Chargers GM Would Have Taken Tua Tagovailoa if Justin Herbert was Gone

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco says he would have taken Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL Draft had Justin Herbert come off the board before his pick.
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When it comes to the NFL draft, NFL general managers have to prepare for every conceivable scenario that might unfold. For the Los Angeles Chargers, that meant crafting backup plans should their top target, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, go off the board prior to their pick.

"We felt great about all three quarterbacks who sent in the top six," Chargers general manager Telesco said on the Pat McAfee Show. "If you're going to pick this high and there's a potential franchise quarterback, you have to take him."

The Chargers wanted Herbert all along, but they also knew another team could realistically pick him earlier. In particular, reports surfaced in the days before the draft suggesting that the Miami Dolphins might trade up to the No. 3 overall pick, perhaps for a quarterback or an offensive tackle. Telesco heard those rumors but didn't find them credible.

"Every rumor I heard, I went through my head of how we handle this if this happened," Telesco said. "Now, the whole Miami taking a tackle at three. Maybe they were, I just didn't believe that one."

In the end, the Dolphins opted to stay in their original spot, the No. 5 overall pick, and take Alabama signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa. That left the Chargers with their quarterback of choice without needing to move around the draft board, an ideal situation from a process standpoint.

But while they ultimately didn't need to pivot from their original strategy, the Chargers had contingencies plans in place if necessary. All general managers miss on some picks, but the good ones control the process. Telesco did, and he landed a quarterback he and his organization believe can grow into the face of the franchise.

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