Justin Herbert is still a somewhat polarizing pick, but it’s worth pointing out that the LA Chargers provide him with the best chance of NFL success.
A week and a half removed from the draft, fans still debate whether Justin Herbert was the best pick for the LA Chargers at six. Herbert was by no means my favorite quarterback in the class. It was more reasonable to consider taking Isaiah Simmons at six or trading down for me.
Opinions on the selection of Herbert aside, it’s important to look at the situation he is in. The Chargers are the perfect spot for Herbert, especially when considering the other franchises he could’ve been drafted to.
The two teams in front of the LA Chargers that took quarterbacks were the Dolphins and Bengals. Both are eyeing a total rebuild over the coming years.
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That isn’t inherently bad for a rookie quarterback, but we’ve seen more examples in recent years where quarterbacks succeed after coming into better teams. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are two examples of rookies that came into fairly good situations after a team with talent traded up for them.
The Chargers did finish 5-11 in 2019, but they’re a year removed from a 12-4 season with much of the same high-end talent still on the team. Cincinnati and Miami don’t have players that are on the same level as Keenan Allen, Joey Bosa, or Derwin James. Both teams picked solid prospects in the draft that have potential, but having some established veteran stars is important for a younger quarterback.
Herbert is also in a circumstance where he won’t need to start right away. Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow are likely to start Week 1 of 2020, barring any injuries. Having time to adapt to pro-style offenses after playing with a mostly conservative offense at Oregon for four years is important.
At the same time, Herbert probably won’t have to wait too long to see the field. He’ll be able to compete for the starting job from day one. That won’t be the case for new Packers’ quarterback Jordan Love, who will be the backup for a minimum of two or three years. Tyrod Taylor being the starter gives Herbert the chance to compete for the starting job without having the pressure of starting from the beginning or waiting overly long for the right time.
The Chargers are heading into 2020 with a fresh slate when it comes to the offense. Ken Whisenhunt was fired as a result of the offense being anemic from week to week in 2019. Shane Steichen is the new offensive coordinator. Per Sports Illustrated, Anthony Lynn and Steichen are looking to install some offensive schemes that resemble the West Coast offenses of the 49ers and Rams. Wide runs, play action, and certain designs that resemble the run-pass option are all possibilities.
Spending a lot of time under center wasn’t a point of emphasis at Oregon, but Herbert can grow into that. An offensive idea that was used frequently at Oregon was the pistol formation. This can create some opportunities for designed QB runs, quick slants, and high tempo offense in general.
Taylor used a lot of pistol option formations in Buffalo, especially in the red zone. Steichen and Lynn can use the pistol formation as an entry point for Herbert to get more acclimated to the offense before routinely using some of the more complex parts of a Sean McVay type offense.
There’s no way to guarantee that Herbert will have success in the NFL. Not every quarterback that gets drafted pans out. There are some reasons to be confident with the Chargers’ situation though. Herbert isn’t on a team that’s committing to a full rebuild. The Chargers have plenty of elite talent that separates them from teams like Cincinnati and Miami.
In addition to that, Herbert won’t be expected to start immediately with the Chargers, which gives him time to adapt and learn to the pro scheme. Steichen will most likely build an offense that plays to Herbert’s collegiate strengths while he becomes familiar with some of the tougher parts of the West Coast offense the LA Chargers are aiming for.