Over the years, the Senior Bowl has churned out plenty of high-caliber draft-eligible prospects, who’ve used the game as a platform to springboard their stock ahead of the draft.
And not only do I expect this year to be no different, there’s also a feeling that the quarterback prospects in Mobile, Alabama, are going to be worth some extra attention (Mitch Trubisky may be positioned to enter 2020 as the Bears’ starting QB, but he’s also entering the final year of his rookie deal, with no guarantee of a picked-up fifth-year option). Let’s just say our eyes our open.
And to that end, six quarterbacks have accepted invites to the Senior Bowl, where they’ll be participating in drills and practices ahead of Saturday’s game. Let’s take a moment to get to know them, even at a cursory level.
Justin Herbert, Oregon
Herbert would have been the No. 1 quarterback prospect off the board had he entered the 2019 NFL Draft, but he decided to return to school. The decision likely cost him a few million bucks, as he’s now projected to be the third quarterback taken in the draft after Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. At least Herbert will likely be chosen within the top half of the first round, which means he will still secure a healthy chunk of change.
As a prospect, Herbert has ideal size (6-6, 237 pounds), athleticism that allows his mobility to be used as a strength, and a strong arm. Meanwhile, a lack of accuracy has kept Herbert on the tier below Burrow and Tagovailoa. The inconsistency in his throws is going to drive some coach mad until it is fixed. Herbert’s deep ball is pretty when he throws it, but the short and medium game need work. Geez, that sounds familiar.
But between the Bears not having a first-round pick in the upcoming draft and minimal assets that could be used to move up to take him, I can’t imagine much of a buzz developing around Herbert and Chicago.
Jordan Love, Utah State
Love has first-round measurables (6-4, 225), athleticism, and arm-talent. But everything else about him is so raw, that it’s tough to actually envision a first-round departure. But perhaps that makes him an ideal prospect for the Bears. In fact, Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report recently pegged Love as the type of prospect the Bears could target with one of their second-round selections. Love could be equal parts developmental project and security blanket should the plug need to be pulled on the Trubisky experience.
Love is a classic boom-or-bust prospect. Thanks to his robust athleticism and throwing ability, he’s believed to have a ridiculously high ceiling. But he won’t come close to reaching until he works out some mechanical kinks and improves his decision making. Should the Bears draft Love, the newly developed cache of quarterback whisperers on the coaching staff could go a long way toward helping develop him while also winning games. Hence, Love’s name is one we’ll continue to watch in terms of any Bears connections moving forward.
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
Back in October, Hurts was dubbed the “perfect” quarterback for the 2020 Bears. He was in the midst of a Heisman-worthy campaign, having picked up Lincoln Riley’s offense without skipping a beat in a season in which he would ultimately lead the Sooners to the college football playoffs. Once viewed as the anti-Trubisky because of his intangibles and résumé of success at the college level, Hurts is a projected middle-round pick and a possible target for the Bears should they choose to draft a quarterback to round out the room behind Trubisky.
Hurts is a coaches dream. He doesn’t turn the ball over at an alarming rate, has polished decision-making for a college player, possesses desirable mobility, and has that “leader of men” quality pro teams seek. But because his arm talent is limited and doesn’t threaten defenses vertically, Hurts is viewed as a prospect who needs to be put into the sort of system that values the running game and quick horizontal passing. I’ll be curious to see how Hurts helps himself while surrounded by fellow high-quality prospects this week. After all, he looked great playing with skill-position studs at Alabama and Oklahoma.
Anthony Gordon, Washington State
Given Gardner Minshew II’s rookie-season success and his own production in Mike Leach’s QB-friendly system at Washington State, Anthony Gordon has some real prospect buzz despite his relative inexperience (he was a one-year starter for the Cougars, but that one year was terrific).
He displayed quickness in his release and made plenty of down-field throws, as he racked up big yardage and touchdown totals. But he also makes mind-numbing throws into double coverage, which leads to interceptions that would cause you to throw your remote across the room.
Even still … Gordon flashed enough to be considered as a developmental project for a team that values a player of his talent and upside. A team like the Bears could do worse than using a later-round pick on Gordon.
Shea Patterson, Michigan
Patterson has so much to gain from a strong week at the Senior Bowl. He was a five-star recruit who never lived up to his potential. The tools are there, but never amounted to anything. One could make a case that Patterson has regressed each season on a college campus. And because that case can be made, I wonder if I am wasting time by writing about him. But because he received an invite to the Senior Bowl, I suppose I am left to look forward to seeing what Patterson can do with a last chance.
Steven Montez, Colorado
Too much of Montez profile reminds me of Mike Glennon, which isn’t great. Montez, listed at 6-5 and 230 pounds, was a three-year starter for the Buffaloes and played with talented playmakers such as current Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay, as well as projected first-round receiver Laviska Shenault. But that he never took advantage of those surroundings is quite concerning. To be bonest, Montez (and Patterson, for that matter) shouldn’t be on anyone’s radar on draft weekend unless something unforeseen happens this week at the Senior Bowl.