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NFL Draft Perspective: What does a good draft look like in year 1?

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Last year's draft is inarguably great, but what did the Chargers really get from it and can this year match it?

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The San Diego Chargers likely feel (as do all 31 other NFL teams) that they had a very successful NFL Draft last week. Draft graders have tended to peg the Chargers' draft as between an A- and a B- grade. This ranks them around 14th in The League. We tend to be optimistic at this point in time, and that's fine, but it helps to have some perspective. I think we can find some helpful perspective by looking at last year's draft.

In 2013, the San Diego Chargers had what any reasonable person would term very good to great production from its draftees. But, what does that production look like on a player by player level? From the 2013 draft, the Chargers got the following players in year one:

  • A very good, possibly great starter at wide receiver
  • An average to above average starter at right tackle
  • An injured, ineffective starter at inside linebacker
  • A mediocre to decent pass rush specialist
  • A third string quarterback that never saw the field of play
  • An injured cornerback that missed the entire season

That's what a great draft looks like in year one. Three starters, one of whom that was hurt and not very good, a bench guy and two players that didn't play. How does that compare to expectations from this week's draft?

Unlike 2013's draftees, all six of the Chargers' picks in 2014 were drafted with the hope they'll see the field in their first season. Three of 2013's were drafted with a reasonable hope they would start, and arguably that number is the same this year.

  • No one drafted in 2014 looks like someone we can expect to be very good to great from day one. Granted, the Chargers' very good-to-great rookie last year only got his opportunity due to injury. Jeremiah Attaochu is the player in a situation most similar to Keenan Allen last year. He's currently stuck behind proven veterans, but is a dynamic talent. He's more likely to be this year's Tourek Williams (only much better) than he is to be this year's #13.
  • Jason Verrett and Chris Watt both look like they could potentially be average to above average starters, so while it looks like this draft probably doesn't have a top 10 starter in it, there could be two D.J. Fluker-level performers.
  • The third possible (likely?) starter is nose tackle Ryan Carrethers. He's a talent that could give you a performance on par with and hopefully better than Manti Te'o and his injury plagued, ineffective rookie season. Nosetackle is thought to be a more difficult transition than the Mike in a 34, but Carrethers is also a more talented football player.
  • Tevin Reese and Marion Grice both have the opportunity to be effective role players, not unlike the earlier mentioned Tourek Williams. Reese, with his lack of size, has the "best" chance of being this year's Steve Williams.

The takeaway seems to be that this year's draft projects to be without a breakout star, but has a better chance at providing more solid starters and role players than 2013's. Three average or slightly better starters and one solid contributor off the bench looks like a fair "high" expectation from this year's draft class in San Diego. What do you think? Am I being overly optimistic/pessimistic, or does this sound right to you?