Sure, I’m guilty of more Mario Cristobal–Marcus Arroyo 2019 offensive coaching bashing. But it’s March and we’re in draft season, so it’s a damn fair question.
No doubt, QB Justin Herbert was coached down in his final two years at Oregon. Various college football analysts and NFL Draft experts have expressed this. Just on Friday, FishDuck.com’s own Brent Pennington cited a BleacherReport.com article in which the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero said, “Now, they (Oregon coaches) didn’t give him (Herbert) any help schematically. It was a crap offense to watch…”
You can’t get much more to the point than that.
In contrast, consensus first overall pick Joe Burrow was coached up in 2019. He went from relative obscurity and a late-round pick in an underachieving 2018 LSU offense to setting the world on fire in 2019. Burrow won the Heisman Trophy and the National Championship all because LSU head coach Ed Orgeron knew he had to upgrade his offense following the 2018 season.
Now imagine if Cristobal had done the same thing after Oregon’s putrid and absent offense in 2018 and brought in last year’s top available offensive coordinator to replace Arroyo. Herbert may have put up Burrow-esque numbers in 2019 and would be a lock to be drafted in the Top 6 and no worse than the third quarterback taken.
And who knows, perhaps he would have been the top pick overall. But sadly, part of the collateral damage of Oregon’s poor offensive coaching is that of diminished draft stock.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Herbert checked off all the physical attributes NFL teams love: size, athleticism, arm talent, etc.
— He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds, third among the 13 quarterbacks to run at this year’s combine. Given Herbert’s 6-foot-6 and 236-pound frame, that’s the third-fastest time among all QBs at least 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds to run at the combine since 2000.
— His 35.5-inch vertical jump second among QBs, and 10-foot-3-inch broad jump, third among QB to jump at the combine. That’s the longest broad jump of any QB his size at the combine since at least 2000.
— Herbert ran the three-cone drill in 7.06 seconds, best among quarterbacks, and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.46 seconds.
The point here is that there is no questioning Herbert’s tremendous physical tools. What the NFL is questioning are Herbert’s personality and leadership abilities. They want to know if Herbert’s got the ole’ “fire in the belly” that it takes to lead an NFL franchise. It’s a fair thing to ask when you’re dealing with millions of dollars and the future of your NFL franchise for the next decade.
My take is that Herbert will be fine. Sure, from an NFL standpoint you would like to see him exhibit a little more “fire,” but I think Herbert is a quick study who will grow into the guy the NFL wants him to be rather quickly.
The wide-ranging opinions on Herbert’s draft status have caused two of the biggest names in NFL draft analysis, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay to place a $5,000 bet (for charity) on whether Herbert will be drafted before or after Utah State’s Jordan Love.
McShay sees Herbert as the archaic, tall, big-armed quarterback who lacks the dual-threat intangibles needed in today’s NFL, and predicts he will ultimately go in the second half of the first round after Love.
Whereas Kiper, like most Oregon fans, is big on Herbert and sees him very possibly going in the Top 6 as the third quarterback off the board, after Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa.
I see him going No. 6 to the LA Chargers. LA is a big, frightening, unforgiving market, but the Chargers play second fiddle to the Rams in Tinseltown, so the pressure won’t be as bad as it might seem.
— Former Oregon offensive linemen Calvin Throckmorton, Shane Lemieux, and Jake Hanson all worked out at the combine. Generally speaking, Lemieux is projected to be taken in Round 2, Throckmorton in Round 3, and Hanson in Round 4.
— Wide receiver Juwan Johnson, given his 6-foot-4 and 230 pound frame, is projecting at the next level as a tight-end. He would fall into that “small and speedy” category of NFL tight ends, which might work out well as he looks to carve out his niche in the pros.
— NFL Rumors: Marcus Mariota. Oregon’s favorite Heisman Trophy winner hasn’t had the type of NFL career we were all hoping for after he was the second pick by the Tennessee Titans in 2015. Apparently, with all the uncertainty surrounding Tom Brady, Mariota is drawing serious interest from the Patriots… Yikes! Could there be any worse scenario for a quarterback lacking confidence then replacing The GOAT?
The NFL Draft takes place April 23rd-25th, and it’ll be interesting to see where some of our favorite 2019 Duck football players will be selected.
Spokane, WATop Photo by Kevin Cline
Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the financial technology industry in Bozeman, Montana.
Darren Perkins is a sales professional and 1997 Oregon graduate. After finishing school, he escaped the rain and moved to sunny Southern California where he studied screenwriting for two years at UCLA. Darren grew up in Eugene and in 1980, at the tender age of five, he attended his first Oregon football game. His lasting memory from that experience was an enthusiastic Don Essig announcing to the crowd: “Reggie Ogburn, completes a pass to… Reggie Ogburn.” Captivated by such a thrilling play, Darren’s been hooked on Oregon football ever since. Currently living in Spokane, Darren enjoys flaunting his yellow and green superiority complex over friends and family in Cougar country.
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