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2015 NFL Draft: San Diego Chargers Draft Grades

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Now that the last name has been called, what do we make of the 2015 San Diego Chargers draft class?

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

If your draft experience was anything like mine, as soon as San Diego made a pick there was an avalanche of opinions and takes all over social media.  Here I'll be giving two grades for each pick, one for the player themselves and another for the strategy/fit of the selection.

1st Round, Pick #15 - RB Melvin Gordon III, Wisconsin

Instant Analysis: Chargers trade up, select Melvin Gordon

San Diego felt the need to move up from pick 17 to 15 in order to make this selection.  To move up, they traded pick 17, 117 (fourth round) and a 2016 fifth round pick.  Melvin Gordon was a popular pick for SD in many mock drafts during the entire process, and for good reason.  With Ryan Mathews leaving for Philadelphia there was a large need for a starting running back.  Most had Gordon as their second-rated HB behind Todd Gurley who went to the St. Louis Rams at tenth overall.

While Gordon was actually my top back, and I am happy with the selection, I was not a fan of the trade.  I highly doubt Houston was going to select him at 16 and even though SF or Houston could have traded to another team to take Gordon, the RB depth of this draft means it wouldn't have been disastrous if that happened.  Giving up that fourth-round pick, for the third year in a row under GM Tom Telesco, was a bad move in this draft in my opinion due to the depth of talent that was available at pick 117 and the amount of holes still on the team.

Player Grade: A-

Strategy Grade: C

2nd Round, Pick #48 - ILB Denzel Perryman, Miami

Instant Analysis: Chargers draft Denzel Perryman

I had seen a lot of mock's that had Perryman sneaking in to the end of the first round, so based on pure value this was a very good selection.  When you start to look in to how he fits on the Chargers defense is when I start to question the selection.  Currently slated as the starting ILB's are Donald Butler, who just signed a seven year contract in 2014 for $51 Million dollars, and 2013 second round pick Manti Te'o.  Donald Butler's 2014 was pretty terrible, and that's me being nice.  The Perryman selection could be a sign that the team isn't married to Butler, whose final four years of his contract can be voided if the team chooses.

By all accounts, Perryman is a very good ILB. Described by many as a "thumper" he could bring a level of physicality to the LB group that it was lacking.  What I question is taking a player who possibly won't have a huge immediate impact when there was plenty of quality players at positions of need at the time.  When you are in dire need of a starting guard/tackle and select a RB in the first, offensive line is an absolute must to help that first pick succeed.

Player Grade: A-

Strategy Grade: C+

3rd Round, Pick #83 - CB Craig Mager, Texas State

Instant Analysis: Chargers select CB Craig Mager in 3rd Round

The first thing you read when you research Craig Mager is about how physical of a guy he is.  Described as a great tackler, he fits the "hammer" theme the Chargers have been using during the draft.  Should be an immediate impact player on special teams and could develop in to a quality corner in the NFL.  He didn't face a lot of NFL level talent so it's hard to say how he will make that transition.

Again, and you'll notice a theme, the fit and value here is what confuses me. Almost unanimously considered a mid to late fourth round selection, the value was a bit of a reach.  When you look at the corner situation, Verrett and Flowers are clearly the starters.  While both have had injury issues, Patrick Robinson was brought in on a one year deal and there is still Steve Williams, Telesco's fifth round selection in 2013. I'm not sure where his role is on the defense going forward, so for that I really question the fit of this selection.

Player Grade: C+

Strategy Grade: D

5th Round, Pick #153 - OLB Kyle Emanuel, North Dakota State

Instant Analysis: Chargers draft OLB Kyle Emanuel in 5th round

Emanuel is someone I had talked about with some other Charger fans prior to the selection.  I was a big fan of his after being told by some on twitter to check him out.  His tape is very impressive and he looked like a man amongst boys at times.  This is where his playing at North Dakota State hurts him because he hasn't produced against the level of competition he will soon be facing.  He didn't test as well as I expected in the draft process, which again makes me concerned on his transition to the NFL.

This is clearly a position of need for San Diego and it's about time it was addressed. After passing on one of my favorites, Owa Odighizuwa, they land a talented OLB.  Emanuel can have an immediate impact on special teams and be a rotational guy on defense behind Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu.  With the only other OLB's being Tourek Williams, Cordarro Law and Colton Underwood he will be a welcomed addition.  Most projected him as a fifth or sixth rounder, so draft value is about right as well.

Player Grade: B

Strategy Grade: A

6th Round, Pick #192 - DT Darius Philon, Arkansas

Instant Analysis: Chargers use final draft pick on DT Darius Philon

Darius Philon was a top recruit out of high school and there was a mix-up with his offer from Alabama, causing him to eventually land in Arkansas.  After redshirting his first year, he had a highly productive two year career in Arkansas as a 4-3 DT.  He has a great initial burst and has a lot of potential as a pass rushing inside lineman.  Still very young, likely to sit for a year and he could benefit greatly from doing so.

While defensive tackle was a need for the Chargers heading in to the draft, this pick puzzles me a bit.  He doesn't project well to any role in a 3-4 front, so he will either be used out of position or only come in on four man fronts.   Unless SD starts using more of a 4-3 base, this pick just doesn't make much sense to me.  Value is there, as I have seen him projected as a fourth or fifth round selection.

Player Grade: B

Strategy Grade: C

Final Thoughts

I am a big fan of the players that the Chargers selected, let me say that first.  Where I have real issues with the draft overall is how the player fits and where they were selected.  There was a major need on the offensive line which wasn't addressed at all.  There was a big need at OLB but San Diego didn't address this until the fifth round with a player from North Dakota State, even if he is a promising kid.  While there was a need for ILB and CB depth for the future, I don't believe they were where San Diego should have gone in the second and third round.  There was a large amount of talent available in positions of need at all of the selections which makes my overall grade lower than all of us had hoped.

Overall player grade: B+

Overall strategy grade: C


(h/t to Andrew Burer and The Mighty 1090 for the videos)