Justin Herbert is built like a franchise quarterback.
The recent Oregon graduate measured 6-foot-6, 236 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine.
And Herbert, more polished after four years of intense on-the-job training as the Ducks’ starter, sounds like an NFL franchise quarterback.
Now it’s only a matter of time to see which team takes Herbert in the first round to lead their franchise into the future.
“I know it sounds kind of cheesy and politically correct,” Herbert said during his media session on Tuesday in Indianapolis. “But I’m excited wherever I go.”
ESPN’s draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. had Herbert being selected fifth overall by Miami in his pre-combine projection.
“It’s been really impressive,” Herbert said of the direction the Dolphins appear to be headed in under coach Brian Flores. “I know they’re in great hands, and he’s doing a great job coaching that team, leading that team.”
Tom Brady has yet to re-sign with the New England Patriots. Perhaps Bill Belichick will be willing to trade up to draft a replacement for the future first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame selection.
“The way that they’ve had success over these few decades is incredible. And what they’ve been able to do has been fun to watch,” Herbert said. “The way Tom Brady has done it is special. I think every leader is different. …
“Whoever (replaces Brady) is going to have a great opportunity.”
Herbert was thrust into the starting job at Oregon two years after Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy and was drafted second overall by the Tennessee Titans.
Mark Helfrich, Willie Taggart and Mario Cristobal all challenged the shy three-sport star from Sheldon High to lead the Ducks back to prominence.
After deciding to return for his senior season, Herbert helped deliver a 12-2 finish, a Pac-12 championship and a Rose Bowl victory while completing 66.8% of his passes with 32 touchdowns and six interceptions.
“I’m a different kid, to be honest,” Herbert said. “I think the kid that showed up at the University of Oregon isn’t me anymore. There’s aspects of my game that have changed. I’ve become more vocal, I’ve become more outgoing, and there are things that you have to do to be a quarterback.
“The way a quarterback carries himself, I think I’ve done a great job of becoming that over the last four years.”
Since rushing for three touchdowns in the dramatic 28-27 victory over Wisconsin in “The Granddaddy of Them All,” Herbert said he has been working under center and on his throwing mechanics.
LSU’s Joe Burrow and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa are expected to be the first two quarterbacks drafted, but neither will throw during Thursday’s on-field session.
That gives Herbert, the most valuable player of the Senior Bowl, and Utah State junior Jordan Love, another first-round prospect, more of the spotlight as they audition for NFL coaches and executives.
“I think anywhere I get drafted would be special,” Herbert said. “I want to play this game as long as I can. I’m going to do everything I can to do that.”
Follow Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @RGDuckFootball and email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com.