One of the things that inevitably happens this time of year is that teams that don't draft high have to start giving up on players they liked. During the college football season I try to find the sweet spot of players that are very talented, but just flawed enough that they'll slipped into the second half of the first round. Players like Von Miller, Cameron Jordan and Ryan Kerrigan were seniors at positions the Chargers could use. However, as postseason evaluations start to get done, people start to realize how good some of these players and that some of there flaws have been overcome. For example, Von Miller was thought to be too small to play in the 4-3 or hold up at 3-4 OLB, but it turns out he's a little bigger than people thought and he plays LB a lot better than people thought. Now, he's considered a legit top 5-10 pick in the draft.
So, now that some of that dust is clearing who should we be looking at as potential targets at the No. 18 pick in the first round? Personally, I still believe that DE. OLB and WR will be the primary targets. At this point in the draft I expect the aforementioned Miller, Jordan and Kerrigan to be gone. Other potential impact players like Nick Fairley, Da'Quan Bowers, A.J. Green, Robert Quinn and Marcell Dareus have been suspected of going high for a while. A strong late season surge and a need for WRs will also push Julio Jones into that group and Akeem Ayers is also thought to go in the top 15. So, with that said, here's 5 names to remember (H/T to Shane P. Hallam for confirming my suspicions as to their potential availability at #18):
1. J.J. Watt, Junior, DE, Wisconsin, 6'5, 279 lbs
2. Cameron Heyward, Senior, DE, Ohio State, 6'5, 278 lbs
3. Aldon Smith, Junior, DE/OLB, Missouri, 6'5, 260 lbs
4. Jon Baldwin, Junior, WR, Pittsburgh, 6'4, 224 lbs
5. Justin Houston, Junior, DE/OLB, George, 6'3, 254 lbs
Sleeper: Muhammad Wilkerosn, Junior, DE, Temple, 6'5, 305 lbs.