According to Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner, the Indianapolis Colts are projected to select a top quarterback prospect, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, with the 13th overall pick in their 2020 NFL Mock Draft.
13. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — QB JUSTIN HERBERT, OREGON
Herbert’s likely going to be an acquired taste for some come draft time. You have to bet on his high end that saw him have five games with passing grades over 80.0 this past season instead of his low end that earned game grades below 60.0.
With incumbent starter Jacoby Brissett underwhelming down the stretch, the Colts are likely to heavily question whether he’s in fact the long-term answer at their starting quarterback position going forward.
Right now, given the pedestrian results and production, that answer seems like a fairly resounding no.
Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising in the least to see the Colts select a quarterback early in this April’s NFL Draft to be the true successor to the retired Andrew Luck.
The 6’6”, 237 pound Herbert completed 272 of 408 passing attempts (66.7%) for 3,333 passing yards, 32 touchdown passes, and 5 interceptions in 13 starts for the Oregon Ducks during 2019.
He was also the Campbell Award recipient in 2019, which is given to the nation’s top player “based on academic success, football performance, and exemplary leadership”:
#Oregon QB Justin Herbert was named the winner of the William V. Campbell Award (also known as the Academic Heisman).— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) December 11, 2019
4.01 GPA and a four-year starter for the Ducks - pretty impressive life resume.
Scouts love Herbert’s big bodied frame coupled with his equally big arm, and he’s a very good athlete at the quarterback position—with the ability to make highlight plays:
Look at this strike by Oregon QB Justin Herbert pic.twitter.com/vgvaNZSBeq— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) September 30, 2018
Justin Herbert is entering the #NFL at the PERFECT time for him. Spread out some, RPO world-athleticism is so impressive but his efficiency in his decisiveness is gonna make em a star in the league. He’s gonna he a stud— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) September 21, 2019
Where Herbert struggles is progressing through his reads—as he has a tendency to lock onto his primary target and against overall pressure. (His accuracy could improve at times as well.)
Entering the 2019 season, the senior quarterback was a popular projection to be the #1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
While it doesn’t appear that this will be the case anymore because of LSU’s Joe Burrow—and presumably even Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa being taken just ahead of him, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Herbert as the third quarterback off the board among top prospects.
It’s a fair question of whether he’ll actually be available for the Colts at #13, as there are a few quarterback desperate teams, namely the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers, that will be picking ahead of them—as well as other quarterback needy teams such as the Carolina Panthers or Las Vegas Raiders that could snag Herbert before the Colts can call in their card.
With Brissett under contract for 2020 (having a $21.5M cap hit), the Colts have the luxury of developing Herbert behind him for at least a season—although Herbert could push for the job even sooner, before fully assuming the starting quarterback title in 2021.
Given their long-term need at quarterback, Herbert is a logical selection for the Colts at #13, but come late April, there’s no guarantee that he’ll actually still be on the board when the clock starts for general manager Chris Ballard.
If he is, he clearly makes a lot of sense.