This Draft Could NOT Be Screwed Up
I live in the home market of a not to be named high profile franchise with an outspoken owner. His recurring theme over the last couple of months has been "You don't want to be in this [draft] position ever, but when you are, you have to make it count." This was an accurate and logical summation of what was at stake for the Chargers, too. When you have had a bad season, getting talent to avoid making that a habit is essential for the people that are getting paid to run a team. Under that kind of pressure, Telesco delivered what may turn out to be what a future Bolts historian considers one of the best the franchise ever had.
When I watched some Ohio State games over the last few years, it was easy to see #97 dominating. In the early part of the offseason, most of us were hoping to get this beast on the team. As it turns out, with two teams lusting after QB's he was there for the taking. We may look upon this signing with the same level of favor that we viewed the drafting of Shawne Merriman in 2005.
The 3rd overall pick of the draft COULD NOT be screwed up. There has been discussion of "safe and spectacular" and I have had a minor nit with that. A defensive lineman (ignore the idiot pundits that project Bosa as a 280 pound OLB) that does his job well will be spectacular. Defensive stops, stuffing backs with bone jarring hits, pressuring a QB, moving the line of scrimmage backwards, forcing the action that leads to turnovers; all of these things are in the job description of a defensive lineman. The one that can do the job, the "safe" pick here (which was Bosa) will be spectacular.
This was where some second guessing came in for me. Pre-draft, my amateur thinking figured that Safety and Center needed to be addressed and with the selection of Bosa, I spent Friday anticipating seeing a combination of safety and center selected in each round. When the Bolts selected Henry, I was Briefly upset. After all, that was NOT what the plan should have been! Then I did some research and I also saw how day 3 played out. I rediscovered my well-deserved humility by the end of round 5.
Henry has been compared to Greg Olsen and Jason Witten. Re-read that and think about it for a minute. I confess, I did not know too much about him; Arkansas is not all that great right now and I only saw one game that they played in 2015 (a blow-out over Texas A&M). With time catching up to future Hall of Fame TE Antonio Gates and Philip Rivers frequent targeting of Tight Ends, TE was clearly on the mind of the team's management. Henry won top honors for college TE's this season. Even more incredibly, he did not have ONE recorded drop in 2015. The stat line was pretty solid, given the dismal QB situation at Arkansas: 51 catches, 739 yards, and 3 TD's. I'll take it.
This pick is a Telesco special. In a selection reminiscent of the 3rd round pick of Keenan Allen in 2013, Matt Tuerk, projected as potentially a 1st or 2nd round pick last September dropped to the Bolts in the 3rd round. The reasons for the talented players dropping were quite similar, too. An early knee injury put Tuerk on the shelf, much as it did for Allen in 2012. A fantastic talent, with an injury that should be healed by August, did affect his draft status to the Bolts favor and Telesco jumped on the chance to steal top shelf talent in a middle round.
For the record, Friday morning, I was hoping we could get Tuerk in the 3rd round, if the team had gone safety in the 2nd. Draft day chatter on NFL network speculated that he was too light at the 270 pound stated weight. There are reports out there that Tuerk is closer to 300 now in an injury rehab process ahead of schedule. The Emoji you just didn't see is my big s--t eating grin. If he is closer to 300 and has retained even most of his college agility, the size and his technique will make him a Center PR will be happy to have in front of him for the rest of his career.
The next four picks were a welcome reminder to me that the guys that get paid to do this for a living know a whole lot more than I do. By the time the 6th round was done, I felt better than I had after any prior Telesco draft.
The festivities kicked off with Joshua Perry. Projected to be a Sam LB in a 4-3, the 6'4" 254 pound Perry can fill that role in a 3-4 under look or slip to the SILB in the Bolts base 3-4. While he is not comfortable in space, he has shown some ability in coverage. In the league I grew up watching, Perry would have been a late 1st or early 2nd round pick. A high motored sure tackler that plays gap control, while taking the correct angle to a ball carrier was a coveted skill until the quick passing spread and West Coast influenced offenses turned the NFL into a passing first league. This is a sign that the team is aware of the issues the defense had last year in tackling. It was also a good value move here by Telesco to get quality depth on the team. The ILB rotation for the next few years is looking good.
I heard the name of announced, thought "who?" and then started hitting the interwebs to find out about Jatavis Brown. After looking at a couple of web sites, I started doing this...
Remember how I said I wanted Su'a Cravens and was disappointed when we took the potential Greg Olsen and Jason Witten TE instead? Well, Telesco was playing chess in the war room while I was cleverly playing checkers with myself in my living room. (You could probably eliminate the words "cleverly" and "checkers" from the previous sentence and it would remain accurate.)
This is another Telesco Special, Version 1A, and a fantastic illustration of the resources an NFL uses to ID talent and find players. The pick is reminiscent of last year's selection of Kyle Immanual in the 5th round. A superb athlete from a small school, Brown terrorized the MAC last year, leading the conference in tackles for loss, sacks, and getting 108 total tackles in 12 starts at the Will LB position. 5'11", 227 pounds with freakish strength and 40 times project Brown as a first class Strong Safety.
Compared to the player I wanted (Su'a Cravens), Brown is faster, stronger, and at the same weight while being 2 inches shorter. He practically screams to be tried at Safety, although he will probably see the field in 2016 at first as a dime LB and special teamer. The team is being coy about where he'll play, but c'mon...
NFL Network said it best - with his measurables and production, if Brown had played in the SEC, he would have gone in the 2nd round as a safety. Here is another thumper in the run defense for us, if the coaching staff will use him.
There has been some speculation this offseason that the Mike Scifres era would come to an end in SD prior to the start of the 2016 season. That speculation was confirmed when the team drafted the best punter on the market, the winner of all of college football's awards for punting with this pick. Y'all are gonna love Drew Kaser as much as you did Mike Scifres a few years ago, before ("Godd----it") Donald Brown allowed him to get broken.
For anyone upset that the team used a draft choice on a punter, consider the following:
Ø Sixth round picks rarely see the field, unless they can contribute on special teams. What squad does a punter play on? Hello?
Ø Scifres was due to get paid $3.6 Million in 2016. That money is not guaranteed. Paying Kaser instead of Scifres frees up about $3.3 Million in cap room.
Ø Statistically, Scifres was one of the worst punters in the league last season on a team that had awful special teams. The Bolts were perpetually on the short end of the field position stick last year and with all due respect to the career Scifres has had for the Chargers, he was a big part of that.
Kaser has top shelf leg strength, produces incredible hang-time, and is also adept at placing the ball so that it dies inside the 10. He has the back spin and directional skills that great punters need to have. I can see him contributing to wins in those or two games a year that are gritty, low-scoring, field position oriented types of games. THIS WAS NOT A WASTED PICK. If you think a man can help your team, you damned well make sure you get him.
How many times over the last few seasons have we on this site ripped the team to get a legit fullback? Well, Telesco got the #2 rated FB in the draft and it was met with a lot (not universal, but a lot) of loathing... Yes, I am as much a fan as the rest of you are and I sometimes don't get it.
Watt is 6'2" and 235 pounds. He rushed 9 times for 45 yards last season and added 15 receptions for 139 yards. He was ranked #2 by PFF in run-blocking for FB's and was ranked #2 overall for FB's eligible for the draft by several sources.
This pick had an element of clever about it too. Watt was the lead blocker for Melvin Gordon while they were both at Wisconsin. In addition to getting a guy that can catch, run for some tough yards, and be a fullback, they get somebody that can (perhaps) coax a little more production out of 2015's first round pick. If Derek Watt puts in the same amount of work that his big brother does, the Bolts will have a strong, high energy guy leading MG3 to daylight in 2016. Heck, if he can plow the road for Gordon to find the end zone once in 2016, that will be an improvement over 2015, right? What more would you want from the 198th overall pick this year, if he helps your prior year's 1st rounder come into his own and avoid becoming Trent Richardson or Ron Dayne 2.0? I liked this selection.
A guard out of Michigan State that did not allow a sack last year, Donavon Clark will be given a chance to make the roster or practice squad. With the 224th overall pick, finding a quality player here is equivalent to rolling boxcars twice in a row and following that up with rolling snake-eyes. I really had no opinion about this pick after the team drafted a TE and a FB, even including intriguing behemoths.