The emergence of the 2020 QB class and how it can make history as Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts take big step

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A month ago, the 2020 quarterback class was a mixed bag. Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert have become stars in 2021, while Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts have entered their pivotal years. Now the former teammates from Alabama are MVP candidates for the only undefeated teams in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins and the Philadelphia Eagles. And suddenly, the number of franchise quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft could double.

Sure, their stocks can drop as fast as they went up, but what if they don’t? They could really challenge some of the immortalized classes for the best season in the draft class. No, we’re not talking about the best class of all time in terms of their combined careers, but now we’re talking about the best seasons in the class.

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If you need to be reminded of the star potential of 2020:

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    Burrow won the Super Bowl last year, becoming the youngest quarterback (age 25) to ever lead the NFL in both completion percentage and yards per try that same season.

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    Herbert is the only quarterback to throw 30 touchdown passes in each of his first two seasons.

  • Tagovailoa tied Dan Marino and Bob Grease’s franchise record with six touchdowns in the second week.

  • Hurts is the only quarterback to reach 300 passing yards in a game. as well as 50 yards per game for three games of the season.

Notable QBs in the 2020 NFL Draft

Joe Burrow, CIN (#1 draft pick)

Tua Tagovailoa, MIA (5th in the draft)

Justin Herbert, LAC (6th pick)

Jalen Herts, PHI (53rd pick)

As a group, they’re taking the league by storm:

  • They are four of the top eight Fantasy quarterbacks this season.

  • They are four of the top eight MVP quarterbacks.

  • That’s four of the top 10 quarterbacks in passing yards.

Best MVP Odds (Caesars Sportsbook)

Josh Allen


Patrick Mahomes


Jalen Hurts


Lamar Jackson


Tua Tagoavailoa


Justin Herbert


Aaron Rogers


Joe Burrow


If they continue like this, they will end up in thin air. There may not be one perfect number to compare classes, so here are a few categories to break down the best QB class seasons of all time with a focus on depth.


Our first category is statistics. To simplify things and just look at a single number, I used Fantasy Points, which reward volume as well as completion plus fast production. Burrow, Tagovailoa, Herbert and Herts are the eighth-best quarterbacks in Fantasy Points this season.

Results: The famous 1983 and 2004 classes are the only ones in NFL history to have four of the top 10 QB Fantasy points in the same season. The class of 1983 did it three times, and the class of 2004 did it once. The best season in one class could be the ’83 group in 1986. The five first-round players—John Elway, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien, and Dan Marino—all ranked in the NFL’s top 10 in Fantasy points. , passing yards, touchdown passes, and passer rating this season.

Draft class With four of the top 10 QBs in Fantasy points (same season)

Class of 2004 (season 2009)

  • 4. Matt Schaub
  • 7. Philip Rivers
  • 8. Ben Roethlisberger
  • 10 Eli Manning

Class of 1983 (1991 season)

  • 1. Jim Kelly
  • 2. Dan Marino
  • 4. John Elway
  • 7. Ken O’Brien

Class of 1983 (1987 season)

  • 3. John Elway
  • 5. Dan Marino
  • 6. Jim Kelly
  • 9. Ken O’Brien

Class of 1983 (1986 season)

  • 1. Dan Marino
  • 3. John Elway
  • 5. Jim Kelly
  • 6. Ken O’Brien
  • 8. Tony Eason


Of course, the impact goes beyond just filling out a statistical sheet. Fantasy numbers can sometimes be empty numbers. Just look at Blake Bortles in 2015. He had 35 touchdowns and ranked fourth among quarterbacks in Fantasy points, but was hardly the fourth-best quarterback in the league.

So my second category is praise. Are these quarterbacks considered among the best in the league? So far, the perception of the class of 2020 suggests that they have potential. They have four of the top eight MVPs this season. I used the Pro Bowl for this yardstick since NFL MVP votes can be everywhere. For example, Russell Wilson is not known to have ever won the MVP title.

Results: Only one all-time season featured four Pro Bowl quarterbacks from the same draft class. It was a group of 83 in 1991.

Four QB Pro Bowls from the same draft class in a season

Class of 1983 (1991 season)

  • John Elway
  • Jim Kelly
  • Dan Marino
  • Ken O’Brien

In just two classes, four quarterbacks have won multiple Pro Bowls at any point in their careers. Class of 1983 with the aforementioned four players, and Class of 2004 with Manning, Rivers, Roethlisberger and Schaub. I hope you’re starting to notice a trend here. Both 1983 and 2004 were good.

Team success

Statistics and accolades don’t tell the whole story either, as quarterbacks are often judged by how much they’ve won. Since it’s not surprising that some (or all) of these 2020 quarterbacks will make the playoffs, I looked at the start of the postseason.

Results: There have only been three postseasons involving four starting quarterbacks from the same draft class. The 1971 class listed below is one of the first great QB classes to have had multiple MVPs and Super Bowl winners.

Four QBs from the same draft class in the same postseason all-time

Class of 2003 (Postseason 2005)

  • Carson Palmer
  • Byron Leftwich
  • Rex Grossman
  • Chris Simms

Class of 1999 (Postseason 2000)

  • Donovan McNabb
  • Daunt Culpepper
  • Sean King
  • Aaron Brooks

Class of 1971 (1982 postseason)

  • Jim Plunkett
  • Lynn Dickey
  • Ken Anderson
  • Joe Theismann

It’s impossible to predict what they can do for a career, but if you’re a draft nerd like me, you want to know when you’re talking about some of the deepest quarterback classes. Not only for the season, but for the whole career.

career success

I used Approximate Value, a metric that evaluates a player’s career (think WAR in baseball) to look at the highest combined career values ​​of the top four quarterbacks in the same class. Not surprisingly, 1983 and 2004 lead the way. But 2005, a class led by Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers, was not far behind.

Highest ballpark of the top 4 QBs in the singles draft class

2004 – Rivers, Roethlisberger, Manning, Schaub


1983 – Marino, Elway, Kelly, O’Brien


2005 – Rogers, Smith, Fitzpatrick, Campbell


1971 – Anderson, Theismann, Plunkett, Manning


This doesn’t quite cover all the great quarterback classes, so here are some more superlatives for you trivia lovers!

The class of 1983 is the only one to produce three Hall of Famer quarterbacks.

Most Hall of Fame QBs in a single draft class


  • John Elway
  • Jim Kelly
  • Dan Marino

Five different draft classes have produced several Super Bowl-winning signals. The class of 1979 is the only one to have multiple Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks (Joe Montana, Phil Simms).

The Most Different Super Bowl Winning QBs in the Draft Class



Bart Starr, Earl Morrall



Jim Plunkett, Joe Theismann



Joe Montana, Phil Simms



Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger



Russell Wilson, Nick Falls

Three different draft classes have produced multiple MVP quarterbacks.

The Most Different QB MVPs in the Draft Class



Bart Starr, Earl Morrall



Ken Anderson, Joe Theismann



John Elway, Dan Marino

Verdict: Here it is. It’s only Week 4, but if the 2020 foursome keeps up that pace, they could find themselves in exclusive company with groups like 1983 or 2004 as one of the best quarterback draft seasons of all time. There’s a long way to go, but there are exciting opportunities ahead of this young group of quarterbacks. Time will tell!


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