San Diego Chargers Offseason Needs Part One: Quarterback

Paul PreibisiusAnalyst IApril 1, 2010

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers walks on the field during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the New York Jets at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Rather than delve into a full overview of the San Diego Chargers as a whole, which would expand to elephantine proportions, this will begin a position-by-position look at the San Diego Chargers and what prospects that position holds for both the draft and the 2010 season.

We will begin with what is the most settled position at the top, quarterback.  Keep in mind, that draft potentialities are focused upon where the position fits within the overall scheme of the team, and thus options will be presented along multiple tiers, even if they are not entirely likely.

Also, in the context of this year’s draft, Round One alone is on the first day, while day two entails Rounds Two and Three and day three comprised four through seven.

Philip Rivers spent 2009 as the youngest player to receive an MVP vote. He’ll still be 28 deep into the 2010 season, and is both the present and future of the team. 

Behind him the team has one of the league’s better backups in Billy Volek. He proved that he could step in when the team is in a pressure-filled situation and deliver when he engineered the tail end of a surprise playoff victory when Ladainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers were both sidelined by injury.

He is soon to be 34, however, and while being a career backup has kept his mileage low, eventually he will need a successor.

The departure of Charlie Whitehurst opens up a need for both a third-string quarterback, and eventual successor to Volek in the backup role.

That is a position that the team can afford to be somewhat lax on. Any player they draft will not have a chance at starting for at least five or six years, and at best will either be a solid backup or great trade fodder (a la Whitehurst this offseason).

Because of the above factors the team should be able to wait until the fairly deep rounds in order to find a third-string option.

The first two rounds are obviously out; there is not a chance of wasting a pick that early. Finding a third-round pick would also be unlikely given the team’s plethora of needs that could be addressed.

Instead the fourth would likely be the first chance you could see of a quarterback.

Dan Lefevour is projected as a fourth, possibly fifth-round candidate out of Central Michigan. He looked solid in his college career, and would probably be a full round higher if he had a bigger school to his credit.

Lefevour not only is a great value prospect, who could develop into a strong quarterback prospect, but also could become solid trade fodder. His potential to succeed at an NFL level could eventually fetch a nice deal by a team that likes what it sees out of him across a few preseasons.

One of the two fifth-round selections seem far more likely than a fourth-round choice however. The team has two relatively close-together picks along with no sixth-round choice, thus attempting to net value here makes sense.

Assuming Lefevour does not drop far enough for the team to pick, San Diego could pursue either Zack Robinson or Jonathan Crompton.

Robinson had a difficult year after Dez Bryant was unexpectedly banned from NCAA football, but showed well at the Senior Bowl, which speaks to his ability to adapt to an altered situation.

Before his leading weapon was taken away, Robinson put up good numbers at Oklahoma State, and would be a solid value.

Jonathan Crompton is a more interesting choice. He failed to show any individual big seasons, but did show great improvement once better coaching was put in place at Tennessee.

He doesn’t have the trade-bait potential of a QB who can develop into a starter with upside of a Lefevour or even Robinson, but would be an inexpensive late addition who should be able to develop into a solid backup after a couple years behind consummate professional Volek.

The final option would be to engage in a seventh-round pick or undrafted free agent that is almost exclusively to be third on the team’s depth chart, while earmarking a pick down the road.

The team can use a fourth or fifth-round choice in 2011, which would be the team’s sixth or seventh total pick in the draft. 

This makes a lot of sense as the team can focus on finding productive depth players at other positions within this draft, which, while not top heavy, is rich in second or third-round caliber prospects. The depth of second and upper-third-tier talent at several positions means many solid names will drop a round or two below value.

The well of names at this level is deep, but if one need be narrowed out it is Tim Hiller of Western Michigan. Before his senior year he looked poised to become a day-two candidate, but a down year plunged his stock to the bottom of the pool.

Being that he would be added as the emergency quarterback, that is of little issue, and if somehow he can make good on the potential he flashed as a junior, the team could end up finding itself a great bargain backup to succeed Volek.

This, above all others, makes sense not only for who they can find, but what they can do with those fourth and fifth-round picks this year, and the team’s well-stocked 2011 draft that could be put to use for a true second-string candidate.