2020 NFL Draft: Mel Kiper Sends Justin Herbert to Chargers

Jason B. Hirschhorn

With the pursuit of former New England Patriots signal-caller Tom Brady in the rearview mirror, the Los Angeles Chargers have moved on to other options for their long-term future behind center. Tyrod Taylor will take the reins to start the upcoming season, but the team will look to the 2020 NFL Draft for their quarterback of the future.

To that end, ESPN's Mel Kiper sees the Chargers selecting a passer with the No. 6 overall pick in his latest mock draft.

6. Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

The Chargers appear uninterested in the quarterbacks in the free-agent or trade market, with Tyrod Taylor slotted in as their Week 1 starter. But maybe they're not interested in another veteran because they know they're in a good position to draft Tagovailoa or Herbert, and they can give Taylor the job while grooming a quarterback of the future. Based on their offseason additions (guard Trai Turner, offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, defensive tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Chris Harris Jr., among others), the Chargers think they can win now. Drafting the 6-foot-6 Herbert gives them the best chance to bridge their present with their future, similar to what the Chiefs did in 2017 when they drafted Patrick Mahomes.

Far from the first time Herbert has come up as an option for the Chargers, he remains a viable option should he last until the No. 6 pick. Herbert's size, athleticism, and arm talent make him an enticing option for any team in the need of a quarterback, and while he enters the league still raw in several areas, Los Angeles doesn't need to press him into action prematurely due to Taylor's presence.

Of course, the Chargers could go a different direction with their top pick. Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa appears to have made major strides in his recovery from a hip injury, and Utah State's Jordan Love offers plenty of upside in his own right. The team could also opt to address a different position in the first round, perhaps one of the other areas of need that remain following the first wave of free agency.

-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH