The Pick: Quarterback Justin Herbert, Oregon

With the sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers selected quarterback Justin Herbert, Oregon. Considering the conservative nature of the Chargers, it makes sense that they would opt for the quarterback with arguably the safest floor in the draft. Hopefully, history does not repeat itself when looking at former Oregon first round quarterbacks (George Shaw, 1955, Baltimore Colts; Chris Miller, 1987, Atlanta Falcons; Akili Smith, 1999, Cincinnati Bengals; Joey Harrington, 2002, Detroit Lions; Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans, 2015).

So what do the Chargers get in Herbert? How does he fit with the team?

They get one of the biggest quarterbacks in the league, measuring in at 6’6”, 236 lbs at the Combine. Herbert also boasts one of the strongest arms in the draft, which will be another transition from Rivers’ waning arm strength. In 2018, Herbert showed immense promise but crashed back down to Earth by regressing in 2019.

Due to his scheme at Oregon, he is well practiced in quick passes and chucking the ball deep. Herbert offers the ability to run zone read as well, a much closer fit to what current quarterback Tyrod Taylor offers. Most notably, Herbert offers rushing ability at the goal line with 13 rushing touchdowns over his four years at Oregon. Rivers wouldn’t even do quarterback sneaks (one since 2015)! Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen will have his work cut out for him to get him ready for an NFL season.

To prove his mettle in the NFL, Herbert will need to improve his struggles with touch on deep and intermediate throws. However, this should improve with the weapons that the Chargers offer compared to what he was working with at Oregon. His tendency to throw underneath isn’t all that different from Rivers’ tendency to check it down to running backs either. This should bode well for wide receiver Keenan Allen in the slot as well. However, wide receiver Mike Williams has made a living on catching accurate passes downfield. Will Herbert provide the touch required for a player like Williams who doesn’t get as much separation?

What does it mean for the rest of the draft?

If anything, this selection increases the requirement of the Chargers to get a true deep threat to allow Herbert to fully utilize his cannon of an arm. It is realistic to believe that the Chargers may be targeting that deep threat with one of their picks in Day Two. Some names to watch include TCU’s Jalen Reagor, Baylor’s Denzel Mims, Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk, Michigan’s Donovan Peoples-Jones and Virginia’s Joe Reed.

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