Chargers now have drafting power

Charlie Whitehurst may make the San Diego Chargers better immediately and down the road.

Not bad for a guy who has never thrown an NFL pass.

Taking advantage of the Seahawks’ need to develop a young quarterback, the Chargers received a great bounty for a player who has never been a factor and did not appear to have a future in San Diego any time soon.

In return for Whitehurst, Seattle flipped second-round picks with San Diego in next’s month draft and will send the Chargers a third-round pick in 2011. San Diego will now draft No. 40 in the second round, 12 picks after its No. 28 selection in the first round. San Diego, which had the No. 60 pick in the second round, now has three third-round picks in 2011. The Chargers got a third-round pick next year when it sent cornerback Antonio Cromartie to the Jets earlier this month. The choice can improve to a second-round pick based on Cromartie’s playing time.

These two trades give San Diego great flexibility and a great opportunity to reload.

The Chargers have more draft needs this year than in recent years, and these trades will allow them to find several quality players. The Chargers need a running back and a nose tackles. They should be able to address those needs at No. 28 and No. 40.

San Diego could potentially package both picks and move up in the first round to get Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, who is considered the best back in the draft, if he is available in the 12-15 range. San Diego could also start using those 2011 third-round picks as trade bait.

The Chargers are in a position of strength – all because they traded their third-string quarterback, who was selected with the 81st pick of the third round in 2006. Whitehurst was nowhere near unseating Billy Volek as Philip Rivers’ backup.

I know some San Diego fans haven’t been thrilled with the team’s lack of activity this offseason. But this was a huge move. Getting this type of value for guy who doesn’t play is simply stunning.

Watch for San Diego to try to replace Whitehurst late in the draft with a developmental quarterback prospect. No offense to Whitehurst, but he will not be difficult for San Diego to replace. But his value to Seattle should pay off big for the Chargers.