Sometimes returning to college can underscore warts in a quarterback prospect as scouts pick apart his game. Time and time again, we've seen projected early-round signal-callers' draft stock plummet after an extra season as an amateur.
Others, however, can benefit from an extra year without the professional pressure.
New Los Angeles Chargers quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton believes first-round pick Justin Herbert belongs in the latter group.
"The combination of size, athletic ability and arm talent (is intriguing), but more importantly, he's had a ton of experience playing in games," Hamilton said, via the team's official website. "It really helped him staying an extra year at Oregon. He has over 1,200 pass attempts in college and you can't teach experience. When it's time for him to play once he's acclimated to the speed of the NFL game and has a good understanding of what NFL defenses are trying to do, I think the sky's the limit."
Herbert compiled statistical gains from his junior to senior season while owning the physical traits of a pro quarterback that made the Chargers comfortable picking the Oregon QB with the No. 6 overall pick.
While Hamilton, who has already expressed admiration for Herbert's off-field work ethic, noted that the experience could help the QB compete for the starting job from the onset, the wonky offseason could keep Herbert off the field for a longer spell.
With on-field work curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tyrod Taylor has the leg up in any competition. The veteran knows the type of system coach Anthony Lynn wants to run and has the faith of the coaching staff.
"It's helpful, especially under the circumstances," Hamilton said of Taylor. "In a non-traditional offseason, familiarity with all the above is going to be important. We're going to lose a large portion of time that we would have on the grass because we're not able to have a traditional offseason. It's going to be very important that Tyrod's understanding and familiarity with coach Lynn and our system, that that carries over to the rest of the guys in the huddle. His poise impresses me. I've been watching him from afar for quite some time, and I've always been impressed with his ability to go out and make plays and more importantly, help his team win games."
The situation in L.A. appears similar to the one Taylor experienced in Cleveland two years ago alongside Baker Mayfield. The veteran should get the first snaps under center. If he leads the Chargers to victories and keeps them in the playoff hunt, he should retain the job. The moment he falters, Herbert should enter. With a playoff-ready roster, Taylor has a chance to keep the job a lot longer than most bridge quarterbacks do fending off first-round picks.