Editors Note: This was written over a week ago by Kyle Posey, but was missed in the pre-draft fray. We didn't want his work to go unnoticed and unappreciated, so we made sure it still got published. With that in mind, read on and enjoy!
Mike Harris was bad last year, there's no way to sugarcoat that. He was asked to do something that not many undrafted rookies are asked to do: protect your Quarterback's blind side. That's like asking your 5 year old to make sure they set an alarm to wake up to go to preschool; they're not developmentally ready to do that yet.
To make matters worse, Harris had to play next to Tyronne Green who didn't exactly excel at the position. With the left side of the line in shambles, it's well–known the Chargers need to upgrade each position. It's also hard to overrate a player coming out of college knowing he could be the starter practically as soon as their name is called on Draft Day.
Catch up on previous installments: Part 1
Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
I believe he is the best guard in the class. His quick feet and agility are rare for his position. Some say his strength is only adequate, but he put up 35 reps in the bench at the combine and watching his film he rarely was beat on a bull rush; those people are really nitpicking.
Cooper gets the second level with ease, and is a superior pass–blocker than Chance Warmack. Watching the SEC Championship, there were a handful of plays where DT John Jenkins beat Warmack in the first half alone, I didn't see that with Cooper. I see a guard who has a very quick first step that allows him to move effortlessly when pulling and getting to the next level, a guy that had several "pancake" blocks due to his strength and a guy that has A+ technique allowing him not to get beat in pass protection.
If the tackles are off the board, and if the Chargers want a lineman in the 1st, Cooper is the pick. Cooper would not only be an upgrade to the guard position, but he would make the players around him better, he plays to through the whistle and has a high football IQ.
Cooper also played snaps at Center in some games; his versatility and durability should have Coach Joe-D pounding the table to draft him. Verdict? Undervalued
Some argue we should either wait for a guard, or not draft one particularly high and give Troutman a chance. Either way Troutman will have to prove himself.
Brian Winters, G, Kent State
Versatility. He played LT and LG and played both well. The signings point to versatile guys, and Winters fits the bill to a tee. He really stood out to me in the Senior Bowl playing each position, and was only beaten a couple of times. He's 6'4" tall, 320 punds and actually has room to grow. He's a former wrestler, and you can see it in his game with his wide base and how he finishes plays.
He moves his feet well in pass pro and he looks to have above–average strength. He did have a pectoral strain at the combine while he was benching, but on tape, he looks plenty strong enough. Durability is not an issue here; he started in every game since arriving at Kent State as a true freshman. Winters would bring toughness to a Chargers line that seemed somewhat soft last year.
He's played all over the offensvie line and would give them flexibility and depth, maybe even join as a possible starter. The only negative I saw: sometimes he's too much like a wrestler. He drops his head and can get beat by swim moves. He also exhibits the opposite problem at times when he plays too high. But those are all coachable, and Coach Joe-D could do wonders with Winters. Verdict? Undervalued
You build a team from inside out. You not only have to have a quarterback to win in this league, you have to protect him as well. The Chargers have the quarterback, now it's just a matter of protecting him. The Chargers will be very fortunate if a situation arises where Lane Johnson falls to them at 11. If that doesn't happen, there's no need to panic. This is a fairly deep position in the draft and the Chargers should be able to find a starter in the first few rounds.
Much has been made about the Chargers working out Terron Armstead at his Pro Day and them going after him, but how good is he? He did the only thing he could do during the season, dominate his competition, can't hold that against him. The Senior Bowl wasn't as easy, he struggled with higher competition and was beat pretty bad by UCLA's Datone Jones on more than a few occasions.
So who else should San Diego target? If we miss out on the top 3 tackles, the Chargers are more than likely going to have to draft a developmental tackle. Bryant Mckinnie would be a good stopgap while we develop one, let's look at a couple developmental tackles that fit the system.
Reid Fragel, T, Ohio State
A converted TE who is 6'8" 300+lbs and still filling out his frame. He technically played 3 years at Tight End even though he was used as an extra blocker in his Junior year. So if we're going to develop a guy, why not get a guy who has excellent strength and athleticism, but can be drafted later on in the draft?
Like any other player who's only played a position for a year, he's struggled at times. Sometimes it was miscommunication on blitz pickups, or taking poor angles to the second level, or his technique in general; these are things that can be taught. Fragel's upside is worth the seasoning he needs.
In his first full year of playing Tackle, he did a lot of good things against some really good players. Against Michigan St. he eliminated DE William Gholston. He had a play where he drove him 5 yards down the field onto his backside.
He pancaked Gholston a couple times in the game, for a guy 6'8" tall, he plays with surprisingly–good leverage. Against Illinois, he went head–to–head against Akeem Spence and turned in another good game. He had a few plays where he drove Spence to the ground on a down block.
He also showed off his foot quickness mirroring NFL–hopeful Michael Buchanan at times, eliminating his speed rush. He plays to the end of the whistle each play like he's out to prove himself; I value that and think it's a huge plus. On Ohio States stretch zone plays he looks good, has the quickness to get on the outside shoulder of the DE and shows good ability to get to the 2nd level.
Some question his lower body strength. Against Michigan I noted he had a play where we was bull–rushed and got pushed back, but he reset his feet very nicely and was able to re–anchor and hold up strong at the point of attack. Little things like that you notice and see he has upside to help us out down the line. On one of his pancakes of Gholston, he attempted to bull rush him as well, and Fragel absorbed the rush, then finished him to the ground.
Fragel is an intriguing prospect with room to grow on and off the field. He gained 20 pounds between his Junior and Senior years and I expect him to bulk up this offseason too. Fragel's athleticism and attitude are both impressive, and with some NFL–level coaching, he could blossom into quite the player.
I really wanted Chris Faulk here. A good player, who missed the entire 2012 season due to injury, he just had too much risk for reward. He's a guy who is over 330 pounds so his stamina concerns me, along with his health. Not to mention that's just a big, big boy for a Left Tackle. Speed rushers could give him a lot of problems at the next level.
Dallas Thomas, OG/OT, Tennessee
Most every game I watched, Thomas played Guard and played the position pretty well, he would slide over for a few series and play left tackle and also look good there. Thomas shows flexibility and agility, and with his versatility to play multiple positions, he'd be a good fit for the Chargers. Providing depth along the line and being able to play multiple positions can't be stressed enough.
He has 3 years of starting experience in the SEC, 2 years at Left Tackle and 1 at Left Guard. Thomas has a strong anchor in pass protection and does a good job of meeting the pass rusher without lunging at him. He also does a good job of attacking the defender without lunging or over extending. As a run blocker he has a good base and can create holes, he also has enough quickness to get to the second level. I also noticed he's a good combo blocker, his experience shows.
Thomas has minor technique issues that Coach Joe-D can easily coach him up on. He has a tendency to be inconsistent. One snap he looks like a stud, the next snap he looks like he forgot how to play. While this isn't often, it's a cause for concern, but something that's coachable.
He also has 32" arms, which is relatively short for a tackle, but his hands are very strong so he makes up for it. When he gets his hands on you, the play is over, he wins. Thomas would likely take time to develop, but he has many positives, and a few negatives. His negatives can easily be coached. Thomas is more than worthy of a mid–round flyer if he falls to us there.
The Chargers need a pass rusher. Period. Melvin Ingram had the 7th–most QB hurries at his position while playing about half as many snaps as the guys above him, amassing 29 hurries in 281 pass–rushing snaps (10.3%). Jarret Johnson on the other side rushed the passer 153 times while only registering 6 QB hurries (3.92%). That's not his game, it's clear.
To put that into perspective everyone's favorite Larry English had 5 QB hurries in 94 snaps (5.32%). So yeah, an upgrade is needed. Where will the Chargers look? This year's pass–rushing class is more about athletes and less about football players. There are not really a lot of guys you can look at and have confidence in them. I'll highlight the one guy that I have the utmost confidence in, who is sliding down draft boards and we should jump at the opportunity.
Damontre Moore, OLB/DE, Texas A&M
He has some baggage off the field and has shown immaturity in interviews during this postseason, and he is said to have a questionable work ethic. Not to mention, his combine was, well, he ran a 4.95 and benched 225 12 times. At 6'4 250, yes, that's disappointing.
Moore is 20 years old. TWENTY YEARS OLD. The guy can't buy some of San Diego's finest IPA's and we're expecting him to interview well? I think when "experts" peg that he's falling down that's more of a smoke screen because that's how they feel, not how the guys who are actually making the picks feel.
At his age and with his frame, he looks like he'll fill out a little more, which can be scary. You want a football player, a guy that can perform, and Moore is just that. In the SEC as a junior Moore had 12 1/2 sacks and 21 tackles for loss. In the SEC.
Back to his athleticism, when people knock him for his 40 time, who cares? Have you watched him play? When you are looking for a pass–rusher, would want a guy that takes 5-7 steps to get going and runs a 4.7 or a guy who's quick off the ball and closes on the QB like a cheetah closes on a gazelle? I'm taking the latter. That's exactly how Moore plays; I'll challenge anyone to find a quicker guy out of his stance than this guy.
When I watch Moore, I see a guy with great football awareness — for any age — and a guy that plays through the whistle. I see a guy that beat this guy named "Lane Johnson" 5 times in the Cotton Bowl this year. It's incredible how disruptive he was in the 7 games I've watched. His strongest suit might be on a tackle end twist where he rushes inside, his inside rip move is very impressive.
He's not limited to one side either, he's moved around all over the line of scrimmage. Imagining him being paired with Reyes and Luiget, I was salivating writing this. His bench reps don't really worry me because he holds up at the point of attack. It seems like he generates plenty of power from his leg drive, so strength isn't an issue for me. He does a really nice job of using his hands and arm length to his advantage. For a 20 year old, his technique is advanced.
We know there's a need. There's Derek Cox, who has injury problems and hasn't played a full season since ‘09, and 2 other corners that we could be counting on that I don't think very highly of and both of whom are unproven. Luckily, this is a deep draft for cornerback. There's about 15 guys that I could argue that would be able to come in and play right away. The question is how big of a need is corner? How high do the Chargers draft a corner? The main consensus is Dee Milliner and everyone else. So let's go over a few guys the Chargers can look at to upgrade the position.
Robert Alford, CB, SE Louisiana
Small school. Big Talent. Measuring in at just less than 6', Alford is the kind of top-notch athlete you wonder how he didn't end up at a big school.
On the field, I couldn't really pinpoint a weakness, other than his competition. But when you play at that level all you can do is excel, and that's exactly what he did. Even better, he was the main kick returner and punt returner and blitzed a few times off the edge in each game, so his value and versatility is exactly what you're looking for in a corner.
He does a good job of mirroring wide receivers and has those "quick twitch" reactions that are ideal for the position. You can see his speed; some guys run fast but don't play fast. He ran a 4.39, and plays like he runs just that. He had a punt return against Lamar where he literally just outran everyone. He can press, play off man, and his best skill: play nickel. In today's game you have to have a guy that can cover the slot. He has the physical tools to be an above average corner and potentially make San Diego's defense one of the better ones in the league.
Many worry about his ability to make the jump from small school to the NFL. At the Senior Bowl, against some of the top wide outs in the draft, he performed as well as any other DB. He was competitive and around the ball on every snap. There were a handful of plays where the QB looked his way, but he had his WR covered so no throw was made. Here he is making a good play out of the slot.
Alford has the ability to run with anyone, from strictly a football standpoint, there's not much to like. Verdict? Undervalued
The beauty about this draft is the depth. We will be able to pluck starters in the middle rounds. I don't want to go into too many prospects because a few others are touching on those as well, but I can tell you there are guys that are undervalued that can come in and help the Chargers out the minute they come to training camp. We've identified the needs, now it's just a matter of addressing those needs.
How high do we take a corner? Do you trade up to get the tackle you want, or do you risk a second round pick on a guy that's not ready to play year 1? Telesco has a lot of tasks to tackle in this draft. Where should he address each position? Let us know in the comments.