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Is a future Bucs quarterback among these 10? Aim low

Don’t expect Tampa Bay to go for the top-tier guys in the draft, but that doesn’t mean the Bucs won’t still land a quality signal caller. Hello, FIU.
Washington quarterback Jacob Eason likely is too high of a draft pick for the Bucs as a projected second-rounder. But if they're looking for someone to mold, and who fits coach Bruce Arians' game plan, he's not a bad choice.
Washington quarterback Jacob Eason likely is too high of a draft pick for the Bucs as a projected second-rounder. But if they're looking for someone to mold, and who fits coach Bruce Arians' game plan, he's not a bad choice. [ ELAINE THOMPSON | AP ]
Published Apr. 20, 2020

Quarterback is a position the Bucs will take a look at in this year’s draft, though finding a developmental guy likely means they’ll be scouting the later rounds. But you never know ...

Here we take a look at how the top 10 signal callers in this year’s draft, according to NFL.com, shape up. Were their combine performances impressive? What about their final college seasons? Is the next Tom Brady, also a late-round draftee, in this lineup? Stay tuned.

Joe Burrow, LSU

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow [ JOHN BAZEMORE | AP ]

Height/weight: 6-3, 221

Combine performance: The Heisman Trophy winner let his record-breaking national championship season speak for itself, meeting with teams in Indianapolis but declining to throw or work out. Though his “tiny hands” did cause some drama.

Related: Below-average Bucs must build around Tom Brady in NFL draft. Here’s how.

2019 superlatives

  • 5,671 passing yards, tops in the nation
  • 60 passing touchdowns (32 against SEC competition), tops in the nation
  • 76.3 completion percentage, tops in the nation; best percentage (87.5) of the season came vs. Florida

We say: The consensus choice to be the No. 1 overall pick, Burrow did everything as a senior at LSU. He put up video-game numbers, and his completion percentage is just bonkers. His accuracy translates to the NFL. As far as his draft stock goes, he separated himself from the pack by how well he played when under pressure, and he will see plenty of that early on playing for the Bengals.

Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa
Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa [ VASHA HUNT | AP ]

Height/weight: 6-0, 217

Combine performance: Tagovailoa was still rehabbing the hip he dislocated Nov. 16 against Mississippi State, but teams that took a look at him said his MRIs were clean.

Related: Bucs need an offensive lineman. Projecting the position is no exact science.

2019 superlatives

  • 206.93 passer efficiency rating, tops in the nation
  • 71.4 completion percentage (180-of-252), fifth in the nation at the time of his season-ending injury
  • 418 yards passing (and four touchdowns) in a 46-41 loss to LSU in his first game back from ankle surgery three weeks prior

We say: As polished a quarterback as they come in terms of pocket presence, and— because of that alone — he can easily become a franchise quarterback. His health is a concern coming off a major injury, and he lacks height and tremendous arm strength. Still, he’s a winner and has intangibles few quarterbacks possess.

Justin Herbert, Oregon

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert [ JEVONE MOORE | ZUMAPRESS.com ]

Height/weight: 6-6, 236

Combine performance

  • 3-cone drill: 7.06 seconds, first among quarterbacks
  • Vertical jump: 35.5 inches, second among quarterbacks
  • 40-yard dash: 4.68 seconds, third among quarterbacks
  • Broad jump: 10 feet, 3 inches, third among quarterbacks
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.46 seconds, fourth among quarterbacks
Related: Romano: If they want the best of Tom Brady, the Bucs need to trade up in NFL draft

2019 superlatives

  • 32 passing touchdowns, second in Pac-12
  • 3,521 total yards, second in Pac-12
  • Three rushing touchdowns in the Rose Bowl win against Wisconsin

We say: Herbert checks off all the boxes physically: size, strength, mobility, arm strength. Scouts have fallen in love with him. He played well in the Senior Bowl, tested well at the combine and was impressive in interviews at both events. Some reviews have said he doesn’t possess the leadership and personality to be a franchise quarterback, but he still will be picked before the Bucs have a chance to even consider him.

Jordan Love, Utah State

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love
Utah State quarterback Jordan Love [ SCOTT KINSER | ZUMAPRESS.com ]

Height/weight: 6-4, 224

Combine performance

  • Vertical jump: 35.5 inches, tied for second among quarterbacks
  • Broad jump: 9 feet, 10 inches, fifth among quarterbacks
  • 3-cone drill: 7.21 seconds, sixth among quarterbacks
  • 40-yard dash: 4.74 seconds, seventh among quarterbacks
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.52 seconds, ninth among quarterbacks
Related: Which offensive tackle would make the Bucs happy? One of these four

2019 superlatives

  • 3,402 passing yards, third in Mountain West (His 293 completions on 473 attempts are school records)
  • 20 passing touchdowns, third in the Mountain West
  • Career-high 33 completions in season opener vs. Wake Forest to go with a season-high 416 yards passing

We say: Love might have the best arm in the draft and is likely too high of a draft prospect for the Bucs. And after moving on from one quarterback (Jameis Winston) who led the NFL in interceptions, it’s unlikely Tampa Bay would be keen on nabbing another who led the NCAA in picks last season, with 17. In fact, he reminds you a little of Jameis Winston in terms of his recklessness.

Jacob Eason, Washington

Washington quarterback Jacob Eason
Washington quarterback Jacob Eason [ CHRISTOPHER TRIM | ZUMAPRESS.com ]

Height/weight: 6-6, 231

Combine performance

  • 40-yard dash: 4.89 seconds, ninth among quarterbacks
  • Broad jump: 9 feet, 2 inches, 11th among quarterbacks
  • 3-cone drill: 7.5 seconds, 11th among quarterbacks
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.75 seconds, 12th among quarterbacks
  • Vertical jump: 27.5 inches, 13th among quarterbacks

2019 superlatives

  • 3,132 passing yards in lone season at Washington, fourth in Pac-12
  • 349 passing yards in season opener vs. Eastern Washington, most ever by a Washington QB in first start
  • Was at his best vs. non-Pac-12 opponents, with a 67.4 pass completion percentage

We say: The one-time Georgia quarterback did have a bit of an up-and-down season as a Husky, with stats to forget against Pac-12 competition. But if the Bucs wanted to gamble and go for a quarterback in the early rounds, Eason would likely be a good fit for coach Bruce Arians’ vertical offense. “Obviously, they like to throw the ball down the field, so that’s pretty enticing," Eason said at the combine, but his game needs some grooming.

Jake Fromm, Georgia

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm [ Times ]

Height/weight: 6-2, 219

Combine performance

  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.51 seconds, seventh among quarterbacks
  • Vertical jump: 30 inches, ninth among quarterbacks
  • 3-cone drill: 7.27 seconds, ninth among quarterbacks
  • Broad jump: 9 feet, 3 inches, 10th among quarterbacks
  • 40-yard dash: 5.01 seconds, 13th among quarterbacks

2019 superlatives

  • 2,860 passing yards, fourth in the SEC
  • 24 passing touchdowns, fourth in the SEC
  • Career highs of 28 completions and 51 attempts in a loss to South Carolina

We say: Fromm is a great game manager. He reads defenses well, makes most of the throws he needs to and wins games. He doesn’t have the best arm and he’s not going to wow you athletically, but his steady game can translate to a long, successful career. If he’s still around when the Bucs come up in the third or fourth round, he might be a tempting pick.

Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts
Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts [ MARK J. TERRILL | AP ]

Height/weight: 6-1, 222

Combine performance

  • Broad jump: 10 feet, 5 inches, first among quarterbacks
  • 40-yard dash: 4.59 seconds, second among quarterbacks
  • Vertical jump: 35 inches, fourth among quarterbacks

2019 superlatives

  • 69.7 pass completion percentage, first in Big 12
  • 3,851 passing yards, second in Big 12 (eighth nationally); 11.3 passing yards per attempt, first nationally
  • 53 total touchdowns (32 passing, 20 rushing, 1 receiving), first in Big 12 and second nationally

We say: Hurts definitely has no trouble picking up game plans quickly, playing and thriving in systems for national championship contenders Alabama and Oklahoma. Here’s what Bruce Arians had to say about him at the combine: “I know he’s a competitor and a winner and he’s improved a lot as a passer when he went to Oklahoma, especially. So, I think those types of guys, there’s a spot for and you build your offense around him." He’s still a year or two away but could make an impact in certain packages, like Saints backup Taysom Hill.

Nate Stanley, Iowa

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley
Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley [ CHRIS WILLIAMS | ZUMAPRESS.com ]

Height/weight: 6-4, 235

Combine performance

  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.48 seconds, fifth among quarterbacks
  • 40-yard dash: 4.81 seconds, eighth among quarterbacks
  • 3-cone drill: 7.26 seconds, eighth among quarterbacks
  • Vertical jump: 28.5 inches, 11th among quarterbacks
  • Broad jump: 9 feet, 13th among quarterbacks

2019 superlatives

  • Career-high 2,951 passing yards, fifth in Big Ten
  • 75-yard touchdown strike in a loss to Wisconsin matches longest of his career
  • Passing completions (237) and attempts (399), third and second in the Big Ten, respectively

We say: Stanley has accumulated experience in a pro-style offense at Iowa and does everything — except run — well. He’s a capable pocket passer with a strong arm and good size. But there are not many scouts who expect him to become more than a career backup, and that’s not what the Bucs are looking for right now.

James Morgan, Florida International

Florida International quarterback James Morgan
Florida International quarterback James Morgan [ KATHY HITCHCOCK | ZUMAPRESS.com ]

Height/weight: 6-4, 229

Combine performance

  • 40-yard dash: 4.89 seconds, ninth among quarterbacks
  • Broad jump: 9 feet, 4 inches, ninth among quarterbacks
  • Vertical jump: 29 inches, 10th among quarterbacks
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.64 seconds, 11th among quarterbacks
  • 3-cone drill: 7.51 seconds, 12th among quarterbacks

2019 superlatives

  • 2,585 passing yards, sixth in Conference USA
  • 394 passing yards, a career high, in a loss to Louisiana Tech
  • Capped college career with 312 passing yards against Arkansas State, a personal-best in a bowl game

We say: Morgan might be the quarterback the Bucs see as the best fit for them. He has a strong arm, good size, a strong football IQ (and a pre-law degree) and a lot of potential. Learning under Tom Brady for two years would do him well. His stock has risen gradually since a strong East-West Shrine Game performance, and he could go anywhere from the third to sixth rounds. We’ll find out how much the Bucs like Morgan, because they might have to draft him higher than they planned.

Jake Luton, Oregon State

Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton
Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton [ JEVONE MOORE | ZUMAPRESS.com ]

Height/weight: 6-6, 224

Combine performance: Didn’t throw or work out. This redshirt senior has had an injury-prone college career, missing the bulk of his 2017 season with a spine injury and part of 2018 with a sprained ankle. At the combine, he said, “I think teams will see .... that I’m a fighter.”

2019 superlatives

  • Career highs in passing yards (408) and touchdowns (five) in a loss at Washington State
  • Threw for at least one touchdown in nine of 11 games (28 total)
  • Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award recipient

We say: When healthy, he’s shown a great deal of potential. But he didn’t have his best games against the best teams in the Pac-12, so there’s some concern there. Could be a guy who just has his best football in front of him, but there’s too much uncertainty for the Bucs to see him as a quarterback of the future.