Drafting Philip Rivers‘s Successor
Philip Rivers has been the franchise quarterback of the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers since 2006. He has been masterful at his position and has eight Pro Bowl invitations as evidence. After all these years, it is clear that he will one day be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, no matter how many accolades he collects he is still human and his body will force him to retire in the near future. The Chargers have a number of quality backup quarterbacks on the roster but none are viewed as franchise caliber. The NFL Draft has a number of intriguing prospects who could be groomed under Rivers for a couple of seasons before taking over the reins of the franchise. Since the Chargers have more pressing needs at other positions, the following list will focus on prospects likely to be taken in the middle to late rounds of the Draft.
Gardner Minshew, Washington State University: He led a high octane offense which relied heavily on the pass. In three years his quarterback rating never slipped below 124 and he always completed more than half of his passes. His finest season was 2018 when he completed an astonishing 70.7% of his passes while leading the nation with 662 pass attempts. He exploded with 4,779 yards and 38 touchdowns in 2018.
Until recently, college quarterbacks who operated out of the spread offense were viewed as inept for pro-style offenses. This view has changed considerably, especially with the rise of Patrick Mahomes who won the NFL MVP in 2018. If drafted, Minshew would almost certainly ride the bench for a season or two before taking over the reins from Rivers. He can do well if he studies properly and can grasp the intricacies of a pro-style offense.
Trace McSorley, Penn State: Widely considered to be one of the most polished quarterbacks in the 2019 draft class, he had a less than stellar senior season. In that season he completed just 53.2% of his passes for 2,530 yards and 18 touchdowns. His best season was 2017 when he completed 66.5% of his passes for 3,570 yards and 28 touchdowns.
He does not often make mistakes and is a proven leader. He led the team to the Rose Bowl in 2016 and has been a steady presence in the huddle ever since. He can learn a lot from Rivers and can take his leadership ability to the next level while under his guidance.
Jarrett Stidham, Auburn: He transferred from Baylor University after the 2015 season and had to adjust to a different level of play in the SEC. He adjusted well and even beat Alabama in his first year. His best season was 2017 when he completed 66.5% of his passes for 3,158 yards and 18 touchdowns. In two years at Auburn he threw 36 touchdown passes against just 11 interceptions.
His college career speaks volumes about the kind of player he can become in the NFL. Defenses are much tougher in the SEC than the Big 12 and he had to learn a completely different playbook in a little over a year. By instantly flourishing in an extremely tough conference, his ceiling can be high in the NFL.
Brett Rypien, Boise State: Playing in a weak conference certainly helped his stats and he is the biggest gamble on this list. He never completed less than 61% of his passes in any of his four years as a starter. His best season was 2018 when he completed 67.3% of his passes for 3,705 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Small school quarterbacks have surprised many critics over the years. Players such as Joe Flacco and Carson Wentz have come from small colleges and found instant success in the NFL. Rypien’s college experience is different than these two examples because he played in a higher division. His conference is not known for bringing a ton of quality draft prospects to the table and he will have to prove himself from the start. Anything is possible with a good mentor such as Philip Rivers.