As NFL draft pundits drool over LSU’s Joe Burrows and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa as top picks in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, former Oregon quarterback and William V. Campbell trophy winner, Justin Herbert‘s NFL stock is surging.
Herbert just wrapped up a stellar display at the Senior Bowl on Saturday, January 25, showing his leadership, split-second decision making, and arm strength.
After just one quarter of play, Herbert completed 9 of 12 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown, including a 19-yard quarterback scamper on the opening drive, all of which earned him Senior Bowl MVP honors.
This national performance comes after Herbert led the Ducks to a Pac-12 Championship and Rose Bowl victory to cap off the 2019 season. Indeed, the Sheldon High School graduate is peaking at the precisely the right time.
So, where will Herbert go?
Mel Kiper Jr., NFL draft senior analyst, believes the Los Angeles Chargers could snag Herbert at No. 6 in the first round to replace longtime quarterback Phillip Rivers. Here’s what Kiper told InsideHook:
“It could be time to start fresh with the 6-foot-6 Herbert, who has the highest ceiling of any of the quarterbacks in this class,” Kiper says. “His inconsistency can be maddening and his decision-making must improve, but you can’t doubt his talent, and a team in the top 10 could fall in love.”
Longtime sports writer Jay Paris, who covers the Chargers and Rams for Forbes.com, also believes Herbert could be headed to Los Angeles in April. In a recent article, Paris suggested the Chargers could be looking to attract fans with a franchise quarterback “that will take them well into the next decade.”
The Chargers may be willing to invest in Herbert long term, swapping the incubation period for a good ol’ baptism by fire. And a young Oregon gunslinger finding success in Southern California isn’t without precedent.
Dan Fouts, former Duck and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, spent 14 years with the Chargers organization. After several rough seasons, Fouts’ fortunes changed when Don Coryell was hired as Chargers’ head coach in 1978. Coryell traded in a power-running offense to feature Bazooka Dan’s aerial blitzkrieg.
In eight seasons under Coryell (including a season with legendary coach Bill Walsh as offensive coordinator), Fouts led the NFL in passing yards four straight years (1979 – ’82), claimed three AFC West titles, and played in six Pro Bowls.
So what’s your point?
The Chargers took a chance with Fouts and gave him opportunities to achieve a long and storied career in the NFL. The Chargers kept Rivers for 16 seasons. That’s two starting quarterbacks over a 30-year period. Whether it’s serendipity, luck, or just good timing, the Chargers appear primed for another long-term investment.
If the Chargers are looking for a long-term replacement for Rivers, many think Herbert would be a perfect fit. That is, of course, if the Cincinnati Bengals don’t get him first.
San Diego, California Top photo by Eugene Johnson
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