With the price to move up to draft a quarterback and a deep draft class, this will not be the year Philip Rivers’ successor is picked.
For years, rumors have swirled every so often about the drafting or signing of the guy next in line to be the Los Angeles Chargers’ quarterback. When did this annual tradition start? I’d go back to 2015. Rumors swirled for a while that the Chargers would trade Philip Rivers for the Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. Nothing came to fruition there, and the Chargers drafted the running back from Wisconsin, Melvin Gordon.
Shortly thereafter, Rivers signs a 4-year extension that year to keep him a Charger until 2020. After that, the discussion of successor died down for a bit. The 2016 draft was fairly quiet on any rumors, with Jared Goff and Carson Wentz being drafted Nos. 1 and 2 overall, respectively.. The Chargers ended up making what was a surprising pick at the time, selecting Joey Bosa, potentially Tom Telesco’s best move, ever.
The 2017 draft was another interesting year, where the Chargers had yet again a fairly high pick at No. 7. Rumors swirled again that this could be the year the Chargers get the QB of the future. Many analysts had Deshaun Watson pegged as a Charger in mock drafts. Instead, the Chargers drafted his teammate, Clemson wide receiver, Mike Williams. The Chargers later traded for Buffalo Bills quarterback Cardale Jones to be a backup to Rivers, and there was some discussion there about if he could be the guy. While the jury’s still out there, it seems that there’s no real potential there for Cardale to be the starter in a post-Rivers era.
And that brings us to March of 2018, current day, where the draft is only a month away. The team did meet with Baker Mayfield before his pro day earlier this month. They’ve also met and actually worked out with Mason Rudolph earlier this month as well. The quarterback rumors, once again, are in full swing.
But here’s the thing. The Chargers had one of their best seasons in a while last year and the team seems on the course to being a definite playoff contender this year. They are playing in an AFC West with a lot of interesting changes; coach John Gruden in Oakland, Alex Smith is out in Kansas City, and the Denver Broncos have a new quarterback as well. The Chargers have mostly stayed quiet in free agency with a team full of really solid, young talent. Unless Telesco absolutely falls head over heels in love with one of the quarterbacks, he absolutely has to draft a good, young piece for a team whose window is open now. And here’s the thing about windows in the NFL: unless you’re the New England Patriots, they don’t stay open very long. Have you seen the Seattle Seahawks this offseason?
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Other than the Chargers being in win-now mode, I ultimately think there’s not going to be a lot left for them at No. 17. The New York Jets have traded up to No. 3 to likely take a quarterback, and there are discussions about the New York Giants taking one as well at No. 2. Potentially, you could have three quarterbacks go in the top 4=four with Cleveland, and the two New York’s. After the top 10, the Miami Dolphins, Bills and Arizona Cardinals could very well all go quarterback before the Chargers at 17. That looks like six potential spots for quarterbacks in half of the first round. And it seems like it would take too much value for the Chargers to trade up, at least in a way that makes trading up worth it.
This draft is also fairly deep at positions the Chargers need, like offensive line and defensive tackle. The team needs some help at the latter especially, given how much they’ve struggled to stop the run last year, even with better overall defensive success than recent years. Inside linebacker is also a position to look at. While the team doesn’t desperately need some help at these positions, shoring up the offensive and defensive lines takes precedence over the quarterback, without a doubt.
Ultimately, Los Angels has a really good team that has its window open right now. With the price to move up in the draft and how deep the draft is at other positions, taking quarterback doesn’t make sense. The team also shouldn’t be in any rush to draft a quarterback either, as Rivers had one of his best years in recent memory last year, and certainly is not a shell of his former self. They also have a guaranteed two more years of the greatest quarterback in franchise history.