We’re officially two weeks away from one of the most important days in Miami Dolphins history. When the NFL Draft finally rolls around in 14 days, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores are going to make a series of decisions that alter the future of the franchise for the next decade or more. Will drafting Justin Herbert be part of those decisions? If so, Oregon Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal believes Miami will find a “tremendous leader” to become the face of the team.
In an interview with Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Cristobal detailed why he believes Herbert’s character and personality are some of the reasons Herbert has “championship DNA.”
I’m talking as a player, as a person, as a teammate, as a competitor, this guy is a complete professional in his approach to everything he does,” Cristobal says. “And he’s the most unselfish guy I’ve ever been around. He is more than willing and happy to win a football game at the expense of any stat. He’s not into that stuff. He’s the complete team guy.
Salguero pushed further, asking the Ducks head honcho if he’s seen players “trusting [Herbert], buying into him.”
“Without a doubt,” Cristobal says. “If there’s something out there that’s negative about that I’d like to see it because scouts are supposed to come see me and talk to me if there’s something negative. Because I always give them the truth. And the truth is the team absolutely loves this guy. He’s a tremendous leader and he’s going to hold people around him accountable. Great quarterbacks have to do that.”
Salguero wouldn’t let Cristobal off the hook. Knowing that Flores is looking for the ultimate competitor in his team leader, the Miami Herald columnist wanted to know about Herbert’s competitive nature.
Cristobal recounts a conversation last offseason in which Herbert announced he wanted to attend the Manning Passing Academy, where the nation’s best quarterbacks gather to improve and compete.
“I asked him why do you want to go to the Manning camp this year?” Cristobal recalls. “He goes, ‘I really want to prove I’m the best.’ I thought that was awesome. When he came back I asked him, ‘What are some of the best things you learned?
“He said, ‘I learned what I had been learning all along and that is for teams to be great, the quarterback’s got to be their best leader. And that’s going to be one of focuses for me this year.’ And he did a phenomenal job with that here. Not a good job, not a great job, he did a phenomenal job as a leader for this football team.”
One of the ways in which some members of the media have pegged Herbert’s personality as being a demerit to his potential has been describing him as an introvert. In response to Salguero bringing up this idea, Cristobal clarified his position.
“I was an introvert growing up,” he says. “So I know what an introvert is. Justin is very personable. Extremely well-liked. And you see him now on all these different interviews they have him on, his personality is really coming out. I think at the combine when scouts were around him and actually got to ask him questions on anything regarding him and football and plans and desires and goals and all that stuff, I think he knocked it out of the park.
“Because he was able to be on a platform where he could actually describe that stuff and talk about it. No, I think this guy is open.
“It’s laughable to me when somebody uses a word like introvert to describe Justin Herbert. I’ve been around this guy for three years, man. You ain’t going to find better.”
I recommend reading the rest of the article here. Salguero did a fantastic job of digging up some much-needed context as to how Herbert was truly seen in the Ducks locker room.
Despite the fact that most Dolphins fans seem to prefer Tua Tagovailoa over Herbert (myself included) because of the former’s championship resume and outstanding accuracy, poise, and decision making, it’s becoming clear that the race between the two might be closer than we thought. If NFL teams fall in love with Herbert’s potential, it appears his personality might push them even further towards selecting him on draft night.
Want more pre-draft Miami Dolphins news and analysis? Follow Justin Hier on Twitter @HierJustin.