Any questions evaluators might have had about Justin Herbert were put to bed during last week's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
The Oregon Ducks star showed off his overall athleticism with a 4.68 40-yard dash, 35.5 inch vertical and a 4.46 20-yard shuffle. He then dazzled with his arm talent, dropping dimes and throwing BBs all over Lucas Oil Stadium.
I've discussed Herbert's fit with the Raiders. While I don't think it's worth it for the Raiders to move up and take him, he does have the arm talent to take Jon Gruden's offense to the next level and "let it fly."
Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt thinks Herbert is a guy late Raiders owner Al Davis would have been head over heels for.
Herbert does have a massive arm and showed he can make all the throws on time at the combine while working with receivers he had little chemistry with. The 6-foot-6 gunslinger's detractors will look at his inconsistent play during his time in Eugene, Ore., as proof that he's a risky pick in the top 10.
Herbert came to the Ducks as an unheralded local recruit. He took over as starter midway through his freshman season, which was Oregon's worst season in two decades. After coach Mark Helfrich and the entire staff were fired, Herbert thrived in Willie Taggart's Gulf Coast Offense during his sophomore season when he was allowed to utilize his legs as well as his arm.
Taggart then left after one season for Florida State, leaving Herbert with his third head coach, third offensive coordinator and third scheme in three seasons. Transitioning from Taggart's Gulf Coast Offense to Mario Cristobal's power-run and pistol-centric attack certainly hampered Herbert's development as a quarterback. The offense became predicated on quick-hitting passes and didn't allow Herbert to showcase his arm strength down the field often. The Ducks also lacked dynamic playmakers on the outside, putting the onus on Herbert to fit the ball into tight windows over and over again.
When the Ducks did open it up, Herbert shined, as was evident in their thrashing of USC. Check out some of these throws highlights below.
This is an even better example than the first play of Herbert's accuracy on the move. This is a fantastic throw to an intermediate target pic.twitter.com/5BmhHoiT7B— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 1, 2019
Terrific touch throw to convert the first down against pressure. Want to continue to see these types of plays from him. pic.twitter.com/eUy9iVLQWQ— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 8, 2019
Next touchdown was great. This was his best game in a long time. Great touch and ability to throw crossbody. pic.twitter.com/iwInM7KMqS— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 8, 2019
Finally a nice throw under pressure pic.twitter.com/nC66Gydiga— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) October 8, 2019
Good ball to split defenders and deliver a ball with the right arc on it. pic.twitter.com/e2wpBH8ccb— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) October 8, 2019
Another good throw under pressure. He's inconsistent, which is maddening. But this a money throw for first down pic.twitter.com/jHaBIEuhwq— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) October 19, 2019
He came right back in and delivered a nice touchdown pass. This is great ball placement and what we wanna see. pic.twitter.com/YxT7tYobPW— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) November 3, 2019
And 50 yards on a rope.
Perfect deep ball again for a touchdown. Smoother delivery and more touch than what he normally has shown on these deep attempts. Question is whether he can more consistently hit these deep open guys than what he has. pic.twitter.com/8fDkbUVS8K— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) November 17, 2019
Herbert was put at a disadvantage by the amount of turnover during his developmental years, but he still managed to make jaw-dropping plays and lead the Ducks to a Rose Bowl championship in his senior season.
He has a bazooka for an arm, can beat you with his legs (see: Rose Bowl) and has the ability to make all the throws. He'll need to get better making throws under pressure and show he lead an NFL locker room, but the pros far outweigh the cons.
There's no doubt Davis would love Herbert's arm and upside.
It's also hard to imagine Gruden watching the tape and the workout and not imagining what he could do with Herbert's skill set.
The Raiders have plenty of needs outside of quarterback. They need to address their wide receivers and their linebackers and are positioned to do so with two first-round picks. But Herbert put a lot of questions to bed with back-to-back eye-opening performances at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine.
Trading up for Herbert isn't the Raiders' Plan A or probably even their Plan B. But don't be surprised if Gruden's plans change.
To win in the NFL, you need a dynamic quarterback who can win games with his arm and his legs. Herbert can do that.
He should have Gruden and the Raiders' attention now.