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SBNation Writers Mock Draft Lessons

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Recently I helped John and SBNation do their writers mock draft. It went two rounds and so I made the 3 picks for Chargers. Some things went well mocking the Chargers, others didn't. My basic strategy for this mock draft was to come away with a DE, an OLB and a WR. To that extent I was able to execute that strategy as I selected:

Pick Player Position College
1.   (18) Cameron Jordan DE California
2a. (50) Jabaal Sheard OLB Pittsburgh
2b. (61) Randall Cobb WR Kentucky

Jordan is a guy I like and he was the highest rated player on the board for me when the Chargers turn came up with the 18th overall pick. With A.J. Green and Julio Jones already taken (as expected) the choice came down to DE or OLB. Cameron Jordan, Ryan Kerrigan or Aldon Smith. There aren't so many DE and OLBs in this draft that it was easy to say that if I went with one the other would still have a player capable of starting when the Chargers picked again at number 50 overall. I went with Jordan not only because he was the highest rated, but because I thought Sheard would be there at #50 or possibly at #61.

When pick #50 came around I was shocked by a few things. First off, the only WRs off the board were still Jones and Green. Second, a total of 8 QBs had been taken (in order: Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Christian Ponder, Ryan Mallett, Jake Locker, Andy Dalton, Ricky Stanzi and Colin Kaepernick). That is an incredible number of QBs to be taken, especially considering that I don't think that any of they are good enough to build a team around. The SBNation writers must be very anxious lot about their QB situations because this is some strange results. If this were to happen in the real draft it is good news for the Chargers. It would increase the amount of talent available to them at each of their picks and perhaps gives the Bolts an incentive to trade down. Anyway, getting back to only having 2 WRs taken, this made my decision to go OLB easy (or so I thought). There were still 3 WRs on the board that I really liked (Leonard Hankerson, Jon Baldwin and Torrey Smith) and a couple more I could live with. I could gamble here and make sure I get the only remaining OLB that I thought had starter potential and wait for a WR to fall to the 61st pick. So, I took Sheard and crossed my fingers.

It took 5 more picks for the first of those WRs to go. Boom. Leonard Hankerson off the board. A couple picks later I started weighing my options between Baldwin and Smith and even asked John who he preferred. I called Baldwin a Malcom Floyd type who was big, had enough speed, could use his size well, but wasn't going to do much after the catch. Smith is a Buster Davis type who has plenty of speed and can use it to get separation and get yards after the catch. We both agreed that Torrey Smith should be the pick. That became moot at pick 58 when Baldwin went to the Ravens. A sort of backup-to-the-backup-plan option went with the next pick when the Falcons took OT Marcus Gilbert. And so it was down to the Patriots pick before ours came up. "MOTHER ******* PATRIOTS" John then sent me in an email. They took Torrey Smith.

I perused my options. One top players remaining was Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams. I liked Williams going into last season, but he was a disappointment. Besides, I'm good with our RB tandem of Mathews and Tolbert. This was a luxury item and I think the Chargers need to focus their first 3 picks on guys that can be starters soon.

Another top player remaining was Iowa DE/DT Christian Ballard. Curse my lack of foresight! This would have been the perfect selection if I had gone a different direction earlier. If I'd taken Kerrigan or Smith in the 1st, then gone with Hankerson with the higher 2nd round pick I could be sitting pretty with Ballard at #61. Alas, picking two DEs was out of the question.

So, we go back to the WRs. About a month or so ago I mentioned that after a certain point the WRs stop becoming prospects that you can envision developing into complete packages and start looking like specialists. They might be possession guys or yards after the catch guys or deep threats. Could I find somebody that looked like they could be moore. The options came down to Kentucky's Randall Cobb or Boise State's Titus Young. I looked at a number of rankings, but it was a mixed bag as to who ranked higher. I looked at the scouting reports and ended up seeing more upside in Cobb. He's a little short, but he's bulkier, he's fearless, he goes over the middle and can get yards after the catch. He returns punts and kicks and has enough speed to be a deep threat. He had to be the guy, so I took him.

If I were to play Nostradamus for a bit, I would imagine the real draft would go quite differently. There aren't going to be 8 QBs taken in the first 45 picks. This will limit the player pools the Chargers have to choose from with each pick. I also think that a player like Ballard won't last until the 2nd round and neither will any other starting caliber 3-4 DE. So, in that regard going with a DE in the 1st round makes a lot of sense. I also don't think there will be a lot of depth at WR when the Chargers make their first 2nd round pick. Baldwin may go in the first round and Smith and Hankerson could go high in the 2nd. If any one of those players is left at pick 50 it might be wise to take them there. However, that may leave the Chargers vulnerable to not getting an OLB with starting potential. It may make sense to go the route I did and take two defensive players that can be starters and pick a WR at #61 that may only project to being a #2 WR. That's still a starter right? And if that player is Cobb or Young then they can also step in as a kick returner and/or punt return, which is kind of like a starter as well.