Rookie Easton Stick slowly getting up to speed with Chargers’ offense
COSTA MESA, Calif. — Easton Stick has drawn comparisons to Carson Wentz and Taysom Hill since being drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers in the fifth round two weeks ago. There’s nothing wrong with comparisons, but the first task for the fifth-round pick is learning the playbook.
He’s also taking to heart a key piece of advice Wentz gave him: continue doing what got him drafted. That process started over the weekend when the Chargers held their rookie minicamp.
“You can’t come out and try to reinvent yourself or be somebody that you’re not. People see through that stuff, and it won’t allow you to be successful,” Stick said.
Stick succeeded Wentz at North Dakota State after Wentz was the second overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016. All Stick did was become the winningest quarterback in FCS history (49-3) while leading the Bison to three national championships.
Wentz has mentored Stick throughout his career as the two continue to be in regular contact.
Stick displayed plenty of athleticism at North Dakota State. He passed for 8,693 yards and 88 touchdowns but also rushed for 2,523 yards and 41 TDs. Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said the Bison’s offense was more conventional compared to other colleges and that his presence in the pocket along with throwing on the run stood out. Whisenhunt and coach Anthony Lynn also said Stick lined up under center more compared to other college quarterbacks, which should put him slightly ahead.
What also stood out was Stick’s ability to retain information. Whisenhunt said they quizzed Stick on three plays they sent him and that the level of recall was above average compared to other college players.
“It’s still on the board in there (the quarterback room),” Whisenhunt said. “For a college football player having to learn something that’s a little bit different than what he’s done, put the time in and come back without any notice and be able to put it back up on the board was really impressive.”
It is the fourth time since 2006 the Chargers have drafted a quarterback with the hope he would develop into a solid backup to Philip Rivers. The only time it has panned out was in 2006, when they selected Charlie Whitehurst in the third round. Whitehurst spent six seasons with the Chargers in two stints (2006-09 and 2012-13).
The plans for this season are for Stick to vie with Cardale Jones for the third quarterback spot after the Chargers signed Tyrod Taylor to be Rivers’ backup. Stick said Rivers has texted him but that the two have not met.
There is the possibility that Stick could see the field if the Chargers use him like the Saints have done with Hill. New Orleans’ third-string quarterback lined up as a running back, tight end and wide receiver and was used on special teams last season. At 6-foot-1, 224-pounds, Stick has the bulk and has shown the durability to take hard hits.
Whisenhunt said Hill’s first task is learning to play quarterback in their system.
“It’s hard to think that you’re just going to plug somebody into that role and think he can do it without really learning the basics of having to play quarterback,” Whisenhunt said. “He’s an athlete. He does a lot of good things athletically on the field, which you can see him do, but we are excited to see him play the quarterback position and see how he can develop at that.”
While Stick was taking snaps on the practice field, first-round pick Jerry Tillery continues to rehab from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. The defensive tackle remains on track to be cleared for contact by the start of training camp in late July.