The Chargers have been one of the most talked-about teams in the run-up to next week's NFL Draft as rumors persist that they could be in the market for quarterback Marcus Mariota. That, of course, would mean moving on from Philip Rivers. But is San Diego willing to part with perhaps the greatest quarterback in the history of their franchise? That's the million dollar question for the Chargers as they enter draft week stocked with the 17th overall pick.
In this scenario, though, San Diego simply sits at No. 17, with Mariota having gone off the board sixth overall. So what else do the Chargers need? Running back is perhaps the biggest need position, with Ryan Mathews relocated to Philadelphia. Luckily for San Diego, the draft class is stocked with running back talent to be plucked in the first few rounds. In round one, though, Georgia's Todd Gurley is the prize, but he too is off the board here. Is this too early for Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon?
Elsewhere on offense, the line could use some addressing in the effort to improve the run game. Former Eagle King Dunlap is the left tackle, bookended by former first-round pick D.J. Fluker, and Orlando Franklin was signed in free agency. But there are still weak links in the interior that could be helped by any number of prospects in this position. LSU's La'El Collins, Pittsburgh's T.J. Clemmings, Stanford's Andrus Peat and Miami's Ereck Flowers would be the ones to watch. Clemmings might make the most sense simply from a run-domination standpoint.
The defensive line needs help as well, despite the presence of former first-rounder Corey Liuget and 2012 second-rounder Kendall Reyes. The Chargers finished 29th in run defense per play in 2014 and 29th in sacks per pass attempt. Sean Lissemore is a capable nose tackle, but Washington's Danny Shelton would be an immediate upgrade. Oregon's Arik Armstead is probably the most talented prospect available in this scenario and would give the Chargers a potential difference-maker up front. Texas' Malcom Brown and Oklahoma's Jordan Phillips would also be possibilities, depending on how they're viewed.
The biggest help to the pass rush here, aside from Armstead, would be Kentucky's Bud Dupree, who might also be considered the best player available by some.
Finally, the Chargers secondary is solid, but there is value to be had in this scenario. San Diego signed former Saints first-round pick Patrick Robinson in free agency, adding him to a stable that includes 29-year-old Brandon Flowers and 2014 first-round pick Jason Verrett, who stepped in as the nickel cornerback immediately as a rookie. Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson and Connecticut's Byron Jones would be possibilities. Alabama safety Landon Collins, meanwhile, may not be the most versatile player in the class, but he could pair well next to perennial Pro Bowlers Eric Weddle.
So what will the Chargers do in lieu of a franchise-altering quarterback trade? You make the call …
- 1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Jameis Winston
- 2. Tennessee Titans: DL Leonard Williams
- 3. Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Dante Fowler, Jr.
- 4. Oakland Raiders: WR Amari Cooper
- 5. Washington Redskins: LB Vic Beasley
- 6. New York Jets: QB Marcus Mariota
- 7. Chicago Bears: WR Kevin White
- 8. Atlanta Falcons: LB Shane Ray
- 9. New York Giants: T/G Brandon Scherff
- 10. St. Louis Rams: WR DeVante Parker
- 11. Minnesota Vikings: CB Trae Waynes
- 12. Cleveland Browns: RB Todd Gurley
- 13. New Orleans Saints: DE Randy Gregory
- 14. Miami Dolphins: WR Breshad Perriman
- 15. San Francisco 49ers: LB Eric Kendricks
- 16. Houston Texans: WR Dorial Green-Beckham