Pack Pride takes a look back at the class of 2000…
Past tells the future for Chargers QB Rivers
Noel Mazzone, who was Rivers' offensive coordinator at North Carolina State, has seen first round picks come and go throughout his coaching career. But Rivers' intangibles are what make him stand out and are a huge reason why the Chargers were always so high on him. "Of all the kids I've been around in 23 years…what made him special was just that, the intangibles," Mazzone said. "He's a unique kid in regards to leadership, skill, and intensity." The Chargers knew they weren't drafting another Ryan Leaf as they got to know Philip Rivers on a more personal level before the draft. "When you meet Philip there's something that's just contagious about his personality," Mazzone said. "He just gets excited about whatever you're doing at that point; he has that draw to him. He's just such a fun guy to be around." As Mazzone stated, Philip Rivers is a high energy guy at all times, whether he's eating with the team during a pre-game meal or firing passes to receivers during practice. Although Rivers' infectious personality will win over the fans and gain the respect of his coaching staff and teammates, more importantly, it will help him build a successful NFL career in combination with his impressive skill set. "One of those things you talk about in a quarterback is mobility," Mazzone said. "One of those intangible things that makes Philip even better is that he's a very creative kid. When he's got the ball in his hands, he's going to make something happen, and 99 percent of the time it's going to be good. He's got a great feel for where his guys are on the field." Mazzone further stressed Rivers' leadership capabilities, stressing that Rivers is the type of quarterback who likes to take charge and be the type of player that a team can build around. With his creativity, motivation, leadership skills, size, and mobility, Rivers falls into a unique category of quarterbacks. A safe comparison to Rivers would be Chad Pennington of the Jets. Remaining mobile and being able to escape from the pocket will be key for Rivers, especially with San Diego's weak offensive line. Furthermore, Mazzone believes Rivers' keen ability to adapt to a situation will pay off, and he will not shy away from any challenge. There are, however, a couple question marks that remain with the six-foot-five quarterback in regards to how fast he will be able to progress and solidify himself as a number one quarterback and whether or not his side-arm delivery will hinder him. Regarding his progression, Rivers' head is exactly where it should be, as Mazzone called him "one of the quickest learners I've ever been around." During his tenure at NC State, Rivers' numbers increased steadily every year. "He's such a student of the game, he absorbs the game," Mazzone said. "He sees the big picture offensively that I would imagine he's going to grow. "The more he feels comfortable with something, the more he's going to excel." And with Rivers' large frame and height, the Chargers do not have to worry about his delivery. Mazzone, who barely noticed Rivers' low delivery when first arriving at NC State, believes that it will not be a problem for him in the NFL. Mazzone also stressed that Rivers is one of those players who will be able to handle pressure both on and off the field. "Of [all the quarterbacks] I've coached, there's no question about my choice about who I'd want to run a two minute offense. As the games get bigger and the pressure mounts, I think that's when he gets better," said Mazzone, a former quarterbacks coach. There's only so much that college success can tell about a quarterback. But if Rivers is all that Mazzone builds him up to be, both on and off the field, San Diego may very well have the next great quarterback that they've desperately sought for years.
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