Tom Telesco is staying busy, with the recent signings of WR Deon Butler, WR Dan DePalma, and CB Cornelius Brown. Tom has added depth and has set this team up perfectly for the Draft later this month. Let's break down each position and how the signings may change what San Diego Does in the Draft. Each Free Agent acquisition will be italicized.
1. Philip Rivers. He is the guy at quarterback for this team, at least for one more year. He is the reason that Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt even wanted to coach this team. He has had dreadful seasons the past two years, but a new regime, new offensive style, and revamped offense should do the trick and return Philip to his previous form. Given time, I believe he is still easily a top ten quarterback in the NFL.
2. Charlie Whitehurst. I have no faith in this guy. I don't like him as the backup. He showed in Seattle that he isn't an adequate quarterback. His arm strength is not great by any stretch of the imagination, and I find him to be below average in this league. I'd love to see the Bolts draft a project quarterback in the middle rounds.
1. Ryan Mathews. He IS a talented player. He proved it a couple years ago, going over 1,000 yards and earning an invitation to the Pro Bowl. The problem is, he can't stay healthy to save his life, and he coughs up the ball consistently. He broke both clavicles last year, and that is a rare thing to happen to anybody. The Chargers are hoping he can stay healthy in 2013, but I'm not expecting it, and I think Telesco has his doubts. I see them adding an all-around back to pressure Ryan, or even replace him, in the Draft.
2. Danny Woodhead. I love this signing. I absolutely love it. It can be argued that part of the reason that Philip Rivers has struggled the past couple of years is partially due to the departure of Darren Sproles, now with the Saints. Woodhead brings everything that Sproles brought to the table, and then some. Woodhead clocked faster in the 40, and he can be lined up virtually anywhere. Behind Rivers, next to him in the shotgun, in the slot, or even out wide. This is a great pickup, and he will have an immediate impact on this team. If Mathews goes down, however, he can not carry the load. He will also help in the return game.
3. Ronnie Brown. Bringing back Ronnie Brown was a smart and under the radar move. Brown was the second leading receiver on the team last year, racking up an impressive 49 receptions last season. He is no longer an every down threat, and has lost more than a step, but, giving him a similar, yet lesser role next season just adds another dimension to the offense.
4. Fozzy Whittaker. Ken Whisenhunt had something to do with this signing, as Whittaker was on the Cardinals Practice Squad last season. He sees something in him, but it is doubtful he'll remain on the active roster come week one.
5. Edwin Baker. He's in the same boat as Whittaker. I don't see him making the team.
1. Le'Ron McClain. He is a versatile player, but he is not the best blocker. He can run the ball effectively, and has proven he can do so, as well as catch the ball out of the backfield. I see the Chargers picking up an Undrafted Free Agent that can block, and use McClain in a Jacob Hester- like role, running and catching, while someone else does the dirty work.
1. *Danario Alexander. There is an asterisk beside him because there is still a chance he will play elsewhere in 2013. But if he returns, Philip Rivers should be ecstatic. In only 10 games, Alexander amassed nearly 700 yards, while accounting for 7 TD's and averaging over 17 yards per reception. If he returns to the Bolts and can stay healthy, he should have an even bigger 2013 campaign. If he leaves, I expect the Chargers to target a receiver early in the Draft.
2. Malcolm Floyd. Floyd can still make plays, but he is not getting any younger. He was the leading receiver for the Chargers last year, totaling 814 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is meant to be a number two option, and should put up around the same numbers next season.
3. Eddie Royal. Royal underachieved royally last season, pun intended. He is still very explosive, and given the fact that a new, fast paced, and quick passing offense will be implemented, 2013 should be an improvement upon last year. Injuries were a concern also, and he wasn't the Eddie Royal of old when it came to the return game either. He is expendable, given an addition or two through the draft.
4. Vincent Brown. He is the wild card of the group. Before he got hurt, he was in line for a breakout season. He is a vertical threat, and his return could also benefit Philip Rivers greatly. In 2011, he averaged a stellar 17.3 yards per catch. His healthy return could quite possibly change the entire look of the wide receiving corps on this team.
5. Robert Meachem. Minus the monster 2 TD performance in New Orleans, his season was downright dreadful. He had a huge drop the costed this team a win in Cleveland, and that drop summarized his whole year pretty much. I think the new scheme and a fresh start can help him, but he will have to prove himself to me this year, or he should be cut following the season.
6. Richard Goodman. He is solely a return man, and I think that he isn't anywhere near the return man that Michael Spurlock is, but he'll likely play elsewhere, so Goodman has lucked out thus far. The Chargers may look to add a more explosive returner in the Draft at some point.
7. Deon Butler. He is another short receiver, but he clocked a blazing 4.38 in the 40 yard dash, so he will be a slot option. I like this signing though. Some say he and Dan DePalma are just bodies for camp, but Butler has a chance to make an impact in the return game possibly, or even a little while playing slot. All in all, this is just another under the radar signing that could turn around and contribute right away.
8. Dan DePalma. When he was with the New York Giants, Kenny Phillips said he was the hardest guy to cover in practice. That says something, considering the like of Hakeen Nicks and Victor Cruz being on the roster. Don't read too much into that, because I really just think he is a body for camp. He won't likely make the team, but still, a nice signing for the time being.
1. Antonio Gates. He is getting older, and the injuries are piling up, but he is still a top ten tight end in this league to me, when healthy. With the new offense being imbedded and a new strength and conditioning staff, Gates could get even closer to form than he has the past few years. Tom Telesco may very well add another tight end in the Draft, but mark my words, Gates can still play at a solid level.
2. John Phillips. John Phillips has decent hands, but at the end of the day, he's a great blocker at his position, and that's why he was signed. He's the replacement for the recently released Randy McMichael. He'll be used basically the same way.
3. Ladarius Green. He has good speed for the position, as well as ideal size, but he's still a project at this point, and Tom Telesco may deem him an unnecessary project, and replace him with a better option in the Draft.
1. Jeromey Clary. He is suspect in both pass protection and run blocking. He is suited to be a backup, but he is easily one of the worst starters in the league. Telesco is heavily pursuing Eric Winston, and hopefully a deal will get done soon, so come April 25th-27th, there will be one less hole on the line.
2. King Dunlap. He, in my opinion, is a great signing. He is extremely versatile, and can play any position along the offensive line but center. He'll be a backup most likely, but his versatility adds more depth than if a player that plays only tackle was signed.
3. Kevin Haslam. He is solely a backup. He is an average to below average player that will just be on the team for depth.
4. Mike Harris. He played awful, but I don't really blame him, the left guard play was just as bad, if not worse than that of left tackle. He went undrafted for a reason. He should primarily be a backup as well, and should improve from that dreadful season he had last year. I find him to be expendable at this point, but anything is an option right now.
5. Steve Schilling. He should improve as well from last year. He can, if improved, add even more depth on an offensive line that sorely needs it. I can guarantee that a tackle will be drafted in the first three rounds, to really improve at this position, but once a solid starter is in place, there will be plenty of experienced depth behind that new player.
1. Johnnie Troutman. He was regarded as an early to mid round talent before he suffered a serious injury that would eventually cost him a high pick, as well as his rookie season. This team is very high on him, and they are confident that he can be a solid starter on the left side for years, if healthy.
2. Chad Rinehart. He should be an improvement from Louis Vasquez. Vasquez was a liability in the run, but was solid in pass protection, whereas Rinehart excels at both, and will be a starter from day one here in San Diego. I love this signing as well. He came a lot cheaper than his former teammate, now Titan Andy Levitre. He played for new line coach Joe D'Alessandris in Buffalo, so he already knows what he's going to be doing for the most part, and can help mentor the other lineman.
3. Brandyn Dombrowski. He is another hybrid player that can play guard and tackle, and he should also provide solid depth as a backup on this team because he can play both positions. Versatility will be key for the line this season, if the injury bug returns to the Chargers.
4. Rich Orhnberger. He played for Whisenhunt in Arizona. I'm guessing Ken liked him, and he also can play more than one position, both guard and center. I really like the signings of these versatile lineman. It will really come in handy. Rich may not make the team, though, as another guard will also likely be added later in the month.
1. Nick Hardwick. He has been the one constant along the line for years, and that has helped Rivers immensely, and he also plays really well, and that doesn't hurt either. He will obviously remain the starter here.
2. Colin Baxter. He is an experienced backup, and played decent last year. He still won't have a ton of reps thanks to Hardwick, but, he can play when he is called upon.
3. David Molk. He is a strong kid, and is a project right now, and is possibly being groomed to replace Hardwick once he retires.
1. Corey Liuget. He should have been a Pro Bowler last year, and he will definitely get the nod this year if he continues to improve. He excels at both run stopping and pass rushing, as he accumulated 7 sacks from the 3-4 DE position. He, in my opinion, has the chance to be a premiere DE in this league for years to come, and was one of AJ Smith only successes right before he got the boot. He is simply dominant at times.
2. Kendall Reyes. Another solid DE. He played really well down the stretch last year, and he and Liuget could form one of the better DE duos in the league if he continues to improve as well. He is also good a rushing the passer and stuffing the run.
3. Jarius Wynn. He fits the mold for 3-4 DE, and could prove to be an okay backup, but more bodies are definitely in need at this position, and will be addressed in a couple of weeks in New York. I think that this is a so-so signing, we'll see how it turns out.
4. Damik Scafe. He's a Practice Squad player at best. He really isn't that good.
5. Logan Harrell. He is in the same boat as Damik Scafe. He may have saved the life of a hiker, but he surely will not save this defense.
1. Cam Thomas. He is the lone DT on the team after the releases of Antonio Garay and Aubrayo Franklin. Thomas would be an okay starter for the time being, but Telesco may be in position to add another DT very early in the Draft to upgrade the position supremely.
1. Melvin Ingram. He didn't really prove himself worthy of the pick he was chosen with, but this guy is extremely talented, and if he blossoms, can be one of the top pass rushers in the game for years. He will get his shot now that Shaun Phillips is gone and Antwan Barnes signed with the Jets.
2. Jarret Johnson. He was solid against the run, but he isn't a pass rusher, and that is what this team sorely needs at this point. It can be argued that a pass rusher is even more of a need than an offensive lineman in round one of the Draft this year. Johnson though, will still be called upon to stuff the run.
3. Larry English. Why is this guy still on the team? He's a straight bust, and really doesn't do anything well. He needs to be cut, as soon as possible. I didn't even like the fact that AJ Smith chose him with Clay Mathews still on the board, and Percy Harvin as well, for that matter,
1. Donald Butler. I really like this guy. He can do it all. Rush the passer, stop the run, and even drop back into coverage. He is one of the best linebackers in the division, as well as the entire NFL, in my opinion. He will only continue to get better. He does need help beside him in the middle though, as the Chargers released Takeo Spikes in an act to get younger as a team.
2. Jonas Mouton. He is an unknown commodity in this his third year in the league. He didn't get a lot of playing time, as he was deemed unready for a bigger role. He may still be at that point, but either way, the heat is on him this year to live up to his status as a 2nd round pick. I don't really know if he can, and I think Tom Telesco will add another talent to pair up with Donald Butler.
3. Bront Bird. He gets penalized a ton, and he really isn't all that good, honestly. I don't expect him to be on the team after Training Camp.
4. Phillip Dillard. Who is this guy? I've never even heard of the guy. He will be a Practice Squad player at best this season.
1. Derek Cox. He is perhaps my favorite signing thus far. He is big, fast, and talented. He had just as many interceptions last year as both Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason. When healthy, he is a very solid corner. That's the only question mark really for him. If he stay healthy, he should definitely be able to hold his own on defense.
2. Marcus Gilchrist. The heat is also on Gilchrist, also a former 2nd round pick, to step up and play at the level he has been expected to. I don't know if he'll step up either, but in the worst case scenario, he is a mediocre slot corner.
3. Shareece Wright. He was poised for his breakout campaign before injuries derailed those hopes. I think he can possibly start opposite Cox if he picks up where he left off last year. He is pretty talented.
4. Johnny Patrick. I think he'll be a special teamer this year at best. Nothing else I can really say about the guy, other than he was a waiver pickup from the Saints.
5. Cornelius Brown. I think he is another body just for camp. I doubt he'll make the team. He played for Telesco in Indy and also played for the Bears.
1. Eric Weddle. Arguably the best free safety in the game today, Weddle is a sure tackler, and plays everything well. He is a ball hawk in pass defense, and stout against the run. He is only going to get better, and smarter, so beware NFL offenses, Eric Weddle is still on the rise.
2. Brandon Taylor. He is the presumed starter next to Weddle once he is healthy. The organization really likes him, but another safety may be added to either back him up, or start over him. Either way, he is a solid athlete, and he'll contribute whenever he gets healthy.
3. Darrell Stuckey. He's primarily a special team player, and isn't that good when it comes to playing on defense. He is expendable in my opinion, pending the acquisition of another safety.
4. Sean Cattouse. He was basically signed in wake of the Taylor injury, and he spent time with the team during camp, but he won't get much, if any, playing time. He may not return to the team for this season.
1. Mike Scifres. I think he is still one of the better punters in the game today. He has a cannon leg with pinpoint accuracy.
2. Nick Novak. I still can't get the picture of him taking a leak on the sidelines during a game out of my head. He's an average kicker. I'd like him to be replaced. Just saying.
3. Mike Windt. He's a really good long snapper. He's no David Binn, but he gets the job done.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah. This guy is an absolute stud. He can do it all, and he'd anchor the defensive line for years. He'd give San Diego one of the best defensive lines in the league. He rushes the passer at a high level, and he can blow up running plays. He'll command two blockers and open up lanes for Donald Butler to make plays. They could also take Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia or Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU to improve the pass rush. Any of them would be smart.
I also can see the Chargers trading down for another 2nd rounder. They could then take a Tavon Austin or Keenan Allen in round one to drastically improve the offense and give Philip Rivers even more weapons. They could then use one of the two 2nd rounders on Manti Te'o, MLB, Notre Dame, or Kevin Minter, MLB, LSU, as either would be a huge upgrade over Jonas Mouton. They could use the other on Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas PB, Arthur Brown, OLB, Kansas St., or Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia. The second 2nd rounder depends on what happens in round one. If Tom trades down and takes one of the mentioned targerts, they'd go Armstead with one of the picks. If he isn't available for either 2nd rounder, I see them targeting Kyle Long out of Oregon. I ultimately believe that if they do acquire a second 2nd rounder, a MLB will be one of those picks, unless the Chargers take one in round one, in which case I see Justin Hunter being the other option with the 2nd rounder. If San Diego stays put and chooses Lotulelei, their only second rounder will likely be Armstead or Long.
Round 3. If WR,MLB, and OT/OG are addressed, I see San Diego taking a CB in round 3. David Amerson from NC State is a nice option. He is tall and lanky like Derek Cox, and would likely start from day one. Leon McFadden could also be an option here, but he is smaller. I'd definitely go with Amerson. If he plays like he did his junior year, watch out. The Chargers secondary could go from often times futile to one of the best out there, as long as Cox lives up to his contract, and Weddle keeps improving.
I really, really like Le'Veon Bell with this pick. He is massive at 6'2" and 230 pounds, yet has burst and quickness. He would be the one to push Ryan Mathews, and either replace him, or become a solid number two back. Stepfan Taylor from Stanford is also an option, but he may be gone.
Landry Jones is my pick, if he is here. I stated before that I didn't like Charlie Whitehurst, and Jones would replace him in my books. Landry can make all of the throws expected of an NFL quarterback. His only issue is his consistency. I think Ken and Mike would fix that up really quickly though. If he is gone, I'd take Tyler Bray from Tennessee. He has a cannon arm, but his personality is really questionable, as well as his decision making. I see him being an easy fix for the coaching staff if he is selected here.
Round 6 and 7.
Add the best available lineman here. Depth is still needed, but not as badly.
If moves like this happen, I can see the Chargers turning things around quickly. Sooner than many would expect. I have faith in Tom Telesco, Mike McCoy, and Ken Whisenhunt, in that they will turn this offense, and team, around the right way.
What do you guys think? Let me know down below.