The most important position in the game usually steers the top of the draft, and this year should be no different. Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa could go No. 1 and No. 2, which would be a terrific scenario for the Lions at No. 3 with their need for playmakers on defense. How the quarterback position plays out at the top of the draft will be the dominant storyline for the next couple months leading up to April's draft.
Top 5 quarterbacks to watch at Combine:
1. Joe Burrow, LSU, 6-4, 216
Burrow is coming off arguably the best season by a quarterback in college history, leading LSU to the national championship and winning the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell, Walter Camp Player of the Year, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm and Davey O'Brien Awards along the way. He led the nation in passing yards (5,671), total offense (6,039 yards), completion percentage (76.3) and set an NCAA record with 60 touchdown passes in 15 games. There's some concern he's a one-year wonder, but those numbers are eye-popping, and the Ohio native seems like a perfect fit for Cincinnati with the No. 1 overall pick.
2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama, 6-1, 218
If not for a major hip injury that ended his season and now clouds his future, we're probably talking about Cincinnati having a major decision on their hands between Burrow and Tagovailoa at No. 1. Tagovailoa had a brilliant career at Alabama. He has a clean release, he's accurate, and he possesses big-play potential. The concern with him is durability, as he battled ankle and hip injuries in college. The medical evaluations leading up to the draft will be key for him. If things check out and he's able to work out and perform well, there will be a market for him with the No. 2 pick.
3. Justin Herbert, Oregon, 6-6, 227
Herbert marks off all the physical traits teams are looking for at the position. He's got terrific size to scan the field and a big-time arm to make all the throws. He threw for 3,471 yards, 32 touchdowns and just six interceptions this past season. He's built up some momentum heading into the draft with a terrific finish to the 2019 season and a really good week at the Senior Bowl.
4. Jordan Love, Utah State, 6-4, 225
An interesting prospect, Love threw 32 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2018, but saw those number dip to just 20 touchdowns and a concerning 17 interceptions this past season. Love possesses all the physical tools to be a franchise quarterback, but teams will have to study the tape and balance his disappointing 2019 tape vs. his terrific 2018 season. Why the big dip? Is it fixable?
5. Jacob Eason, Washington, 6-6, 227
Former starter at Georgia. Lost his job to Jake Fromm, who's also in this draft class. Eason threw for 3,132 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions, completing 64.2 percent of his passes along the way this past season. He's got a big arm, but lacks mobility and great anticipation. True pocket/play-action passer, who will probably need the right scheme to reach his potential.
Combine sleeper to watch:
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma, 6-1, 218
Transferred from Alabama to Oklahoma after losing his starting job to Tagovailoa, and led the Sooners to a Big 12 title and playoff appearance. He was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and Davey O'Brien Award, throwing for 3,851 yards and 32 touchdowns with a 69.7 completion percentage. He also rushed for 1,298 yards and 20 touchdowns. Hurts has been a winner and playmaker his whole career, but he'll need to prove to teams he can stand in the pocket and beat NFL defenses with his decision making and accuracy.
View photos from the Detroit Lions' 2019 halftime shows at Ford Field.
Lions need at the position: This has and will be a hot topic of discussion leading up to the draft.
There are some who think the Lions need to start looking for the quarterback of the future with Matthew Stafford heading into year 12, and battling back injuries in two consecutive seasons. Take a quarterback with a friendlier cap number for the next four or five years and build around him. The Kansas City Patrick Mahomes model, if you will.
Then there are those who feel Stafford is playing his best football right now under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, has the kind experience that can't be undervalued, and has plenty of good years left at 32 years old. Stafford was playing at a Pro Bowl level when the back injury struck him midseason, and both he and the team have said they are not worried about the injury affecting him long term.
At the very least, the 2019 season proved that Detroit does need to have a better backup plan in place. Detroit was 0-8 without Stafford. Whether that's signing a veteran to compete with David Blough, or drafting a youngster, the Lions need more options and competition at the position.
Key stat: At the time of his back injury Week 9 in Oakland, Stafford was second in in the NFL in touchdowns (19), fourth in yards (2,499), fifth in passer rating (106.0) and first in 20-plus-yard completions (41).