The Chicago Bears added more talent to their backfield on Day 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft by giving a running mate to quarterback Justin Fields as they drafted Khalil Herbert. The former Virginia Tech setback is one of my sneaky Dynasty values and could also return 2021 redraft value. Herbert is a bit of a late-flowering return prospect whose outburst only came to the 2020 season after transferring from Kansas (where he first arrived in 2016) to Virginia Tech. But don’t let his age, diminish size (which actually works his service, but more on that later) or late breakout lead you astray. Herbert can ball, and in my opinion he is the most underrated vantage point of his position in the entire class.
Herbert is used to being underestimated and unheralded. He never topped 1,000 rushing yards in any season out of American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla., So he went into college football as a three-star RB recruiter (247Sports). In fact, Kansas was his only Power Five offer. While Herbert showed some signs in Kansas, his breakout came at Virginia Tech when he got into the right system and environment. Some may see it negatively, but I take the opposite guidance and lean instead on his unaffected head.
We break down everything you need to know about Herbert from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, Dynasty prospects, measurable, scout report, key stats, and an NFL comparison.
2021 Fantasy Impact
Herbert joins a Bears backfield that includes breakout second-year back David Montgomery, Damien Williams and Tarik Cohen. While expectations will be high for Montgomery in year 3, it is important to note that we have seen Chicago reduce its workload in the past with coach Matt Nagy choosing to go with different backs in different situations. Williams was likely to be signed as insurance for Cohen if the latter’s return from injury takes longer than expected – both are likely to be considered advanced specialists.
For Herbert, his clearest path to playing time in year 1 comes back as a change of pace. Whether he can return value on this role or not depends entirely on his effectiveness and whether it can lead to a role in the red zone. Herbert is limited as a receiver after barely being used in the passing game in both Kansas and Virginia Tech. However, Herbert showcased big-time YAC capabilities in 2020 with limited receiving details. It is possible that Herbert may develop into a major contributor to the passing game, but less likely to increase immediately in 2021. In the end, Herbert’s redistributive value probably depends on damage that opens up opportunities.
The prospects of the dynasty
Herbert’s age, late college breakout, and size will all be used against him in dynasty society. I understand that – that’s the nature of the game, and in general, prospects who have these factors must work against them to be outliers for success. But let’s not omit the fact that Herbert has legit mid-4.4s speed and game speed that allows him to easily break away on film. He also joins a coaching staff and system to suit his skill in Chicago. You’ll probably be able to grab Herbert at the back end of your rookie draft with one of your last picks, and he’s a pilot ticket I’ll see in every rookie draft.
- Runs incredibly low to the ground and has a large center of gravity, making him extremely difficult to tackle in the open field.
- Herbert has a thick lower body and gets a lot of strength from his lower half.
- Contact balance is one of the most important traits of any RB, and Herbert demonstrates a border-elite ability to remain balanced in contact.
- Herbert is more than just fast speed – he consistently breaks long runs and has broken out playing speed.
- A broken tackle machine that easily creates yards after contact.
- Shows excellent patience and vision as a runner while maintaining plus burst.
- Although billed as a one-year marvel, he found his step in 2019 with Kansas before transferring (over a small trial of four games).
- Offers instant upside special teams as a returnee.
- Light on his feet, and this is most visible in his cuts in space.
- Impressive ability to stop and start while driving.
- Demonstrates the features and toughness needed to keep up with care protection.
- Herbert will enter the NFL as an older prospect for the position and in general (fifth year senior).
- Not much production or experience as a recipient – only 34 receptions in 46 career collegiate games.
- It is not clear why he ended up transferring from Kansas mid-season in 2019.
- Although he has the traits to become a usable back in pass protection, there are times on film where he looked uninterested and unaware of where he should be in pass pro.
|2020 in the top 25||2||29||145||5.0||1||2||8||4.0||0|
|2019 in the top 25||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable|
Advanced statistics to know
(all from 2020)
- 19 transports of 15-plus shipyards – sixth most in the country
- 782 yards after contact – eighth most in the nation
- 42 lost tackles forced – 14th most in the nation
When I see Herbert, who was nicknamed “Juice”, and it’s not hard to see why, I see nuances of former Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew. He’s not quite as powerful in the bottom half as MJD was, and he’s not quite as fast, but he has similar traits to those that made Jones-Drew such a special back in the NFL in a short period of time.