Is the upcoming NFL Draft the most important draft in Buccaneer history? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter the 2020 NFL Draft in “win now” mode after going all in on quarterback Tom Brady in free agency. But looking beyond Brady, could we see the Bucs draft with a “win later” mindset in 2020 as well?
The Bucs barge into the 2020 NFL Draft with a bonafide winner at quarterback for the first time since… ever? But unfortunately for the Bucs, the shelf life of their current starting quarterback is only guaranteed for two years. It’s safe to assume the Bucs will do everything in their power to take advantage of what Brady can provide and draft accordingly. The offensive line is the obvious place to start as the Bucs want to protect Brady the same way we all want to protect our paychecks. But drafting a quarterback in 2020 might make more of an impact than the stimulus check we’re all drooling over.
The Brady Factor
Having Brady as a starting quarterback is a privilege only one other franchise is familiar with. New England took advantage in many ways. One of which was using Brady as a tool to groom the young guns in the quarterback room. In 2014, the Patriots drafted quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round out of little Eastern Illinois University. Garoppolo spent just over two seasons behind Brady before being traded to the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. Two years later, Garoppolo led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance.
Do you credit Brady? Or do you credit Belichick? I’d say whatever Giselle says.
Another Jimmy G
So which quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft do the Bucs see as their “Jimmy G?” It’s assumed the Bucs won’t touch a quarterback until at least the third round, so we can look past the top five rated quarterbacks. Looking beyond the top five, who is the most attractive prospect to sit next to Brady?
What if I told you the Bucs were able to use a third round pick on a quarterback who was second in the 2019 Heisman Trophy race, was first team All-SEC, was the 2016 SEC Offensive Player of the Year, was first team All-Big12, and was able to sit and learn from Tom Brady and Bruce Arians for two seasons? Sure wouldn’t hurt.
Sooner Rather Than Later
Oklahoma Sooner quarterback, Jalen Hurts, would very much be an option for the Bucs in the third or fourth round. In 2019, Hurts completed 69.7% of his passes, throwing for 3,851 yards, 32 TD’s, and eight interceptions. Hurts also ran for 1,298 yards and 20 TD’s in 2019. Heck, the guy even caught two TD’s last year!
While his one season at Oklahoma was one for the books, Hurts also had plenty of success in the SEC at Alabama. In 2016, Hurts was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman. Hurts also helped lead the Crimson Tide to a National Championship, although he was notably replaced in the game by projected first-round pick, Tua Tagovailoa. Before leaving Alabama, Hurts was criticized for his ability to be an effective passer. Hurts left Alabama for Oklahoma, a program who produced back-to-back number one overall draft picks (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray). Those who criticized his ability to throw were quickly silenced after Hurts led the Big12 in passing in 2019.
One NFL comparison that comes to mind when thinking of Jalen Hurts is Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott. Bucky Brooks, a draft analyst with the NFL Network, shared his thoughts on USA Today Sports regarding how the two All-SEC QB’s compare.
“He’s continued to get better and better as we saw him at the Senior Bowl and then at the Combine,” Brooks said. “When I look at what Jalen Hurts could be in the pros, he could be another version of Dak Prescott. Goes to a good team. Has all the managerial skills that you look for and intangibles to lead his team to the winner circle. To me, I think this one of the easiest comparisons to make. When I look at Jalen Hurts, I close my eyes and see another version of Dak Prescott.”
Diving deeper, let’s look at the college numbers:
– Height & weight: Hurts (6’1, 222lbs), Prescott (6’2, 226lbs)
– 40-yd Dash: Hurts (4.59), Prescott (4.79)
– Vertical Jump: Hurts (35 inches), Prescott (32.5 inches)
– Broad Jump: Hurts (125 inches), Prescott (116 inches)
– Passing Totals: Hurts (9,477 yards, 80 TD’s, 20 INT’s), Prescott (9,376 yards, 70 TD’s, 23 INT’s)
– Completion Percentage: Hurts (65.1%), Prescott (62.8%)
– Rushing Totals: Hurts (3,274 yards, 43 TD’s), Prescott (2,521 yards, 41 TD’s)
Similarities Are Blatant
The similarities are blatant, both in the way they throw and run the ball. Prescott was able to learn from Tony Romo out of the gates, and being able to lean on a stout running game and offensive line helped him tremendously. But imagine Prescott had the luxury of sitting behind Tom Brady and learning from Bruce Arians for two seasons, on top of throwing to targets like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. That is a thought that the Bucs could make a reality by selecting Hurts.