Friday afternoon Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco spoke to the press and had some eyebrow raising comments and was very specific when it came to discussing certain players. Obviously, it's liars month, but with the draft a week away it was interesting to hear him speak about certain players and in case you missed it we have you covered.
Are they still fielding offers?
Telesco opened up the press conference by saying "our phones weren't as busy since the Eagles traded up to number two Wednesday." A few days ago we covered that there's certainly still a chance the Chargers could trade back. What if a team covets a position player so much that they value him enough to give up future assets? If it's a deal the team can't pass up, you have to take it. Ian Rapoport was on NFL Network Friday reporting that the Chargers still are interested in trading down. Later on in the press conference Telesco said the "option is still there and he'd still be open to trading the pick." He stated multiple times that "we still have a week to go" and "we'll see how it plays out."
Thoughts on Jalen Ramsey?
Telesco said Ramsey is a "versatile player that can play either side on corner, in the nickel, safety. He's a great athlete, a good person, good worker. He's pretty easy to identify as being one of the top players this year."
What'll be interesting is, Telesco has shown he favors college production and/or pedigree. While arguments have come up that Ramsey doesn't have the "on ball production" he certainly has the pedigree. Ramsey is the only defensive back to start at Florida State as a true freshman since some guy named Deion Sanders. Ramsey started and excelled at 3 different positions 3 years in a row for a perennial program.
How do you rank the needs on the team?
"We don't rank needs. Obviously we have areas we have to strengthen. We don't weigh the board or rank the needs. I don't have a biggest need. We'll rank the players as they come to us."
That's some serious "coach speak" that I disagree with considering his three 1st round picks were all arguably the biggest needs in the draft at that point. Though Telesco did bring up a good point when he mentioned "the problem with ranking needs is a need today might not be a need in September or a position that's not a need now might be a need in 2017." He's showed that in the 2nd round of the previous 2 drafts and the Keenan Allen selection is a prime example of going "best player available." I'd argue Telesco drafts for need in the 1st and lets the board come to him after that.
Have you found a suitor for your 4th round pick?
Yesssssss. This would be a question I'd ask. Let's make some guesses right now. I'm going to guess they take Ramsey at 3, and a player they really like slips into the late 1st and Telesco jumps up in front of the Broncos to draft that defensive lineman. What do you think?
How polished is Laremy Tunsil?
"Not too bad. I think all college lineman coming out are going to take some time to develop. Technique, which is nothing new. He's such a rare athlete he can get away with it at the college level." Telesco went on a mini rant on how most athletes in college can get away with playing with poor technique at the high school and college level but in the NFL when it's both technique and athleticism you can't get away with it. He finished up by saying "he's got some development to do but no more than any other lineman in this draft."
Interestttingggggg. Ole Miss operated in a spread offense so you didn't really get a chance to see Tunsil in an old fashion 3 point stance and fire out, but how often did we see King Dunlap do that in recent years? Still, it's a fair criticism and Tunsil certainly can improve his stance and technique.
The follow up question was "can you afford to take a player at the 3rd spot that still needs to develop?"
"I haven't seen a player in this draft that doesn't need development. We have players on our roster that are still developing." Telesco went on to say just how hard it is to play at a high level as a rookie and how it takes development.
Really good point there, Tom. Whoever they take at 3, there will be a learning curve. Ramsey has to get better at tackling and not lose sight of the structure of the defense. Deforest Buckner will need to develop a secondary pass rush move and learn how to take on down blocks more. I mentioned Tunsil already. Whomever they draft is not going to be a finished product and it's important to keep that in perspective.
When evaluating this draft class, what position do you think is deep, where can you find a lot of value in the later round?
"Defensive line group is a very big pool of players." Telesco went on to describe how finding players late who are contributors are important but there are two ways to look at this. That he believes you don't need to draft a defensive lineman early on because the talent at the position is so deep, or that there is so much talent that you should double dip. Later on he said that depth at the position helps them decide on a player, for example, if they have two players rated closely at different positions, if they feel like they can get a similar type player later on in the draft they'll take the similarly graded player at the position with less depth.
Not drafting Buckner. Got it.
Is Deforest Buckner a prototypical defensive end and does he present great value at 3?
"Yeah, yeah. He plays end in a 3-4 and can pass rush inside. He has all the measurables you look for at the position."
Correct. The team doesn't not have that "length and strength" type defensive end that you need with the scheme John Pagano employs. That's Buckner to a tee.
Jason Verrett says he trusts Chargers to draft best player in first round. But he wants Oregon DE DeForest Buckner. Seen him play plenty.— Michael Gehlken (@sdutGehlken) April 18, 2016
So they are drafting Buckner, got it.
Can you give us some words on what a 1st round, 3rd overall pick would be associated with? Is it a 10 year starter, a pro bowler, what do you think?
"Usually you're looking for difference makers and impact players. Obviously it's a very general term. The draft rooms I've been in never have 32 1st round players. I'd say usually you're in the 15-22 range."
Does that 1st line sound like a man that is going to invest in an offensive lineman?
Is Ramsey a corner or a safety in your evaluation?
"Well I guess the great thing about him is he can play either way. That's why he's going to be one of the top players because he really can play corner or safety. Probably wouldn't have a position, I'd tell Pags (defensive coordinator John Pagano) to just get him out there and play him"
*Picture me smiling ear to ear*
In the system that Pags runs, you think he can play both?
"Yeah, I think even as his career goes on he's probably going to play a lot of spots. Whether he's with us or someone else. Whether it's corner or safety, he's got the skills to do both."
Got it. So he's a safety until Brandon Flowers contract is up then he's a corner. Thanks for clearing that up for us, Tom.
If you were to trade the pick, how far back would you be comfortable going?
"Good question, I guess that I'll keep to myself. Obviously you can't go too far. If a team has to come up really far, the price tag is usually so high it's hard to do." When you're inside the top 5 there's even more premium. Going like 5 or 6 spots later into the 1st round or 5 or 6 spots into the top 5 the compensation is completely different."
That's the gist of his answer but Telesco did frame it like he wanted to stay in the top 10 and understands that trading too far back he'll miss out on a blue chip player. I really liked the question and he used what the Titans got in compensation as an example and said that's about what he expected.
Perfect players and medical concerns
There were a couple questions that caused Telesco to go off on quite the tangent. One was discussing how he and his staff come to decide on who picks a player and he basically said that "there's no perfect player and we talk about these guys like they are hall of fame players. We like to focus on what they can do for us instead of what they can't do. It's all opinion and no one person is right. Whether it's me, our coaches, or our scouts. We just try and get on the same page when selecting a player.'
The final comment was when talking about UCLA's LB Myles Jack and how he doesn't feel like medical information should be shared with the public. More importantly, he said when getting doctors information when it comes to medicals and injuries it's almost like reading a scouting report because 2 medicals can be that different than each other. That was very interesting to hear him say and I've never really thought of it that way.
He went on to speak about Jack on how he's a "unique" player. "He played inside and outside LB, playing some nickel CB, outside as a CB, returning kicks. I always say we'd put him back there returning kicks. He was a great RB as a freshman. Those are all great traits to have, especially with roster flexibility."
I don't think they will take Jack but I do think he's the ultimate wildcard at the position. He can be the impact player Telesco is referring to. Other than Jason Verrett he honestly might be the best coverage player on the team.
He would also be the best goal line running back on the team.
Do you still see Chris Watt as your starting center?
"He's our center. He can come in and compete with everybody else. But, ugh, we feel good about Chris. We feel the same way as we felt about him at this time last year. He just needs to get healthy again and get back on the field."
Well then. Telesco was pretty emphatic there. Most of the time you'll hear someone stand up for their guy but didn't get that vibe here. I'm getting a vibe that we won't see any offensive lineman picked until Day 3 just because of the investments they've already made. Not saying that I agree with that but I can see it happening. Like a "last chance" opportunity for Watt. These are interesting comments however and there's surely going to be competition added at some point.
Do you feel the same way about your (offensive) tackles as you did this time last year?
"Umm, uhh, yeah. Joe was really steady and solid for us. Played really good football. Fit in with us great and did a great job for us. And then King, unfortunately, had injuries last year. But when he's been on the field, we can leave him out there 1-on-1 and feel good about it. The problem is he has to get healthy"
Even when healthy last year I would say Barksdale>Dunlap. Telesco also brought up the fact that they brought back Chris Hairston and how he held his own. If they don't take Tunsil at 3, would you be surprised if they took an OT in the 2nd or 3rd round?