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Pundits Predict Who the Bolts May Draft as QB of the Future

First things first – Philip Rivers is not going anywhere anytime soon.

After all, he is fresh off one of the finest seasons of his Hall of Fame worthy career in which he guided the Bolts to the league's number one passing offense.

Still, there is no denying a need to keep an eye toward the future, which is only natural when your quarterback will turn 37 this upcoming season.

"There's been an emphasis (on finding a potential quarterback) every year, certainly since I got to the Chargers," General Manager Tom Telesco admitted. "You never know when that opportunity is going to be there for that next quarterback, and we're in a great position because Philip is playing so well right now, and we feel really good about him. But we're also realistic to know that we have some work to do to plan for the future. The work we do and the resources we put in scouting that quarterback position is really no different than in past years."

So, has the time finally come to draft Rivers' successor?

We asked that question to a significant number of experts and pundits at the Combine, and their answers might raise Chargers fans' eyebrows.

Perhaps no one was more emphatic than NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport.

"This is the time to do it," he said. "I really do think that. Now, you like to do it when you're picking in the top 10 or five, but to me this would be the time. You don't need a quarterback to come in and play right away. Rivers is a pro. This guy (who comes in) will get to watch up him up close, and there's not going to be a quarterback controversy. Now, the Chargers have done the quarterback work over the past few years with workouts, and I expect them to do that this year. So yeah, to me this is perfect timing to get the guy for the future because you don't have to play him right away."

That line of thinking seems to match up with Telesco, who admitted there is merit to that scenario.

"Certainly in our case, our starting quarterback is 30-plus," he said. "We've always been looking to see who that next quarterback is, fully knowing when that guy comes in, whether it's the draft, trade or free agency, if the player has to sit for one year, two years, three years or longer, then he'll sit because we're very happy with the way Philip's playing. That's just part of it, but we're always prepared to do what we have to do. It just hasn't lined up for us."

Of course, the names that most cometo mind are the consensus first round picks including Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen.  It's considered a given that the Bolts would likely have to trade up if they are eyeing one of those prospects, which is a scenario Head Coach Anthony Lynn said could be on the table when presented with the question point blank on the podium.

"That's a good question," he said. "I plan on being here for the long haul. If I can get my future quarterback right now, why wouldn't we (trade up)? I'm just looking at the big picture here. We're trying to get better at every spot. And, you never know what position is going to step up and help you win."

NFL Network's draft guru Daniel Jeremiah was asked which of those top prospects he believes would be the ideal fit for L.A., and offered the name that may surprise most.

"I think Lamar Jackson may be the only one of the five staring at them where they're picking," he said.  "So to me, it's do you want to take Lamar Jackson, who is one of the more intriguing players we've seen come into this league in a long time."

Jeremiah may know what he is talking about as Lynn offered high praise for the Louisville quarterback at the podium.

"The couple games I saw, I think he's a nightmare for a defense," Lynn said.  "I think he's a good quarterback…. When you have a guy who can move around a little bit like Lamar, you make a defense play 11-on-11. And sometimes, they think that's not fair. But when the offense can go 11-on-11, that's a defensive coordinator's worst nightmare. That's what he brings to the table."

If the Chargers opt not to take a QB in round one, who may be some intriguing options later in the draft that Jeremiah recommends? 

"If you think Philip's got another three or four more years left, and you want to just get one in the pipeline, which I think probably makes a little bit more sense for them, keep an eye on a guy like Luke Falk out of Washington State in the first our second round.  He'd be a good fit there.  Mason Rudolph is kind of in that same range out of Oklahoma State.  You've got (Kyle) Lauletta who is a quarterback from Richmond, and you've got Mike White as another quarterback.  So you've got some options if you want to try to find one in that second or third round.  You're still committing to Philip, but you're getting another guy in the pipeline."

ESPN's Matt Bowen agreed with Jeremiah that getting a mid-round QB might be more prudent while also endorsing Rudolph.

"That's what people want to do," he said.  "They want to get a day two quarterback.  Day three you are getting a more developmental player.  Everyone understands that.  But day two in that second and third round wheelhouse, know you're talking Mason Rudolph from Oklahoma State.  A tremendous amount of experience who played a lot of football games in a high-powered offense.  A lot of play action.  A lot of RPOs (run-pass options).  That is where the game is going.  He throws one of the best deep balls in this draft.  Has great touch on the ball (but) doesn't have a massive arm."

One factor flying under the radar is that the Bolts may already have their quarterback of the future in the fold in Cardale Jones.  Lynn and Telesco have each offered strong praise of the former Ohio State star, who was acquired just before the start of last year's training camp for a 2018 seventh round pick.  Jones has the tools to succeed in the NFL, and the Chargers believe his progress this year may be telling to whether he may emerge as Rivers' eventual successor.

"He's a very young player," Lynn said. "People forget this guy never lost a college football game. He's 6-foot-5, 260, can move around pretty well and has a strong arm. Every day in practice he makes throws that make you shake your head. He's a highly intelligent young man. There's no reason why he couldn't be our future quarterback."

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