There is no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to drafting players to play in the NFL. However, some players come in to the league with a skill set that suggests that they have a lower chance of failure than others. For a team rebuilding coming off of a strong draft in 2013, here are some "safe" players that the Chargers could draft in the first round to ensure they do not stall the team-building.
Jason Verrett- Cornerback, TCU
The main knock on Verrett is his size, as he measured in at about 5'9". However, he has a perfect skill set for John Pagano's defense. He excels in off-man coverage, where he can use his elite speed and reactive ability to inject some much needed talent into the secondary. He is considered "safe" because he is as NFL ready as just about any other defensive back, which is especially important in San Diego where they have struggled to develop defensive backs. Verrett also battled through a shoulder injury that required him to get surgery after the season. He played in every game in his sophomore and junior season, which fares well in San Diego, where the Chargers are far too often bit by the injury bug. Verrett would instantly be the team's best corner. Nothing wrong with that.
Odell Beckham Jr.- Wide Receiver, LSU
As much as cornerback seems to be the most obvious need, I subscribe to the idea of building on your strengths. I am not particularly confident in defensive coordinator John Pagano, so i believe the Chargers would get much more out of an offensive player than a defensive player. That being said, Odell Beckham is my favorite player in this whole draft. There is nothing he doesn't do well. He plays as fast as his 4.43 combine speed. He is a great route runner, with suddenness to win at any level of the defense. He would give the team a deep threat and dramatically improve their speed (which Tom Telesco specifically pointed to as needing an upgrade). He has great run after the catch ability, can play the slot or outside, and is overall a perfect fit for the offense. Oh, he can also return kicks too. I see Beckham as the draft's "safest" player, because he is extremely talented and versatile.
Zack Martin- OL, Notre Dame
Current Charger Jeromey Clary is praised for his "versatility", even though he is not particularly good at any position he plays. Zack Martin is. The Notre Dame offensive tackle would be the ultimate "safe" pick, because he could start at any offensive line spot besides center. Greg Cossell, one of the most respected NFL analysts in the scouting business, said Martin plays like fellow prospect Jake Matthews, although not quite as "consistently fundamentally sound". Martin could start for Clary at guard and kick out to either tackle spot in case of injury, and could also wind up being the team's future left tackle if they decide not to keep King Dunlap. Martin is a very safe option because he could have multiple opportunities to succeed while the Chargers' coaches find his best fit.
Gabe Jackson- OG, Mississippi St.
Gabe Jackson is a physically imposing, powerful guard. He is safe simply because he is so talented, and the Bolts have one of the best offensive line coaches in the business, Joe D'Alessandris. Guard is not a premium position in the NFL, so talented players like Jackson slip to the end of the first round and beyond.
Jackson could form a dominating duo with right tackle DJ Fluker. San Diego placed a heavy emphasis on the ground game at the end of the 2013 season, when they won 5 games in a row before losing to the Broncos in the playoffs. They went even further to give what precious little funds they had available to pay Donald Brown $4 million guaranteed. If they want to continue to grind it out on the ground, they need to find a RG that can run block. Jackson would instantly upgrade over Clary.
Who are some other possible first round prospects that you think are safe?