Career Recap: NFL teams are always looking for talented young quarterbacks because there aren't 32 true franchise quarterbacks in the professional league. Even though Justin Herbert has not played a lot of college football, he has flashed some big-time ability to get himself in consideration to be a top quarterback prospect for the 2019 or 2020 NFL Draft.
Herbert was immediately impressive as a freshman, completing 64 percent of his passes for 1,936 yards with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. His sophomore year started out well before he suffered a broken left collar bone - non-throwing shoulder. That caused Herbert to miss five games, but he returned to play in the final three contests. For his 2017, Herbert completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,750 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran in five touchdowns during his second season.
2018 Season Outlook: Even though Oregon plays in one of the best conferences in the nation, Herbert has an easy schedule in 2018. He season starts off with teams that he should pad his stats against including Bowling Green, Portland State and San Jose State. Stanford, Washington and Utah possess the best defenses that will challenge Herbert on his regular-season schedule.
Skill-Set Summary: There is no doubt that Herbert has the physical skill set to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Sources who have already completed advance work on the 2019 NFL Draft's class say Herbert has big-time potential. Evaluators are very eager to watch Herbert in 2018, and he could end up being a franchise quarterback prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Herbert displays a good size and a strong arm with the ability to loft in touch passes. He can loft in passes with nice ball placement, leading his receivers and beating quality coverage with the location of his passes. With his height and size, Herbert is comfortable to stand tall in the pocket and possesses the patience to let routes develop.
Along with his arm talent, Herbert is a quality athlete with the ability to pick up yards on the ground. He won't be a true running quarterback in the NFL like Michael Vick or Deshaun Watson, but Herbert has the feet and agility to dodge pass-rushers and extend plays while also being able to pick up yards on the ground. There are a few first downs per game that mobile quarterbacks are able to pick up and Herbert will bring that ability to his pro team.
Herbert has a tall frame, and it would help him to add some more weight to help him avoid injury as a pro. It is important for the junior to stay healthy to avoid durability concerns from NFL teams. The broken collar bone from last year probably won't be held against him if he avoids getting hurt in 2018.
For the NFL, Herbert needs to improve his field vision and working through his progressions. His college offense often has him throwing to his first target or only focusing on one side of the field. It will be interesting to see if Herbert is given more traditional plays this year with a new coaching staff. Herbert showing advancement in his field vision and ability to move faster through the process could really help him.
Assuming Herbert starts for all of 2018 and enters the 2019 NFL Draft, he may need some developmental time in the NFL coming from college offenses and not having a lot of starting experience. However, he has the physical ability, accuracy, and arm talent to be a good NFL starter.
2019 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering his junior season, Herbert has high first-round potential.