How far ahead are Josh Allen and Justin Herbert in the under 25 QB club?
By Simon Brady
Justin Herbert and Josh Allen are two of the best quarterbacks in the league… and they are both under 25.
’90s babies like myself have been absolutely blessed to grow up seeing some outstanding quarterback play. From early childhood growing up in the prime of Brady, Manning, Big Ben, Brees, and Rodgers.
Fast forward to now and the top storyline of these AFC playoffs and future of the conference are all these mid to early twenties signal callers that’ll help keep the league in good hands moving forward.
Now that we’ve finally seen another full regular season and some initial playoff success from fresh faces like Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, and Baker Mayfield, all representing that 2018 draft class, the pecking order for these young guys has become more clear.
With defending super bowl MVP, regular-season MVP, and the NFL’s “next up” subject in Chiefs Patrick Mahomes, and the also great, soon-to-be-former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson both at age 25, Bolts Justin Herbert and Bills Josh Allen have the concise upper hand in the “under 25 QB club.”
Breaking down Justin Herbert and Josh Allen
From a poise, arm strength and talent, accuracy, mobility, and decision-making standpoint, based on the film at our disposal, Allen and Herbert have a decided advantage in the league outside of Mahomes. Between the two, obviously, an Allen in year three and fresh off his second playoff victory in as many weeks has the advantage.
From an experience, organizational structure, and coaching staff perspective, Allen is simply better off while also currently looking slightly more talented standing alone. He also has a newly acquired top-five wideout on his side in Stefon Diggs, who has fully unlocked this offense and Allen’s capabilities.
However, ironically all signs point to the Chargers hiring Bills’ current offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as their next head coach. Something that was far from guaranteed when I first brainstormed this piece.
Daboll is a successful, seasoned ‘OC’ who obviously has been a huge ingredient in Allen and his offense’s success. With the attraction of a 22-year-old cheap Justin Herbert with cap flexibility for the next couple of years, he may see the same stability and excellent coaching staff that Allen has had in short order.
Though Allen and Herbert have a clear advantage in this pool of quarterbacks, Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, Arizona’s Kyler Murray, and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson round out the top five and have earned acknowledgment in this discussion.
Burrow miraculously masked the ineptitude and holes of the Bengals roster through his rookie campaign, particularly his porous offensive line, to have a rookie of the year caliber season up until his catastrophic knee injury.
Justin Herbert and Josh Allen’s aforementioned sheer arm talent advantage and surrounding competence or incoming competence in Herbert’s case give them the advantage over Burrow. But this rookie is still coming, having the solid group of weapons and ability to be a huge problem in this league as well for some time.
Murray too has a special arm with an outstanding velocity and zip for his stature. Coupled with rare quick feet and improvisation ability that is just such a headache to try to contain in the open field.
Cards head coach Kliff Kingsbury left a lot to be desired from a play-calling standpoint at critical moments this year, but nonetheless, things are on the up and up for the 23-year-old Murray with the best receiver in the league and a solid core on his squad.
Lastly, ‘Action Jackson’ debunked the narrative he can’t win in January by besting the same team that sent him home last year. However, though his jump as a pocket passer from rookie year to year two was imminent, he still has glaring shortcomings as a pure thrower.
He still can’t hit any route towards the sideline to save his life, intermediate or deep. Though he’s mastered slinging routes down the seam to his favorite target tight end Mark Andrews. But, until he takes another leap as a pocket thrower and gets some serious help at wideout, the Lamar Ravens will never get over the hump.
The upside for all of these guys is undeniable and since there’s a handful of these guys that deserve consideration, the league is certainly in good hands. But Bolts and Bills fans got to feel extra giddy that their guys, just 22 and 24 years of age, are the two of the first three or four guys any general manager would draft if you have to pick one player to start your brand new franchise.