The NFL is always changing. Teams are always finding new ways to get an edge, and looking for something that can put them over the top. The Chargers had a very defensive oriented draft, but they did take a quarterback in the fifth round. North Dakota State product Easton Stick will have a chance to play behind Philip Rivers, but he could also be more than just a quarterback.
Stick was the backup to now Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, someone who Stick credits for helping him during the process of the NFL Draft. He took over the starting role in 2016 and ran with it… literally. Stick threw for over 8,600 yards and 88 touchdowns, but it was his rushing statistics that blew many away. Stick racked up more than 2,500 yards and 41 rushing touchdowns.
"I think it’s a part of my game,” explained Stick. “How much or how you do it [at the NFL level], I'm not sure. I definitely think it’s a part of my game. The ability to extend plays, try to pick up first downs when you have to and things like that are part of my skillset. I think that will transition."
That style could translate if the Chargers copy a style used by the team they have joint practices with during training camp: the New Orleans Saints. They were one missed pass interference call away from the Super Bowl. Sean Payton’s team got there with the help of a new weapon, a quarterback not named Drew Brees but instead Taysom Hill.
The second year undrafted quarterback is that prototypical player that, when asked what position they play, will always answer “wherever the team needs me coach!” Hill did everything for the Saints. He played special teams (winning Special Teams Player of the Week in Week 14), and lined up at quarterback and tight end, among other spots. Hill rushed for 196 yards, had 348 net return yards and scored three total touchdowns. So could the Bolts use Stick the way the Saints use Hill? Well that is a question that the staff has had to answer.
“We are going to teach him our system,” explained head coach Anthony Lynn. “He’s going to play quarterback for us. We have running backs — we don’t a need a quarterback that can run all over the place, but he can certainly create when he has to.”
Now the Chargers have a quarterback in Rivers, who is going into his 14th season under center in a helmet with a bolt logo. So one of the biggest things that will help Stick transition is time in the same quarterback room as Rivers. It will be difficult to ask him to play receiver or come off the field, but Stick knows that the opportunity to sit behind Rivers is not something to take for granted.
“He’s (Rivers) one of the best to ever do it,” said Stick. “To get an opportunity to be around him every day and learn, I can't imagine a much better situation or person to be around. I'm really thankful and looking forward to learning."
Stick is the second quarterback the Chargers have drafted under Telesco’s reign as general manager (7th round pick Brad Sorensen 2013 NFL Draft). Telesco said he liked that Stick played at North Dakota State because they run a prototypical offense. Stick took snaps under center and in the shotgun, and was responsible for reading the opposing defense.
“As a quarterback, he's very athletic with very good feet,” explained Telesco. “He can process quickly with his eyes. He has touch and accuracy. He's a quarterback that we really dialed in on.”
The Chargers have gotten more innovative on offense. Last season they began running jet sweeps, where a receiver or running back come in motion, is near the quarterback when the ball is hiked, and either receives the handoff or is part of the play fake.
As of right now, it seems like the Chargers will give Stick a chance to get acclimated to his new NFL home. But if they want to borrow from one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses, they must just have the perfect player to do so.