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Is Justin Herbert the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year?

In a word, yes.

Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Chargers fans have now seen seven weeks of Justin Herbert in his rookie season. In those seven starts, he’s only failed to account for multiple touchdowns just once, which was against the Carolina Panthers.

In all, he has accumulated 2,146 passing yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions while adding 166 yards and two more scores on the ground. He’s averaging 306 passing yards per game and is on pace to throw for 4,598 yards and 36 touchdowns. The current rookie touchdown record for a quarterback is 27 set by Baker Mayfield in 2018, so he’s firmly on the path to demolish the mark if he sustains anywhere near his current pace.

Despite Joe Burrow’s fine start to his own rookie season, it’s tough to bet against Herbert when it comes to the NFL’s Offensive Rookie Of the Year. He’s doing more with less while staying among the league’s best when it comes to passing against pressure, big-time throws, and yards per game. That’s why ESPN’s Bill Barnwell currently has the former sixth-overall pick as the favorite for the yearly honor ahead of this year’s top pick.

Here’s Barnwell’s thoughts on the young quarterback and why he’s leaning towards the former Oregon Duck over the reigning national champ.

“Herbert was installed as the starter on an emergency basis the following week and took the job by the horns. He has mostly been brilliant since taking over, although hard luck, defensive collapses, special-teams fiascos and ill-timed drops have seen the Chargers drop six of his first seven starts.”

“Herbert is 12th in the league in Total QBR since taking over, with his 76.4 mark coming in between Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson over that same time frame. He’s doing that behind an offensive line that has been without star guard Trai Turner for most of the season and key tackle Bryan Bulaga for four games.”

“What’s incredible with Herbert is just how easy he makes incredibly difficult plays seem. With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, he successfully executed a fourth-and-1 speed option with a Raiders defender coming down at full speed to keep the game alive. My first thought after watching most Chargers games is how their fans deserve better. My second is that their young quarterback does, too.”

It’s crazy think that Herbert and Burrow both got drafted into divisions with two of the most-recent MVPs in the NFL. Besides from being compared and contrasted against each other, they both have to worry about competing against the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson for years to come.

It’s still so incredibly early in their careers, but these young passers are what this game is built on.