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Justin Herbert headlines The Athletic’s early All-Rookie team

Herbert’s been better than anyone expected.

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Los Angeles Chargers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Justin Herbert has been playing well. That’s the simplest way to put it.

Many are wondering what his stats would look like compared to the rest of the NFL’s top quarterbacks if he was given the chance to start against the Bengals in Week 1. If we were add one more game onto his stats at his 310 yards per game clip, Herbert would currently sit at No. 5 in the NFL with about 1,241 through the first four weeks. That’s pretty incredible.

That’s probably a big reason why, as of right now, he got the nod over fellow draft mate Joe Burrow as the top rookie quarterback through the first quarter of the season in Dan Brugler’s early All-Rookie team.

Brugler, The Athletic’s national NFL writer who primarily covers the NFL Draft, included 13 front-runners at every position, ranging from quarterback all the way to a kicker and punter. For now, he’s got Herbert at No. 1, but he remains favorable to Burrow at the same time.

“If I had the choice,” says Brugler, “I’m still taking Joe Burrow over Herbert for the long-term of my franchise. But through four games, I’m giving Herbert the slight edge in overall performance. It is rare for two rookie passers to play this well so early in their careers, which made this a tough call. I put a poll on Twitter to get a sense of what fans were thinking with 62% of votes in favor of Burrow and 38% for Herbert. I also asked four NFL scouts for their early vote and it came back even at 2-2.”

“The main reason I gave Herbert the edge so far is the impact plays. He has produced more 20-plus yard passing plays (11 compared to eight for Burrow) and 36.3% of his passing plays have resulted in a first down, slightly ahead of Burrow at 35.4%.”

I am of the group that it’s currently a toss-up between Herbert and Burrow, but I’d like to think i’d also give an unbiased edge to Herbert due to his efficiency on third downs and his propensity to attempt — and complete — strikes down the field. Both rookies have shown veteran-like poise in the pocket with surprising nuance in their navigation through pressure.

He’ll face one more tough test before the schedule softens, so if Herbie can stand in the face of the Saints defense and not flinch at all, he’ll go a long way in solidifying his stance as the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year.