Los Angeles Chargers make Justin Herbert their QB of the future with No. 6 pick in NFL draft

Sixteen years after they made their last substantial investment in a quarterback, the Los Angeles Chargers made another big play for a passer.

The Chargers selected Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert with the No. 6 pick in the first round of Thursday's NFL draft.

Herbert was a four-year starter at Oregon, playing for three different coaches during that time. The Senior Bowl MVP was lauded throughout the pre-draft process for his size (6-6, 236 pounds), arm strength and mobility. His erratic ball placement and decision-making, however, left many to wonder if he was ready to be a starter in the NFL.

Herbert spent part of his time with teams trying to combat the notion his leadership style might be a problem at the next level.

“When I showed up (at Oregon), I was shy,” Herbert said after working out for scouts at his pro day, held before the novel coronavirus pandemic forced restrictions for the league. “I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, and the quarterback can’t be that. I’ve done a better job of being vocal, stepping up and stepping out of my comfort zone to do that.”

Herbert is poised to be the long-term successor to Philip Rivers, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts in March after the Chargers opted not to bring him back. Rivers was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and set franchise records for career passing yards (59,271) and touchdowns (397). 

Veteran Tyrod Taylor, however, could be in line to open the season as the starter. Coach Anthony Lynn has spoken highly of Taylor and said in February he could "maybe step up into a starting role."

Herbert's selection is the latest step in an offseason of change for the Chargers. Ahead of the team's inaugural season at SoFi Stadium, the team unveiled new uniforms earlier this week.

Despite last year's 5-11 finish, Los Angeles boasts several promising pieces to help Herbert. Wide receiver Keenan Allen was one of the team's two Pro Bowl players and is joined by Mike Williams and tight end Hunter Henry in the receiving corps. All-purpose threat Austin Ekeler signed a four-year deal to remain with the team and could have a larger role out of the backfield after Melvin Gordon's departure. The line was also reshaped, as five-time Pro Bowl offensive guard was acquired in a trade with the Carolina Panthers in exchange for left tackle Russell Okung.

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