Over at MockingTheDraft.com I participated in a 7 round mock draft, plus 3 undrafted free agents. This was done over 3 weekends and Bolts From The Blue posted a couple of the links to the threads that covered the mock draft live. Since I was effectively representing Bolts From The Blue it seems only apt that I share the picks I made for the Chargers with our community. I want to give some insight as to my thinking at the time, and I want to give some background on each pick just like I did with the ranked players in "This Smells Rank." Here's the picks and explanations with the scouting reports coming after the jump.
1. (28) Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State - This a popular choice for the Chargers in mock drafts including our own first round mock draft, but I didn't make the pick because it was trendy. I made it because I firmly believe in Matthews abilities, because he was a top player on my board, because we have a need at RB and because I think he helps the Chargers more than any other pick available at the time.
2 (60) Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama - Oops. This is basically straight out of an episode of "When Mock Go Bad." This was 3 weeks ago, the Chargers didn't yet have the 40th pick, Antonio Cromartie was just traded, Donald Strickland wasn't officially on the Chargers, Nathan Vasher still belonged to the Bears and I got screwed out of all the top 3 nose tackles in the draft. Never fear, Terrence Cody and Cam Thomas were both available at #40 so I would have picked one of them and I wouldn't have shed a tear about not getting a top CB since the Chargers' needs have changed.
3 (91) Eric Decker, WR, Minnesota - This is basically a value pick. On my board Decker stuck out as a guy who can end up a starter in the NFL, but was slipping due to some injury concerns. The Chargers can develop him into a future starter in case Vincent Jackson or Malcolm Floyd leave anytime soon.
4 (123) Selvish Capers, OT, West Virginia - Another value pick. Capers could be a guy that goes in the 3rd round and there weren't any other players at this point in the mck that I could say the same about. RT is definitely the OL position for the Chargers that is the biggest question mark going forward and Capers could develop into a starter there or provide depth.
5 (155) Daryl Sharpton, ILB, Miami - I can't remember the last time the Chargers had a player from the U, can U? Sharpton was available here due to what I can MLB syndrome. There are only so may MLB spots open in the 4-3 and these guys don't come out often enough to make a backup a priority. On top of that teams can be picky about what type of guys they want to play that position. Fortunately the 3-4 doesn't discriminate as much and teams that play it can pluck guys like this in later rounds to fill out depth, play in a rotation and contribute on special teams.
Note: The draft was started before compensatory picks were announced. The Chargers actually have another 5th round. In the spirit of this mock where I haven't drafted a NT yet, we can assume I drafted a NT prospect, the guy at the top of my board at the time was Al Woods, NT, LSU who I profiled in This Smells Rank: Nose Tackle Edition. The Chargers also don't have a 6th round pick, which is accurate because they used it to trade for DE Travis Johnson.
7 (220) Matt Nichols, QB, Eastern Washington - I actually wasn't available to make this pick, but I do like the direction the moderator went in. The Chargers have an opening for a developmental QB and Nichols needs developing, he's a QB and he was the highest QB on my draft board at the time.
Undrafted Free Agents:
1., QB, Troy - You never really know a guy until you get him in camp and run drills, so since another one of my developmental QB prospects was available I figured the Chargers would bring him in and compete for a spot with Nichols. If they like both, then one can go to the practice squad.
2. Andrew Quarless, TE, Penn State - A couple of times I was thinking about getting a TE only to have the guy I wanted get picked before I got a chance. Quarless is very athletic and needs refinement. I bet he'll be a good special teams player and could develop into an offensive weapon to team with Gates.
3. Hall Davis, OLB, Louisiana-Lafayette - You can never have too many pass rushers. Hall fell through the cracks in this mock most likely due to his small school background. He'll have a tough road to earn a spot, but there will probably be openings in 2011 so working hard may get him a year on the practice squad.
Ryan Matthews, RB, Junior
If you're not familiar with Matthews by now, then you haven't been following NFL draft internet hype. Matthews is a slight bigger back then LT, but he's not necessarily a ground and pound runner. He does have a good stiff arm though, which is reminiscent of our former All Pro back and his patience, speed and balance are all in line with what a quality NFL back needs. His upright running style will not bring to mind any visions of LT, but is more along the lines of Adrian Peterson, which brings up questions about ball security. He does have an injury history already and his true pass catching abilities are a bit of a mystery, but he looks good in practice. Obviously, he's not a sure fire star or he'd be going in the top 5-10 picks in this draft, but he's the next best thing which is probably more than you can usually expect from the #28 pick.
Kareem Jackson, CB, Junior
I'm going to ask you to check out This Smells Rank: Cornerbacks for info on Jackson. But, keep in mind what I said above about this pick because he's probably not on the Chargers' radar as much anymore.
Eric Decker, WR, Senior
Decker is a well built WR standing at 6'3, 217 lbs. Decker has a history with injuries. In 2008 he missed a game with an ankle injury and then had to play through a hip injury later in the year. In 2009 his collegiate career ended early when he suffered a Lisfranc sprain, which involves torn foot ligaments. He had to have surgery to repair it and is still recovery. The one comfort to this is that both Ted Ginn and Brandon Stokely have had similar operations and came back really well from them. Decker was a 3 year starter at Minnesota, was 1st team All Big Ten in 2008 and played OF for the Golden Gophers baseball team. He was a go to guy during his time there where almost all his big games were the close contests where they needed to keep making big plays. His hands are his best asset and might be the best of any player in the draft. Obviously his size is also an advantage and he uses it to position himself for using those excellent hands as well as to make yards after the catch. His speed was never elite and is a question mark follow his foot injury, but as long he makes a full recovery he should be fine since he never needed to be a sprinter to make an impact. His leaping ability was also good, but there's a chance the injury affects that as well He's quite smart and the rumor mill says that he may have scored the highest on the Wonderlic at the combine.
Selvish Capers, OT, Senior
As an right offensive tackle at West Virginia he first protected left handed Pat White's blind side and then stayed at RT for right handed Jarrett Brown. West Virginia ran a spread offense, but in 2009 it was a little closer to a traditional offense. These two things give Capers a versatility that many OT prospects in this draft don't have. Much like current Charger RG Louis Vazquez, Capers will need to adjust from those wide spread offensive line formations to the traditional NFL ones and learn things like pulling and trapping in order to become a starter. He's very athletic so scouts see a lot of upside in his abilities, but someone has to help him tap into all of them. He was originally a TE, so maybe the Chargers could sneak in some tackle eligible plays for him.
Daryl Sharpton, ILB, Miami
Miami has produced a few LBs that have played ILB and MLB in the NFL (Ray Lewis, Jonathan Vilma, D.J. Williams), but Sharpton is more of a "tweener" than those guys. Due to his size/speed combination he's not ideal for the 4-3 MLB position so he'll probably get passed up by 4-3 teams. However, his high motor, toughness, aggressiveness and ability to deliver the big hits will let him make an impact on special teams while a 3-4 team develops him as an ILB. As a potential contributor on defense he does have some good pass rushing skills so he could be brought in on obvious passing downs. He won't be able to run with pass catching TEs in coverage, but he will be able to strike fear in WRs who try to go over the middle. For those curious, he's the nephew of Reverend Al Sharpton.
Matt Nichols, QB, Senior and Levi Brown, QB, Senior
I did my best to cover these guys in This Smells Rank: Charlie Clipboard/Quarterback Edition, but the information is somewhat lacking. Basically, they are both cheap gambles at the QB position who some scouts think can become starters.
Andrew Quarless, TE, Senior
After a couple of suspensions for underage drinking and then for a DUI and marijuana possession, Quarless cleaned up his act for his senior season, which in turn translated in a big year for him including setting the Penn State single season catch record and the Penn State bowl record for receptions in a win over LSU. Most of his ability is tied up in his speed and size. His speed and leaping abilty are elite for a TE and his size is similar to Antonio Gates. He is a legitimate end zone threat and will be able to stretch the middle of the field. His blocking is shaky and not very physical, he's inconsistent catching the ball and is only beginning to develop as a route runner. He does have some blocking skills though because he he is good at finding targets to block on them move, so he could be an asset on screens and he can use his quickness to engage a defender away from the line of scrimmage, which can help set the edge for outside runs.
Hall Davis, DE/OLB, Louisiana-Lafayette
Internet scouting reports are lacking on this Ragin' Cajun, but Chargers Senior Executive Randy Mueller attended his pro day and his size is similar to Shawne Merriman's when he came out of college. Davis left the combine early due to injury and some of its effects were lingering when he attempted to run the 40, which came in over 4.8. If the injury slowed that time significantly, then that's actually a pretty decent time all things considered.His sack production wasn't very high from the DE position in college, which probably will eliminate him from draft consideration by the Chargers. However, UDFAs don't require a lot of financial commitment so kicking the tires on him is not a big gamble.