COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Tom Telesco is hoping Justin Herbert can be just as good as the last quarterback the Chargers drafted out of Oregon.
Los Angeles selected Herbert with the No. 6 pick of the NFL draft Thursday night. He is the first Ducks QB taken by the Chargers since they took Dan Fouts in the third round in 1974. Fouts ended up leading the franchise to four playoff trips and three division titles in a 15-year Hall of Fame career.
“This is a special opportunity. Words can’t describe how excited and thrilled and fired up I am for this,” Herbert said.
Telesco was not content with only one first-round pick, however. He traded the team’s second- and third-round picks to New England to move up to the 23rd spot to take Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray.
The Chargers were in the market to take a quarterback in the first round for the fourth time since 1967 after they announced in early February they would not re-sign Philip Rivers, who started 235 consecutive regular-season and playoff games over the past 14 seasons.
Herbert started 42 games at Oregon, compiling a 29-13 record with 10,541 passing yards and 108 total touchdowns. He led the Ducks to the Pac-12 championship last season and a win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, where he ran for three touchdowns and was named the offensive MVP. He threw for 32 touchdowns and only six interceptions in 14 games.
Herbert started under three different coaches at Oregon. He has shown the ability to excel in play action, but questions remain about his decision-making and accuracy. Herbert boosted his stock at the Senior Bowl, completing 9 of 12 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.
There won’t be any pressure for Herbert to come in and start immediately. Tyrod Taylor is likely to be the Chargers starter going into their first season at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, giving Herbert time to learn and develop.
Herbert was the third quarterback to be taken in the first six selections Thursday. Cincinnati selected LSU’s Joe Burrow with the first overall pick and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa went fifth to Miami.
Murray was a three-year starter at Oklahoma and lined up in the middle. He played nearly 91% of the Sooners’ defensive snaps the last three years and recorded 100 or more tackles the last two seasons. He does project more as an outside linebacker, but gives the Chargers a run stopper they have been lacking the past couple seasons.
The Chargers’ next pick currently won’t be until the fourth round on Saturday.