Does Justin Herbert have an outside shot of being a top-5 quarterback by year's end?

Los Angeles Chargers Mandatory Minicamp
Los Angeles Chargers Mandatory Minicamp / John McCoy/Getty Images

LA Chargers quarterback, and reigning Rookie of the Year, Justin Herbert might have actually had a likely shot at reaching this seemingly impossible, astounding feat for a signal-caller his age if you asked folks at various times during this past offseason.

Considering the serious tensions between organization and player in extremely different situations for solidified top-5 quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson cooling off at least enough for both to be full participants at training camp, a 23-year-old Herbert might have to wait a little longer to crack the elusive, desperately coveted five. 

Though an opening may be available as Watson's ongoing sexual misconduct investigation has kept his immediate NFL future up in the air. As opposed to Rodgers, who after much drama filled with retirement and trade discussion, is locked into Green Bay for at least this upcoming season after renegotiating his contract with the Packers.

The top six signal-callers around Rodgers and Watson are of course Patrick Mahomes at the very top and Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, and one Tom Brady. But as The Athletic’s Mike Sando laid out, Herbert is firmly in the high-end second tier of quarterbacks with Matthew Stafford, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan, and Joe Burrow. 

Although all are extremely talented franchise quarterbacks, most of which obviously have the winning experience advantage, none have the value of a Justin Herbert at his age and expense when assessing the whole package of essentials for the job. Only one season into his career yes, but his historic rookie campaign was more than enough for convincing of this praise.

Last year's display of an opening act even gave you the impression that his ceiling might just put him comfortably at two in quarterback ranks behind Mahomes with good health four to five years down the line.

Justin Herbert certainly has the talent to become a bonafide top-five quarterback.

~ Size, off schedule arm talent, accuracy, mobility in and out of pocket, IQ, character & humility all check out in a big way ~

It made a huge impression on the league last season and with a vastly improved left side of the offensive line for year two, this leap is at least some possibility.

Then again, despite the Chargers upgrades at glaring holes on the roster this offseason following a 7-9 campaign, the schedule is stifling. Particularly with all the realistic AFC super bowl contenders (excluding Vegas obviously, but still a quality division game) and Bill Belichick looming weeks 3-8.

Still in all the Bolts are possibly set up to catapult themselves into one of the three wild card spots come season's end. They’ll be in a sea of five or six good contenders for it in a strong, deep, rising AFC with an absurd amount of young quarterback talent. 

Next. 3 bold predictions for Justin Herbert in 2021. dark

With one of the short list best young QB’s in the league having the chance to really be knocking on the door of top five in the league at some point soon, the aforementioned roster improvements around him, and insertion of new head coach Brandon Staley, though still a question mark leading this team almost has to be an upgrade from game planning punchline Anthony Lynn, there’s plenty of 2021 upside for these Chargers despite the league’s broken juggernaut in the division.