Selecting a quarterback in the NFL draft can be a make or break moment for a franchise. If you end up landing Patrick Mahomes, it’s a home run; picking someone like Ryan Leaf, however, can set the team back by several years. That reality makes selecting a prospect like Justin Herbert incredibly risky.
While the quarterback had a solid career at the University of Oregon and looked good at the NFL combine, not everyone is sold on his pro potential. In fact, Kurt Warner is concerned that Herbert might not have the fundamentals to succeed in the NFL.
Justin Herbert’s college football career
Growing up in Oregon, Justin Herbert was always a Ducks fan. After suffering a broken leg in high school, however, he dropped off the recruiting radar. A few smaller schools, like Northern Arizona and Portland State, made offers; eventually, in Herbert’s senior year, the University of Oregon came calling.
The quarterback headed to Eugene, starting his NCAA career as the Ducks’ back-up. Midway through the season, however, he took over the starting job; he retained the top spot as a sophomore but missed some time with a broken collar bone.
After that, Justin Herbert truly came into his own. As a junior, he threw for 3,151 yards and 29 touchdowns, helping the Ducks improve to 9-4. The quarterback played even better as a senior, racking up 3,471 passing yards and 32 touchdowns. Herbert finished the campaign with a Rose Bowl victory—he was the game’s Offensive MVP—and the 2020 ‘Academic Heisman.’
Kurt Warner has some concerns about the quarterback’s pro potential
At the NFL combine, Justin Herbert put in an impressive all-around performance. While that may have caused his draft stock to rise, Kurt Warner still has some concerns about the young quarterback.
“I can’t say that I was overly impressed with the quarterbacks that threw at the combine,” Warner explained, according to Radio.com. “[Herbert] looked, to me, very methodical, looked like a guy that has never really been under center, looked like a guy that was aiming a lot of things instead of just naturally throwing the football.”
Warner went on to explain that, while Herbert may have plenty of athleticism and arm strength, NFL success comes down to more than raw talent. A real football game is quite different than throwing a few passes at the combine.
“I’m a big technique guy because I think technique can carry you in a lot of different ways, and when you don’t have great technique, I worry about you,” Warner continued. “Even though there’s guys with tremendous arms and tremendous talent and we see it every year, when you get to the NFL level, it’s the guys that have good technique, that have consistency, that really separate themselves.”
There are also concerns about Justin Herbert’s leadership
While Kurt Warner voiced his concerns about Justin Herbert’s fundamentals, that isn’t the first criticism levied at the quarterback. There’s also been some chatter about his personality.
Herbert is a noted introvert, which clashes with the stereotypical idea of a fearless quarterback leading his team to victory. During his time at Oregon, head coach Willie Taggart pushed him to improve his temperament; an unnamed Duck also called Herbert “the shiest dude I’ve ever met.” While judging a player based on intangibles like leadership and toughness is far from ideal, plenty of executives and coaches put stock in those characteristics.
Based on his talent alone, though, Justin Herbert is going to get a shot with an NFL team. Once he’s there, it will be up to him to put the doubts, both about his technique and his personality, to bed.