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What the Chargers Need in the 2017 NFL Draft: Quarterback

The Los Angeles Chargers are talking about drafting a QB in the 2017 NFL Draft, but what is their strategy for doing so?

NFL: Preseason-San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start reviewing the Los Angeles Chargers position by position and figure out what they need to be looking for in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Up today, the Quarterbacks.

The starter: Philip Rivers

The backups: Kellen Clemens, Mike Bercovici

What they need: A project for the future (?)

Philip Rivers is 35 years old, and he’ll be 36 by time the 2017 NFL season wraps up. That makes him the 5th oldest starting QB in the league (although he could be bumped to 6th if Tony Romo decides to un-retire at some point) and has led to the team openly talking about drafting a QB to replace him.

The Chargers could save some money by cutting him next offseason and a lot more money by cutting him the following offseason, but what is more reasonable to expect is Rivers retiring before his contract ends in 2020.

It doesn’t make a ton of sense for the team to draft an eventual starting QB this offseason for this reason alone: It’s really difficult to find a good starting QB outside of the 1st round, and a 1st round pick being used on a QB in the 2017 NFL Draft is a sign that the Chargers are ready to give up on the hope of winning a Super Bowl with Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates.

The Chargers will probably aim to accomplish multiple goals at once in the draft, using their early picks to help the current team and using a late-round pick on a project (raw) QB that they can groom into a starting QB over the next few years, but off the top of my head I can’t really think of a time where that plan has worked for any NFL team (with the possible short-term exception of Colin Kaepernick).

The team’s best bet is to try and find a QB that is mentally ready but undervalued due to physical limitations (read: height). That’s how the Seahawks ended up with Russell Wilson in the 3rd round and one of the reasons the Cowboys ended up drafting Dak Prescott in the 4th round. However, those two were so NFL-ready that they ended up starters in their rookie season and never gave up the spot. Not exactly what L.A. is looking for here.

Maybe it’d be best for the Chargers to sit this year out on QBs and wait until Rivers is actually done, or closer to retirement, before using a draft pick on his replacement.