It's a new era for the Los Angeles Chargers with Philip Rivers on the Indianapolis Colts and rookie Justin Herbert set to be the quarterback of the future, but the Oregon product may not be under center right away.
"I would not look for that to bear out anytime soon," ESPN's Adam Schefter said of Herbert starting games (h/t Evan Silva of Establish The Run). "Justin Herbert needs time to grow … they're not going to rush him in there."
The Chargers selected Herbert with the No. 6 overall pick of the 2020 NFL draft after fellow quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa went Nos. 1 and 5, respectively.
Both Burrow and Tagovailoa won a national championship during their collegiate careers, and the former captured the Heisman Trophy. It is not a stretch to suggest Herbert, who impressed at Oregon but didn't go up against the SEC slates the others did and never made the College Football Playoff, might need more time to grow accustomed to the rigors of the NFL.
He still led the Ducks to a Pac-12 title and Rose Bowl victory during the 2019 season behind 3,471 passing yards, 32 touchdown throws and just six interceptions.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com called Herbert "the most physically gifted quarterback in the draft," but he also said: "Touch throws evade him and may have created tentativeness with certain short and intermediate throws. Ball placement requires additional emphasis, but upgrading to NFL skill talent could help him bloom."
Playing for the Chargers will give him a chance to work with that NFL talent, but offseason activities are being conducted virtually with team facilities closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
That will cut into the coaching staff's time to directly work with him, underscoring the idea he will not be rushed into games. What's more, Los Angeles quarterback Tyrod Taylor is accustomed to temporarily starting while a youngster develops behind him from when he was with the Cleveland Browns in 2018.
Baker Mayfield eventually took Taylor's starting job, and Herbert will likely do the same at some point with the Chargers.
It just might not come by the first game of the 2020 season.