Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
When I saw that my co-GM, dceagles, decided to forego picking a QB at number 5 and instead went with WR CeeDee Lamb, I was as surprised as anyone. Conventional wisdom says you don’t go get a weapon for a QB that you don’t have. Plus, the Dolphins have more pressing needs than a stud wide receiver right now. However, my co-GM either has some kind of psychic draft ability or he planted some sort of dirt on Justin Herbert because we look like geniuses now. He took a lot of crap from fans and critics alike to make me look like Kevin Costner in the movie Draft Day because someone with Herbert’s talent should not (and probably will not) be available this late in the first round.
But before we talk about Herbert, let’s look at the Dolphins as a whole. They spent a lot of their gobs of cap space this offseason bolstering their defense which was dead last in DVOA last year. Besides the big splash signing of Byron Jones, they made the more quiet signings of LBs Kyle Van Noy and former Eagle Kamu Grugier-Hill, while adding pass rushers Shaq Lawson, Taco Charlton and Emmanuel Ogbah to go with last year’s first rounder Christian Wilkins on the DLine. Putting Jones next to shutdown CB Xavien Howard should give Miami a really good secondary and all the money they spent on the front seven should make for a solid group. All around Miami has the look of a much better defense than they were last year on paper.
On offense they have a few more holes that they chose not to address in free agency. Obviously Ryan Fitzpatrick (while awesome) is not their QB of the future, but they have Devante Parker who played like a budding star at times last year along with guys like Albert Wilson, Preston Williams, Jakeem Grant, and Allen Hurns that form a respectable WR group. This gets a lot more exciting if they add CeeDee Lamb into the mix but that’s hypothetical. They also signed Jordan Howard as a serviceable running back, but besides that the cupboard is pretty bare. Their offensive line was an unmitigated disaster last year and signing human turnstile Ereck Flowers to a 3 year 30 million dollar contract doesn’t help. The NFC East will miss you Ereck! The Dolphins OLine allowed quick pressure (2.5 seconds or less) on 33% of their dropbacks which is five percentage points worse than the second worst team. They also graded out as the worst run blocking unit in the NFL. So, the line is an obvious area of need that the Dolphins can address with their loads of draft picks, and that’s probably what I would have done if Herbert wasn’t still sitting there.
First year head coach Brian Flores deserves a ton of credit for getting a team with the league’s worst defense, Oline, and Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback to 5 wins. It’s truly amazing that a team with this little talent who lost their first 2 games by a combined score of 102-10 was able to beat teams like the Eagles and Patriots last year. It’s early, but everything is pointing towards Flores being a really good coach. Now if only he could find his franchise quarterback…
Which brings me to Justin Herbert.
The first thing that jumps out to everyone when you look at Herbert is the physical traits. He has the prototypical NFL body for a QB, at 6’6” 237 pounds with a bazooka attached to his right shoulder (he’s also a former high school baseball player with a 94 mph fastball). He has the “arm talent” to make any throw on the field and then some. He’s shown the ability to drive the ball through wind and rain, which shouldn’t be overlooked on a team that frequently plays home games in the rain and has to go to Buffalo, New England, and New York every year. Herbert also shows really impressive mobility and ability to throw on the run for a guy his size. He’s comfortable in the pocket, but if you watched him play Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl this year you know that he can make plays with his legs off script if necessary. His 40 time at the combine was actually faster than Josh Allen, a similar sized QB known for his athleticism and running ability. He improved every season at Oregon and posted 3,471 yards with 32 TDs, 6 INTs, and a 66.8 completion percentage in 2019. The more I researched him and watched his tape, the more Herbert reminded me of someone…
Not only is Herbert almost physically identical to Carson Wentz (6’5” 237 lbs coming out of North Dakota St.), but they also have similar playing styles. They’re both really good pocket passers with big arms that can make any throw. They both have great ability outside the pocket for their size. Herbert hasn’t shown Wentz’s propensity to pull a rabbit out a hat and do something spectacular that takes everyone’s breath away, but who does?
Another thing that impressed me about Herbert that isn’t obvious was the amount of adapting he had to do while at Oregon. In his 4 years in Eugene, he played under 3 different head coaches who ran 3 completely different offenses in Mark Helfrich’s spread attack, Willie Taggart’s Gulf Coast offense, and Mario Cristobal’s pistol offense. Herbert was able to learn 3 different playbooks and excel in all 3 offenses, showing his high football IQ and that he is not a product of a great college scheme.
However, Herbert doesn’t come without flaws. He wouldn’t be available at 18 in this mock if he was perfect. He shows inconsistency at times. He’ll throw a dart into tight coverage and miss a wide open receiver the next play. This is another way he can be compared to Wentz as we see this from time to time with Carson. He especially struggles when he feels A gap pressure up the middle. When pressured, his footwork and mechanics sometimes get thrown off and you’ll see errant throws. Herbert shows the ability to change protection at the line, but this is another area he can improve. Sometimes exotic blitz packages have confused him, forcing bad decisions. However, I feel like all of these weaknesses are fixable, and you just can’t teach Herbert’s physical characteristics.
I thought Pro Football Focus did a good break down of Herbert before the 2019 draft (before he decided to stay at Oregon for his senior year) here:
Some people are worried Herbert is just another big armed QB that has no nuance to his game who will fall flat in the NFL. But if you look closer at his game, I don’t think that’s the case. Simply put, Herbert is just too good to still be on the board here. Barring a miracle or some kind of Laremy Tunsil gasmask situation, Herbert will be gone way before the Dolphins pick at 18. But if somehow he is there and the Dolphins didn’t go with a QB at 5, they should run to the (virtual!) podium faster than Forest Gump ran from those kids.
Do you approve of this pick?
This poll is closed
2020 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Bengals (grantspectations): QB Joe Burrow
2) Washington (ablesser88): EDGE Chase Young
3) Lions (CMG97): CB Jeff Okudah
4) Giants (selgae aihpledalihp): LB Isaiah Simmons
5) Dolphins (dceagles): WR CeeDee Lamb
6) Chargers (dapeltz13): QB Tua Tagovailoa
7) Panthers (wardbell92): DT Derrick Brown
8) Cardinals (drc242): OT Mekhi Becton
9) Jaguars (Palaniappan K M): OT Tristan Wirfs
10) Browns (WentzAndFolesFan): WR Jerry Jeudy
11) Jets (Dr_Horrible): OT Jedrick Wills
12) Raiders (Phillysolo): WR Henry Ruggs III
13) 49ers (eagles0132): OT Andrew Thomas
14) Buccaneers (BuckeyedEagles): DT Javon Kinlaw
15) Broncos (J. Wil): S Xavier McKinney
16) Falcons (Kephas): EDGE A.J. Epenesa
17) Cowboys (PhillyBirdGang): S Grant Delpit
18) Dolphins (dshelton5): QB Justin Herbert
19) Raiders (fredhugo):
20) Jaguars (ItownBallers22)
21) Eagles (20Safety_Hazards)
22) Vikings (Kramerpoo):
23) Patriots (Phoenix X Minimus)
24) Saints (big DUB):
25) Vikings (MrW254):
26) Dolphins (SemperFilly):
27) Seahawks (mattywils):
28) Ravens (Dirtybirdy47):
29) Titans (mr_england):
30) Packers (Nishant R SambhiReddy):
31) 49ers (Fly Like An Eagle):
32) Chiefs (Leo Bedio):
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think the Dolphins should pick in the 2020 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Dolphins pick at No. 18?
This poll is closed
2020 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft
1) Bengals: QB Joe Burrow
2) Washington: EDGE Chase Young
3) Lions: CB Jeff Okudah
4) Giants: LB Isaiah Simmons
5) Dolphins: QB Tua Tagovailoa
6) Chargers: QB Justin Herbert
7) Panthers: DT Derrick Brown
8) Cardinals: OT Mekhi Becton
9) Jaguars: OT Tristan Wirfs
10) Browns: OT Andrew Thomas
11) Jets: OT Jedrick Wills
12) Raiders: WR CeeDee Lamb
13) 49ers: WR Jerry Jeudy
14) Buccaneers: DT Javon Kinlaw
15) Broncos: WR Henry Ruggs III
16) Falcons: EDGE A.J. Epenesa
17) Cowboys: CB C.J. Henderson