Max Duggan joins ex-TCU teammates as Chargers draft QB 7th in NFL draft

ByLindsey Thiry ESPN logo
Sunday, April 30, 2023

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Former TCUquarterback Max Duggan shut off his cell phone quickly after receiving a call from the Los Angeles Chargers, who were selecting him with a seventh-round pick (239th overall) in the 2023 NFL draft.

When Duggan powers his phone back on, he's anticipating it will be flooded with messages, including from new Chargers teammates Quentin Johnston and Derius Davis, whom the Bolts selected with a first- and fourth-round pick, respectively, and who served as two of Duggan's top three targets with the Horned Frogs.

"There's a lot of excitement," Duggan said from his home in Iowa about joining the Chargers. "Throughout this process, I feel like I built a lot of good relationships with all of the coaches on the coaching staff and really built up and connected with them in that way. Obviously, you see Q and DD go earlier and there was a lot of excitement to be a part of this franchise."

The Chargers are the first team in the common draft era to select a quarterback and multiple skill position players (running back, receiver, tight end) from the same school in a single draft.

With the Chargers, Duggan returns to L.A. and SoFi Stadium, where he played his college finale for TCU in a 65-7 loss to quarterback Stetson Bennett and the Georgia Bulldogs in the national championship game.

Bennett also is returning to L.A. and SoFi Stadium to begin his pro career after the Los Angeles Rams selected him with a fourth-round pick, 128th overall.

The No. 2 vote-getter for the Heisman last season, Duggan, 22, will join a quarterback room that includes 2020 first-round pick Justin Herbert, who is currently negotiating a long-term extension with the Chargers, and fifth-year pro Easton Stick, who returns as a backup after signing a one-year, $1.8 million deal.

Duggan will compete for a backup role.

"We thought he had some traits to work with," general manager Tom Telesco said. "Obviously you have a dual-threat quarterback, tough, strong, physical, fast. That's not typically the first four traits you say for a quarterback, and he just has those at such a high level and really good arm strength."

In joining a team with an established starting quarterback, Duggan said his goal was to become a "sponge."

"That's the best thing about this is that you go into this team, this franchise, and you get to learn so much from people that are so knowledgeable, so talented, have been around it for a long time," Duggan said. "Go in there, be a sponge, learn as much as you can, compete, add as much value as you can in whatever way or whatever role that is."

Duggan began last season as the backup for TCU before starter Chandler Morris suffered a knee injury in a season opener. Duggan took over, then maintained the job as he led the once-unranked Horned Frogs to a school-record-tying 13 wins and their first College Football Playoff appearance in school history, which included a victory over No. 2 Michigan in the VRBO Fiesta Bowl before advancing to the championship game.

Duggan earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year after passing for 32 touchdowns and rushing for nine more. He helped the Horned Frogs to seven come-from-behind victories, including five second-half comebacks.

"He has some skills to kind of work with and give him a chance to come in and compete," Telesco said. "You see him play throughout the course of his career, he just has that grittiness and toughness that is just hard to find. We'll work with him and see where it goes from there."