. He completed 69.7 percent of his passes as well this season. Let’s remember the last two first overall picks were each Oklahoma QBs. Hurts doesn’t have Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray type upside in real life, but he certainly does in fantasy.
Jordan Love has the size (6’4, 224 pounds) and arm to be a very good QB at the NFL level. His issue tends to be his decision making. Love led the nation with 17 interceptions last season. Also, 25 percent of his passes were deemed uncatchable by PFF. But, giving him the benefit of the doubt his previous career-high in interceptions was six. What you don’t love is that his passing yards, touchdowns, air yards per attempt and completion percent all dropped in 2019. Many will also point to the LSU game this season where Love threw for 130 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. Playing for Utah State he didn’t have the toughest schedule and that game will be used to say he will struggle with tougher comp. The upside is there, but so are the concerns. He is in the second tier of QB prospects.
Jake Fromm is part of the depth of this QB draft class. He may not project to be a career starter, but he will be a top-end backup. Fromm threw for 2,860 passing yards this season, 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He has thrown 18 interceptions to 78 touchdowns in his college career. Taking care of the ball is big in the NFL if you didn’t know. He’s thrown at least 24 touchdowns in every season at Georgia. His completion percentage dropped to a career-low 60.8 percent this season. Additionally, 26 percent of his passes were ruled uncatchably inaccurate, according to PFF. He rushed for -39 yards in the last two seasons, showing that he is a statue. The lack of mobility hurts his NFL value, but it makes it very difficult for him to be fantasy-viable without any rushing upside.
Jacob Eason started his college career as the Georgia QB but transferred after losing the gig to Fromm. Eason, like Fromm, has size. He is 6’6 and 227 pounds. But he has even less mobility than Fromm. In fact, in his three college seasons, he rushed for -126 yards. He threw for 3,132 yards and 23 scores this past season, but he only averaged 7.7 air yards per attempt. He projects as a later-round pick and more of a backup QB in the NFL.
Steven Montez is probably best known for being Laviska Shenault Jr.’s college QB. Fun story about Montez, he was out of shape as a freshman because he was eating about five frozen pizzas per day. Montez never threw for 2,900 yards or 20 touchdowns in four seasons as a starting QB. He is merely depth at the NFL level.
What about the formations that the QBs are comfortable in? Burrow was the QB who played the most in 11 personnel, which is a formation with one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers. He had 531 dropbacks and 459 attempts from there. Love was not far behind, seeing 458 dropbacks and 408 pass attempts in this formation. Montez also has experience in this formation, having 415 dropbacks and 377 pass attempts. Herbert saw 366 dropbacks and 336 attempts, while Fromm had 350 dropbacks and 322 attempts. Everyone else had less than 300 dropbacks in 11 personnel. Burrow makes for a good selection for the Bengals because they ran 11 personnel 77 percent of the time, the most in the NFL. They were followed by the Giants (74%), Rams (73%), Seahawks (73%) and Chargers (72%). The Chargers may have their eye on Herbert too.
Eason led the nation with 244 dropbacks and 234 attempts in 12 personnel, which has one running back with two tight ends and receivers. The Eagles (50%), Texans (35%), Vikings (35%) and Chiefs (30%) ran that personnel the most last year.
There is no dominant tight end in this draft class. As great as the QB, RB and especially the WR class may be, the TE bunch in this draft is severely lacking. But there are some players that can become starters in the NFL.
Albert Okwuegbunam, also known as Albert O, ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at the combine. No other tight end ran better than 4.66, so that shows you he has speed unlike any other in this draft class. He averaged 11.2 yards per catch and 1.29 yards per route run this past season. While he scored 23 touchdowns in his three college seasons, he failed to top 500 yards in any season. As of now, he profiles as more of a short yard target, especially in the red zone. And his hands do need work, as he dropped four of his 30 catchable targets last year (drop rate of 13 percent). That was one of the highest in this class. But his size (6’5, 255 pounds) and speed combo give him one of, if not the highest ceiling in this weak tight end class.
Hunter Byrant made big strides in 2019. He finished with 52 catches, 825 yards, and three scores this season after putting up a total of 33 catches, 569 yards, and two scores in his first two college seasons. He caught 52 of his 57 catchable targets last year, giving him a drop rate of nine percent. He averaged 15.6 yards per reception. Bryant ran a 4.74 40-yard dash at the combine this year. Expect him to be one of the first tight ends selected.
Adam Trautman went off for 70 catches, 916 yards and 14 scores for Dayton this past season. That was after going off for 40 catches, 595 yards and nine scores in 2018. You will be hard-pressed to find a tight end with better stats in this class. Trautman averaged 12.9 yards per catch. He also caught 70 of his 72 catchable targets, giving him a drop rate of just three percent.
Cole Kmet showed his good hands with Notre Dame last season catching 43 of his 45 catchable targets. That gave him a drop rate of just four percent. He averaged 12.0 yards per reception. He has some wheels too, as he ran a 4.7 40 at the combine, which was fourth in this class. Kmet was also a baseball standout for the Fighting Irish, so if things don’t work out football-wise he can be the reverse Brandon Weeden.
Harrison Bryant was in the top 10 among draft-eligible tight ends averaging 2.98 yards per route ran. He also put up 15.1 yards per reception. He did have a problem with drops though. He had eight drops on 73 catchable targets, which gave him a drop rate of 11 percent. Bryant ran a 4.73 40 at the NFL combine.
Thaddeus Moss is the son of NFL legend Randy Moss. When you hear that you immediately start thinking of his jumping over defenders to snatch the ball out of the air. I mean how awesome would another generation of screaming “you got Mossed!” But there is just one problem, Thad is not the receiver that Randy was. First, he is a tight end. A good blocking one at that. In fact, he averaged just 1.24 yards per route ran, which ranked 90th among draft-eligible tight ends. He averaged 12.7 yards per reception. If you need a positive, Moss did not drop a ball last year at LSU. But still, Moss is sexier in name than he is in fantasy production.
Brycen Hopkins averaged 13.5 yards per reception. He also dropped eight of his 69 catchable targets, for a drop rate of 12 percent. Hopkins ran a 4.66 40 at the combine, putting him in a tie for second at the position.
Colby Parkinson put up a career-high 48 catches and 589 yards at Stanford this past season. He posted a career-low one touchdown catch after scoring seven in 2018. He caught all 48 of his catchable targets last season.
If you have any NFL Draft or fantasy football questions you can hit me up on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.
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