The Los Angeles Chargers don’t have a selection during Friday’s second day of the NFL draft, having traded the two they had a day earlier for a second first-round choice.
The Chargers selected Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert with the sixth overall choice Thursday, then drafted Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray with the 23rd selection which they obtained from the New England Patriots in exchange for their second- and third-round choices, the 37th and 71st selections.
“A very rewarding day for us,” general manager Tom Telesco said.
Herbert called being selected by the Chargers — who are seeking a successor to Philip Rivers, their starting quarterback since 2006 — “such an incredible opportunity.”
“Words can’t describe how excited and thrilled, and fired up I am for this opportunity,” Herbert said from his family’s home in Eugene, Oregon. “I’m going to do everything I can to be the best quarterback I can be, and do everything I can for the city of Los Angeles.”
Herbert completed his Oregon career by being selected as the Rose Bowl Game’s offensive player of the game, running for three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score midway through the fourth quarter, in a 28-27 victory over Wisconsin.
Before the Rose Bowl Game, Herbert was selected as the Ducks’ recipient of the Tournament of Roses Scholar Athlete Award, the last in a series of academic honors he received.
Herbert was the 2019 recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is considered the “academic Heisman,” honoring academic and athletic success along with leadership and community achievement.
The Campbell Trophy is college football’s most prestigious award, honoring both athletic and academic achievement.
Herbert was the CoSIDA Academic All-America Team Member of the Year for Division I Football for the 2018 and 2019 seasons and the 2019 Scholar-Athlete of the Year for football for the Pac-12 Conference.
Herbert graduated at the end of the fall quarter, majoring in general science, with a 4.01 GPA, according to information provided by the University of Oregon.
Herbert had nine quarters with a GPA above 4.0 and was a three-time Dean’s List honoree. The courses he completed included cell biology, organic chemistry, general physics, sensory physiology and geologic hazards.
The 6-foot, 5-inch, 236-pound Herbert’s football highlights at Oregon include being second in program history with 95 touchdown passes and 10,541 passing yards.
“He brings us a lot,” Telesco said. “I think the combination of his physical skills, his style of how he plays and his makeup. It’s just really intriguing to us. He’s a big, fast, dual-threat quarterback with plenty of room to grow.
“We really love his quarterback potential, his quarterback makeup, his leadership skills, his toughness, his mental toughness, being able to handle adversity.”
Telesco said Tyrod Taylor “is in the driver seat” to be the Chargers starting quarterback in 2020.
“You would never tell anybody that there’s no competition,” Telesco said. “There’s always going to be competition and we’ll see, once we get on the grass whenever that happens, we’ll go from there.”
Rivers signed with the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent last month after he and the Chargers mutually agreed that he would not be re-signed.
Telesco said “it takes a lot” to trade up for a player, but the Chargers did so for Murray because he is “a premium player for us, someone we had rated very high and we just think he fits our defense to a tee.”
“He’s long, he’s fast, he’s physical and plays with a really violent mentality,” Telesco said. “He has great leadership qualities. I think as he grows and matures, he’ll be a leader here at some point down the road.”
The 6-foot, 2-inch, 242-pound Murray started all 42 games in his three seasons with Oklahoma. He was the Sooners’ first true freshman to start a season opener at inside linebacker since 1975.
Murray was a third-team All-America selection by The Associated Press in 2019 when he made 102 tackles and 17 tackles for losses, both team highs.
“My biggest quality is my work ethic,” Murray said. “I’m a guy that is going to come in and set the tone. You’re getting a guy that’s extremely passionate about the game.”
The coronavirus pandemic forced the NFL to cancel plans to conduct the draft in Las Vegas. Instead, all selections took place via videoconferencing from the homes of team executives. Telesco made the Chargers’ selections from his home in Newport Beach.
“The whole draft process, at least from our end, was smooth,” Telesco said. “We had no issues on our end — internet worked, computers worked, video conferencing worked, phone line works.
“I still wish we had the faces in a room, it’s just kind of strange making a draft pick with nobody here. No coach here, no ownership, even assistant coaches. When you make a pick, usually everyone is so excited about it, but there’s no one here to celebrate it with besides my family.
“That was fun to celebrate with the family, but it’s just a lot different.”
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