2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Prospect: Justin Herbert
Ht: 6'6" Wt: 233
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Evaluated by: Austin Smith
It didn't take me long to realize that Justin Herbert had the kind of potential that few in the country possess. The first throw in the first game I watched was a strike, in stride down the sideline. He has extremely impressive physical skills, but as I continued to watch, it became evident that Herbert is a long way from being a finished product. Oregon's system is not exactly beneficial to preparing a quarterback for the NFL, and that makes it tough to trust his numbers. Herbert's completion percentage was over 67 percent last year, but he has yet to attempt more than 255 passes in a season or throw for 2,000 yards. That's because a good portion of his pass attempts are screens and quick throws. Oregon will take a handful of deep shots a game, which gives Herbert a chance to display his arm strength. Still, I can't see that scheme giving him the opportunity to make the kind of progress he will need to become a viable top-10 candidate. That's not to say that he won't be selected in the top 10, but that would be based on a team having a major need at the position as opposed to value.
As I said, Herbert has a huge arm, and is able to drive the ball on a line to receivers over 30 yards down field. While I'd like to see him learn to put touch on his passes, I must admit that he does show a good amount of accuracy when firing it downfield. It makes me think he will be very accurate once he grows into a more well-rounded passer. Even at six foot six inches, 231 pounds, he is also a very good athlete. Oregon doesn't feature Herbert in the run game like they have done with quarterbacks in the past, but if he breaks the pocket, defenses better get on their horse. Still, he seems to be a quarterback first and an athlete second, which will make scouts feel more comfortable projecting him as an NFL prospect. His athleticism makes me feel he will also be able to develop the proper footwork to make a living in the pocket.
While Herbert has an insane amount of upside, he is still a long ways away. Right now, he just has a fastball. Everything is thrown on a line and while that is important, it's not always appropriate. When he tries to take something off his passes, he ends up aiming the ball as opposed to throwing it, and it doesn't turn out well. Herbert also doesn't show much anticipation in his throws. His arm strength makes up for that but in the NFL, the margin for error will be so small on intermediate routes with that approach. He has to learn how to anticipate players coming out of breaks and running into windows in order to make things easier on himself and the receiver. Herbert also needs to work on being more consistent through the entirety of his motion. He throws from poor platforms too often. Herbert has to learn to stay on balance and keep his feet active in order to get the most out of that arm. The active feet will not only help him maneuver in the pocket, but also escape it quickly. That will certainly be important for Herbert, considering that his arm strength and athleticism will make him very dangerous passer on the move. While his motion is a little long, it is very quick, and usually they counteract the other. Herbert could throw with a shorter motion but with his long arm, I wouldn't change too much at the risk of losing accuracy. The system at Oregon doesn't help his case, either. While I still think he can improve at becoming a more fluid and well-rounded passer, there are still going to be questions about his ability to transition into an NFL scheme, and that won't change, even if he returns for his senior year in 2019.
Herbert shows a competitive streak but it doesn't get out of hand, as we have seen with some quarterbacks. He is usually a little more reserved, but the game seems to get him out of his shell. He genuinely seems to enjoy playing the game, and that passion carries off the field, and into places like the film and weight room. He did break his collarbone last fall, causing him to miss nearly half the season. Broken collarbones can sometimes worry teams, but if Herbert adds muscle to his big frame, it should ease concerns. I worry about his quiet demeanor at a position that demands a certain level of leadership, but we have seen that work before in the NFL, and with only 15 starts under his belt, we may still see him open up more in his third season. Mentally, Herbert doesn't make a lot of bad decisions, but the plethora of short and simple passes in that system don't make it easy to diagnose how he processes the game.
Herbert is going to be a lot like Josh Allen was last year. If he chooses to enter the 2019 NFL Draft, he will have the most potential at the position, but also the least polish. That didn't stop Allen from becoming the #7 pick in 2018, but he was also the third quarterback taken. While we still don't know who will be throwing their name into the 2019 class, it is safe to say that we won't have the same top-level talent that we did last year. Herbert's potential could make him the top signal caller in the group, but it would be smart for any team willing to select him to have a veteran in place that can provide Herbert the chance to sit and learn as the understudy. There is still the possibility that he could choose to return as a senior. Getting the opportunity to impress scouts at the Senior Bowl went a long way for Allen, and the extra year would give Herbert the opportunity to refine his throwing technique and motion. While I feel Missouri's Drew Lock is spinning his wheels returning to college, Herbert still has plenty room to improve the physical aspect of his game.
Comparison: While I mentioned Josh Allen quite a bit, I believe Herbert compares more favorably to the guy I compared Allen to last year. Coming out of college, Ryan Tannehill was a big quarterback with a huge arm and outstanding athleticism. He was also very raw as a quarterback. Allen fit that description with the exception of his athleticism, although he was a very good athlete for his size. Herbert fits it even better. His build is even similar to that of Allen coming out. Obviously, Tannehill has had his ups and downs, but there hasn't exactly been a lot of stability in that franchise during his time in Miami. The funny thing is, Miami would be an intriguing fit for Herbert. Tannehill still has two years on his contract after this season, offering Herbert plenty of opportunity to sit and learn.
- Outstanding arm strength that can drive the ball to any point on the field
- Very good athlete for his size
- Shows flashes of accuracy in limited opportunities down the field
- Calm, quiet guy that occasionally shows a competitive streak
- Best days are likely ahead of him
- Still very raw as a prospect
- Must learn to throw with touch and anticipation
- Throws off balance far too often
- Slim build with a collarbone injury could worry some
|Scouting Video Courtesy of Sam Echols|
1)   COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Healthy Herbert key to Oregon's success   - MailTribune |
2)   Oregon Ducks' Justin Herbert star is rising, but he chooses to be humble rather than Hollywood   - Oregon Live |
3)   Justin Herbert talks possibility of playing with Patrick Herbert
- Duck Territory/i> |