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Bolts Buzz | Justin Herbert Ranked Amongst Top NFL Quarterbacks in ESPN Poll


ESPN continued its position rankings in recent days, with a trio of Chargers making various lists.

Justin Herbert, who could possibly be a bonafide superstar by the top of the 2022 season, was ranked as the No. 7 quarterback within the NFL.

The rankings were compiled by Jeremy Fowler, who spoke with 50 coaches, players, scouts and front office executives.

While the Chargers young quarterback received loads of praise, some thought he needs to be even higher on the list.

In December, when Herbert rolled deep to his right and calmly heaved a deep ball that traveled 61.2 air yards (per NFL Next Gen Stats) across the sector for a Jalen Guyton touchdown against the Bengals, I texted a screenshot of the play to a high-ranking NFL source.

“You may turn into less and fewer surprised because the game goes,” the source said. “He’ll be one of the best QB in the sport.”

The next week, Herbert rolled out to his right and made perhaps the play of the yr, throwing the ball 63.8 air yards — via NFL Next Gen Stats tracking — while being tackled from behind to hit Guyton in stride for a rating against the Giants.

Winning helps within the voting, which explains Herbert’s standing. The 2 quarterbacks ahead of him are coming off the Super Bowl, while Herbert’s Chargers fell wanting the playoffs. But he probably won’t be outside the highest five for long. Consider that his 65.6 QBR last season was No. 3 within the NFL, behind only Rodgers and Brady.

“If you’re that talented physically and also you’re smart, it’s mind-boggling,” a longtime NFL coordinator said. “Adding his strength and power, he’s hard to tackle, all of that; and he’s seeing things for one more season so can have a greater understanding.”

Since entering the league in 2020, Herbert has the second-most completions (839) and attempts (1,267), together with the third-most passing yards (9350). He also ranks fifth in passing touchdowns (69), and his 25 completions gaining 40 or more yards trail only Stafford.

“Passing on him goes to haunt [the Dolphins] for a very long time,” said the coordinator concerning the 2020 draft, when Miami took Tua Tagovailoa at No. 5 over Herbert (No. 6).

Herbert, who received votes for as high as fifth, ranked ninth on this poll a yr ago.

Chargers safety Derwin James, Jr., also received praise in his position group, landing as the No. 4 safety across the league.

“Wow” moments have never been a problem for the 6-foot-2, 215-pound James, blanketing top-tier tight ends and running in stride with elite receivers downfield.

“He’s certainly one of the few safeties you’ll be able to do every part with,” an NFL front-office official said. “He’s a special player when he’s on the market.”

But being on the market has long been James’ problem. He missed a combined 27 games from 2019-20 with multiple foot injuries. James bounced back in 2021 with 117 tackles (tied for third amongst defensive backs), two sacks, two interceptions and three forced fumbles in 15 games. But he still had a couple of minor issues, including a hamstring injury and a separated shoulder. Offseason shoulder surgery hasn’t stopped the Chargers from rightly making James a centerpiece of the defense, though.

“He’s in the identical form of player as [Jamal] Adams and [Budda] Baker, but has been a greater cover guy than them,” an NFL coordinator said. “You wonder if the injuries will begin to affect that, but this season will say lots so far as how high he’s on the list.”

Like Herbert, James also placed ninth a yr ago in these rankings.

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