Welcome to Part 1 of our 2023 draft preview series, which will be a position-by-position look at key prospects and where the Chargers roster stands ahead of the NFL Draft. This series will include a look at which prospects could be options for the Chargers later this month.
We chatted with ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid to break down the signal callers in this draft class. Reid, a former QB and coach at North Carolina Central University, can be found on Twitter @Jordan_Reid for his analysis.
Chargers status at QB
The Chargers have Justin Herbert.
(OK, we should probably write more than that).
The Chargers have Justin Herbert … and have no need to look for a starting quarterback. Herbert has been the guy since he was drafted sixth overall in 2020, and he will continue to be the face of the franchise going forward, especially as he's now able to sign a contract extension.
Teammates and coaches raved about Herbert's increased and visible leadership in 2022, and that should only continue to grow as Herbert continues his career in powder blue.
On the field? He's set numerous records and could be in for his best year yet as he links up with new Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore.
Reid gave his opinion on Herbert going into Year 4.
"I'm a big fan of Herbert, I like him a lot. I think he showed tremendous strides last year, even though the Chargers didn't finish the year the way they wanted to, I think there were a lot of strides that he did make," Reid said. "With the deeper portions down the field, I think that was one area of growth that he needed to show. But with the offense, they didn't ask him to do it a whole bunch, but when he did throw the ball in deeper portions, I thought he showed some growth there.
"With the offense now, new offensive coordinator, I think there will be more things that they will ask him to do, especially replicate some of the things the Cowboys were doing last year. Too," Reid added. "I think they're going to push the ball down the field more than what we've seen in previous years."
In terms of Herbert's backup, the Chargers re-signed Easton Stick this offseason. He is now in line for that role after spending the past two seasons as the No. 3 quarterback on the roster.
Is QB a position of need?
At starter? No.
And the Bolts feel comfortable with Stick as the backup for this season.
But they could possibly look to add another quarterback late in the draft. Speaking of…
25 photos for the man who turns 25 today!
Key draft questions
1. Who's a late-round QB prospect that could be good backup?
"There's really two that I like a lot. The first one is Jake Haener from Fresno State. He's more of your Case Keenum, Taylor Heinicke- type of mold where he's a little bit undersized at 6-foot, 200 pounds. He isn't super physically talented as far the arm strength. He's just like Case was when he had the great year with the Vikings. He's limited as far as the arm strength perspective, but as far as just playing the position he knows exactly what he needs to do. He has the moxie, he has the confidence and he has that leadership quality that you love to see at the position. He's one, I think fifth or sixth round, I think that's where he can end up going.
"Dorian Thompson-Robinson from UCLA is another that I think would fit the scheme really well just because of the things he was asked to do in Chip Kelly's system. I think that really translates over to what Kellen Moore asked to do previously and what he's shown."
2. Who is your top QB in this draft class?
"It's Bryce Young from Alabama. The size, that's going to be the talking point with him — 5-10, 204 pounds — which is what he measured in at the combine. Either you like it or you don't, there's really no in-between with Bryce. As far as everything that you ask a quarterback to do at the next level he has that, he just doesn't have the size. He's just smaller, but the poise that he has, the accuracy that he displays, the wizardry that he plays with. He can beat you inside in the pocket, he can kill you outside of the pocket and just the way he's able to see, read and react, diagnose defenses and attack it. He has everything that translates to the next level."
3. Do you think Young goes No. 1 overall?
"There's a chance. I think it's between him and CJ Stroud [from Ohio State]. If I had to guess, I'd think [Carolina] would go Stroud, just because of he really checks all that boxes that [Panthers Head Coach] [Frank] Reich has liked in previous stops as far as being bigger stature guys that really win from inside of the pocket. He's coached Jacoby Brissett, Andrew Luck, the list goes on and on. Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, those kind of guys. CJ is more that mold compared to Bryce."
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah currently has five quarterbacks in his overall Top 50: 1. Bryce Young, 7. CJ Stroud, 10. Anthony Richardson, 12. Will Levis and 49. Hendon Hooker.
ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., has four quarterbacks in his overall Top 25: 3. Young, 4. Levis, 5. Stroud and 6. Richardson.
Potential Chargers options
Note: Heights and weights are from each player's profile on NFL.com (linked for each player's name).
School: UCLA | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt: 203 pounds
2022 stats: 13 games; 266-of-382 passing (69.6 percent), 3,169 yards, 27 TD, 10 INT; 118 rushes for 645 yards and 12 TD
Quick fact: Thompson-Robinson ended his UCLA career with the second-most career passing yards in school history (10,695).
School: Fresno State | Year: Redshirt senior | Ht: 6-foot-0 | Wt: 207 pounds
2022 stats: 7 games; 252-of-350 passing (72.0 percent), 2,896 yards, 20 TD, 3 INT; 46 rushes for -123 yards and 2 TD
Quick fact: Haener was a First-Team All-Mountain West selection in 2022 despite missing four games with an ankle injury.
School: Houston | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-2 ½ | Wt: 220 pounds
2022 stats: 13 games; 334-of-496 passing (67.3 percent), 4,079 yards, 40 TD, 10 INT; 128 rushes for 546 yards and 5 TD
Quick fact: Tune showed up in big games, as he was named the MVP in two separate bowl games in his college career.
School: Georgia | Year: Redshirt senior | Ht: 5-foot-11 | Wt: 192 pounds
2022 stats: 15 games; 310-of-454 passing (68.2 percent), 4,127 yards, 27 TD, 7 INT; 57 rushes for 205 yards and 10 TD
Quick fact: Bennett led the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championships in his final two years at Georgia.
School: Purdue | Year: Redshirt senior | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt: 213 pounds
2022 stats: 12 games; 320-of-499 passing (64.1 percent), 3,490 yards, 22 TD, 13 INT; 43 rushes for -81 yards and 1 TD
Quick fact: O'Connell ended his college career ranked fifth in Purdue history with 65 career touchdown passes.
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