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Los Angeles Chargers undrafted rookie spotlight: Nic Shimonek

LAWRENCE, KS - OCTOBER 7: Quarterback Nic Shimonek #16 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders looks to pass against Kansas Jayhawks in the second quarter at Memorial Stadium on October 7, 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
LAWRENCE, KS - OCTOBER 7: Quarterback Nic Shimonek #16 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders looks to pass against Kansas Jayhawks in the second quarter at Memorial Stadium on October 7, 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Philip Rivers is the quarterback of the Los Angeles Chargers and will be for the foreseeable future. Still, there will be a heated battle for the team’s backup job this summer.

That battle could include three quarterbacks.

We’ve talked about how the quarterback depth chart behind Rivers could shake out this season, but those talks have mostly centered around Geno Smith and Cardale Jones.

Is there any chance that undrafted rookie Nic Shimonek could figure into the team’s plans this season?

Shimonek competed in the annual East-West Shrine Game, looking to improve his draft stock. He threw the game-winning touchdown pass with just over one minute remaining in that game. Still, he went undrafted.

He could find a long-term home in Los Angeles, however, as the team could be looking to groom a potential future replacement for Rivers. The idea of that being an undrafted player doesn’t seem likely, but stranger things have happened.

Born in Mildred, Texas, Shimonek originally committed to Iowa before transferring to Texas Tech. He was forced to sit out the 2014 season due to NCAA transfer rules before playing in 18 games as quarterback of the Red Raiders.

His senior season in 2017 was the only season in which he accrued extended playing time. He led the school to a 6-6 record and a spot in the Birmingham Bowl. Despite throwing for 416 yards and three touchdowns, Shimonek and his team lost the game to South Florida 38-34.

Highlights

Below is a package from a game between Texas Tech and Eastern Washington from last season. Despite putting up good numbers against a lesser opponent, you won’t see anything ultra-impressive here and will actually notice several mistakes made by the young player.

He finished the season by throwing for 3,963 yards and 33 touchdowns. Texas Tech has always ran a wide open offense that favors throwing the ball, and numerous quarterbacks have posted huge numbers at the school.

But none of them have made much of a mark in the pros.

That list includes Graham Harrell, Seth Doege, B.J. Symons and Kliff Kingsbury. The jury is still out on Patrick Mahomes. What can Shimonek do to succeed at the next level?

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My Take

As a rookie, the best thing he can do is be a sponge. Between Rivers, Smith and Jones, he’ll have a combined 21 years of experience to work under and absorb knowledge from.

At 6-foot-3, Shimonek has the look of an NFL quarterback and the arm talent that some fans will believe can turn him into a solid passer in the future.

His game is not anywhere near being refined enough to make the roster this year. He needs to work on his anticipation and timing as well as reading professional defenses, as can be expected out of pretty much any rookie quarterback.

He will be one of the more interesting players to watch this summer and his progression from day one in camp to the final preseason game will be something to keep a close eye on.

He won’t make the 53-man roster, but he should definitely earn a spot on the practice squad where he’ll have a shot at making the team as a backup in 2019, providing another team doesn’t like what they see in him so much that he gets plucked away from the Chargers.

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