ESPN’s Mel Kiper posted his first mock draft of 2020, slotting three quarterbacks in the top 6. As everyone is doing, Kiper has the Cincinnati Bengals selecting QB Joe Burrow out of LSU with the number one overall pick and DE Chase Young going second. That means that for just about everyone the draft starts with the Detroit Lions at pick three, and without trades, means that the Los Angeles Chargers stick at six.
With Tua Tagovailoa off the board in Kiper’s mock, the Chargers make the move that many mock drafters have them doing at that point: Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert. Said Kiper in the ESPN Insider article:
The Chargers have some big decisions to make over the next few months. Will they bring back free-agent quarterback Philip Rivers? Will they pay up to keep tight end Hunter Henry and running back Melvin Gordon? Rivers showed some decline in 2019, throwing 20 interceptions. 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. 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. L.A. has some issues; its defense produced just 30 sacks (despite Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III combining for 18.5), and quarterbacks completed 70.7% of passes against it, highest in the league. The Chargers also got almost nothing from top 2019 picks Jerry Tillery and Nasir Adderley. This could be a spot to watch for defense, too.
LA’s large swath of needs means that mock drafts have them going in a number of different directions at six, including offensive line (NFL.com: Jedrick Wills) and defensive tackle (CBS: Derrick Brown) but Herbert has been a popular pick as well.
Of course, mock drafts are good for only two things: prospect awareness and tantalizing GM fantasizing during the January-April down days for news. And they are absolutely horrible tools for predicting what will happen. Many expect the Chargers to be in the market for a player just like Herbert, however we may never know if they will ever seriously consider him or if he was the top-rated player on their board should he be drafted before they select.
Still, here’s a bit more on Herbert from a scouting report on NFLMocks.com:
Weight: 235 pounds
Career Stats (44 Games): 64% completion percentage, 10,541 yards, 95 Touchdowns, 23 Interceptions
2019 Stats: 66.8% Completion Percentage, 3,471 yards, 32 Touchdowns, 6 Interceptions
Justin Herbert isn’t a finished project, but he isn’t far from being one. Even though I have a second-round grade on Herbert, I fully expect him to be picked in the first round. He has the arm strength, accuracy and athleticism you like to see in a quarterback, but the other things like decision making, progressions and pocket awareness need to be improved.
He projects as a starting quarterback at the next level, but he needs to be in the right situation. If he is playing for a team with a weak offensive line, he might struggle. If he is put into a system that doesn’t help develop his progression inconsistencies and his decision-making deficiencies, it could spell disaster.
What are your thoughts on Herbert vs the other QBs in this draft?