In preparation for every year’s draft, I always use the first-pick.com draft game to familiarize myself with more prospects. I generally will draft about 10-20 times for the Chargers, and I’ll pick a few other teams to draft for as well. I generally don’t pay attention to the grades, because I can’t figure where their big board comes from, but it’s not always the most accurate. Either way, here’s my first mock Chargers draft of the season. My criteria were based on team need mixed with BPA. This is why my first selection was an offensive tackle and not a safety.
Round 1, Pick 7: Ryan Ramczyk, OT (Wisconsin)
I haven’t watched much tape of the guy, but he will more than likely be the top offensive linemen off the board. He only has one year starting for a D1 school, but he impressed everyone, winning All-Big Ten honors, and AP All-American honors. He has all the needed athleticism to be a starter at LT, and would quickly become the best offensive lineman on the team. The only thing that would make me hesitate at this pick is his hip surgery, but it was only an arthroscopic surgery, so I wouldn’t be too worried about his ability to come back at a high level. Could plug in day one at any position along the line until King Dunlap leaves. As far as why I didn’t pick a safety? I think Jahleel Addae has developed nicely despite his scary style of play, and I don’t think Dwight Lowery is that bad. *Jamal Adams was picked at 4, and Malik Hooker was off the board at 8
Round 2, Pick 6: Christian McCaffrey, RB (Stanford)
Some will argue that this isn’t a need. I would disagree, considering the only backs on the roster are Melvin Gordon, 2nd-year man Kenneth Farrow, and practically useless Derek Watt. If the Chargers decide to move on from either Branden Oliver or Danny Woodhead (or both), Christian McCaffrey could do a fine job as a compliment to Melvin Gordon. He’s a bit skinny for a 3 down back but has the quickness and hands to be a very, very good scat back in the league. Over the last two seasons, he’s rushed for over 3600 yards and received for nearly 1,000 yards along with 31 all-purpose TDs (including one kickoff and one punt returned for TDs). He’s the all-purpose guy Philip Rivers loves and has loved in Darren Sproles and Danny Woodhead. His vision is phenomenal, and he could be an awesome weapon for this Chargers team. This would be a home-run pick but might be a reach because he might not make it out of the first round. Other possibilities: Desmond King (10), Carl Lawson (14)
Round 3, Pick 7: Patrick Mahomes, QB (Texas Tech)
It’s time for the Chargers to draft a quarterback who can lead the team once Philip Rivers inevitably retires. The sad thing to me is that players like Drew Brees and Tom Brady will play into their 40s, but Philip Rivers is falling apart already. If the Chargers can pick two difference makers in the first two rounds (to win now), they can use the 3rd round to look towards the future. Patrick Mahomes is probably the most talented Quarterback in the whole draft, but absolutely needs a year or three to sit behind a true pro, to learn how to really lead an NFL offense. Mahomes is too willing to throw the ball down the field and has an unorthodox delivery, but in terms of pure talent, he’s unmatched in this draft. The consensus #3 QB in the draft, he’s thrown for almost 10,000 yards in the last two years. Yes, you read that right... two years. Add that to 77 TDs and only 25 INTs, color me impressed. When you realize he is also a threat to run (much like Ben Roethlisberger or Aaron Rodgers) and has racked up over 700 yards and 22 TDs on the ground, the Chargers would be stupid not to run to the podium. I could go on and on about the guy, but if you want more info, read Jamie’s article. To be honest, he probably won’t be let out of the 1st round by a QB needy team late. (Steelers, Chiefs, Texans). If he falls to the 2nd round, I would not be upset at all if the Chargers take him.
Round 4, Pick 6: Taywan Taylor, WR (Western Kentucky)
Not a big WR by any means, at 5’11, 198, this guy caught for 1,730 yards and 17 scores on 98 catches. He has huge hands and is a reliable target. This pick is based on the assumption that he will be mainly a slot receiver in the NFL due to his shifty nature, and so-so route running. I could easily see him filling in from day one for a (probable) recent cut Stevie Johnson, and putting up better numbers. He has been used mainly on screens, jet sweep plays, and gimmick plays and is a fast fool which would fit in perfectly with guys like Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin. He’s fast, has pretty good hands (when he’s not catching with his body), and would be one of the most effective mid round selections of the entire draft.
Round 5, Pick 7: Eddie Vanderdoes, DT (UCLA)
As Eddie Vanderdoes is from my alma mater, I have had ample time to watch him on the field. I was incredibly excited when he burned Notre Dame and signed with UCLA, and immediately made an impact on the field. He, unfortunately, tore up his knee in the 2016-17 season and was a very solid run defender in his return to action this last season. He has all the tools to be an effective Defensive Tackle in the league but probably won’t amount to much as a pass rusher. That being said, this 6’3, 320 lb would be one of the biggest defensive players on the team, and could effectively eat up blocks for Joey Bosa to wreak havoc. To be a true playmaker in the NFL, it is thought he will probably have to lose about 15 lbs to regain all of his mobility. He seems fit for a 4-3 scheme, which is what the Chargers will be running next season. Potential Liuget replacement? Go Bruins!
Round 6, Pick 6: Jeremy Sprinkle, TE (Arkansas)
Hunter Henry’s old teammate, Jeremy was a better red zone target and was used more as a blocker. Antonio Gates has to retire at some point, and it wouldn’t hurt to have 3 quality Tight Ends on the roster. With the 6th round, the Chargers probably won’t be taking a difference maker, but they could pick up someone who could be an effective #2 TE for the duration of his career. Best suited to be a blocking TE, he is truly the perfect complement to budding superstar, Hunter Henry. Can you imagine all the jokes that could be had with his last name? Oh, he did have a shoplifting controversy during a bowl game (where he tried to take more than his $450 allotted gift allowance, and he was suspended.
Round 7, Pick 7: Stevie Tuikolovatu, DT (USC)
Stevie will be a 26-year-old rookie, after completing his two-year Mormon mission and returning to Utah and then USC for his final season. He made 53 stops, with two for a loss and was a second-team all Pac-12 pick. He’s pretty similar in usage to Eddie Vanderdoes, but you can never have enough able-bodied D-linemen in a 4-3. He would be a great depth play, and might even push for playing time, as the Chargers aren’t considerably deep on the D-line, and don’t have great talent up front (Corey Liuget, I’m looking at you). Why take someone who probably won't make the roster on day one, when you can pick up a talented Defensive Lineman who will instantly improve your rush defense?
As with the real draft, some players fell (including multiple guys with first round grades), and some players were reached for. If the Chargers end up with a draft of this magnitude, I would be very pleased once again with Tom Telesco. Comment below and let us know how you feel about these picks.