Justin Herbert was rumored as potentially being the first quarterback drafted in the 2019 draft, but chose to return to Oregon for his senior season. The expectations were high for Herbert and the Ducks, neither quite lived up to expectations. Box score scouting says Herbert has been much more effective this season than reality. The tools with Herbert are mesmerizing, and the flashes he has shown are elite. I watched every game Herbert played this season to get a read on him as an NFL quarterback.
Strengths: Herbert is a prototypical pocket passer with good athleticism. He is big, strong, and can spin the football as well as anyone you can find. I would say he may be the most pure passer in this year’s draft. He has shown the ability to make every throw to every level of the field. He does well going through his progressions and has efficient movement in the pocket and his release. The ability to put touch on passes as well as extra velocity is evident. Plenty capable of layering his passes over defenders. Herbert, by all accounts, is a leader on the Oregon Ducks team.
Weaknesses: The reason I am so low on Herbert as a prospect is because he has what I consider fatal flaws. I believe there is a chance he can overcome it, and be wildly successful, but I wouldn’t bet my credibility or job on it. Herbert’s flaw is his response to a strong pass rush. When the pocket collapses, so does he. From his footwork, to decision making and ball security, everything self destructs. There were moments of improvement this season, but it was still a big problem. His accuracy is inconsistent at best, someone so talented simply shouldn’t miss some of the routine throws he does. I was very disappointed in lapses in judgment Herbert displayed as a senior. Oregon faced a rash of injuries at the receiver position and utilizes a quick passing scheme that limits opportunity to push the ball downfield. That said, Herbert’s lack of urgency and inability at times to play a vertical game have to be a concern.
Final Thoughts: Justin Herbert the prospect,physically,is among the best you’ll find. He checks all the traditional NFL boxes. The size, arm, experience are all there. Justin Herbert the prospect, mentally, leaves a lot to be desired. Any time a quarterback is reminiscent of Blaine Gabbert under pressure, it’s not good. That, combined with the streaky nature of his ball placement and accuracy, prevent me from grading him highly. I recognize the talent, ability, and potential. For me, he’s a day 2 guy who needs at least a season on the bench. If he’s unable to progress more in the NFL than he did at Oregon, he will never develop into an upper tier starter. It is a concern that he seems to have plateaued in his development.