Skip to main content

NFL predictions: How will the first-round quarterbacks fare in 2020?

Jesse Reed
Tua Tagovailoa Miami Dolphins backdrop
(EDITORS NOTE: graphic by USA TODAY Sports) Apr 23, 2020; Tua Tagovailoa is selected as the number five overall pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft to the Miami Dolphins. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Four quarterbacks were selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and at least three of them could see the field this coming season. What should fans expect to see? That’s what we’re digging into here.

First-round NFL quarterbacks in 2020

Joe Burrow, being the first-overall selection, obviously has the biggest expectations resting on his shoulders. He’s already guaranteed the starting job with the Cincinnati Bengals, so there is no doubt he’ll be thrown to the wolves right out of the gate.

Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins (No. 5 overall) may or may not start the season under center for the Miami Dolphins. The same goes for Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers (No. 6 overall). Both of them have veterans on their team who could open the season as starters.

Then, there’s Jordan Love (No. 26 overall), who will not see the field outside of some rare circumstances if Aaron Rodgers stays healthy.

Here’s how we see these four first-round rookie quarterbacks panning out in their rookie seasons.

Joe Burrow will dazzle, and take some serious lumps in the process

The Cincinnati Bengals have a couple of interesting things going on with their roster.

First of all, the offensive line is overall a big problem. Arguably, the only player up front with any top-rate talent is Jonah Williams, who missed all of last season as a rookie due to a shoulder injury. Everyone else on the line is mediocre, or worse.

This offensive line is going to lead to some rough times for Burrow as a rookie. That’s a fact.

On a positive note, the Bengals have an outstanding trio of receivers. A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd are already established stars. Rookie Tee Higgins is a tremendous prospect. John Ross is as fast as they come, too. So there is the potential for Burrow to have some sensational games playing with this corps of receivers.

Prediction: Burrow will pass for 3,500-plus yards with 20 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Tua Tagovailoa will start on the bench until Fitzmagic fizzles

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores seems like a bit of a conservative coach and he already trusts Ryan Fitzpatrick to a certain extent. With that in mind, despite some rumors to the contrary I predict Fitzmagic will open up the season as the starter.

However, the one consistent thing about Fitzpatrick is that he always comes back down to Earth. Even if he opens the season on fire, he’ll inevitably have a bad game or three, opening the door for Tua Tagovailoa to come in and claim the job. Once that happens, they’ll be no turning back. Tagovaioloa is an exceptionally gifted young passer who anticipates well and has some of the best touch and accuracy you’ll ever see.

The Dolphins have some talent outside of Tagovailoa, too. They traded for running back Matt Breida, who is blazing fast and can catch the ball well. Tight end Mike Gesicki is coming into his own as a solid option in the middle of the field and red zone. DeVante Parker has star potential and should benefit from Tagovailoa.

Miami’s offensive line isn’t all that hot, so there’s no doubt Tagovailoa will have some rough outings. But in the end, he’s set up for success in South Beach.

Prediction: Tagovailoa will start 10 games, passing for 2,500 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Justin Herbert must show some alpha traits or be relegated to the bench

It seems like the Chargers are content to stash Justin Herbert for next season. They’ve already made it clear that veteran Tyrod Taylor is good enough to open the season as the starter. Since Herbert was selected, reports indicate the Chargers will stick with him until they are no longer in playoff contention.

With all that in mind, Herbert will have to come in and blow the coaching staff away to start games in 2020. Not only must he show he’s physically and mentally capable of running an NFL offense, but he needs to show he’s a leader, too. In fact, during the pre-draft process, the biggest knock against the Oregon product was he didn’t have the kind of “fire” many look for in a starting quarterback.

Prediction: Herbert will play two games at the end of the season, paving the way for a big 2021 campaign.

Jordan Love will hold a clipboard and learn from a master in the process

When the Green Bay Packers traded up to No. 26 and selected Jordan Love, the move sent shock waves throughout the NFL. Aaron Rodgers was blindsided by the move, as were most in the industry.

But nobody expects Love to do anything more than hold a clipboard and watch from the sideline in 2020. Barring some trick plays, that is. He’s not there for the now. Love is in Green Bay for the future. Period.

Right now, the Packers are still Aaron Rodgers’ team. That’s not changing this year.

Prediction: Love will not start a game in 2020.