The NFL Draft is right around the corner, blockbuster trades are all the rage, and my head is chalked full of mostly useless information about this years' draft class, so now seems like a good time to unload some of that information in a series of random draft musings. Take it or leave it, I really don't care as long as you read it...
-I've resigned myself to the Chargers selecting Jalen Ramsey with the #3 pick. Not because I think he's the best player in the draft, but because this is the Chargers and they always get it wrong. And when you have the worst defensive line in football and decide to take a safety in the top five, that's the wrong decision no matter how you look at it.
-I can hear some of you grousing about replacing Weddle, how sick the secondary would be, and the value of an elite safety in the NFL. Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't we seen what this defense looks like with an elite safety and no defensive line? You'll have to excuse me if I'm not in a rush to relive that hot mess.
-Only two players make sense to me with the #3 pick and they are Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner. This shouldn't require explanation, but I'll explain anyway - you can't win football games giving up 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground in a single season, which is what the Chargers did in 2015 and are headed toward in 2016 if they don't change their philosophy.
-As far as Joey Bosa goes, let's pump the breaks on the rush to move this kid to OLB to make him "fit" the Chargers defense. Bosa is a defensive end who wins with power and a quick first step and he will terrorize NFL guards, trying to force him into being an OLB would be a coaching fail. And frankly, the rush to make Bosa "fit" a base defense the team only uses 30-40% of the time and isn't very effective to begin with is absurd. Please just stop it.
-I can hear some of your wheels spinning, wondering why I didn't mention Myles Jack in the last paragraph, so I'll explain in the interest of preventing you from hurting yourselves. You don't get a top five pick every year (unless you're Cleveland or Jacksonville) and you cannot gamble that pick on a kid with zero positional certainty. In other words, you can't spend the #3 pick on a linebacker who can't rush the passer, doesn't impact the run, and lacks the instincts to play in space and just expect he can transition to safety. I'm going to ignore the fact that this feels like a Telesco move and just assume Tommy boy knows better.
-While I doubt the Chargers will trade back from #3, it's probably a good idea to identify some targets. Should they remain in the top 10, that list includes three names - DeForest Buckner, Shaq Lawson and Sheldon Rankins. Not only do those players fill a pressing need, but they would top my board provided Joey Bosa has already been selected.
-Should Telesco trade back outside of the top 10, say into the 15-20 range, my short list would be limited to Kenny Clark, Austin Johnson, Robert Nkemdiche, Chris Jones and Ryan Kelly. Are we noticing something of a theme here?
-I love me some Kenny Clark and Austin Johnson. While neither is in the conversation to be the first defensive tackle off the board, it isn't hard to see a scenario in which both players make an immediate impact on their NFL teams. They are so talented and versatile, it's really hard to believe they could both be available when the Chargers are on the clock at 35.
-Most of the cornerback related pre-draft buzz has been directed toward Vernon Hargreaves, Eli Apple and Mackenzie Alexander, but I'm here to tell you William Jackson III has a very good shot at developing into the best corner in this class. He's scheme versatile, technically sound, has great instincts and routinely shuts down half of the field. Don't be surprise if he makes some team picking in the bottom third of the first round look extremely smart.
-Every draft has its bust candidates and this year is no different. My #1 bust candidate in the first round is Georgia OLB/DE Leonard Floyd. Call me crazy, but I just don't have much use for a 220-pound OLB/DE with a questionable motor and no pass rush moves. He needs to land on the right team with the right system, and even then he needs to get much stronger and will require a great deal of patience and development.
-A few other players on my "buyer beware" list would be Ronnie Stanley, Reggie Ragland and Kevin Dodd. Stanley isn't as physical as you'd like a top-10 pick at OT to be and his footwork needs some work, he's going to take some time. With Ragland I see a heavy-footed player with marginal instincts who doesn't come downhill as much as he should playing behind a massive DL - dare I say....Donald Butler?. As for Dodd, I'm not sure I'd be comfortable taking a kid with one year of starting experience under his belt in the middle of the first round given he had some lengthy stretches in which he did little to nothing last season.
That's it, that pretty much sums up my thoughts on the first round of the NFL draft. Here's hoping for a defensive lineman (Bosa!) in the first round because, while you may not agree, I'm sick and tired of watching this defense get steamrolled upfront. At the end of the day, the best way to improve the defense as a whole is to upgrade the line, and I can't justify passing on one of the two best DL in this class in favor of a safety. I can only hope Telesco is smart enough to agree.