Where Does Justin Herbert’s Rookie Season Stack Up Among Top QB Debuts of the 21st Century?

Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert didn’t waste any time proving his new team right for drafting him sixth overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. He led all rookie quarterbacks in every statistical measure and finished in the top 10 among all quarterbacks in most categories. That resulted in him winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

According to 33rd Team’s NFL Analyst Dan Pizzuta, that performance was good enough to land Herbert’s rookie season in the top 10 best. Pizzuta ranked Herbert at #9, ahead of Baker Mayfield and behind Andrew Luck.

Justin Herbert’s Rookie Season Ranked 9th Among All-Century QBs

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at San Diego Chargers
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“Herbert immediately looked great and released special throws throughout his rookie season, Pizzuta writes, “He had five completions of 45 or more air yards, which tied Russell Wilson for the most that year.”

“While he had the big arm, his precision in the short area stood out after his accuracy was questioned as a prospect. That craftsmanship underneath still shines today, though many would like to see a few more deep throws as a regular part of the offense.”

“Hebert’s 31 passing touchdowns still stand as the rookie record.”

Will Justin Herbert Find His Rookie Magic Under New Los Angeles Chargers Coaching Staff

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
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Herbert went on to throw for over 5014 yards and 38 touchdowns in his sophomore campaign. He has yet to beat that mark in the previous two seasons.

A hotly contested conversation among fans and analysts of the Chargers is what Herbert will look like in what has traditionally been a run-first offense operated by Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman. As a head coach, Harbaugh has never led an offense that threw for more than 4000 yards passing in a season. Nor has Roman as an offensive coordinator.

Even when these two have a quality quarterback running the offense Harbaugh and Roman remain hopelessly devoted to running the ball. Andrew Luck’s best season at Stanford resulted in the 17th most passing yards, 3517 in 13 games. Lamar Jackson’s best season under Roman was 3127 in 15 games.

Being one of the best rookies of the last 24 years is a fantastic accomplishment and certainly one that should be celebrated, but the question must be asked, will Chargers fans ever get to see Herbert hit his ceiling as a quarterback and compete for MVPs and more importantly, Super Bowls.

Justin Herbert
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