We're running out of chances to put good film on the field. The 2019 CFB season is nearing the end and as a result, we're seeing marquee matchups seemingly on a weekly basis. It's difficult to think we'll see a more impactful matchup on the CFB or NFL Draft landscape than the one we just took in over the weekend between LSU's Joe Burrow and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa. What a show these two put on -- after Tagovailoa shook off the rust, the points flowed freely and the fireworks were fitting of a shootout of two potential top-5 selections in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The opinions that came in the aftermath? They're strong. Very strong. You wouldn't expect anything less, right? But every opinion at this point in the game is strong -- even with so much left to unfold in front of us. This week's edition of Studs & Duds is dedicated to opinions about the 2020 quarterback class we've seen as of late: which ones are noise and which ones are legit?
STUD - LSU's Joe Burrow can make a push to the 1st-overall pick
Burrow checks all the boxes NFL evaluators are going to want him to. The Cincinnati Bengals are in line to hold the 1st-pick -- and if they do indeed finish the deal, they'll have the opportunity to draft their quarterback of choice. Burrow makes all the sense in the world as an Ohio kid who has thrived in Joe Brady's passing offense and shown incredible toughness, leadership, swagger and confidence for the Tigers this season.
We've had an unforeseen contender rise to claim QB1 status in the last three seasons between Mitchell Trubisky (a one year starter), Baker Mayfield (considered a day three pick) and Kyler Murray (the baseball prospect). Can Burrow make it four straight years? Absolutely. Is that the right decision? That's a story for another day. But it's a legit possibility -- and in my eyes, the odds on favorite outcome.
DUD - Justin Herbert as QB1
Former Miami Dolphins VP of Football Ops Mike Tannenbaum said this morning that Justin Herbert is QB1 for him because he's big. I wholeheartedly disagree. Herbert does have physical tools -- and those physical tools were a catalyst of my support for Herbert entering this season (he and Tua were QB1A and QB1B in August). But Herbert hasn't shown growth in the key areas of his game that we constantly see players with physical gifts struggle with and fail to overcome: comfort under pressure, short area quickness in the pocket and winning off script.
Those are ingredients for a great quarterback in today's NFL. Herbert just hasn't shown them. And to prioritize Herbert based on physical skills versus the mental components that great quarterbacks sport would be a fatal mistake.
Dolphins fans everywhere can thank their lucky stars Miami opted to go a different direction with their team leadership if this was the though process that was going to reside in the building.
STUD - The Bears will target a quarterback
Mitchell Trubisky is showing some modest signs of life -- but Chicago's offense is a problem. The defense is a problem too -- but in a good way. The passing offense in Chicago is painful to watch and Trubisky just doesn't show the necessary feel for the position at this point in his career. Poor touch, too many rushed plays and inaccurate passes. And so the question has been asked: should Chicago target a quarterback this offseason?
Uh, yes. Absolutely.
Whether it is a trade for Cam Newton with Carolina, the signing of QB Jameis Winston in free agency or the drafting of potentially a Jalen Hurts or Jordan Love with their first pick of the 2020 NFL Draft (in the 2nd round, courtesy of the Khalil Mack trade), Chicago should absolutely avoid coddling Trubisky and should infuse their quarterback room with another quarterback.
A rising tide raises all ships and competition in the Bears' QB room is essential to either bettering Trubisky as a player or getting the Bears offense better by having someone else behind center.
DUD - Washington will be in the QB market in the 2020 draft
We just saw the Arizona Cardinals bail on a 1st-round pick at quarterback after one year when they decided to make a switch to Kyler Murray and dump Josh Rosen. Could we see it yet again this season if Washington finished with the 2nd-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft?
It's hard to imagine the Washington leadership -- considering their, uh....unwavering confidence in themselves -- conceding that they were wrong about a hand selected quarterback after just one season, especially with a lame duck head coach who didn't want that player in Jay Gruden.
Gruden has since been fired and Washington has since started Dwayne Haskins. Haskins wasn't all that bad against Buffalo in Week 9 and he gets the New York Jets in Week 11 coming off the bye. If Haskins shows any level of competency and life, it's hard to imagine Dan Snyder booting Haskins as his hand-selected franchise quarterback without an extensive chance to see him in action. And less than a full year of play won't qualify.
Remember -- Washington is an organization that conducts their business based on ego -- as the Trent Williams situation has reminded us. They're going to be too proud to admit a potential mistake after just one season (and that isn't even to say Haskins was a mistake -- it's all too early to tell).