Justin Herbert has put the Oregon Ducks on the map at quarterback in the NFL with his stellar performances to lead the Los Angeles Chargers to the brink of a return to the post-season. Although there were initially doubts whether he could raise his game in the NFL, Herbert was a standout in his four seasons for the Ducks.
During the build-up for the 2020 NFL Draft, Herbert fell behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa in the rankings and was selected seventh overall by the Chargers. He put his contemporaries in the shade with a brilliant rookie season, earning the Rookie of the Year award.
Although Burrow has developed into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Herbert has not been far off the 2020 first-overall pick. The former Ducks quarterback has certainly lived up to expectations, more so than one of his predecessors Marcus Mariota, who failed to deliver for the Tennessee Titans after being selected second overall in 2015.
Further back, Joey Harrington was another Ducks quarterback that was taken within the top five, but his career flamed out in the pros amid his struggles for the Detroit Lions along with the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons. It certainly has been a case of mixed fortunes for Oregon starters in the NFL. The incumbent Bo Nix has taken the cautious decision to remain in college for the 2023 season and will likely enter the 2024 NFL Draft when ready.
Nix’ status in the 2023 pecking order among quarterbacks is varied depending on the pundit. There was speculation that he could have been a late first-round pick, although others placed him in the mid-rounds. He was never going to be able to compete with the likes of CJ Stroud and Bryce Young, who will be vying to be the first-overall selection in the draft.
Based on the volatility of draft stock, bettors make take advantage of a free bet on Stroud to be the first quarterback selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. Young has all the intangibles that NFL teams appear to be searching for. But Stroud is dependable and has a good arm, which could appeal to the Houston Texans, who are seemingly locked in with the first-overall pick.
Watching the process unfold will stand Nix in great stead for what he has to achieve in the 2023 season for the Ducks if he is to propel himself into the conversation as a first-round pick. After his career appeared to be in jeopardy due to his struggles at Auburn, the extra year in the college game could be extremely beneficial for his development.
Can Nix Develop In 2023?
Nix has rebuilt his reputation and now has solid grounding to work out the flaws in his fundamentals that could hinder his progress. This will come with a slight challenge given the departure of offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, who was instrumental in his move to Eugene. However, it is a natural part of the game to lose mentors and, if Nix is to make the transition to the NFL, he will have to get used to the fact that coaches will come and go.
One of the most impressive aspects of Nix’s 2022 campaign was the fact that he was able to raise the level of his production from his three seasons at Auburn without compromising his ability to limit turnovers. Nix threw only six interceptions in 12 games, and two of those came in the first game of the season against the Georgia Bulldogs. It was a tough baptism for Nix against the Bulldogs, but he is a better player now and should certainly relish another showdown against Kirby Smart’s outfit.
If there is one criticism of Nix it is his performances against stronger teams. The Ducks lost out to Georgia, Washington and Oregon State and Nix failed to rise to the occasion in the fourth quarter against the Beavers to put the game away after an accomplished performance. The 22-year-old has all the tools, he just needs to work on refining them over the next year, which could propel him into the thoughts and minds of NFL teams, much like Herbert.
Top Photo by Adrian Curiel, Courtesy of Unsplash+
OregonReigns is an occasional contributor to FishDuck and loves his Ducks!
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