PointsBet has issued early lines on who will be the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The odds-on favorite? Tua Tagovailoa.
Tua is a great college quarterback and will surely have a good college career when it’s all over. He could very well be the best quarterback in the 2020 class (it’s important to note that Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence won’t be eligible for selection until the 2021 draft).
But should Tua really be -200 to go first overall? No.
2020 NFL Draft #1 overall pick odds
|Tua Tagovailoa (QB)||Alabama||-200|
|Justin Herbert (QB)||Oregon||+400|
|Jake Fromm (QB)||Georgia||+700|
|Chase Young (DE)||Ohio State||+1000|
|Andrew Thomas (OL)||Georgia||+2000|
|Jerry Jeudy (WR)||Alabama||+3000|
|Derrick Brown (DT)||Auburn||+4000|
|Raekwon Davis (DE)||Alabama||+4000|
|Walker Little (OL)||Stanford||+5000|
|AJ Epenesa (DE)||Iowa||+5000|
Tua isn’t a lock
At -200, the next closest person to 6’0 Tua is Oregon’s 6’6 Justin Herbert at +400. As Kyler Murray showed this year, selecting a short quarterback first overall isn’t a concern for NFL teams anymore. And luckily for Herbert, as Daniel Jones showed this year, selecting a bad quarterback early in the draft isn’t a concern for NFL teams any more either.
After Herbert, Georgia’s Jake Fromm follows at +700. Among quarterbacks at least, Fromm would be the most likely threat to Tua being selected No. 1.
When this season is over, Fromm will have all of the counting stats that talent evaluators look for and metrics that would make Bill Parcells proud. Assuming he remains healthy, Fromm will have started 43 of 44 games in college (Tua will clock in right around 30). And, assuming he remains healthy, he’ll have stayed off the injury report for three years as a starter (Tua suffered a high ankle sprain against Georgia in the SEC Championship this year and would’ve guided Alabama to a loss had he not been injured and Jalen Hurts bailed him out). A big Heisman year from Fromm would absolutely vault him into #1 pick consideration.
After Fromm, top candidates include defensive beasts like Ohio State DE Chase Young (+1000) and Georgia offensive lineman Andrew Thomas (+2000). There’s value in many of these players for one main reason: we don’t know who will be selecting first.
Who selects first will matter
If you look at NFL win totals for 2019, a number of teams who may be at the top of the draft next year will have just selected a first-round quarterback.
The Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins are expected to be the worst teams this year, both with win totals of around 5. The Cardinals selected Murray first overall this year. They won’t select a quarterback in the first round three years in a row. If the Dolphins finish with the worst record, they could go with a QB. But they did just trade for Josh Rosen in the offseason.
At 5.5 wins, the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants follow. The Bengals would move on from Andy Dalton faster than you can you could say Boomer Esiason. The Giants, though, likely wouldn’t have given Daniel Jones enough time to thoroughly evaluate just how bad he is yet and wouldn’t select another QB first.
Throw in the fact that Dave Gettleman would stubbornly not trade the top pick because “know-it-all” media types will be telling him he needs to, and it’s a lock the Giants do something like select a field goal kicker first instead.
After that, who knows?
A team may land in the top spot because their solid QB gets injured. In that case, a defensive wrecker like Young or line protection like Thomas makes all the sense in the world.
The point is this: there’s still a ton of variables and no player should be a lock for the top pick just yet. If you look at the past five year’s of top picks (Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett, Jared Goff, and Jameis Winston), only one (Winston) was the prohibitive #1 favorite going into the season.
A lot can happen from now until next April’s draft. It always does.