After parting ways with Philip Rivers last offseason, many wondered how long it would take the Los Angeles Chargers to find their new franchise quarterback. It didn't take long, as No. 6 overall pick Justin Herbert proved he had a bright future in the NFL in his very first season. Herbert was named the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year at the 2021 NFL Honors, despite being the third-overall quarterback taken in the 2020 NFL Draft. He threw 31 passing touchdowns this past season, which was an NFL rookie record. He also averaged 289.1 passing yards per game, which was an NFL rookie record and the fourth-most this season overall.
After Herbert's breakout rookie season, many are expecting him to really take the reins of the franchise in Year 2. The 22-year-old is focused on improving his game this offseason, but is also figuring out what kind of leader and player he's going to be. During a Thursday interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Herbert was asked if there was a quarterback he hoped to emulate. He responded by saying none other than the greatest of all time.
"I think anyone should aspire to be like Tom Brady, to have as much success as he's had for as long as he's been able to do it," Herbert said, via NFL.com. "I don't think there's anyone that's ever done anything like that before. To win, that's the ultimate goal of the quarterback position is to put your team in a position to win. He's been able to do that. He's a competitor, and he finds a way to win, and I think that's the best part about it."
If there was any doubt about Brady being the best of all time, he put those concerns to bed this past season. In his first-ever change of scenery, Brady took the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from a 7-9 team to Super Bowl champions. Playing in five Super Bowls since turning 37 has allowed Brady to become the GOAT of NFL players, as his four championships in those five attempts have given Brady more Super Bowl titles than any franchise with seven.
Herbert still has a ways to go, but he displayed star potential in his first season. Herbert is the second Chargers player to win AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, and he led all rookies in passing touchdowns, passing yards per game, 300-yard games and completions. Even with all of this success, Herbert is humble enough to know there are plenty of areas where he can improve.
"I think I can keep learning about the game," Herbert said. "I think if I know more about defenses, coverages, pressures, all of that, I think that better helps our team. And I think if I can master the playbook and know exactly what we're doing, why we're doing it, so that when I get up to the line of scrimmage and I see a certain front, see a certain pressure, I'm able to get us into a great play."