Chargers.com will break down each of the team's position groups leading up to 2020 training camp. First up: quarterbacks.
With the departure of Philip Rivers to the Indianapolis Colts in free agency, Taylor assumes the veteran role in a young quarterbacks room.
Taylor has a starting record of 23-21-1. In nine NFL seasons, he has thrown for 9,562 yards, 54 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, while adding 1,843 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground. He was a Pro Bowl selection with the Bills in 2015, when Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn was Buffalo's assistant head coach/running backs.
With the NFL offseason being virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lynn said it's difficult to fully evaluate the quarterback position. Taylor, though, is someone the head coach can trust.
"Thank God I have some time on task with Tyrod Taylor, and he understands the offense that I want to run and what we're going to do," Lynn said. "And so, I'm very comfortable about that."
Shane Steichen, who took over as the Chargers' offensive coordinator in Week 9 of last season, praised Taylor for his ability to extend plays with his feet and move the chains as a runner. He said that both he and Taylor's teammates are looking forward to seeing what the quarterback can do in 2020.
"He's a grinder, now," Steichen said of Taylor. "He's the first one in the building, last one to leave – good leader for our team. [He] brings a lot of athletic ability to the QB room that we're excited about."
Another one of Taylor's strengths is taking care of the football. During his three seasons as a starter in Buffalo, Taylor's interception percentage was 1.3. In 2019, that percentage would have placed him in the top eight among all quarterbacks.
"It's easy to see that a lot of the things that we've discussed from a playbook standpoint, none of it's really foreign to him," new quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton said. "But with any quarterback, I think the key to that quarterback having the opportunity to play winning football in the NFL is all about their recognition of NFL defense. And that's where Tyrod really has a chance to separate himself from a quarterback with less experience."
The combination of a complete collegiate resume and stellar performances during each step of the draft evaluation process led Herbert to Los Angeles with the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Herbert made 42 career starts for Oregon, capping his time in Eugene with a 28-27 Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin. His three rushing touchdowns earned him Offensive MVP honors.
Following in the footsteps of several decorated Ducks quarterbacks – including Chargers great and Hall of Famer Dan Fouts – Herbert finished second all-time in passing yards (10,541) and touchdowns (95).
"His performances have made him an Oregon legend," Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal said. "And I know he doesn't like to talk about that kind of stuff because he is a humble guy, but you want to talk about just the ultimate competitor and field general, man, that's what Justin Herbert is."
Three weeks after winning the Rose Bowl, Herbert traveled to Mobile, Ala. for the 2020 Senior Bowl. After putting together an impressive string of practices, he went 9-of-12 for 83 yards and a touchdown in the game, good enough for his second MVP trophy of the month.
From Mobile to the NFL Scouting Combine Indianapolis to his pro day in Eugene, NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he doesn't think Herbert could have attacked draft season any better.
"What actually helped him even more was meeting with teams and they came away just impressed," Jeremiah said. "Obviously how smart he was – we knew he was going to be smart. But, the passion that he had for the game and I think he's got kind of a little bit of that reserved persona when you're from the outside. And I think as people got to know him, they realized he's got a little more juice to him than maybe you anticipated."
Herbert looked the part the moment he walked into the Chargers meeting room at the combine, according to Lynn.
"He checked all the boxes," he said the day after Herbert was drafted. "He went to the combine, he competed at the combine. He went to the Senior Bowl, he competed at the Senior Bowl. He had his pro day. He was healthy. He's a four-year senior.
"This is a guy who's ready to come into our league and I believe in no time he'll be ready to jump in and help us contribute. But right now, probably the best thing for him is he gets to go into a room with Tyrod Taylor and Easton Stick."
Stick enters his second season in the Chargers quarterbacks room. The former North Dakota State standout, who went 49-3 as the starter, was lauded for his intelligence in college, something that showed up right away in Costa Mesa.
"He's a pro," Steichen said. "He works at it. Again, he's a grinder – understands the game of football. [He] has good common sense, good feel for the game [and] understands defensive structure and what we're trying to get accomplished on offense. He's been a pleasure to have."
Stick's versatility was another reason why the Chargers selected him in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. In addition to being NDSU's all-time leading passer, Stick rushed for 2,523 yards and 41 touchdowns.
Hamilton said that NFL teams are taking notice of quarterbacks like Stick, who may not necessarily possess a traditional skillset.
"There were times in practice last year … where he was able to not only be the scout team quarterback of sorts, but he was able to do a lot of things on both sides of the ball in the practice setting," Hamilton said. "That's just a testament to his overall athleticism, but he has a chance to be a good quarterback and that's the reason why he's in this league."