It’s widely projected that the Los Angeles Chargers will select a quarterback with the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL draft next week.
However, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco provided few clues to the Bolts’ plan during nearly an hour-long video conference with reporters Friday, as he admitted that not even his family members — who he has been quarantined with at home for 30 days — know who he’ll select. “We kind of keep things close,” Telesco said.
The Chargers have been projected to select quarterback Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert in several mock drafts, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s.
Telesco declined to discuss individual prospects, but expressed that this year’s draft was deep in quarterback talent.
“It’s pretty strong,” said Telesco, who has yet to select a quarterback in the first round since he was named general manager in 2013. “I think that people tend to look at only the top of the draft at these different positions, but a lot of them there’s players as you move on, in second, third and fourth rounds that I think are going to be very good players in this league… it’s a good class of quarterbacks.”
The Cincinnati Bengals are expected to select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the top overall pick. The Miami Dolphins also are projected to take a quarterback with the No. 5 pick, though it’s unknown whether they will select Tagovailoa, Herbert or another prospect.
According to reports, concerns have surfaced across the NFL in regard to the health and durability of Tagovailoa, who suffered a season-ending hip injury that required surgery last year.
Telesco said he felt confident in the medical information that the Chargers gathered on each prospect. When asked where durability factored into the Chargers’ player evaluations, Telesco emphasized its importance.
“Very, very high,” Telesco said. “We have a lot of information on not just the injuries the players have had, but how they’ve healed and then really trying to predict out risk maybe down the road. Big part of the whole process. No matter how good a player is, if he’s not available to you, then he doesn’t help the team.”
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Chargers, like other NFL teams, have been unable to meet with prospects in person, but have held video conference meetings. Despite time limitations imposed by the NFL, Telesco said the video chats have been productive and that they have not limited the Chargers’ ability to review film or even have prospects draw plays on white boards.
“I think we’ve gotten enough from everybody,” Telesco said. “Players nowadays, they’re very used to this, they’re used to working on laptops with Facetime and everything.”
The Chargers have been expected to explore every option as they prepare to replace veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, who departed in free agency after 16 seasons.
The possibility remains that Tyrod Taylor will take over as starter. A nine-year pro, Taylor has mostly served as an NFL backup, with exception of a three-year stint as the Buffalo Bills starter, which included a playoff appearance.
“We’re really happy with Tyrod right now,” Telesco said. “He’s an experienced quarterback, he’s taken a team to the playoffs before, he knows our offense, he knows our coaches, our coaches know him, his teammates believe in him, we believe in him.”
Cam Newton remains available on the on the free-agent market, but when asked specifically about interest in Newton, Telesco avoided discussing the former NFL MVP.
“All of our resources right now are strictly on draft preparations, not only with the draft but actually preparing to do it the way we’re going to do it,” Telesco said. “We’ll look and see what’s available after the draft, free-agent wise, like we always do, but right now we’re comfortable with where we are.”