Our next prospect is Oregon Quarterback Justin Herbert. Herbert shocked the football world by returning to Oregon for his Senior season. He has certainly proved himself to be first-round potential.
Justin Herbert is one of my favorite quarterbacks in this draft class because he has shown a great level of consistency throughout his college career. He most likely would have been a top-10 pick if he were to enter last year. Personally, I think he would have been the perfect fit for the New York Giants, where he would sit behind Eli Manning for a year and take over as the next successor under Pat Shurmur. However, even though Herbert was NFL-ready last year, he benefitted quite a bit from staying one more year.
In 2018, Herbert had the lowest completion percentage of his college career, which was 59.4%. This season, he has a 67.5 completion percentage, which shows how his accuracy has improved over the course of this season. Herbert also has arguably the best arm strength in this draft class. The way he extends plays down the field with his level of accuracy and the deep ball is something that separates him from guys like Joe Burrow. This season, the Oregon Ducks offense is averaging 452.3 yards per game and a lot of that is from Herbert. Herbert has thrown for 3,140 yards and 31 touchdowns over the span of 12 games. I think Herbert has the potential to be something special in the NFL.
Justin Herbert is my underdog candidate to overtake the hype of Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts, or even Joe Burrow. Why? Because Herbert is a guy that is consistent, has solid mobility, and is accurate. Those traits will lead a quarterback to become successful in the NFL. Now, Herbert can’t run like Tua or throw like Burrow, but he is consistent, something that, in my opinion, Jalen Hurts doesn’t quite have. Herbert has also been highly efficient this season, throwing for nine touchdowns and just one interception. Those numbers don’t scream number one pick, but they do scream consistency.
Justin Herbert has an NFL body. He stands 6-6 237 lbs. This helps factor into his exceptional arm strength. He has the ability to make every throw. He can throw the deep ball better than just about everyone in this draft class. Herbert has also showcased improved accuracy in his senior year with the Ducks. He’s also flashed mobility. Herbert has the ability to escape the pocket and extend plays. Finally, he showed this year his maturity going back to school for his senior year. Herbert would’ve been a 1st round pick last year, however, he decided to return to Oregon and improve even more.
Last year Justin Herbert had a great shot at being a top five pick and even the first overall pick, but he elected to go back to Oregon. This year he’s still one of the top prospects in the draft. Just like the other quarterbacks we have talked about, Herbert has a great arm and has tremendous accuracy. Underrated part of Herbert’s game is his ability to be a dual-threat QB. He won’t take off as much, but when he does, it will hurt a team.
Herbert is very good at keeping plays alive. He can maneuver himself around the pocket well. Unlike the other QB prospects, Herbert has a great size frame at 6’6, 237 pounds. Herbert is one of those players that will catch people’s eyes once we start hitting the combine, because he had been shadowed by Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa.
When Justin Herbert decided to forgo last year’s draft to play one more year at Oregon, many including myself were baffled. Before the last minute emergence of Kyler Murray, Herbert was considered the most polished of last year’s weak quarterback class. This year he’s joining two other top-tier quarterbacks who are likely going top-15, but he’s worthy of joining Burrow and Tua to be in that top-tier. Also, by forgoing the draft last year, he actually did himself a favor because statistically he’s having a much better 2019 than last year. His yardage is equal but he’s attempted 20 more passes and completed 20 more. His TD:INT and completion percentage is a lot better going from last year’s 29:8 & 59.4% to this year’s 31:5 & 67.5%.
As a dual-threat passer Herbert possesses skills desirable by NFL teams, much like Tua. He has the arm strength and decent accuracy on all levels of the field to make NFL throws and place them where only the receiver can catch it. He has exceptional pocket awareness and ability to evade defenders and extend plays because he’s agile for his size. On all those things besides accuracy, Herbert is equal or close to Tua, but throwing on the run is where he’s arguably the best in the class.
One of the big red flags for Justin Herbert is that he plays in the Pac-12, a conference that is substantially weaker than the SEC and the Big Ten. This is worrisome to me because there are Pac-12 NFL quarterbacks like Sam Darnold, who is somehow getting worse, and Marcus Mariota, who is already playing like a regressing quarterback at 26-years-old. This might be something that could lure scouts away from Justin Herbert, but his talent and level of accuracy can definitely overlook that trend.
Another trait that Herbert lacks is his ability to run the ball. Especially this season, we have seen Herbert run the ball a lot less than his previous years. Last year, he ran for 166 yards, which shows at least some promise, but this is something he will need to work on to improve his game.
Professional scouts are going to knock Herbert for his lack of technique. He does look a little sloppy at times, but all of those fundamentals can be fixed in the NFL. Those are all things that can be coached. Don’t believe me? Lamar Jackson spent all of the last off-season revamping the way he throws the football, look at him now.
His biggest weakness is that he hasn’t proved clutch in big games that count. It’s a shame but again, those things can be fixed in the NFL.
Herbert returned to school to prove he can be more consistent. Which he has, however there have been times where he hasn’t played to the level he can. The growth he’s shown is promising, but it’s still worrisome that he still has his moments where he’s too sloppy.
Herbert’s biggest weakness is the Pac-12. He’s played weaker competition than the likes of Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. The other problem with Herbert playing in the Pac-12 is not as many people have been able to watch him.
One weakness Herbert has might not seem like a big deal, but teams take into consideration, is that he’s not well experienced under center. The Ducks play spread offense, so you will always see Herbert in shotgun formation. Herbert will have to show scouts that he can look smooth on his dropbacks.
Unlike Burrow and Tagovailoa, who are great when facing pressure, Herbert tends to struggle with that. Herbert seems to be unaware of the pressure coming, which results in a sack, because he believes he has more time to stay in the pocket and more time to throw.
Herbert’s biggest weakness is Oregon and the Pac-12. Oregon has a spread offense using mostly shotgun sets. In the NFL, he’ll have to be under center a lot more and that gives me Marcus Mariota uneasiness. Remember, Mariotta was a Heisman winner and second overall pick, but playing under center has proven to be a rough transition for him so far. Are all Oregon quarterbacks doomed to the same fate because of their lack of experience playing under center? No, but watching Mariota not playing to his potential gives me doubts because they are similar physically and athletically.
Another weakness is that he gets fazed by blitzes, causing him to take bad hits or make bad decisions with the ball. Going forward he’ll have to work on his ability to read defenses, make necessary adjustments, and throw the ball away when he has nothing. NFL secondaries will make him pay if he tries to do too much when faced with pressure.
Draft Projection: Justin Herbert is a day one prospect, but where will he land?
I see Herbert being a top-15 pick. I think he is a day one starter. However, I think he is the perfect quarterback for a team to groom as their next successor like the Los Angeles Chargers. I also see him as a player a late-round team like the Packers or even the Saints if they lose Teddy Bridgewater this offseason to free agency, could trade up for.
Most scouts have him drafted behind Tua and Burrow, so there is no doubt that those guys will go first. Who knows, maybe a team pulls a Chicago Bears and moves up in the draft to select him. That could certainly be the case. He is a safe pick, especially for teams who don’t necessarily need a quarterback tomorrow *cough, Packers*. I say he is drafted in the top two rounds at least. There is no telling for certain who will need a quarterback at the end of this season.
Herbert will likely hear his name called on Day 1 of the draft. His abilities are undeniable. He also has immense potential making him a “first round talent”. Teams will want that 5th-year option by selecting him in the first. Herbert would be a great prospect to sit behind a more established quarterback and learn the nuances of an NFL offense.
Herbert is not the most polished QB in this draft, but what he already brings is very exciting and the potential is great. Depending on how Tagovailoa’s hip injury looks throughout the whole draft process, Herbert should be the second name taken off the board as a quarterback.
Herbert’s decision to stay in Oregon was a shocker, but he did nothing to hurt his stock. In the 2020 NFL Draft, Hebert should be in that top 10-15 range because of what he already brings, the high potential, and teams might be hesitant on Tagovailoa, so Herbert is the safe pick.
Herbert is joining Tua and Burrow as this year’s top-tier quarterbacks. All three men are the future franchise QBs of whatever team picks them, and instant starters. Where Herbert goes in the draft all depends on how serious scouts look at Tua’s hip injury and if he (Tua) even declares for the draft at all. Over the last few years, I have learned never to underrate quarterbacks because there’s so many teams needing their franchise guy. Between 7 and 13 there are teams in need of that guy such as Jacksonville, Denver, Chargers, and Tampa. If he or Tua are still there whenever those teams are picking, they will have no choice because who knows when a guy like is in their laps again. If teams are seriously concerned about Tua’s injury, Herbert can very well be the second quarterback taken.