Chargers News: Justin Herbert's Rookie Season Among Century's Best

Where does he rank among rookie QB seasons?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert was questioned as a prospect coming out of Oregon and getting selected No. 6 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, but he quickly put those doubts to rest once he began playing. Herbert unexpectedly filled in for Tyrod Taylor in week two of his rookie season and led the Chargers to a near-win against the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs.

Herbert showcased his arm strength, physicality, and overall talent during that game on his way to a historic rookie campaign. Herbert wound up breaking the rookie passing touchdown record with 31 touchdown passes, surpassing Baker Mayfield, who tossed 27 touchdown passes as a rookie. Herbert is the only rookie quarterback in NFL history to reach the 30-passing touchdown mark.

In addition to the rookie passing touchdown record, Herbert also broke the record for most pass completions by a rookie with 396. He finished second to Andrew Luck in rookie passing yards with 4,336 yards, just 38 yards short of Luck's record of 4,374 passing yards. Had Herbert played all 16 games and not just 15, he'd likely hold that record as well. Thanks to his accomplishments, Herbert won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Despite a historic rookie campaign, Herbert's rookie season ranks just ninth among rookie quarterback seasons since the year 2000, per The 33rd Team. He comes after Luck (eighth), Ben Roethlisberger (seventh), C.J. Stroud (sixth), Matt Ryan (fifth), Cam Newton (fourth), Russell Wilson (third), Robert Griffin III (second), and Dak Prescott (first).

What likely holds Herbert back from the top eight spots is his lack of winning as a rookie. All of the players ahead of him except Newton made the playoffs as a rookie while Herbert and the Chargers fell short.

Still, that's not all Herbert's fault. Quarterbacks like Wilson and Prescott were helped by having great team support around them. Wilson had the incredible Legion of Boom and Marshawn Lynch at running back to ease him in as a rookie while Prescott got the boost of Ezekiel Elliott's incredible rookie year to help them finish as the NFC's No. 1 seed.

Regardless of where he lands in the rankings, Herbert remains atop the rookie record books for his season.

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Eva Geitheim


Eva graduated from UCLA in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in Communication. She has been covering college and professional sports since 2022.