Rookie Rundown: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon

Rookie Rundown: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon

Fantasy Football Rookie Analysis

Rookie Rundown: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon

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(Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports)

Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert enters the 2020 NFL Draft as one of the top prospects, regardless of position. He started seven games as a freshman in 2016 and never looked back, overcoming injury-caused adversity created in 2017 with a strong finish to his time as a Duck.

A locally grown talent, Oregon’s star passer concluded his collegiate career with a pair of All-Pac-12 honorable mentions and Academic All-American awards during each his junior and senior seasons.

Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 236 pounds
40 time: 4.68 seconds

Table: Justin Herbert NCAA stats (2016-19)

Year
Team
Comp
Att
%
Yds
Avg
TD
INT
ATT
YDS
TD
2016
Oregon
162
255
63.5
1,936
7.6
19
4
58
161
2
2017
Oregon
139
206
67.5
1,983
9.6
15
5
44
183
5
2018
Oregon
240
404
59.4
3,151
7.8
29
8
71
166
2
2019
Oregon
286
428
66.8
3,471
8.1
32
6
58
50
4

Herbert is expected to be a top-10 draft pick in April’s selection process, and several teams make plenty of sense. Don’t be surprised to hear his name called for the Las Vegas Raiders (12th) if he slides a little. The Miami Dolphins (5th) and Los Angeles Chargers (6th) are the most likely suitors, depending upon how it shakes out with LSU QB Joe Burrow (expected to go No. 1) and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (could go No. 2).

Unless an unlikely team trades into the first 10 or so picks, Herbert’s landing spots are somewhat limited based on necessity, but there always will be coaches interested in grooming a quarterback behind a veteran for a year. In the event Herbert falls past 12th, it could get interesting as teams will look to position via trade to draft him.

Pros

  • Gets through progressions efficiently and is comfortable taking a checkdown — displays controlled aggression in his willingness to risk it down the field … pro-grade out of the boxing this area
  • Quite possibly the strongest arm in college football in 2019, but it doesn’t come at the sacrifice of putting a softer touch when needed.
  • Huge frame that allows him to hold his platform and deliver an accurate ball while taking a hit
  • Tremendous pocket awareness fueled by lively feet (this can work against him, see below)
  • Athletic enough to do damage with his legs but extremely adept at creating lanes with subtle movement in the pocket
  • Displays accuracy on the move to either direction
  • Clean throwing motion and delivers a very catchable ball on all three levels
  • Throws open targets with anticipatory awareness and a keen understanding of defensive coverage.
  • Looks off defenders and holds his eyes down the seam — high football IQ illustrated by his attempts-to-interception ratio and is readily apparent on film.

Cons

  • So many of his big plays in 2019 came via wide-open receivers thanks to a combination of coverage breakdowns and route concepts that created exaggerated separation at the collegiate level.
  • Needs to show he can consistently work from under center and develop timing-based dropbacks connections with his targets.
  • Tends to rotate or flip the ball in his hands while dropping back — minor but could lead to timing and fumbling issues as a pro with the rest of the game around him being so much faster.
  • The footwork is a mixed bag — when it is good, it’s really impressive, but Herbert goes through swings of playing too much on his toes, wasting a step, and not utilizing his platform to maximize drive. This is partly a product of having such a strong arm and the pitter-patter footwork is correctable.
  • Missed five games in 2017 with a broken collarbone

Fantasy football outlook

Say Herbert lands in Miami, there’s Ryan Fitzpatrick likely ahead of him for at least part of the season. Then there’s the obvious lack of talent around him to be concerned with, so it wouldn’t be an ideal spot for Year 1 fantasy returns.

In Las Vegas, the situation is similar. Derek Carr will start as long as he is getting the job done, and that could span the duration of the season.

The Chargers would give Herbert the best chance of making an immediate contribution in fantasy, and it wouldn’t be a monumental task to unseat Tyrod Taylor as the presumed starter.

Any which way one slices this situation, Herbert is unlikely to start from the onset of the season, and coming from a spread offense into the NFL takes time, even in today’s league that relies less on classic drop-back passing.

While Herbert’s game reminds of a young Ben Roethlisberger, his fantasy football trajectory could follow a similar path whenever Herbert actually gets a chance to take off with a full offseason of starter’s work. Since that appears to be 2021, he’s undraftable in all single-year setups until further notice.

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