Breaking up IS hard to do, and it’s not just a line in a song. The San Diego Chargers and their fans have come to realize this harsh reality over the past few seasons with quarterback Philip Rivers struggling to find time to deliver accurate passes and ultimately getting rattled or pressing even when afforded with a clean pocket. Much like hanging onto that old flame hoping that the spark may just rekindle one last time; fans have been clinging to hope that Rivers can regain his form as a Pro Bowl quarterback and lead the Bolts to the Super Bowl that they were destined for by so many analysts in years past. It seems like the time is right with a regime change and a culture overhaul for the team to finally start planning for life after Rivers.
While that life doesn’t have to begin immediately, the preparation and development for that day to arrive sooner rather than later should arrive posthaste. The Chargers have dabbled in mediocre career backup quarterbacks during Rivers’ tenure as starter with a combination of Billy Volek and Charlie Whitehurst holding the clipboard on and off over the past seven years. This seems like the right time to invest a serious draft choice in a developmental signal caller.
New Head Coach Mike McCoy’s offense has proven malleable to any caliber of gunslinger during his time in the league from a Hall of Famer like Peyton Manning to a sorry excuse like Tim Tebow. Regardless of style or level of ability, McCoy has shown an ability to move the ball. This certainly aids the Chargers as they attempt to find a quarterback to develop behind Rivers for the future.
The perfect combination of a classic drop back quarterback and the dynamic, mobile threat just happens to be available in this year’s draft in E.J. Manuel. This former Florida State Seminole has been compared to Ben Roethlisberger by many scouts and for good reason with his ability to make defenders miss as well as get outside of the pocket and throw darts down the field. His strong legs allow him to stand strong even with players attempting to bring him to the ground which only further extends the play.
Manuel’s showing at the NFL Scouting Combine opened the eyes of many as he put together quite the string of numbers. A 40-yard dash time of 4.65, a vertical jump of 34.0 inches, a broad jump of 118.0 inches, a 3-cone drill time of 7.08, a 20 yard shuffle time of 4.21 all placed him near the top of the heap among his quarterback brethren. As one of the biggest signal callers in this upcoming class, those types of speed numbers to go along with a rocket arm make him a rare breed.
At 6’5” 237lbs. many scouts have given Manuel a second round grade in the upcoming draft. Although the Chargers have some pressing needs to attend to in this year’s selection, if he is still available by the time their second round pick of 45th overall rolls around, Manuel must be considered. The time to plan for the future is today in the NFL and if the Bolts don’t get to work soon, they may be left without a serviceable option when the end of the line arrives for Rivers.