It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Tua Tagovailoa is the No. 2 quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft, but Oregon’s Justin Herbert has a strong case to claim that spot.
Joe Burrow is clearly the first quarterback who will be taken in the 2020 NFL Draft. There’s no debate.
However, there could be some discussion about who comes next. The general consensus seems to believe that Tua Tagovailoa from Alabama is the guy, but why not Justin Herbert from Oregon?
Rewind to last year and Herbert looked to be the top quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft. However, he shook things up when he decided to return for his senior season. While he had some questionable games, he finished with a respectable 3,471 yards on 66.8 percent passing with 32 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Even with those numbers, which were some of the best in his career, Herbert has seemed to be a bit of an afterthought to the big names of Burrow and Tua. But should he be? Let’s compare.
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When you compare Tua to Herbert, there’s one giant difference — arm strength. Tua can make all the majority of the throws and his arm isn’t going to be an issue. However, his delivery is a bit slower than Herbert’s and he doesn’t fire the ball the way the Oregon product can.
When Herbert lets the ball go, it’s a thing of beauty. His delivery is quick and the ball shoots off his hand. Having said that, his accuracy isn’t the same as Tua’s. He’s not exactly erratic like a Josh Allen, but he has his moments where he misses easy throws. Still, it’s not enough for Tua to pass him in the arm category. His accuracy is good enough and he can fire it anywhere on the field.
There’s been a lot of discussion about Herbet’s bad decisions, but that’s somewhat overblown. He hasn’t been perfect but you don’t finish with 95 touchdown passes against 23 interceptions by being a poor decision-maker.
Still, he’s not the same caliber here as Tua. During his tenure in Alabama, Tua seemingly never got rattled. He seemed to always make the right call.
In all, he was able to complete just under 70 percent of his passes with an insane 87 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. This is where he thrives as a signal-caller.
Both guys appear to be natural leaders. Tagovailoa gets more credit and it’s easy to see why. The Crimson Tide win when he’s on the field. But is that all him? This program was a winner before he got there and will be after.
As for Oregon, it had fallen off the map before Herbert. Additionally, he showed during the Senior Bowl he is a leader of men, making friends with everyone during the short time they were together — including the opposing team.
This one is closer than it would seem on the surface.
This is where Herbert has the upper hand. While he has a thinner frame, it was Tua that couldn’t stay healthy. He got good news recently about his hip but that doesn’t take away from the fact he was hurt in 2018 and ’19 (two separate injuries in 2019).
Tagovailoa is the consensus No. 2 quarterback but teams are going to be concerned about his health. As for Herbert, he’s got a real chance to leapfrog him with some good workouts and interviews. Should he nail those, teams might decide it’s safer to go with him rather than the Alabama product who isn’t as good mechanically, doesn’t possess the same arm strength, and can’t seem to stay healthy.
Add in Herbert’s mobility — a trait of growing importance in today’s NFL — and it seems as though he should be the second quarterback taken in the 2020 NFL Draft.