Three quarterbacks were taken in the first six picks of the 2020 NFL Draft, and all three of them had very unique rookie seasons.
For the Bengals, first-overall pick Joe Burrow showed why he was hyped up as the most pro-ready passer in years, but a season-ending knee injury in Week 11 put a damper on his year. Nevertheless, he displayed flashes of brilliance as the only Week 1 starter between him, Tua Tagovailoa of the Dolphins, and Justin Herbert of the Chargers.
Tagovailoa’s first year in Miami left a lot to be desired, but Herbert surprised everybody with one of the better statistical rookie quarterback seasons in recent memory. His 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns make him the overwhelming favorite to earn NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Herbert’s 2020 season deserves major praise, but the careers of these three are far from over, and it’s still far too early to tell which one will end up as the overall best player. The Bengals rightfully believe it will be Burrow, and the folks at Pro Football Focus do so as well.
PFF’s Mike Renner recently ranked the three quarterbacks based on likely future projections and Burrow still came out on top over Herbert (and Tagovailoa, obviously).
Renner cited Burrow’s high marks in terms intermediate passing as a stable metric for predicting future success. This and Burrow’s production from clean pockets in 2020 bodes well for him producing at a high level going forward
The areas where Burrow fell short were deep passing and passing under pressure. Herbert happened to be exemplary in both, but as Renner points out, it’s difficult for quarterbacks to maintain success in either category from year-to-year.
Burrow mentioned improving his deep ball during his press conference earlier this week, and Renner mentioned how important it truly is for the Bengals to limit the pressure on Burrow by improving their offensive line.
The only question at this point is whether the Bengals can fix their offensive line and Burrow can return fully healthy from his gruesome knee injury. If that happens, bet on Burrow grading out as a top-10 quarterback in 2021.
Burrow clearly showed enough to expect legitimate growth beyond his rookie year. Herbert might be in for some regression next season, but he’s clearly talented enough to challenge Burrow for years to come. The jury is still very much out on Tagovailoa, but the Bengals certainly shouldn’t regret passing on him for Burrow