Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. are putting their money where their mock drafts are.
ESPN’s top NFL draft analysts have a $5,000 bet on which quarterback — Justin Herbert or Jordan Love — will be picked earlier, with the loser donating the money to the Jimmy V Foundation. The consensus is Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa will be the first two signal callers off the board, but the next one is up for debate after Herbert and Love each had a strong showing at the NFL Combine.
Herbert has been the higher-rated prospect all along, and Kiper sees the Oregon quarterback getting scooped up first. He was projected to be a top pick last year before he decided to return to school for his senior year. But the 6-foot-6, 236-pound QB’s strong week at the combine has him near the top of Kiper’s projections this year.
“I thought Herbert, my third-ranked quarterback, was extremely smooth on Thursday night, and he is crushing the pre-draft process,” Kiper wrote on ESPN.com. “It started at the Senior Bowl, where he was the MVP. And it has continued in Indianapolis. He ran a 4.68 40, which tied for second-best among the quarterbacks, and he had a 35.5-inch vertical. He’s an athlete. Herbert made every throw look easy in the drills. It’s really tough to evaluate these quarterbacks throwing to receivers they’ve never met, but Herbert looked sharp. He’s going in the top 10, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he lands in the top five.”
Love is a less-heralded prospect out of Utah State, but the 6-foot-4, 224-pound QB has been creating buzz recently and even garnering comparisons to Patrick Mahomes.
“You better get your checkbook out, Mel,” McShay wrote. “After yet another strong workout from Love at the combine, following that great Senior Bowl week, I’m not too worried. I truly believe he will be the third quarterback off the board. No, the production wasn’t great this season, but remember that the Aggies lost a ton from their offense, including the coordinator. Love, No. 26 on my board, has been working with Jordan Palmer on tightening up his mechanics and being more efficient, and it’s already showing. He also ran a smooth 4.74 in the 40, for what that’s worth. He has a big arm and some twitch, and he plays the game aggressively and instinctively.”