Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert was among the biggest risers at the combine, blowing fans away with his athleticism and arm strength.
His 4.68 40-time clocked in as the third-fastest among this year's QB group, and he placed second in both the vertical and broad jump measurements. As impressive as these athletic measurements were, his on-field passing drills may have been the focal point of his combine workout. He displayed pinpoint accuracy on several slants and deep throws, checking off several boxes in terms of ball placement and arm strength.
For all these reasons, his stock rose to most casual fans and observers. After all, what’s not to like about such a performance?
Just ask Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner.
“I can’t say that I was overly impressed with the quarterbacks that threw at the combine,” Warner said. “[Herbert] looked, to me, very methodical, looked like a guy that has never really been under center, looked like a guy that was aiming a lot of things instead of just naturally throwing the football.
“Now, when they went to the deeper throws, where timing and that sort of stuff doesn’t really play into it and it’s really just about arm strength, yes, he looked really good. Jacob Eason looked really good. They stand out there because they are physically talented, but that’s not how the game is played.”
There is history to back what Warner is saying (as if you needed another reason to trust in his QB evaluation skills). Players like Marcus Mariota and Tim Tebow shined at their respective combines in the drills that depended most upon athleticism and saw their high draft values either confirmed or boosted due to their performances.
But neither Mariota nor Tebow have lived up to their lofty expectations, especially when you consider the first round value that they carried and cost their respective teams.
“I’m a big technique guy because I think technique can carry you in a lot of different ways, and when you don’t have great technique I worry about you,” Warner said. “Even though there’s guys with tremendous arms and tremendous talent and we see it every year, when you get to the NFL level it’s the guys that have good technique, that have consistency, that really separate themselves.
“Guys that don’t show that in college and think that they’re all the sudden going to become that in the NFL… it doesn’t happen very often.”
For experts like RADIO.COM NFL insider Armando Salguero and ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper, both of whom had Herbert going to the Dolphins at No. 5 in recent mock drafts, it’s issues like these that spark some concern when going forward with such an intriguing prospect.