As you will learn from this article, Justin Herbert is not my favorite prospect. That being said, one thing that is undeniable is his cannon of an arm. If you watch him play you will notice how effortlessly he can throw the ball downfield. His ball placement has room for improvement, but his velocity is elite. Even though his strong arm was evident watching film, he wanted to make sure everyone knew how strong his arm is. Here he is at his Pro Day throwing the ball 62 yards with just his upper body:
By far the best parts of Herbert’s game are based on his tangible traits. Justin ran a 4.68 40-yard dash to go along with his sneaky agility. He is not the flashy scrambling quarterback, but he can hurt you with his legs. Herbert likes to move around in the pocket which makes it hard to take down the 236 lb signal caller. He also has a killer stiff arm thanks to his lengthy wingspan. Herbert could become a red-zone threat with the ball in his hands if put in the right offense.
Justin Herbert’s size leads to a lot of moving parts in his delivery. He does not do a good job of repeating his mechanics. His biggest issue is that he does not tuck his left arm in when he throws which causes a lot of throwing issues. When his left arm flies open it causes his shoulders to go off kilter which results in missed throws in every direction. Not having his elbow tucked also results in having inconsistent power behind his throws. The only way he can vary speed is by slowing and speeding up his throwing arm which is a recipe for inaccuracy.
There are many reasons why Herbert is being talked about as a potential high first-round pick. He is the perfect build for a quarterback at 6’6″ 236 lbs with 10-inch hands. Herbert looks like an NFL quarterback, and that goes a long way. He makes impressive plays that make him look like a potential franchise quarterback. The problem is that for every great play or throw, there are multiple bad ones. Coaches are always confident that they can develop these players so that they limit the damage and maximize their potential. Unfortunately, that does not happen frequently enough for me to believe in Justin Herbert.
Here is Herbert versus Washington in his Senior season. Justin makes six quality NFL throws and decisions. The next eleven throws were extremely inaccurate and verifies my opinions about his mechanics and inconsistency:
Stats are Inflated
This area is not a knock on Herbert by any means, but his stats need to be taken with a grain of salt. The reason Herbert’s stats are so good is because Oregon’s offense relies heavily on getting athletes in space. They do this by calling screens and swing passes at the highest rate possible. My main gripe here is that a lot of people use completion percentage as a stat to figure out how accurate and consistent a quarterback is. In Herbert’s case, all of his numbers have been inflated by a high screen usage but no stat has benefited as much as his completion percentage.
Lets go back to the game versus Washington and look at how Oregon uses screens, swings and motions often and effectively to get their weapons in space. Note how Herbert does not have to do much besides some basic footwork to gain a ton of yards and two touchdowns:
Justin Herbert is an enticing prospect given his size and tangibles. He has every genetic gift needed to be an elite NFL quarterback. However, he has never put his mechanics together and is quite the risky prospect in my eyes. I would not feel comfortable pulling the trigger on Justin Herbert in the first round. Taking a shot on Herbert in the second round would be worth it, but it’s highly unlikely he slides that far. I just can’t imagine taking Justin Herbert over a player like LB Isaiah Simmons, CB Jeff Okudah, OT Tristan Wirfs or WR Jerry Jeudy. Quarterbacks have always been drafted for their ceiling, but Herbert is not nearly as talented as the first rounders I just mentioned. Overall, I think Herbert’s ceiling is Josh Allen and floor is Paxton Lynch.
If you like my breakdown of Justin Herbert, check out my analysis of some other top quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft: