With the draft now over I believe it's important to understand how it affects more than just the actual players that were drafted, or are being invited into camp. Later this week, I'll have a "Young players that need take the next step" article, but today I'll start with 3 winners and 3 losers from the Chargers now that the draft is over.
Winner: John Pagano
The excuses for Pagano to produce as a defensive coordinator are all but gone now. General Manager Tom Telesco added a run stuffing nose tackle, a cover corner who has the potential to be very good in this league, and an explosive pass rusher off the edge. They're rookies, yes, so there will be a learning curve/adjustment period. But if there was ever a "now show me what you can do as a coach" moment, it's this year for Pagano. I'm not a fan of his usage or development of players, so it'll be interesting to see if there are any adjustments he makes in year 3 now that he has better personnel around him.
Loser: Keenan Allen
I've raised quite the uproar all offseason that it was imperative to get some production across from Allen, and how that would greatly help the offense take the next step forward. The front office felt a different way. You're not going to bank on a speedy 7th rounder, who might not even make the team, to be that player. Perhaps Malcom Floyd is further ahead of schedule than we think? That would be awesome. Imagine the Chargers trotting out a personnel group of Allen, Floyd, Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green, & Danny Woodhead. I can't help but think points, points, points with that group.
Winner: Vincent Brown
All signs would point to Brown getting a fair shot as the starter again opposite Allen. While he certainly had some early season struggles, he also had flashes. Maybe just enough for the front office to think he can return to his '11 form (albeit in a totally different offense.) You'd like to see him become a little more explosive, and coming up on 2 years removed from an ankle injury, I think we're all hoping that this will be the case. Brown is an easy player to root for; unlike any rookie, he's shown he can make plays in the NFL. 41 catches for 472 yards and 1 touchdown just isn't going to get the job done. I hope Brown takes the Chargers not taking a receiver early as a vote of confidence and he can take the next step as a player.
Drafting an offensive lineman in the 3rd round shouldn't exactly bring assurance to both Clary and Troutman. I'm not going to argue whether Clary will be cut, or whether Troutman is a backup. But make no mistake, Watt will be given every opportunity to start. I don't think you draft a player in the 3rd round when you're in the Chargers situation to sit the bench. Will Watt start? Who knows. That's what training camp is for: to find "the best 11." Watt is likely the long term replacement at center for Nick Hardwick, but Clary & Troutman should both be on alert after this pick.
Winner: Shareece Wright
Wright played much better than given credit for last year. He's not going to be confused with Darelle Revis by anyone, but he can be a serviceable corner in the NFL, and is actually a good fit for what Pagano asks from his corners. When the Chargers drafted Jason Verrett, the 1st thing I thought was thank god. You now don't have to force match-ups on Wright. He doesn't have to guard players 2 to 3 steps faster than him, in which he has no chance. Verrett can be that guy, and don't forget about speedy Steve Williams, who is coming back from injury and should play a major role if healthy (I wouldn't be surprised if Wiliams is a 'starter'.) Wright also is a winner because of the upgraded pass rush that will be back, with a full season from Dwight Freeney, Melvin Ingram, & rookie Jeremiah Attaochu.
Loser: Ryan Mathews
I believed the signing of Donald Brown in free agency all but sealed Mathews' fate in 2015. Make no mistake, Mathews is far and away the best running back on the team, but the fact that he gets dinged up seemingly every game is an issue. Bringing in Brown, and drafting Marion Grice hints that Telesco wants his own guys. Mathews is going to have to have a monster year if he wants to get the contract he deserves next year. This is surely a discussion for the future, but this certainly isn't a vote of confidence in Mathews moving forward in my opinion.