Justin Herbert caught the eye of spectators around the country with his performances in the college game. Many pundits believed that he would declare for the 2019 NFL Draft at the end of his junior season. All eyes were on the Oregon Ducks quarterback to see whether he would opt in for the selection process to join the professional ranks.
He was speculated to be in consideration for the number-one pick along with Kyler Murray. However, Herbert decided to remain at Oregon for his senior campaign in the hope of returning the team to their former glory as one of the elite sides in the NCAA.
It has been four years since the Ducks were defeated in the National Championship, suffering a hammering at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Oregon did win their first bowl game since their triumph in the Rose Bowl in 2015 by edging out the Michigan State Spartans in the Redbox Bowl, although Herbert’s performance was average, to say the least.
Head coach Mario Cristobal faces a task to turn the Ducks into contenders once again. The team are considered one of the top-20 in the NCAA, but they do not possess the top quality of Clemson and Alabama. Herbert is their shining light and he is in with a shout of claiming the Heisman Trophy in the 2019 season, although it will take a special campaign for him to rise above Trevor Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa, who are the leading contenders for the title.
Oregon supporters will not be able to place a wager on their quarterback in their own state, so a trip to Las Vegas will be in order to back him to take the crown and emulate the feat of Marcus Mariota, who was one of his predecessors for the Ducks. Herbert’s work will be cut out for him given that he has lost his leading target from last season as Dillon Mitchell was selected in the NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings.
The quarterback threw 29 touchdowns to eight interceptions last season – statistics that caught the eye of teams across the NFL. However, Mitchell caught 10 of those touchdowns and also accounted for 1,184 of his 3,114 passing yards, displaying a high level of quality at wideout. Herbert will have to build a rapport with the next crop of talent emerging at the position. Jaylon Redd had a solid 2018 campaign, while Johnny Johnson III also flashed on occasions. Juwan Johnson could be Herbert’s most valuable target following the wideout’s transfer from Penn State. Johnson had a quiet junior season but did record over 700 receiving yards as a sophomore.
Juwan Johnson injury scare just "precautionary", according to reports from Eugene.— Bri Amaranthus (@BriAmaranthus) August 21, 2019
Oregon dodges literal largest bullet. The big-bodied WR is looking like Herbert's favorite target. https://t.co/PvYPDxC81l#GoDucks pic.twitter.com/2HTrQSF4Zv
Herbert will be under pressure to raise the standard of performances around him. Running backs CJ Verdell and Travis Dye were a fearsome one-two punch last term, and will alleviate some of the strain from the arm of the 21-year-old. Possessing that outlet out of the backfield could be the strength of the Ducks’ offense this term. Therefore, Herbert could have to pick his moments when to strike downfield with his receivers. Patience and firing the ball into tight windows are disciplines that define the best quarterbacks in the sport. Herbert’s decision to play another season in Oregon could be the wisest decision he has made to enhance his game for the long term.