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2024 NFL draft: 3 potential backup quarterbacks to Justin Herbert for Chargers to watch at Combine

The 2024 NFL Combine begins this week, with 321 prospects due to attend the event in Indianapolis.

The Chargers, along with the league’s other 31 teams, will use the results to solidify their draft board, bringing their plans for April into greater focus.

Here are four quarterbacks for Los Angeles to watch at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Devin Leary, Kentucky

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

With Easton Stick set to hit free agency and 2024 seventh rounder Max Duggan on the roster bubble, the Chargers could very well pursue a new backup option for Justin Herbert during this draft cycle.

Leary is an intriguing option due to his proven mental acumen in a pro-style offense under new Buccaneers offensive coordinator Liam Coen. He’s also a good enough athlete to extend plays despite an average at best arm. His accuracy in the shorter areas of the field and ability to get through reads quickly, however, should be enough to get him an NFL shot.

Sam Hartman, Notre Dame

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

A veteran starter at Wake Forest before moving to Notre Dame for the 2023 season, Hartman parlayed his transfer into invitations to the Senior Bowl and Combine. His offensive structure at Wake Forest often prevented him from showcasing his pure abilities due to the infamous slow mesh the Demon Deacons ran, but playmakers like Saints WR AT Perry and Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker aided him.

In South Bend, Hartman ran an offense more similar to what the Chargers are expected to run under Jim Harbaugh. Behind running back Audric Estimé, the Irish ran a primarily ground-based attack, with no receivers recording more than 30 receptions but four between 20 and 29 catches on the year. A solid athlete whose primary flaw is reading muddy pictures after the snap, Hartman is another strong backup candidate in this draft class.

Austin Reed, Western Kentucky

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Another year, another Air Raid quarterback available on Day 3 of the draft. Reed transferred to Western Kentucky ahead of the 2022 season from Division II West Florida to replace Patriots QB Bailey Zappe for the Hilltoppers. In two seasons, Reed led Western Kentucky to a 17-10 record, throwing for over 8,000 yards along the way.

Reed’s mechanics are inconsistent when the play breaks down, which can lead to some accuracy issues to either sideline despite an NFL-caliber arm. Teams may also take issue with his stature (6’0”, 223) or college system – Air Raid quarterbacks have historically struggled in the NFL.

JJ McCarthy, Michigan

Story originally appeared on Chargers Wire