NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In the fourth version of his mock draft, ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Todd McShay has Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota going No. 2 overall – but not to the Tennessee Titans.
"I haven't completely ruled it out, but my gut tells me that they will not wind up going in that direction," he said. "The premise, really, in putting him at No. 2 is that teams would trade up to that spot."
In a national conference call with media Friday afternoon, McShay addressed the rumors that the San Diego Chargers would trade quarterback Philip Rivers to the Titans in exchange for the pick.
"I think Ken Whisenhunt -- and I think that organization -- would probably jump at the opportunity," he said. "I shouldn't say jump, but would probably look at the opportunity to get Phillip Rivers and get three or four years out of him."
Whisenhunt worked closely with the veteran QB as offensive coordinator for the Chargers in 2013. That season, the Chargers advanced to the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs, and Rivers was selected to the Pro Bowl.
"I think with Whisenhunt – the background there and the relationship – it just seems to fit," McShay said. "So I think they would go in that direction if they got a reasonable offer to make that deal."
The trade would be beneficial to both parties, McShay said. For the Titans, acquiring Rivers would mean adding a proven leader to the roster. With nearly 37,000 passing yards under his belt, he's ready to step in and run an offense.
"It's a proven commodity," McShay said. "You know what you're getting."
And for the Chargers, he continued, this trade could come at an optimal time.
"You know that Rivers doesn't want to be there (in San Diego) long term. Most people have heard that already," McShay said. "And if he's not going to want to come play with you long term, maybe this is your opportunity to go get the quarterback of the future."
The potential trade may take fans back to the spring of 2012, when the Indianapolis Colts decided to release future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning in favor of drafting Stanford star Andrew Luck in the No. 1 overall spot.
"It's not apples to apples with the Peyton Manning situation," McShay said, "but I think you can learn from that if you're San Diego and realize that you've got a chance to potentially get a good quarterback in Mariota."
Many analysts speculate that Mariota only excels in a spread offense and might have trouble acclimating to the pro game. But McShay believes Chargers head coach Mike McCoy can tweak his system for the Heisman winner.
"I think they would make it work," he said. "They've got to figure out the run game, but I think when you look at the weapons there, I think there's enough there that Mariota can come in and they can build around him."
It helps, McShay added, that Mariota's home state of Hawaii is much closer to San Diego than it is to Nashville. Rivers, too, would be closer to home. Born in Alabama, the 33-year-old went to college at North Carolina State.
McShay made clear that this trade rumor is just that – a rumor – and that neither team has confirmed that a swap might be in the works. But he still thinks it's a good idea.
"If that were to happen, maybe Tennessee would get what it wants and San Diego would wind up getting what it wants," he said. "And I think it would be a deal that both sides would be very happy with."