With the 2019 NFL Draft a week away, quarterback-needy teams are sure to take a signal caller early. That said, two teams with QB’s in the twilight of their careers should also take a look.
The Los Angeles Chargers and the New England Patriots have quarterbacks who are aging. Not necessarily breaking down, but much closer to the end than the beginning. They are also two teams who will figure into their respective divisions as playoff caliber organizations, looking for a draft piece that provides an immediate impact.
But does that mean drafting a quarterback should not be a priority? The Chargers have the 28th pick while the Patriots have the 32nd in the first round. Both also have backup quarterbacks that don’t exactly inspire faith in a future that could arrive sooner rather than later.
Los Angeles Chargers
In Los Angeles, Tyrod Taylor is the backup to 38-year-old Philip Rivers. For the 29-year-old Taylor, LA is stop number three of his NFL career, having spent time in Buffalo and in Cleveland. Both the Bills and the Browns have proven to be more dysfunctional than anything else.
Taylor not succeeding in those cities isn’t necessarily an indictment of his talent. Both of those organizations are more dumpster fire than not. All that said, he didn’t demonstrate the ability to move the needle of either team. While it would be unfair to label him a washout, it would be absolutely foolish to think he’s the heir apparent to Rivers.
As a backup, Taylor is serviceable. He’s also only a placeholder for what comes next. He’s not the guy the Chargers will build around in a future closer than fans may think. At 29, his career is more likely aligned with the No. #2 role than the top of a quarterback depth chart.
The 28th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft could offer some options and outside of the box thinking. If they wait until round two with the 60th selection, one quarterback who could make sense is Ryan Finley from North Carolina State. At 6’-4” and 213 lbs. He’s an accurate passer with good touch on the long ball and can stand in against the rush.
Simply put, he is not a first day talent, but can be on day two. Sitting behind Rivers and Taylor allows time for growth and understanding the NFL game. The Chargers don’t need a starting quarterback this season from this year’s draft. But time is ticking on Rivers, so why wait?
New England Patriots
I know. I know. The Pats are perfect, they just won another Lombardi Trophy, and Tommy Terrific will play and live forever.
Even I’ll admit, if he’s slowing down, it’s hard to tell.
However, while it’s premature to write the definitive eulogy for Tom Brady, 41-year-old quarterbacks can become brittle awfully fast. And while he’s done everything humanly possible to squeeze every bit of talent and perseverance from his body, age has a way of telling you when it’s time to go, even if you aren’t ready to.
The 32nd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft may loom large for New England. Sure they have Brian Hoyer, a journeyman backup for Brady, but is he the bonafide ”next” in a town where Super Bowls are expected?
Let’s not forget that Hoyer became expendable when the Patriots sent Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco. Hoyer then returned to New England, a team he already once played for, to resume the understudy role to Brady.
Seeing a trend here?
Hoyer is no more the future for the Patriots than Tyrod Taylor is in Los Angeles. Unless New England sees an inevitable rebuild followed by years of abject mediocrity post-Brady, a serious look at a QB isn’t the worst idea.
Should the Pats keep the 32nd pick, why not take a quarterback? Why not take a QB who can equally serve as the third or even second string quarterback to the legend that is Brady?
One quarterback who could play himself into the last pick of the first round of the draft is Will Grier from West Virginia. At 6’-2” and 217 lbs, Grier is being called a “riser” in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. So much so, that it wouldn’t be illogical that he rise all the way into a late opening night pick.
Maybe even the 32nd.
Some will say that the Patriots are too close to another run at a Super Bowl to risk a first round pick on a quarterback. There is some logic in that. But Grier is an interesting prospect who has tons of upside. Maybe too much to pass up with the last pick in the first round of the draft.
The Chargers and the Patriots have two solid starting quarterbacks who could wind up playing another season, or two, or three.
As such, 2019 could also be the year that age catches up with them.
Either way, waiting to fall so far back that either New England or Los Angeles has a top five overall pick is a needless penalty for waiting too long. Especially when opportunity knocks.