Jason Verrett remains in Chargers' plans for 2018

COSTA MESA, Calif – The college all-star circuit kicks off next week with the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, which will be held at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 21.

You can check out rosters for that game here.

Los Angeles Chargers personnel and scouts will get an up-close look at some Day 2 and Day 3 draft prospects during the week before heading to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., scheduled for Jan. 28.

Many of the top quarterbacks will be on hand for the Senior Bowl, including Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Washington State’s Luke Falk.

You can find players who have accepted invitations to the Senior Bowl here.

On the hunt for a developmental prospect, Chargers scouts and coaches can get a good look at these quarterback prospects against top college talent on the practice field in two weeks.

Let’s take a look at a two questions from this week’s mailbag.

@eric_d_williams: I expect the Chargers to take a wait-and-see approach with Jason Verrett in 2018.

The Chargers picked up the TCU product’s fifth-year option for his rookie deal that will pay him a scheduled $8.256 million for the upcoming season.

Verrett’s contract is guaranteed for injury. He probably will not be able to pass a physical at the start of free agency in March, which means his salary is guaranteed for 2018.

The Chargers got solid play from Trevor Williams last season with Verrett out. And with the development of rookie Desmond King at slot defender, along with Pro Bowler Casey Hayward, the Chargers have pretty good depth at corner.

However, unpredictable things happen during the regular season, and it’s certainly an advantage to have a talented player such as Verrett available on the roster.

“This is a passing league,” Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. “You have to be able to cover. You need a lot of corners. You need a lot of different styles sometimes, too. I’m glad to get him (Verrett) back in the mix. He’s one of our leaders. He really is. He’s got some intangible leadership characteristics that are hard to find.”

Of course, Verrett has to stay healthy. Verrett was placed on season-ending injured reserve after just one game in 2017 to have surgery on the same left knee that he suffered a partial ACL tear and had surgery on in October 2016.

A first-round selection by the Chargers in the 2014 draft, Verrett has missed 39 of a possible 64 games in his four seasons with the Chargers.

Telesco said Verrett is on track to return to the field this offseason, and that he’s doing some running on the grass.

“We just need to be smart with it,” Telesco said. “I don’t think we were overly aggressive with it last year. It just kind of happened the way it did. This surgery wasn’t an ACL reconstruction, which takes a lot longer. He’ll be back in the offseason program a little bit earlier. We’ll be smart with it.”

@eric_d_williams: Taking a big guy like Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne certainly is an option for the Chargers in this year’s draft, but I actually like the depth they have up front along the defensive line.

Brandon Mebane and Corey Liuget are both under contract. Damion Square and Tenny Palepoi are solid rotational players, and Darius Philon developed into a playmaker last season.

I also think guys such as Isaac Rochell and Whitney Richardson offer versatility and good upside. And defensive line coach Giff Smith does a nice job of finding and developing talent.

Obviously, most NFL observers point to the fact the Chargers gave up 131 rushing yards after contact last season, second-worst in the league, and automatically assume they need a two-gapping nose tackle to clog things up inside. That’s understandable.

But the Chargers don’t run that type of scheme, instead asking their guys inside to get up the field and create penetration.

And you also have to remember the Chargers played with at least five defensive backs on 712 snaps this year. And while safety Adrian Phillips had a nice year, the Chargers have to find bigger and more athletic linebackers either through the draft or free agency so they can play more base defense to help shore up the run defense next season. Think K.J. Wright for the Seattle Seahawks or Telvin Smith of the Jacksonville Jaguars.