The Los Angeles Chargers are ready to make a charge at the postseason. While they might be banged and bruised heading into the final weeks of the season, their early season success should have the guaranteed at least playing one game after Week 17.
Bowlmania is upon us ladies and gents. While the first week of the College Football bowl schedule isn’t as exciting as seeing Alabama in the playoff for the umpteenth time, there are always several quality players who will catch the eyes of scouts during this time. Quality depth is key in keeping a team on a winning path and players from smaller schools could be those types of players that make a good team great.
Each week, Blooming Bolts will cover every game and find the perfect prospect for the Chargers to scout before April’s NFL Draft. With so many bowl games and so little time, one man can’t do this job alone. We have called upon the like’s of Jake Hefner to help break down each game and take some pressure off our back.
Let’s dive in and take a look at several players Los Angeles’ scouting staff should be on the lookout for this upcoming weekend.
North Carolina AT&T: S Myles Dorn
Dorn has been a contributor to the Tar heels since he arrived as a true freshman in 2016. As a sophomore, Dorn ranked third on the team with 71 tackles and led the team with three turnovers. His stats dropped a bit this season as Dorn missed three games due to a knee injury. But he was still an effective piece of North Carolina’s defense, finishing fourth on the team in total tackles with 55, along with two interceptions. In his three seasons as a Tar Heel, Dorn has accumulated 157 total tackles, 6 tackles for loss, four interceptions and seven passes defended.
At 6’2, 210 pounds Dorn has great size for his position but he also has the versatility to play either safety or cornerback. As a leader of the defense he displays toughness while possessing terrific range and closing speed Draft Analyst Writer Tony Pauline is very high on Dorn’s upside giving the young safety a 2nd round grade.
Alcorn State: DB Javen Morrison
The Chargers secondary could be in the market for some more depth. Casey Hayward is beginning to decline while Trevor Williams is in a contract year. Desmond King is a fantastic player but limited to the slot more than likely thanks to his progress there over the past two seasons.
Alcorn State has very few players worth talking about heading into this year’s draft but Morrison is one of the few. The 5-11’ defensive back has spent time at free safety and outside cornerback during his two seasons as a starter. One of the more rangy defensive backs in the SWAC, Morrison has collected four interceptions this past season and returned them for 131 yards and a touchdown. While he’ll need to improve as an open field tackler, the Braves safety could be an undrafted free agent the Bolts could turn into a quality player.
New Mexico Bowl
North Texas: LB E.J. Ejiyia
Linebacker is going to be a need Los Angeles will have to address for the long-term. With Denzel Perryman suffering a season-ending injury during a contract year, the Charges could elect to turn to the draft or free agent rather than resign the oft-injured defender. On top of that, Kyle Emmanuel shouldn’t be considered more than a special teams player while Kyzir White is raw and also injured. Even if the team elects to draft a linebacker early, one linebacker isn’t going to fix the problem.
Ejiyia might be the top prospect from either side on the field in New Mexico come Saturday. A high productive off-ball linebacker, Ejiyia is best against the run and behind the line the scrimmage. Following back to back 100+ tackle seasons, the Mean Green linebacker has stuffed running backs in their tracks 35 times in the past two seasons. While he’s likely just a late round pick, Ejiyia offers plenty in terms of special teams and a productive role player.
Utah State: TE Draxx Raymond
In November, Raymond made the decision to forgo his senior year and declare for the NFL Draft. As one of Jordan Love’s favorite targets, Raymond has been an integral piece of the Aggies offense. While his numbers don’t exactly fill up the stat sheets, Raymond’s most productive season came in 2017 where he recorded 41 catches for 456 yards and one touchdown. The young tight end completed his tenure at Utah State recording 70 receptions, for 863 yards and three touchdowns.
At 6’5, 250 pounds, Raymond is an old school breed of tight end displaying great technique in his blocking. He also possesses a dynamic skillset as both a route runner and pass catcher. Raymond’s size and athleticism can create mismatches in one-on-one scenarios against defenders. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler favors the young tight end calling him “one of the better secrets out west in College Football”.
Tulane: WR Darnell Mooney
While the Chargers aren’t in dire need of another wide receiver, it could be a position they should consider addressing at some point in the draft. Tyrell Williams is in a contract season and could be up for a hefty payday while Travis Benjamin is all but headed out the door. Los Angeles is set with Mike Williams and Kennan Allen as a nice 1-2 combo but should add depth.
Tulane’s a very young team with few quality players able to declare for the draft. If Mooney does, he would be a nice fit for the Chargers. Solid speed, reliable hands and the ability to create yards after the catch, Mooney leads the Green Wave in receptions and touchdowns and is currently averaging 21 yards per catch. Although his 5-11’ frame probably limits him to a slot receiver role, his speed should allow for him to find a role in an empty backfield set.
Louisiana-Lafayette: OG Kevin Dotson
The Chargers have shown a pattern the past two seasons selecting offensive lineman late in the draft as evidenced by the team selecting tackle Sam Tevi in the sixth round in 2017and offensive lineman Scott Quessenberry in the 5th round last April. Los Angeles could make a similar move in selecting Dotson late in the draft as a future developmental or reserve prospect.
A 36 game starter for the Rajun Canjuns, Dotson earned first-team recognition for the 2018 All Sun Belt Conference offensive team. He was a key contributor to an offense that ranked third in rushing in the Sun Belt Conference, averaging 229 yards per game. While he is tough effective run blocker, Dotson received positive grades for his pass blocking skills allowing only four quarterback pressures for the 2018 season. Early predictions by scouts have labeled the young offensive lineman as a late Day 3 pick.
Las Vegas Bowl
Arizona State: OT Casey Tucker
The Chargers will need to add another offensive lineman in their near future. With Forrest Lamp looking like a myth with all his listings on the inactive sheet and Joe Barksdale now in Arizona, the Chargers need depth on their offensive line. While Sam Tevi and Michael Schofield have done a solid job protecting Rivers, one is about to enter a contract season while the other will follow the next season.
Tucker transfered from Stanford earlier this offseason and has been a quality starter for the Sun Devils offense. Starting in 11 total games at a mix of left tackle and left guard. Great upper body strength, Tucker has the ability to hold a block in pass protection and has a quick reaction to double moves off the edge. He’s certainly a mold of clay but his versatility on the line could allow him to be a potential depth swing tackle for the Bolts as a day 3 pickup.
Fresno State: S Mike Bell
The Chargers will have a decision to make with Adrian Phillips when free agency begins in March. Phillips has made a good name for himself as key contributor at both safety and linebacker. Should Los Angeles let Phillips walk, the team could look to fill that void with a player of Bell’s versatility.
Bell is another big bodied, versatile defensive back that can line up at safety or corner. He was part of a Fresno State defense that ranked first in the Mountain West Conference in 2018. Through 37 games in three seasons with the Bulldogs, Bell has recorded 189 total tackles, nine tackles for a loss, 4 interceptions and twelve passes defended. He has the physical attributes (6’3, 205 pounds) along with good range and cover skills to round out his game. Draft Analyst Tony Pauline has heard that there is good chance that Bell declares for the 2019 NFL Draft and has the potential to move up draft boards if he decides to enter.
Eastern Michigan: DE Maxx Crosby
The Chargers are set on the edge moving forward in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram expected to be long-term option. While Isacc Roshell and Damion Square are decent contributors, Square’s role might be more beneficial if he were to shift inside. If that’s the case, the Bolts could use some depth off the edge.
Crosby will have to declare for the draft and elect to forgo his senior season but there is some potential there for him to explode at the next level. At 6-5, Crosby’s quick speed is a nightmare for offensive tackles to face on a daily basis. While his tackling skills are raw, Crosby has collected 7.5 sacks this season and 18 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He’ll need to become more polished when rounding off the curve on his attack but it’s easy to understand why many call him the best prospect on field in Montgomery this weekend.
Georgia Southern: DE Logan Hunt
The Chargers will need to reload the interior of their defensive line in the offseason. The team may part ways with Corey Liuget for salary cap reasons. The team also has two defensive ends in Darius Philon and Damien Square that will be free agents following the end of the season. If Hunt declare for the NFL Draft, he is likely to be selected in the final rounds or as a priority free agent that the team could keep as depth on their practice squad.
One of the bright spots of the Eagles defensive line, Hunt is a big bodied defensive lineman that can play multiple positions along the defensive line. His best performance of the 2018 season came during Week 5 when Hunt totaled a career high nine tackles and 3 sacks against Arkansas State. A starter in 30 of his 44 games played, Hunt Finishes his career with 125 total tackles, 21 TFL and 10 sacks. However his contributions are not limited to just playing defense. In 2017, Hunt recorded a total of 714 snaps (661 on defense and 53 on special teams).
New Orleans Bowl
Middle Tennessee State: QB Brent Stockstill
The Chargers might move on from Geno Smith after this season. While he’s been a reliable option at backup (mainly because he’s only thrown four passes this season), the team could be looking towards the future at finding a potential replacement for Rivers. Yes, Rivers isn’t going anywhere until at least 2020, but finding someone to grow under him isn’t a bad option. Look at how Jimmy Garoppolo did under Tom Brady?
At 24-years-old, Stockstill will be one of the oldest quarterback prospects in this year’s upcoming draft. Still, his resume as the Blue Raiders quarterback is nothing short of impressive over the past five seasons. Throwing for 3,000 plus yards in three of his five years under center, Stockstill has the ability to play the intermediate of the field and keep offensive drives alive. With 105 career touchdown passes, the Blue Raider gun slinger now is ranked inside the top 20 of all NCAA quarterback for the most touchdowns passes thrown. The numbers are there, Saturday should show is the accuracy and football IQ matches.
Appalachian State: CB Tae Haynes
The secondary of the Chargers has been a strength of the team over the past couple years. Rookie standout Derwin James and second year cornerback Desmond King have become huge contributors to the defense. Unfortunately, former first-round pick Jason Verrett has been plagued with injuries since entering the NFL and is unlikely to be back with the team. Fellow corner Trevor Williams has had an inconsistent season after receiving positive marks last year.
A smaller cornerback, standing 5’10, 188 pounds, Hayes plays much bigger than his size would indicate. In the final game of the 2018 season, Hayes recorded a career-high nine tackles along with an interception, helping Appalachian State to clinch its third consecutive Sun Belt title. Appearing in 43 games over four years, Hayes has filled up the stat sheet recording 134 total tackles, eight tackles for a loss, eight interceptions, 23 pass deflections and two blocked kicks. Size will most likely limit Hayes’ celling in draft evaluations, but he could be a solid choice in the later rounds for a team in need of a slot corner and special team contributor.