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Justin Herbert lands among top 5 quarterbacks by NFL execs, coaches

With three strong seasons to begin his NFL career, Justin Herbert still has plenty of elite football ahead of him.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Chargers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

ESPN’s series of top-10 positional rankings is coming to a close on Tuesday with wide receivers taking us all the way home. Today, we’ve got the second-to-last group which surprisingly is the quarterbacks despite being the most star-studded lot in the NFL.

I don’t think this next part is going to come as a surprise, however.

According to a host of anonymous NFL executives, coaches, and players surveyed by ESPN, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert received a final ranking of the #5 quarterback in the NFL behind only Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, and Aaron Rodgers.

Here’s what analyst Jeremy Fowler had to say about Herbert who is now entering his fourth year in the NFL with his third offensive coordinator.

“Herbert’s rise in the top 10 has been steady ... but slower than that of draftmate Burrow, who has more playoff success. The way some evaluators see it, matching that success is only a matter of time, considering Herbert’s considerable skill set.”

One anonymous scout from a NFC team believes the Chargers and Herbert are right in the thick of their “win-now” window and must feel a sense of haste entering 2023.

“He’s got everything you need, a fantastic player, but now it’s time to make that jump. The offense put so much on him that it’s hard for him.”

Fowler touches on Herbert’s “reliance on the short pass” which was obviously deduced by simply looking at his numbers from a season ago under Joe Lombardi. I’m not a fan of that wording because it makes it seem like it was Herbert’s call to run stick 25 times a game and not the actual person calling the plays.

Overall, Fowler knows Herbert’s rocket arm is his best trait and he fully expects Kellen Moore to lean into that area of his game during their first season together.

“Herbert’s big arm suggests he can do much more. The addition of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and first-round receiver Quentin Johnston should aid that process. Moore can implement a vertical-based attack that will apply pressure on defenses with Herbert’s arm talent. Despite 25 touchdown passes in 2022, Herbert’s 94 passing scores in his first three seasons rank second to Dan Marino (98) all time during that span, setting the stage for a big future contract. His 14,089 passing yards during that span is first all time.”

Per Fowler, a high-ranking NFL official said, “Whatever the Chargers pay him, he’ll be worth it.”

It wouldn’t be a fair evalluation of Hebrert if there wasn’t some negative thrown in, right?

One NFL head coach made it known that he believes Herbert missed to many “layups” this past season and that proved “disappointing” when he watched his tape. Fowler is right to call that comment “nitpicky” as Herbert was pressured 258 times last year, good for the second most since 2009 when ESPN started tracking pressures as a stat.

But I’ll just go ahead and cap this off by quoting an AFC executive who said, “He’s deadly. He’s a problem.”

You’ve got that right.