NFL.com analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah takes a "first look" at some of college football's top players for 2018. This is the second in a series of scouting reports that will run throughout the offseason. Click through the tabs below to see all of them.
Justin Herbert, the first true freshman QB to start for Oregon since 1983, is entering his junior campaign with the Ducks and there is plenty of optimism about the signal-caller and his team. Willie Taggart departed UO for Florida State after only one season, but he left new Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal (the team's co-offensive coordinator last year) with a lot of talent, including one of the top quarterbacks in the country. I recently spent some time studying Herbert's game. Here is my First Look scouting report.
Justin Herbert, junior quarterback, Oregon
Height, weight: 6-foot-6, 231 pounds (school measurements).
2017 statistics: 139-of-206 (67.5 percent) for 1,983 yards, 15 TDs and 5 INTs; 44 carries for 183 yards (4.2 average), 5 TDs (missed 5 games with a broken collarbone).
Game tape watched: Nebraska (Sept. 9, 2017), Arizona (Nov. 18, 2017), Boise State (Dec. 16, 2017).
What I liked: I love Herbert's combination of size, arm talent and athleticism. He's a gifted thrower who's capable of driving the ball into tight windows or layering the ball over linebackers and under safeties. When he's given some space, he can gain ground quickly as a runner with his long stride. He operates with a firm base. Herbert shows the toughness to hang in the pocket and take some shots from opposing pass rushers. He's also very accurate on the move to both his right and left.
Where he needs to improve: While he's extremely gifted, Herbert has several areas where he needs refinement. His biggest challenge will be improving his ability to process and quickly work through his progressions. He gets stuck on his first read too often, which leads to some forced throws and missed opportunities elsewhere on the field. Also, he needs to improve his overall decision making. He'd be better served to take some sacks or throw the ball away as opposed to jamming the ball into crowded areas. The good news is all of his flaws are fully correctable, but it will take time.
Biggest takeaway: Herbert has an outstanding skill set, but he's very raw at this point. I met him at Pac-12 Media Days last summer and I came away very impressed with him from a physical and mental perspective. He's quiet, but he's very sharp, and it sounds like he's been growing into a leadership role this offseason. There is a lot of development still ahead, but the upside is tremendous.
He reminds me of: In Herbert, I see a taller version of Ryan Tannehill when he was coming out of Texas A&M. Both guys are exceptional athletes with the arm talent to make every throw. However, Tannehill wasn't a finished product coming out of college, and I think we'll be saying the same about Herbert whenever he moves on to the next level.
I can't wait to see him play: Stanford on Sept. 22. The Ducks open up with three non-conference games at home that they should easily win before welcoming the Cardinal to Eugene. Stanford should be outstanding on defense this fall and will present a major challenge to Herbert. This will be the first tape scouts really value in his evaluation this season. I can't wait to see how he responds.