INDIANAPOLIS – As many as five quarterbacks could go in the first round of April's NFL Draft. Use this preview as a cheat sheet for today's action (4 PM on NFL Network) to understand which drills are most important throughout the workout as these signal-callers take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium! For a full explanation of each category, jump down to the bottom of the piece.
Top of the heap: Joe Burrow, LSU
He led the undefeated National Champions, won the Heisman Trophy, and broke a ton of records along the way. Burrow is accurate, tough, poised, smart, and has an edge to him. He's the front-runner to go No. 1 overall.
Workout warrior: Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
No word yet, as of this writing, on how much Hurts will do from an athletic standpoint, but he is certainly dynamic with the ball in his hands and was an effective playmaker in Lincoln Riley's offense this year in his lone campaign with the Sooners. He has work to do as a passer, but Hurts is a very good athlete at quarterback.
Off the radar: Steven Montez, Colorado
Montez made a living the past couple of years completing passes to star wideout Laviska Shenault, but he's a sneaky athlete as well who was productive with the ball in his hands. Montez had a ho-hum week at the Senior Bowl, so he's under the radar heading into Indianapolis with all of the other passers in this class getting attention. He'll surprise people with his athleticism.
Stopwatch shocker: Justin Herbert, Oregon
When it comes to athletic workouts, Herbert may surprise some people, as he did in the back end of the 2019 season when he made more plays with his legs down the stretch as the Ducks pushed for a run at the College Football Playoff. Herbert has all of the physical tools to be a successful NFL quarterback.
Will kill the drills: Jordan Love, Utah State
One of the biggest struggles for quarterbacks in drills is just trusting the receivers who they've never thrown to before to go and get the ball downfield. Signal callers face similar issues in all-star game settings, typically, but Love showed surprising anticipation and trust at the Senior Bowl. He has all the arm talent in the world. If he just lets it fly in Indianapolis, he will look as good as anyone on the field.
Trust the tape: Jake Luton, Oregon State
There hasn't been a ton of loud buzz about Luton, but the murmurs are picking up on the senior quarterback for the Beavers quietly in the background. Luton looks the part. He could be a player who more people are talking about on the outside of the NFL with a strong passing workout in Indianapolis. Just don't expect him to light the stopwatch on fire.
Most productive college player: Jake Fromm, Georgia
Fromm started 42 games (going 35-7) for the Bulldogs, a school with a long, rich history, and he finished his career second on their all-time touchdown passes list (78). There are questions about his physical tools, but Fromm has been an extremely efficient passer and a strong leader. He projects well to the NFL with a high floor.
One-year wonder: Anthony Gordon, Washington State
The senior stepped in for Gardner Minshew last year and posted eye-popping numbers in Mike Leach's wide-open offense. With his eligibility used up, he'll have to continue his development in the NFL. Gordon improved as the week went on at the Senior Bowl. He boasts impressive accuracy and touch.
Best pro comparison: Jacob Eason, Washington
Eason started one year for the Huskies after beginning his career at Georgia, which is ironic because with his body type, throwing mechanics, and arm talent, he looks a lot like former Bulldog Matthew Stafford. Eason can make every throw in the book and makes it look good in the process. Stafford was a No. 1 overall pick. Eason won't be that, but there are a lot of similarities here.
Best story: Shea Patterson, Michigan
For all of his flaws as a player, Patterson has certainly taken the road less traveled to this point. The former No. 1 high school quarterback in the country grew up in Ohio, but the housing crisis forced his family to move down south to Texas, where he lived before moving to Tampa Bay, Florida, to hone in his quarterbacking skill at IMG Academy. Patterson began his career at Ole Miss before transferring to Michigan, but also spent time in Mexico and Puerto Rico to train as a baseball player. The Texas Rangers drafted him in 2018. Oh yeah, and his grandfather is a former Harlem Globetrotter.
Small-school standout: James Morgan, Florida International
Standing just under 6-4 and weighing slightly over 220 pounds, Morgan looks the part of a pure pocket passer in the NFL and exhibits strong touch to all areas of the field. He has the makings of a future backup in the league.
Philly connection: Kevin Davidson, Princeton
Davidson played college ball less than an hour north of Lincoln Financial Field for the Tigers. A well-rounded prospect with solid tools to work with, he had a solid week of practice down at the East-West Shrine Bowl and is building off his lone year as a starter in the Ivy League.
Most to prove: Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
No medical report will be as highly anticipated as Tagovailoa's, as he rehabs from hip surgery that sidelined him for the end of the 2019 season. The potential top-10 pick has dealt with a series of injuries throughout his college career but has been extremely productive and efficient when healthy.
Position drill to watch
For the quarterbacks, what we get to see on television ultimately comes down to their throwing session with the wide receivers and tight ends in attendance. Overall, the quarterbacks will throw slant routes, out routes, curl routes, dig routes, post-corner routes, and deep go routes. Of those throws, the two that I watch for the most are the dig and the post-corner.
With both routes, they have to travel a pretty good distance down the field, so I'm interested to see the velocity they're able to put on the ball, particularly on the dig. Can they drive the football accurately and put it on the receiver? On the post-corner, that's a bit farther downfield, so can they pull off the velocity a bit and put a little more touch on the ball? Layering throws is important as these passes attack every level of the field.
As I mentioned above with Jordan Love, it's great to see quarterbacks who are just willing to cut it loose in this scenario. Holding onto the football and waiting for the receiver to come out of his break isn't helping anyone, whether it's the quarterback, the receiver, or the evaluators! Throw the ball to the proper landmark and let the receiver go and get it. Trust in him, because I promise no one is keeping an eye on "completion percentage" in these drills.
Across every position, these drills are designed to make the prospects uncomfortable. Some of these players haven't taken drops from under center during their college careers. By the time they get to these throws, it's late in the workout and they've likely faced some adversity. I want to see the last rep look just like the first rep in terms of pacing, body control, and fluidity from "snap" to release.
|958 (9 5/8")
|3218 (32 1/8")
|7718 (77 1/8")
|Unofficial 40-Time (Stopwatch)
|Official 40-Time (Laser)
The rest of the pack
Kelly Bryant (Missouri), Brian Lewerke (Michigan State), Cole McDonald (Hawaii), Nate Stanley (Iowa)
Breakdown of the categories
Top of the heap: This is the player who, based on media projections, is at the top of the class and will likely hear his name called first at his position in April.
Workout warrior: This is the player who I expect to see perform best in the athletic testing portion of the workout.
Off the radar: This is the player who will come out of nowhere to post great numbers in the athletic testing portion of the workout.
Stopwatch shocker: This is the player who I expect to perform better in the athletic tests than most in the media predict.
Will kill the drills: This is the player who will look the best in the position-specific drills following the athletic portion of the workout.
Trust the tape: This is the player who I don't expect to test off the charts and is a better football player than he is an athlete. With that in mind, don't drop him down the board with a subpar workout!
Most productive college player: This is the player who produced at the highest level, either in his final year in college or over the course of his entire career.
One-year wonder: This is the player who performed at a high level in college, but only for a limited time on campus.
Best pro comparison: Comparing draft prospects to NFL players is tough, but here's a player with the easiest picture to paint when looking at his NFL future through my eyes.
Best story: All of these players have great stories to tell, but who has taken the most unbelievable journey to get to this point in his career? Here's the one that has caught my eyes (and ears) the most.
Small-school standout: This is the player who comes from a lower level of competition (outside of the Power 5 conferences) but still has a potentially bright future in the NFL.
Philly connection: This is the player with a special tie to the City of Brotherly Love or the Eagles who you should keep a close eye on.
Most to prove: This is the player who has the most to prove away from the field, whether it's during the interview process, medical examinations, or even the weigh-ins.
Mr. Average: We get to read all about the measurements for all these players over the next few weeks, but wouldn't it be nice to have some context? What is considered a "good" time in the 40-yard dash? What about arm length? The broad jump? Here's what the average player drafted at each position has looked like over the last decade (by my records).
The rest of the pack: A list of everyone else who will take part in the events in Indianapolis (in alphabetical order).
Fran Duffy is the producer of the Emmy-nominatedEagles Game Planshow which can be seen every gameday during the season on NBC10 in Philadelphia. He is also the host of two Eagles-related podcasts,Eagle Eye in the Sky, which examines the team from an X's and O's angle each and every week as well as theJourney to the Draft podcast, which covers college football and the NFL Draft all year round. Fran also authors the Eagle Eye in the Sky column, which runs four times a week during the football season to serve as a recap for the previous game and to preview the upcoming matchup. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging, and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team's games, practices, and opponents.