Chargers grab potential successor for Philip Rivers in Cardale Jones

The Chargers are looking to play the long game with Cardale Jones and develop the second-year quarterback. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn was understandably laudatory in discussing the potential of new quarterback Cardale Jones, who was secured in a trade with the Buffalo Bills for a conditional, seventh-round selection, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

"Cardale is a good, young talent, and he's going to add competition behind Philip Rivers," Lynn told the team's website. "He's the type of quarterback you want waiting on the runway. He's going to have the opportunity to come on the field and compete. Cardale is someone we think can be developed."

Rivers is signed through the 2019 season and has already said that he wants to still be playing when the Chargers open the new Inglewood Stadium in 2020. The addition of Jones gives the team someone to take time with and groom behind Rivers.

The Chargers did extensive work on this year's quarterback class but did not select a signal-caller in the draft for the fourth straight year. Although Rivers has started 176 straight games, he turns 36 in December, and at some point, the Chargers need to develop a succession plan for the North Carolina State product.

General manager Tom Telesco has drafted just one quarterback since he joined the Chargers: Brad Sorensen, a seventh-round selection in 2013. Sorensen is no longer with the team.

The Chargers have two additional young quarterbacks on the roster in Mike Bercovici and Eli Jenkins, both of whom were undrafted.

The Chargers took on a reclamation project last season, claiming Zach Mettenberger off waivers after the Tennessee Titans released him last May. A sixth-round selection in the 2014 draft, Mettenberger finished 0-10 as a starter in Tennessee.

Mettenberger had a relationship with Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt from his time as the Titans head coach. Whisenhunt had a hand in selecting the LSU product.

Mettenberger was brought in to compete with Kellen Clemens for the No. 2 quarterback job, but that competition never really materialized, and the Chargers released him toward the end of training camp last year. He eventually landed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Chargers were enamored with Mettenberger's physical tools -- he's 6-foot-5, 225 pounds -- but it did not translate to production on the field.

Similar to Mettenberger, at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds with a rocket arm, Jones is a project who needs a lot of seasoning.

At Ohio State, Jones finished 11-0 as a starter and helped to lead the Buckeyes to the 2015 national championship, so he has a winning pedigree. He also has decent movement skills for a bigger quarterback, so zone-read option could be in his future.

However, it's fair to question how Jones' skill set will translate to Whisenhunt's complex passing game after he spent most of his time at Ohio State as a spread quarterback.

The Chargers can begin their assessment of Jones once training camp starts Sunday. But at least they have a moldable piece of clay in Jones waiting in the wings once Rivers walks away from the game, which likely won't be any time soon.