2020 NFL draft predictions: Five first-round quarterbacks, running backs get ignored, receivers fall and more

C.J. Doon, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Football

We're nearly two weeks away from the NFL draft, so it's time to start digging into what's going to actually happen when the first round begins April 23.

This week, The Baltimore Sun offers its big-picture predictions, with a look at which positions stand out, which don't and how teams might value some of the nation's best players:

Five quarterbacks will be picked in the first round.

With LSU's Joe Burrow the consensus No. 1 overall pick and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa getting a clean bill of health on his injured hip, there's been little drama this offseason about the top quarterbacks in this year's draft. Both are considered locks to go in the top five, with the Bengals eyeing Burrow and the Dolphins and Chargers expected to make a run at Tagovailoa.

Behind those two, however, things get murky. Oregon's Justin Herbert and Utah State's Jordan Love offer athleticism and arm strength, but both come with questions about their decision-making and consistency. Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts had an efficient, productive season both running and throwing under Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma, but his accuracy hiccups and tendency to hold the ball too long might scare teams away. Washington's Jacob Eason has the prototypical size to excite teams, but struggled against pressure.

Along with the Bengals, Dolphins and Chargers, the Colts, Patriots, Jaguars, Bears, Saints, Steelers and even the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers might be looking for a quarterback. But there are plenty of hurdles to clear. The Colts, Bears and Steelers don't have a first-round pick, the Patriots are reportedly determined to give Jarrett Stidham a chance to start, the Jaguars seem invested in Gardner Minshew and the Saints and Buccaneers will probably look to draft players who can help their veteran quarterbacks win now.


Even the Chargers, who pick at No. 6, are a wild card. While many mock drafts have linked Los Angeles to Herbert, the Chargers have a big hole at left tackle and could grab a foundational piece such as Mekhi Becton, Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills Jr. or Andrew Thomas at No. 6 and see which quarterbacks are still available when they pick again at No. 37. With Tyrod Taylor under contract and Cam Newton and Jameis Winston still free agents, drafting a rookie might not be a priority in 2020.

So how will five quarterbacks come off the board in the first 32 picks?

Teams will always be willing to take a risk to find a potential star at such a valuable position, especially after watching polarizing prospects Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson win MVP honors. Don't be surprised if the Patriots draft competition for Stidham at No. 23, the Bears and/or Colts package picks to move into the first round, or a team seemingly content with its starter -- like the Raiders and Jaguars -- makes a splashy move. Even contending teams such as the Saints and Packers might look at their aging quarterbacks and decide to invest a first-round pick in a future starter.

It seems likely that Burrow, Tagovailoa, Herbert and Love will get picked in Round 1. Chances are at least one other quarterback will hear his name called before the opening night is over.


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