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'Sky's the Limit' for Justin Herbert in NFL, Says Chargers' Pep Hamilton

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2020

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert passes against Wisconsin during first half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

New Los Angeles Chargers quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton said Wednesday the "sky's the limit" for rookie Justin Herbert, the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. 

Hamilton, who joined the Bolts in early May after serving as the DC Defenders' head coach before the XFL season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, discussed Herbert's potential during an interview with Hayley Elwood of the Chargers' official website:

"The combination of size, athletic ability and arm talent [is intriguing] but, more importantly, he's had a ton of experience playing in games. It really helped him staying an extra year at Oregon. He has over 1,200 pass attempts in college and you can't teach experience. When it's time for him to play once he's acclimated to the speed of the NFL game and has a good understanding of what NFL defenses are trying to do, I think the sky's the limit."

Herbert is coming off a terrific senior season at Oregon. He completed 66.8 percent of his throws for 3,471 yards with 32 touchdowns and just six interceptions in 14 games. He added four rushing scores.

The 22-year-old reigning Rose Bowl MVP is expected to compete with Tyrod Taylor for L.A.'s starting quarterback job, but the lack of on-field work because of COVID-19 creates an advantage for the veteran.

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"It's helpful, especially under the circumstances," Hamilton told Elwood about Taylor's system experience. "In a non-traditional offseason, familiarity with all the above is going to be important. We're going to lose a large portion of time that we would have on the grass because we're not able to have a traditional offseason."

Taylor, who spent three years as the Buffalo Bills' starter from 2015 through 2017, was Philip Rivers' backup during his first season with the Chargers last year. Rivers left to sign with the Indianapolis Colts in free agency.

Herbert is the team's quarterback of the future, regardless of whether he's under center for Week 1 this year when the Bolts take on the Cincinnati Bengals.

Having an offensive staff led by coordinator Shane Steichen, who helped the team rank sixth in passing yards per game last season, and Hamilton, a 23-year coaching veteran, should help his development.

In the short term, Los Angeles is looking to bounce back after posting a 5-11 record in 2020. It will compete with the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders to see which team emerges as the biggest threat to the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.

The Chargers are likely a couple of years away from serious title contention, though. Herbert should be approaching his peak years by that time.

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