Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has a strong personality and sometimes unapologetically goes against the grain. He coaches the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady, but acknowledges the younger talent at the position. Arians made a strong case for one signal-caller to be the best currently at 26 years old or younger, and it wasn’t Patrick Mahomes.
Bruce Arians agrees the NFL’s future at quarterback is bright
The NFL is loaded with young talent at the quarterback position. The league has made a dramatic shift to become a passing league, so strong QB play is needed to win in today’s game.
Patrick Mahomes (26) is the frontrunner. Since taking over for Alex Smith as the Kansas City Chiefs‘ full-time starter in 2018, he has dominated the NFL. His 50 passing touchdowns in 2018 led the league. He also leads the NFL with 14 touchdowns so far in the 2021 season.
As great as Mahomes is, there are plenty of other rising arm talents, which bodes well for the league’s future.
Josh Allen (25) enjoyed a breakout 2020 campaign, throwing for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns. The Buffalo Bills are now a legitimate contender in the AFC. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (24) is a former MVP and the most dangerous dual-threat in the NFL.
Kyler Murray (24) is the hottest quarterback so far in 2021, leading the Arizona Cardinals to a 4-0 start. He’s the MVP frontrunner at this point. The 2021 rookie class features future stars Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance.
Bruce Arians acknowledged that college football is producing some of the best quarterback talents it ever has. “For about eight years, we had a flux of no quarterbacks coming out of college,” he said on The Dan Patrick Show. “The quality of quarterback talent coming out of college now is way better than it has been.”
Arians reveals he would pick Justin Herbert as the best young QB right now
Dan Patrick presented Bruce Arians with an interesting hypothetical question. He asked the Bucs head coach which quarterback he would pick in a draft of NFL quarterbacks under 26 years old.
Arians skipped over Allen, Jackson, and Murray. Instead, he picked Los Angeles Chargers gunslinger Justin Herbert (23). He praised Herbert’s transition from college to the NFL, as well as his raw talent.
“He’s got all the measurables of what great quarterbacks have always had,” said Arians. “He’s got the height, the arm, the speed, the size.
Dan Patrick tried to eliminate Patrick Mahomes from the debate, but Arians gave Herbert another compliment. I don’t know if anybody’s playing better than him right now, even Patrick.”
Teams overlooked the Oregon product in the 2020 NFL Draft class. Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa garnered the most attention, and even Jordan Love, in some circles. However, Herbert has outperformed them all so far.
The Chargers used the No. 6 overall pick to draft Herbert, and he’s made the front office look like geniuses. He played his way into winning the 2020 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award and appears only to be scratching the surface of what he can become.
Herbert and Patrick Mahomes will be dueling for years to come
The Kansas City Chiefs have won the AFC West in five consecutive seasons. The LA Chargers are hoping to change that in 2021.
Patrick Mahomes is no longer the lone young stud quarterback in the division. As Bruce Arians suggested, Justin Herbert is giving the KC signal-caller a run for his money.
The Chargers ousted the Chiefs in Week 3 of the 2021 season, and Herbert outplayed Mahomes. The former MVP completed 27 of 44 attempts for 260 yards and three touchdowns. However, he also threw two costly interceptions.
On the other hand, Herbert threw for 281 yards and four touchdowns while not turning the ball over. The two teams will meet again in Week 15 at SoFi Stadium.
Mahomes is a generational talent at quarterback, but that doesn’t mean he’s unbeatable. Herbert has proven he’s no slouch. Instead, he continues to develop into one of the game’s elite young passers.
Patrick Mahomes still has the crown for now, but Justin Herbert is coming.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference