clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What if the Chargers Had Listened to ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay in the Last Seven Drafts?

New, comments

Let’s look at who actually made the best picks for the Chargers over the past seven drafts.

NFL: New York Jets at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The conclusion of the 2016 NFL season came on Sunday in Houston as the New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. It's time for all 32 franchises to turn their attention to the 2017 NFL Draft. Yup, it's officially draft season! Of course, there is still so much that has to happen between now and the actual day of the draft, and practically everything regarding which teams might draft certain players will change dramatically over the course of the next couple of months. Still, that doesn’t mean there is no fun to be had this early in the process. The fine writers over at Blogging the Boys and Cincy Jungle made some excellent posts looking at what it would be like if ESPN’s Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. had made the Cowboys and Bengals last seven first round draft selections. We thought that was just an awesome idea, so we’re going to do one for the Chargers.

As far as draft analysts go, it’s fair to say Mel Kiper and Todd McShay are well respected and generally pretty good at what they do. So for this exercise, we’re going to look at their past seven mock drafts to see who they would have drafted for the Chargers and they compare against each other, and more importantly how they compare to who the bolts actually selected. It’s worth noting that the only mock drafts from Kiper and McShay that will be used are their final mock drafts of each year. Without further ado, here are the Chargers past seven first round draft selections.

Chargers First Round Draft Picks: 2010-2016

Year: 2010

Player: Ryan Mathews

Position: RB

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 1

Starter Seasons: 4

Games Started: 52

Approximate Value: 39

Year: 2011

Player: Corey Liuget

Position: DE

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 0

Starter Seasons: 6

Games Started: 87

Approximate Value: 41

Year: 2012

Player: Melvin Ingram

Position: DE

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 0

Starter Seasons: 3

Games Started: 44

Approximate Value: 22

Year: 2013

Player: DJ Fluker

Position: OT/G

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 0

Starter Seasons: 4

Games Started: 59

Approximate Value: 31

Year: 2014

Player: Jason Verrett

Position: CB

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 1

Starter Seasons: 2

Games Started: 22

Approximate Value: 12

Year: 2015

Player: Melvin Gordon

Position: RB

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 1

Starter Seasons: 2

Games Started: 24

Approximate Value: 15

Year: 2016

Player: Joey Bosa

Position: DE

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 0

Starter Seasons: 1

Games Started: 11

Approximate Value: 6

Year: TOTAL

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 3

Starter Seasons: 22/28

Games Started: 299

Approximate Value: 166

There are a few things to note about the statistics used here. They are based only off of a players time spent with the team that drafted him. So, Ryan Mathews’ numbers are only based off of his five seasons with the Chargers. His two seasons on the Philadelphia Eagles are not recorded here. Also, something to note is this “Approximate Value” statistic. AV was created by Doug Drinen of Pro Football Reference and is used to determine the “seasonal value” of a player at any given position. If you would like to learn more about what AV is and how it is calculated, you can click the link here. The thing about it is, while mostly a good system, it can be easily skewed by injury.

As you can see, the Chargers draft haul over the past seven years hasn't been horrible, with a semi-decent total AV of 166. In fact, the past few drafts have netted the team more than one exceptional, albeit oft-injured, player. No All-Pro selections have accompanied any of the Chargers picks, and collectively they have only been to 3 Pro-Bowls. However, we can assume those numbers would be slightly better without some of the injury woes of guys like Verrett and Ingram. Again, these stats don't paint the whole picture.

Joey Bosa had a stellar rookie season to start his career, and he was undoubtedly the best selection the Chargers could have made with the 3rd overall pick. There appears to be many Pro-Bowl and All-Pro list appearances on the horizon for the Chargers young #99. Verrett would be one of the best players at his position, if not the best, if he could only stay on the field and off of IR. Melvin Gordon was the big story of this past season, improving leaps and bounds from year one and becoming the catalyst for the Bolts’ offense.

Of course, it hasn't been all good. Corey Liuget, after showing great promise and inking a huge deal two offseasons ago, has not lived up to the expectations and has been little more than a space-eater along the defensive line. Melvin Ingram has flashes and put together his two best years as a professional in 2015 and 2016, but is still wildly inconsistent and is set to be overpaid by someone this offseason. Meanwhile, D.J. Fluker has never been anything better than average (and has often been worse) after being taken with the 11th overall pick in 2013.

Now with the Chargers past selections fresh in our heads, let’s look at who McShay and Kiper would have selected for the bolts, starting with Todd McShay.

Todd McShay’s Final Mock Draft Picks for the Chargers: 2010-2016

Year: 2010

Player: Ryan Mathews

Position: RB

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 1

Starter Seasons: 4

Games Started: 52

Approximate Value: 39

Year: 2011

Player: Muhammad Wilkerson

Position: DT

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 1

Starter Seasons: 6

Games Started: 89

Approximate Value: 67

Year: 2012

Player: David DeCastro

Position: G

All-Pro: 1

Pro-Bowl: 2

Starter Seasons: 4

Games Started: 67

Approximate Value: 42

Year: 2013

Player: Luke Joeckel

Position: OT

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 0

Starter Seasons: 2

Games Started: 39

Approximate Value: 18

Year: 2014

Player: Anthony Barr

Position: LB

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 2

Starter Seasons: 3

Games Started: 42

Approximate Value: 26

Year: 2015

Player: Danny Shelton

Position: DT

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 0

Starter Seasons: 2

Games Started: 31

Approximate Value: 12

Year: 2016

Player: Ronnie Stanley

Position: OT

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 0

Starter Seasons: 1

Games Started: 12

Approximate Value: 6

Year: TOTAL

All-Pro: 1

Pro-Bowl: 6

Starter Seasons: 22/28

Games Started: 332

Approximate Value: 210

Admittedly, I do like these picks slightly more than the ones the Chargers actually made. However, not all of them would have been possible. McShay and then-Chargers GM AJ Smith were on the same page in 2010 with the selection of Ryan Mathews. Muhammad Wilkerson would have been a better choice than Corey Liuget; he has clearly been the superior player to this point. Though Ingram has been good, the Chargers could have used, and could still use, David DeCastro. He’s been a rock along the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line, and boy could Philip Rivers use a rock. Luke Joeckel (2nd overall selection) and Anthony Barr (9th overall selection) were both long gone when the Chargers made their picks in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Fluker hasn't been great, but in my opinion, he's been slightly better than Joeckel. Anthony Barr has been a phenomenal player for the Minnesota Vikings, constantly wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks. This one is tricky for me to judge because Jason Verrett was my guy coming out of college, and I still believe he’ll be the best or one of the best corners in the game for years to come, health permitting. Danny Shelton is a solid player for the Browns, but the Chargers need Melvin Gordon more than many people realize, though they did give up too much to leapfrog the Texans to draft him. Anyhow, Shelton wasn't even available when the Chargers were on the clock, having gone to Cleveland three pick earlier. Ronnie Stanley actually wasn't a disaster for the Baltimore Ravens like I thought he would be, but come on, the Chargers struck gold with Joey Bosa. We can be thankful the bolts listened to Garrett Sisti and Jamie Hoyle instead of Todd McShay on that one.

Now let’s move onto Mel Kiper’s Chargers picks.

Mel Kiper’s Final Mock Draft Picks for the Chargers: 2010-2016

Year: 2010

Player: Kareem Jackson

Position: CB

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 0

Starter Seasons: 7

Games Started: 93

Approximate Value: 38

Year: 2011

Player: J.J. Watt

Position: DE

All-Pro: 4

Pro-Bowl: 4

Starter Seasons: 6

Games Started: 83

Approximate Value: 90

Year: 2012

Player: Whitney Mercilus

Position: DE

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 0

Starter Seasons: 5

Games Started: 59

Approximate Value: 38

Year: 2013

Player: DJ Fluker

Position: OT/G

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 0

Starter Seasons: 4

Games Started: 59

Approximate Value: 31

Year: 2014

Player: Stanley Jean-Baptiste

Position: CB

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 0

Starter Seasons: 0

Games Started: 0

Approximate Value: 0

Year: 2015

Player: Malcom Brown

Position: DT

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 0

Starter Seasons: 2

Games Started: 25

Approximate Value: 15

Year: 2016

Player: DeForest Buckner

Position: DE

All-Pro: 0

Pro-Bowl: 0

Starter Seasons: 1

Games Started: 15

Approximate Value: 7

Year: TOTAL

All-Pro: 4

Pro-Bowl: 4

Starter Seasons: 25/28

Games Started: 334

Approximate Value: 219

This would have been a great draft haul for the Chargers for the most part, with the obvious miss there being the pick of Stanley Jean-Baptiste in 2014. Starting off with Kareem Jackson in 2010, Jackson has been a really solid and consistent performer at the cornerback position for the Houston Texans, which is more than you can say for a majority of the corners the Chargers have had during Jackson’s time in the league. The big prize coming out of these drafts would have been the selection of J.J. Watt in 2011, which would have given the Chargers maybe the best player in the entire league, and certainly the best defensive player. Man, if only. Of course, Watt was gone by the Chargers pick with the Texans scooping him up seven picks prior to their selection. It’s fun to dream, though.

Kiper looks to have had the right idea in 2012, as the Chargers would have done well to select DE Whitney Mercilus over Melvin Ingram. Mercilus is a great run defender, can get after the quarterback, and knows how to finish plays. Ingram, of course, is pretty good at getting to the quarterback himself, but the problem is he doesn't bring said quarterback down. Aside from that he often plays undisciplined and at times it appears he doesn't fully grasp his assignments. Mercilus seems to be the better pick.

In 2013, Kiper makes the same selection as first-year GM Tom Telesco and the bolts land DJ Fluker. We’ve already discussed Fluker so we’ll just leave that pick at what it is. The Chargers actual pick of Jason Verrett in 2014 was absolutely, unequivocally the right choice over Stanley Jean-Baptiste. Verrett was clearly the better player, and while he often finds himself on the injury report he has still played more than Jean-Baptiste, who hasn't even taken a snap since the 2014 season. Malcom Brown would have been a good selection for the Chargers at 17 in the 2015 draft. He ended up going to New England at the end of the first round and has been a starter along the defensive line there ever since. DeForest Buckner is a good player. I would have had no problem with this selection had the Chargers made it. Buckner had himself a really nice rookie year for San Francisco 49ers and looks to be a great player moving But again, the Bolts actual pick of Joey Bosa is the clear cut winner.

For those of you keeping score at home, both McShay and Kiper made one selection that was the same as the Chargers actual pick, McShay with Mathews in 2010, and Kiper’s pick of Fluker in 2013. Overall, between the two of them, I’d say Kiper made the better picks for the Chargers. Even though the big name on that list wouldn't have been available to the Chargers, it's hard to deny the talent they would have ended up with. The Chargers themselves have not drafted too poorly in the first round, but they could have done well to listen to ESPN’s draft gurus in a few cases.

What do you think of Todd McShay and Mel Kiper’s former mock picks for the Chargers? Who’s draft would you rather have? Let us know in the comments below.