Dan Fouts and Norm Van Brocklin are Hall of Famers who came out of Oregon. The most recent draftees haven’t been as successful. Both Marcus Mariota and Joey Harrington were taken in the first rounds. Mariota was mildly successful to start his career with 2016 being his best season. It was all downhill from there. Harrington on the other hand was a bust from the start. In fairness the Lions “offensive” offensive line, ruined Harrington early on. He even had a short stint with the New Orleans Saints but was clearly shell-shocked throughout his career. He threw far more interceptions than touch downs.
Plenty of other NFL busts have come out of Oregon, but most were taken in later rounds. So is Justin Hebert in the Fouts/Van Brocklin class or the Marriota/Harrington category.
Hebert was named the starter as a freshman after Week 5 in the 2016 season throwing for 1,936 yards and 19 touchdowns. He only threw 4 interceptions in 8 games. In 2017, Hebert lead the Ducks to a 4-1 record before breaking his collar bone. After missing the next five games, which the Ducks lost, he returned for the final two games leading them to a bowl game. Once again, despite only starting eight games Herbert threw 1,983 yards, 15 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions. This was while playing in a Gulf Coast-style offense.
In 2018 under his third head coach, Herbert threw for 3,151 yards and 29 touchdowns, as well as rushing for two more touchdowns. He played in the Pistol and Spread offenses in 2018. The Ducks finished with a 9-4 record and won the Redbox Bowl. He threw eight interceptions for the season.
In 2019, he lead the Ducks to a 12-2 record, winning the Rose Bowl while passing for 3,471 yards, 32 touchdowns, rushed for 50 yards and 4 more touchdowns, while once again only throwing 5 interceptions. If there is a knock against Hebert it’s he hasn’t played most of his career under center. He also tends to lock-in on his first read and if that’s not open he is likely to run the ball rather than going through his reads. He has a cannon for an arm and is very accurate with the deep ball.
Herbert is 6’6”, 236 lbs, has 32 78” arms and 10” hands. He ran a respectable 4.68 40-yard dash and had a 35.5” vertical. He reads defense well but doesn’t always trust that, particularly with short to mid-range throws. He handles pressure well and can make throws on the run when escaping from them.
The first time I saw Herbert play was in the Senior Bowl and I was impressed with his play. He is projected to go anywhere from the third pick to the Lions, all the way down to the 23rd to the Patriots. If he’s there with the 24th pick I would be fine with New Orleans making the pick. I wouldn’t trade up to go after Herbert and if a potentially better player is available it would be a tough choice to make.