There were a total of 4 quarterbacks taken in the first-round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert were all taken in the top-6 picks, while Jordan Love was taken later in the evening at 26th. Joe Burrow looks to be the only player who will start right away, but Tua and Herbert could see playing time mid-to-late season. Love would need a tragic accident to Rodgers or a blowout late to sniff the field. Long-term though, who landed in the best situation?
Worst situation – Jordan Love
Normally, sitting behind a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer like Aaron Rodgers would be an ideal scenario, but the Packers are in transition and not in a good way. They were extremely close to being a contender last season, making it all the way to the NFC Championship. They had all the pieces with a team built on defense. So why do I believe Jordan Love fell into the worst situation?
First, It looks like Aaron Rodgers was not happy with the Jordan Love pick. He is very much in win now mode, and the Packers chose their QB of the future over players to help them now, like WR Tee Higgins, WR Michael Pittman, OT Isaiah Wilson, or LB Patrick Queen. The Packers really could have used a WR in this draft and did not address it like they could have in this strong class. Instead they opted for the forth best quarterback and a Running back that doesn’t fit their current scheme.
AJ Dillion is built to run the ball 30 times a game. He is the type of player you build around, much the like Titans did with Derrick Henry. The offensive line is intact for now, but it’s full of aging veterans who will need to be replaced in the next few seasons. The Packers are also in need a skill position players outside of Devonte Adams and Aaron Jones. I do like Matt Laflear as a Head Coach, but the team has a lot of work to do to surround Love with talent.
Run for your life: Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow has found himself in a very crowded division, but he does have weapons around him. Joe Mixon has suffered at a mis-managed offensive line, but he is an extremely gifted running-back who can catch passes out of the backfield. This offensive line will need a healthy Jonah Williams who missed his rookie season to injury, but the rest of the line looks like a complete mess. CJ Uzomah did fill in nicely at Tight End making Tyler Eifort expendable, but they never address the positions they needed most.
Where Joe Burrow will have the ability to excel is a very talented Wide Receiver group. AJ Green has missed most of the last 2 seasons to injury, but healthy, he could still be one of the best in the game. Tyler Boyd is an under-the-radar slot receiver and Tee Higgins has had a very productive career for Clemson. The team also has one of the fastest players in the league in John Ross and even Auden Tate has found success to round out an extremely strong 5. Burrow will have no shortage of weapons to throw to.
I am afraid for Burrow though, because this is a bottom tier unit up front. To make matters worse, the Steelers and Ravens always have top-tier defenses. Even the Browns are expected to be competitive in that division. Burrow has talent at the skill positions, but it won’t matter if he doesn’t get a chance to get the ball off, just ask Phillip Rivers last season. If the Bengals are able to get Burrow protection, he could be in a place to succeed, but right now, he is set up for failure.
Needs Time: Tua Tagovailoa
If the Dolphins are smart, they will wrap Tua up in bubble wrap and put him on the shelf until next season. The Dolphins offensive line is not yet built to protect Tua, who has played with a top-5 offensive line in college year after year. His rehab looks great in workout videos, but if he isn’t 100% healthy from an injury that typically takes 9-months to-a-year to heal, they should not risk his health. Besides, both Fitzmagic and Josh Rosen are still on the roster and with a good showing from Rosen in year 3, there could be draft capital there.
The Dolphins had a fine draft taking 2 offensive lineman early, but it will take time to develop those players. Austin Jackson will slide in as the teams bookend Tackle and Robert Hunt has the ability to play both inside an out. They also have a rising Tight End in Mike Gesicki and added Jordan Howard and Matt Brieda to the backfield. They also have receivers who will be able to contribute with Devonte Parker, Preston Williams, Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson.
The Dolphins are set up for long-term success with a very young core on offense, but development of their young players will be vital to Tua’s long-term success. The issue I have with Miami is their cap spending. This is a club who pays top dollar for top free agents every year it seems. It puts the team in bad situations where they trade away talent to stay cap compliant. They spent heavily on defense with Byron Jones and Xavian Howard at corner. They are not shy to blow money. I question whether these moves will allow them keep their core intact.
Boom or Bust: Justin Herbert
The Chargers have put Justin Herbert in a great position to succeed. The team has drafted very well recently and found some gems in the draft. They may have had the best offseason of any team in the NFL. They have solidified the right side of their line, bringing in two Pro Bowlers with Bryan Bulaga and Trai Turner. They re-signed one of the leagues better pass-catching backs in Austin Ekeler to a 4-year deal and have Justin Jackson, who has shown flashes of production as RB2. They also have one of the best route runners in Keenen Allen and one of the best deep threats with Mike Williams.
Hunter Henry is a reliable Tight End, who will be a safety valve for the young signal caller. They also drafted a between the tackles runner in Joshua Kelley, a gadget player in Joe Reed and snagged another great route runner in the 7th round, KJ Hill. Herbert will be able to sit behind Tyrod Taylor until he is ready to take the reigns. The team also brought in James Campen, who has a history of developing lineman and one of the NFL’s most coveted QB coaches in Pep Hamilton.
The question marks the Chargers have is the left side of the offensive line. Will Trey Pipkins be able to develop as the teams Left Tackle and is he ready to be a starter? Who will emerge between Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney in an important camp battle for Left Guard. Lastly, the Chargers will need to find a way to keep up with so many star players set to hit free agency. If Tom Telesco can manage to keep his team intact, Justin Herbert will really excel with all the talent around him. If Telesco isn’t able to keep this team together, it could spiral out of control.
Jordan Love is on a team that is moving backwards currently with a disgruntled leader who has no intentions of being a mentor. Joe Burrow has plenty of weapons at his disposal, but the quickest way to write “bust” is letting pass rushers destroy the confidence of a young player. Tua Tagovailoa has a young core who will be able to grow together for many years and has the ability to sit and learn, (and rehab) while his team gets better around him. Justin Herbert has the best opportunity for success right away, with an upgraded line and plenty of pass catchers, but keeping the team intact will be very important for him.