The Los Angeles Chargers have not selected a quarterback in the NFL draft since taking Brad Sorensen in the seventh round in 2013. With the No. 17 overall pick this year, the Chargers likely will be out of range to take one of the top-tier signal-callers.
However, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said this year’s quarterback group is a deep class.
The Chargers have done their homework, including attending the pro days of top quarterback prospects Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph. But it’s not just the top QBs the Chargers keep an eye on. Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta and Western Kentucky’s Mike White are two mid- to late-round prospects who could make sense for Chargers.
“We scout them all, so we don’t just spend all of our time on first-round quarterbacks,” Telesco said. “The same amount of time that goes into those first-round guys also goes into those guys that will go in the third, four, fifth or sixth rounds.
“We have them graded, we have them lined up and we have them ranked, not only at their position, but across the board compared to other positions. So there’s some decent depth there.”
Telesco acknowledged that the team’s approach to molding a quarterback and getting him on the field differs when it’s a first-round prospect compared to a late-round signal-caller. And the Chargers already have pretty good depth at the position, with Cardale Jones and Geno Smith competing for the No. 2 job behind franchise quarterback Philip Rivers.
“If you draft a guy late in the draft, No. 1 he has to come in and win a job,” Telesco said. “And we’ve got two pretty good quarterbacks here right now that have some talent in Geno Smith and Cardale Jones. So their first job is to come in and beat somebody out.
“If you take a quarterback in the first round, I think that scenario changes a little bit.”
Telesco said at this point in the draft process he and his staff will examine some of the mock drafts just to go through different scenarios that could occur Thursday. Telesco also said the team will assign scouts and coaches two teams each and execute its own mock draft on Tuesday.
“I think we have it narrowed down who the three or four guys that could be there or should be there, but I do want to go through some of those mocks and just see if there will be a surprise, if there’s a possibility,” Telesco said.
“And I think it’s just a good exercise for us to walk through it, whether the mock is very accurate or not accurate. Those aren’t bad either because they force you to see how you would react if something happened, just so you have your bases covered.”
Three years ago, the Chargers moved up two spots to No. 15, sending their first- and fourth-round picks in 2015 and fifth-round pick in 2016 to the San Francisco 49ers in order to draft Melvin Gordon. At the time, Telesco said Gordon was the last impact player left on the board in the opening round and the Chargers wanted to make sure to get him.
Sitting at No. 17 again this year, Telesco did not rule out the possibility of a similar scenario happening Thursday.
“You never close the door on going up or down, so it’s always a possibility,” Telesco said. “So, we could. It just depends on how the draft plays out. We’re right in that area. I don’t think anybody has 32 players rated as first-round draft picks. But you would never close the door on going up or down, depending on what’s on the board.”
Telesco said this year’s draft leans more toward defense in terms of talent and that his staff now has a better idea of how players fit into defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s scheme after a year of watching players on that side of the ball in practice and games.
“With Coach [Anthony] Lynn, I really felt last year I had a great idea of what he was looking for,” Telesco said. “So this year doesn’t feel any different in regards to that. He has a pretty big say — and obviously he should — in what we’re doing.
“But probably on defense this year, with seeing the scheme for a full year on the practice field and in the games, I think we all have a better feel for what exactly Gus is looking for on that side of the ball.”