With the 2020 NFL Draft being a slightly different situation for the Indianapolis Colts, the Senior Bowl, and more specifically the quarterback position, is something that all Colts’ fans have their eyes on in Mobile.
There’s no Joe Burrow at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, but there’s really zero chance of him being available at the Colts’ expected first pick in the draft at No. 13 overall anyhow. However, a handful of others are consistently being linked to the Colts simply because fans, analysts, and likely the Colts themselves understand that an upgrade at the position needs to happen.
To start the game for the South, Oregon’s Justin Herbert came out looking quite good, especially on his first possession in which he ended it with a 16-yard touchdown throw to Florida running back Lamical Perine putting the North up 7-0. Herbert continued his solid play through his three possessions worth of work in the first quarter going 9-of-12 for 83 passing yards and a touchdown, as well as running for another 22 yards on 3 attempts.
For the North, Utah State quarterback Jordan Love graced the field first and didn’t get nearly the workload in the passing game in the first half that Herbert did for the South. Love only got 4 attempts in his first quarter of action (2-of-4, 15 yards). Love did re-enter the game midway through the fourth quarter unfortunately, Love was never really afforded the opportunity to get into a rhythm in the Senior Bowl.
The North ran the ball a lot while he was under center, and when Love was finally given an opportunity by the coaching staff to make a play on fourth-and-short, he was able to run for a first down. The North ultimately ran out the clock late in the fourth quarter, and Love finished his day 4-of-6, for 26 passing yards, and added 5 yards on the ground.
Both, Herbert and Love have been targets for Colts’ fans in recent weeks, but at this point it doesn’t look as though Herbert would still be around for the Colts if they chose to address the quarterback position with their initial selection. Herbert was named the game’s MVP with his performance today and should give him a bit of a boost heading into the next draft related activity — the NFL Combine in late February.
Otherwise, Michigan passer Shae Patterson was able to connect on a screen pass that went the distance for 75 yards on his first attempt to TCU’s Darius Anderson which brought the North back to even with the South to a 7-7 tie. Once Patterson attempted to go downfield his limitations showed as his third attempt of the day netted an interception.
After his touchdown pass, Patterson’s next three passes accumulated a stat line of 1-of-3 passing, for 13 yards and an interception. In the end, Patterson showed very mediocre as an NFL prospect — as expected — but was able to connect on a couple short passes across the middle, and a couple outside of the pocket, finishing the day 6-of-10, for 131 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts also received a nasty welcome to start his section of the game as he began the day 1-of-4, for 19 yards and an interception which came as a result of him being drilled by Utah DE, Bradley Anae when he released the ball midway through the second quarter.
Hurts was unable to convert, or complete a pass in the red zone when he got into scoring position, and finished the first half going 2-of-7 for 25 yards with the aforementioned interception. Hurts returned to the game in the fourth quarter for the South and was pretty decent for the most part when he wasn’t being hit, or under pressure in under three seconds.
Hurts did throw a very nice 19-yard fade route for a touchdown to Tennessee receiver Jauan Jennings with 6:08 to go in the game to get the South back within two scores 31-17. Hurts finished his day 6-of-13, for 58 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
In the second half, the North trotted out Washington State’s Anthony Gordon at quarterback who set a couple Pac-12 records in 2019. Gordon missed an early deep shot along the rail in the direction of Quartney Davis (Texas A&M), but was able to get the ball out quickly and accurately in the short-to-intermediate passing lanes leading the North on a touchdown drive on their first possession of the half.
Gordon’s second possession was very productive, as he went 4-of-5 passing for 28 yards — on a short field — including a 1-yard touchdown pass to Notre Dame receiver Chase Claypool, putting the North up 24-10. Gordon doesn’t have a howitzer on his shoulder by any means, but he did very well on the move, was accurate down the seam, and looked more than composed with pressure on his doorstep despite some of his better throws falling incomplete and using some Philip Rivers-ish arm angles.
Gordon finished his day 8-of-12 for 69 yards and 2 touchdowns including a dime in the back corner of the end zone to Liberty receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden that gave the North a 31-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The South started quarterback Steven Montez (Colorado) in the second half and completed his first few drives without any points on the board, and a pretty uninspired final tally. Montez was under heavy pressure throughout the third quarter and ended his run in the game with a box score of 3-of-8 passing for 22 yards, and an interception.
All in all, it was Herbert who was the real showcase and standout in this year’s Senior Bowl. As of now, Daniel Jeremiah has him going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 14. For the Colts, at No. 13 overall, he has the Colts selecting Jordan Love. Very interesting indeed.
(All statistics according to ESPN’s gametracker)