Justin Herbert is one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft. It’s unclear whether he will declare or not, as he will have a year of eligibility left at the end of this season, but at this moment he is considered the top quarterback prospect in this Draft.

Standing at 6’5″ and 225 pounds, Justin Herbert has the prototypical size that draft scouts love to see. He was a three star recruit coming out of high school, and came onto the radar after a very solid 2017 season that saw him miss five games to injury.

In this article, we are breaking down his game tape against the University of California from September 29th, 2018, provided by our friends at SkyDesigns. Subscribe to them on YouTube to get the latest sports videos!

Film Breakdown: Justin Herbert Vs California (9/29/2018)

The 3-1 Oregon Ducks came off their disappointing loss to Stanford the week before, a game that saw the Ducks blow a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter, and faced off against an undefeated California Golden Bears team on the road. Oregon needed the win to move forward, and were looking to move into a bye week before taking on the Washington Huskies.

In other words, it’s a big game for Herbert.

Drive One (0:15)

California opened with a long drive, eating almost eight minutes of game time and starting with a 3-0 lead. Oregon looks to respond to prevent California from taking a stranglehold on this game. 

Play 1- Herbert made a very good decision here. He recognized the coverage and knew where he would have to throw the ball to avoid a negative play. He made an NFL type throw here. To the sideline, past the sticks and over California’s (22) Treveon Beck who was covering Kano Dillon, the tight end, on a drag route. Very nice play from the Oregon quarterback.

Play 2- When the pressure came, Herbert took his eyes off downfield. He scrambled, made a nice pump fake to buy a few extra yards, but overall committed a quarterback cardinal sin. His eyes came off of the play downfield, and he ran. Scouts like to see that he can escape pressure, but not at that price.

Play 3- When given time, Herbert could knock a fly off of a cactus spike. Really nice throw on a dime to Dillon Mitchell on the curl route. What was even better was that on this play, Herbert went through three progressions before going to Mitchell, who the cornerback, (24) Camryn Bynum, was already playing ten yards off of.

Play 4- This was a very simple screen pass, getting the ball quickly to Verdell running the flare route toward the flat. Good placement on an easy throw.

Play 5- TOUCHDOWN. First off, this was a really good decision by Herbert. Kano Dillon ran a deep out off of a play-action, and Herbert knew the entire play where he was going with the football. Dillon didn’t have much separation, but just enough for Herbert to slide the ball to Dillon where the linebacker, (36) Alex Funches, couldn’t touch it. He didn’t need to look off the safety as the Golden Bears were already in a cover three play.

Drive Two (1:50)

Up 7-3, Oregon looks to add to their lead to gain control over the game. 

Play 6- Herbert made a perfect throw to Kano Dillon who simply dropped the ball. It was a drag route crosser and I think Dillon was thinking where he was going to run with the football next.

Play 7- Uses his pump fake again and then runs forward to collect the first down on third down. It might have been a quarterback draw design. I can’t tell.

Play 8- We saw this play call on the first drive. He hits Dillon Mitchell on the curl route again, this time with a defensive back draped all over him. Good rhythm from Herbert to his receiver, keeping the timing in check and picking up the first down through the air.

Play 9- This was a quick pass design to get the ball on the perimeter as quickly as possible. Herbert saw the play collapsing on the perimeter as Cal’s linebacker, (59) Jordan Kunaszynk, had already diagnosed the play. Good throw to the tight end, Ryan Bay. Camryn Bynum made a very good play on the receiver, getting off of a block to blow the play up. I do want to see him hold that play action longer. The quick play action didn’t help sell the defense on the run.

Play 10- Did not make the correct read on the zone read play. Should have given it to CJ Verdell on the inside but tried to keep it and run outside and ran into two defenders waiting.

Play 11- Was pressured and hit by Kunaszynk. Herbert threw the ball away to avoid the sack, and was blessed to have Verdell in the area. I don’t like what I see from Herbert when he gets under pressure. He doesn’t stay calm or focused. Instead he panics and looks to make something happen.

Drive Three (3:22)

Up 14-3, Oregon looks to take a three possession lead. 

Play 12- Cal’s (96) Tevin Paul got around the right side of the line and pressured Herbert. Good run for a positive gain to the left, where no defenders were, but again, Herbert took his eyes off of his receivers once he felt pressure, tucked it and ran. I want to see him try to avoid the hit by stepping up and making a good throw downfield.

Play 13- This time on the zone read, made the right decision by keeping it. Got outside with a little shimmy move and picked up the first down on third and two. Great little move by Herbert. He showed some athleticism, elusiveness and then a touch of toughness by taking the hit at the end.

Play 14- When scouting for quarterbacks, you are looking for these types of throws. WOW. Herbert hit Jaylon Redd deep downfield on a corner route perfectly and in stride. The ball is placed toward the sideline and away from the defensive back, is dropped into the right spot and has a great touch to it. Very special throw from Herbert.

Play 15- TOUCHDOWN. Again, Oregon took the deep shot but this time to the right side of the field instead of the left. Hit Dillon Mitchell in the end zone, a throw that came up a little short but still was put over Camryn Bynum. Mitchell had room, at least two steps, and didn’t need a perfect throw.

Drive Four (4:50)

Backed up inside their own ten to start with a 21-10 lead, Oregon whips into a two minute offense to try and go up by three possessions at the half again. 

Play 16- Backed up inside their own ten yard line with two minute offense. Herbert came out with a quick throw to Dillon Mitchell on a fade route down the sideline. Because Bynum had just been burned so badly, they switched the faster Joshua Drayden onto Mitchell to try and cope with Mitchell’s blinding speed. Drayden kept up with him, but Herbert made a really good throw into a very tight window. Not a good throw at NFL ranks but it shows the control Herbert has over the football, and the chemistry he has with Mitchell.

Play 17- Herbert did excellent with his pocket poise, stepping up to avoid Zeandae Johnson, and then making the deep throw. Overthrew Kano Dillon by about five yards. Liked the pocket poise, I only wish he could have made a better throw.

Play 18- Quick throw in the flat to Verdell. The throw was inaccurate, low and a little far in front of Verdell. CJ made a great adjustment to catch the ball, but was unable to keep his balance for more then five yards. Herbert needs to deliver a better football there. I think he tried to put too much touch on it.

Play 19- Oh no, hell no. This was not a good play by any means. First, Herbert feels pressure that wasn’t there, and rolls right. Then, he tries to force the football downfield to Dillon Mitchell, and throws it to a place where the defensive back, Drayden, is in position to make a play on the football. Herbert got the ball to the place he wanted it to go, despite not planting, but is extremely fortunate that he wasn’t intercepted.

Drive Five (5:45)

Up 28-10, Oregon is simply trying to add to their lead. No pressure.

Play 20- Much better, Justin. This time, Herbert hangs in the pocket, is given plenty of time to go through his progressions and doesn’t try to force the ball downfield. Instead, he takes the dump-off option, the running back Travis Dye slanting to the inside of the field. Good decision to take what the defense would give.

Drive Six (6:04)

Up 35-17, Oregon is simply looking to add to their lead. No pressure. 

Play 21- Herbert throws the screen pass to Verdell for the third time tonight, and hits him in stride.

Play 22- Great find by Herbert, hitting Brenden Schooler for a 20 yard gain on 2nd and 14. Had a man in his face and adjusted his release slightly, pushing the ball at a strange angle to Schooler. Good accuracy and timing despite the weird throw, and good throw with a man crashing down into his throwing lane.

Play 23- Went back to Schooler, looking deep on the right side this time. Liked the poise in the pocket again, standing in to make the throw. The throw was a little high, but still catchable. Schooler mistimed his jump. The ball went straight through Schoolers hands.

Play 24- An uncustomary drop by Dillon Mitchell. Herbert made a really nice throw here, right into the middle of the field on an in route. Might have been able to take a little heat off of it, but nevertheless, a very good, accurate throw.

Drive Seven (7:01)

Up 35-17 and now into the 4th quarter, Oregon would like another score but draining the clock is a priority at the top of the list. Backed up inside their own 10 to start the drive. 

Play 25- Herbert felt some pressure from behind him and moved out of the end zone to avoid taking a safety. Threw the ball off balance on the run to Dillon Mitchell. Throw was low and Mitchell had to work to get it. Not a very accurate throw.

Play 26- Herbert showed some quarterbacking skills. Looked at Verdell on the right as if he was about to throw the screen before coming back to the left and hitting Mitchell on a screen on the other side. Should have gone for a huge play but Kunaszynk made a great read on the play.

Play 27- Good movement in the pocket, took his eyes off downfield again to move in the pocket and then ran with the ball. He’s athletic and I like that he can run, I just wish he would buy time more often and try to let the play develop before taking off with the football.

Drive Eight (7:47)

Up 35-24 with less then five minutes to go, Oregon want’s a first down but isn’t terribly worried about a comeback yet.

Play 28- Good throw to Dillon on the curl. Bynum was all over him and didn’t let the play go for a first down. Good pocket poise and set up to throw well.



Justin Herbert has such natural poise when he stands in the pocket, and his posture and form look great when he gets time to make a throw. Herbert has an uncanny ability to drop the ball into a basket. When given time, he can place the ball anywhere on the field. Size and athleticism are both pluses. Has a good grasp on common coverage’s and knows how to attack them. Generally very accurate, and usually makes good decisions. Seems to be a very smart player and person in general.


Justin Herbert tries to make things happen when he feels pressure. He has a tendency to take his eyes off of his receivers and run with the football, sometimes too quickly. He will feel pressure that isn’t there sometimes. Takes unnecessary hits sometimes that you don’t want to see him take while running with the football. Sometimes will try to force the ball down the field and doesn’t plant correctly, resulting in an inaccurate throw. Slightly inconsistent with the fundamentals.

Statline: 16 of 22 for 225 yards, 2 TD’s, 188.6 efficiency rating.

Adjusted Statline: 18 of 22 for 260 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 INT, 202.0 efficiency rating.

Do you want a particular player or video broken down? Tweet at John Vogel @johndavogel any ideas, comments or concerns you may have with the NFL Draft.


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