The Los Angeles Chargers have been quite fortunate to have featured one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, Philip Rivers, the past decade and a half.
But rather than wait until Rivers declines or, god forbid, suffers an injury, the franchise must begin looking toward the future.
The big picture: Philip Rivers is no spring chicken, and the Chargers have absolutely nobody behind him currently who can take the mantle when he retires.
- Rivers is 37 now and will turn 38 during the 2019 NFL season.
- The Chargers have already made it clear recently that finding Rivers’ replacement is a huge priority.
- The 2019 NFL Draft isn’t a great one for quarterbacks, but the way Los Angeles is positioned in the draft the franchise could end up having a good one fall right into its lap.
Meet the candidates: The Chargers currently own the No. 28 overall pick in Round 1, so it’s highly unlikely they’ll land Kyler Murray, Drew Lock or Dwayne Haskins.
- Daniel Jones (Duke) could potentially fall and be there when Los Angeles picks, but it’s unlikely. If he were available, the Chargers would likely be giddy about landing him as a long-term replacement for Rivers.
- Will Grier (West Virginia) will almost certainly be available. The Chargers might be wise to try and trade down into the top of Round 2, if Grier is a quarterback they like. He has the temperament and gunslinger’s mentality to match Rivers, so it could be a great match.
- Ryan Finley (N.C. State) is a really good mid-round option. He might be available when Los Angeles picks at the end of the second round. His accuracy, experience and size make him a potential starter in the NFL long term.
- Later-round picks that make sense are Tyree Jackson (Buffalo) due to his explosive arm, and Brett Rypien (Boise State) due to his ability to come through in clutch moments.
Beyond football: The Chargers have another reason to ensure they have Rivers’ replacement in tow sooner, rather than later — their new digs.
- The Chargers and Los Angeles Rams are planning to move into Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park in 2020.
- This team has already had a heck of a time generating any local support — it’s been downright embarrassing as recently as last season, when the Chargers were Super Bowl contenders.
- With this in mind, the Chargers might even consider trading up into the top half of Round 1 if one of Murray, Haskins or Lock is still available and they have a high grade on said quarterback.
The bottom line: It’s better to be early than late when it comes to drafting quarterbacks.
- At the least, Los Angeles could develop a young quarterback and then trade him for a high pick if Rivers keeps playing at a high level — like what New England has done.
- Entering a brand-new stadium and falling into an immediate rebuilding phase if Rivers doesn’t keep playing well would be a crippling blow to a franchise that’s already on life support.