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Which prospects should Chargers fans be watching week 2 over Bowlmania

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NCAA Football: MAC Championship-Northern Illinois at Buffalo Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers are headed to the postseason! Following their big win against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bolts have punched their ticket to a date in January and a chance to head to Atlanta for Super Bowl 53.

The Bolts offseason however will be one to keep an eye on. With multiple stars heading towards the free agent market, Tom Telesco and his staff will have to do a good job making the draft and free agent market a memorable one. One way the Chargers can start their homework is by watching the bowl games heading into the holidays.

Week 2 of Bowlmania is about to begin and Week 1 did not disappoint. With more players looking to make their NFL mark, Jake Hefner comes out strong to help with another addition of Blooming Bolts. Hopefully theses prospects make the final cut of the Chargers big board. Enjoy folks and guess what, no quarterback this time!

Boca Raton Bowl

Northern Illinois: DE Sutton Smith

While The Chargers boast one of the best pass rushing duos in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, you can never have enough edge rushers in the AFC West. Sutton Smith is one of the most intriguing players in all of college football. Sutton blew up the stat sheet last year with 63 total tackles, 30 for loss and 14 sacks. Prior to the start of the 2018 season, ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg labeled Sutton as the top pass rusher on his watch list.

His numbers were nearly replicated this year as Sutton registered 56 total tackles, 15 sacks and four forced fumbles. The biggest hurdle that the young linebacker will have to overcome in draft evaluations will be his size. At 6’1, 237 pounds, Sutton will not be able to produce as an edge linebacker at the next level. However because of his ability to shed blocks and get after the quarterback, he may be able to make the transition as a “traditional linebacker”, which is another position of need for The Chargers.

UAB: S Mar’Sean Diggs

The Chargers secondary has been one of the better pieces of their defense due to their large depth and pretty consistent health. That being said, there’s still some holes at both positions. Jaheel Addee hasn’t played well all season while cornerback Trevor Williams is likely done with the team after being placed on the injured reserved. Michael Davis has looked better in his second season but still could be used in a more limited role. It’s not a glaring need but finding a running mate with Derwin James could be important.

Diggs might not be as flashy as several high name safeties, but there’s plenty to mold around with him moving forward. Transitioning to safety this season, Diggs has preformed well in coverage as the team’s free safety and high man in coverage. With a pair of interceptions and four pass breakups, the former Friendship Collegiate standout has been one of the more consistent players for the Blazers defense all season. With quality speed and the ability to play deep, the Bolts could target the Redshirt Senior as a quality day three pickup.

Frisco Bowl

San Diego State: OT Ryan Pope

For the last two years Tackle Ryan Pope has been a versatile offensive lineman for the Aztecs. At 6’7, 315 pounds he boast prototypical size for the NFL and has experience at both tackle spots. Pope has been an important piece of helping San Diego State becoming one of the best rushing offenses in college football.

A strong run blocker that plays with a mean streak, Pope will need to show development in his pass blocking capabilities. He will have an opportunity to display his skill set against high competition at the East West Shrine Game. Pope’s size and versatility could make him an intriguing prospect to The Chargers in the seventh round or as an undrafted free agent.

Ohio: LB Evan Croutch

The Chargers will need to consider addressing their linebacker issues at some point in the draft. Denzel Perryman will finish his contract season on the injured revere while Jatavis Brown will be a free agent following the 2019 season. He’ll need a big season next year or he could be heading out the door as well. With what little fans saw from Kyzir White, there’s promise at the WILL backer position but he’ll need to come back healthy next year to prove it.

A tackling machine for the Bobcats, Croutch comes from a similar defense ran by the Bolts. Predominantly a WILL backer, the senior is best used as a run stopper off the edge according to his stat line. Entering his second full season as a starter, Croutch has made mincemeat of running backs, stuffing the run for 11.5 tackles for losses. Quick off the snap, Croutch does a stand up job getting off blocks and limiting runs to the outside. Another later round pick, perhaps Croutch could be the answer at being a consistent run stopper at the next level.

Gasparilla Bowl

Marshall: WR Tyre Brady

A junior transfer from Miami, Brady became an immediate contributor to the Thundering Herd offense in 2017. In two his two years at Marshall, Brady registered 122 receptions for 1761 yards and 17 touchdowns. Brady has good size (6’3, 205) and plays more sudden than fast. Posting 4.5 speed, the young wideout displays break away quickness off the snap creating separation from defenders.

Brady will play in this year’s Senior Bowl and scouts expect him to come off of the board on day three of the NFL draft. The Chargers should likely move on from Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams will be a free agent following the end of this season. The team may be in need of depth at the receiver position and Brady’s high production, albeit in Conference USA, could be worthy of a late round selection.

South Florida: LB/S Khalid McGee

The Bolts linebacker room has been well addressed in the past, making it clear that the team will need to pick up another one soon. The big question however is what to do with Perryman? A vocal leader on the field and in the locker room, a small one-year contract could allow the former second-round pick to prove his worth. If not, the team will likely select two linebacker at some point.

A versatile player, McGee is the Swiss-army knife of the Bulls defense that Gus Bradley loves. Having experience at both linebacker and safety, McGee is a high tempo tackler but also fluent in coverage. Collecting over 100 tackles during his senior season, McGee flies to the ball and can be found multiple times on the tape. While his overall 5-11’ frame might limit him to a coverage role, McGee’s tackling ability would allow him to take over for Adrian Phillips in the dime package and let Phillips play more full-time.

Bahamas Bowl

Toledo: WR Cody Thompson

The Chargers aren’t in major need of a wide receiver but they should keep their options open heading into the offseason. Travis Benjamin is likely gone even after a promising game in Kansas City. Tyrell Williams is likely also headed out the door unless the Bolts are willing to open their wallet to pay him. Mike Williams and Keenan Allen are both great pass catchers but in today’s league, Los Angeles will need to consider at drafting another guy at some point.

Thompson might have fallen off a bit in his total yards but his ability to be a consistent touchdown maker at the next level. At 6-2’, Thompson wins a majority of his man coverage battles and has smooth hands at the highest point of the catch. Averaging a career 18.2 yards per catch, Thompson’s ability to make defenders fall behind him in coverage. His special teams skills are pretty spectacular as well. A day 3 selection, Thompson is a smaller option than Williams but a touchdown machine waiting to make the jump to the NFL.

Florida International: DT Anthony Johnson

Johnson has been a productive player for the Panthers defense recording 80 total tackles, 14 for loss and ten sacks over the last two seasons. At 6-foot-3 and 291 pounds, Johnson has shown versatility lining up at the defensive end and defensive tackle position. As one of the best lineman in Conference USA, he has received positive grades for his run-stopping ability. His pass-rushing skills have flashed at times, but his technique will need some improvement.

At the next level Johnson’s best fit will at defensive tackle and is projected to come off the board toward the end of the draft or possibly go undrafted. The Chargers should be addressing the interior of their defensive line at the top of the draft. But Johnson could be an interesting developmental prospect when the undrafted process begins.

Potato Bowl

Western Michigan: OC John Keenoy

Mike Pouncey has changed the dynamic of The Chargers offense since he arrived as a free agent earlier this year. But his contract will expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season, so it couldn’t hurt to scout for the future. Western Michigan center John Keenoy, has been the anchor of the Broncos offensive line for the last four years.

At 6’3, 300 pounds, the young offensive lineman may be undersized by NFL standards, but his play makes up for it. Keenoy has received high grades for pass protection and his consistency as a starter at center for 50 games throughout his college career. Keenoy accepted an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game and will attempt to become the fourth consecutive offensive lineman to be drafted out of Western Michigan since 2014.

BYU: LB Sione Takitaki

Let’s not repeat ourselves. The linebacker need is real and the Bolts are going to draft one. Perhaps one early and one late, If they go late, Takitaki should be on the board at some point.

Another hybrid defender who has spent time at both off the edge and in an off-ball linebacker role, Takitaki is best used against the run and forcing quarterbacks to run out of the pocket. 32.5 career tackles for losses along with a 100 tackle season, the Cougar linebacker flies off the line of scrimmage and forces runningbacks to turn upfield away from him. Perhaps only a SAM backer, Takitaki has the skills and pass rush ability to cause havoc in any backfield.

Birmingham Bowl

Memphis: LB Bryce Huff

The Chargers linebacker room will be the talk of the offseason. While Memphis might be more known for their offense, several players on the defensive side of the ball could be quality contributors moving forward. If there’s one the Bolts should consider, let’s go with Huff for his high production.

A two-year starter for the Tigers defense, 2018 might have exploded Huff’s draft stock to new heights. A force off the edge, the junior pass rusher was near impossible to block in one-on-one matchups. With 19 total tackles behind the line of scrimmage along with nearly 10 sacks, Huff has the speed and ability to cause offensive coordinator fits on every drive. He’ll need to declare but a mid-round pick could be the perfect spot for Huff and the Chargers defense.

Wake Forest: S Cameron Glenn

An underrated prospect by many NFL scouts, Glenn finally started gaining some well-deserved attention during his senior year. He has produced on a high level the past two seasons registering 189 total tackles, nine tackles for a loss, 11 passes defended and two interceptions. As a team captain, Glenn has good size for the safety position at 6’1, 200 pounds, Wake Forest Lined Glenn up in a variety of different places along the defense giving him opportunities to make plays all over the field.

At the beginning of the season, many analysts believed that Glenn’s would go undrafted. But due to his high level of production over the past two years, there is a good chance that he could be selected toward the back end of day three. Jahleel Addae doesn’t look like the long term solution at free safety and The Chargers could look to upgrade the position at any point during the draft.

Armed Forces Bowl

Houston: LB Emeke Egbule

If the Chargers go linebacker, they’re going to have to draft several options. There’s few real promising linebackers coming out in free agency this offseason and unless Kyle Emmanuel starts to improve in the playoffs, everyone could be possibly replaceable. Houston’s defense had a star cornerback in Isaiah Johnson that could have been this selection but he’s now electing to sit out. Sorry folks, even if Ed Oliver was playing, he’d be long off the board by the time the Chargers drafted.

Let’s keep the linebacker trend going. A three year starter for the Cougar defense Egbule has the size that teams want in a SAM backer for today’s NFL. Best against the run, the senior linebacker does a solid job shucking offensive linemen and forcing his way into the backfield. A decent tackler, Egbule could be a nice sixth or seventh round option and a key player on special team formations.

Army: RB Darnell Woolfook

The Black Knights are extremely thin on 2019 NFL draft prospects, but Woolfolk has produced enough to garner some attention. In the past three seasons, he has accumulated 2,297 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns. While he doesn’t possess ideal height (5’9), he does have adequate size for his frame at 235 pounds. Rather than beating defenders with his speed, Woolfolk is more of a grinding type running back. He will get an additional opportunity to display his skillset at the East-West Shrine Game.

Coming out of the triple option at Army, the young running back will have to adapt to a pro-style scheme at the next level. Woolfolk will most likely be targeted as an undrafted free agent. But there is a good chance that he might not see time in the NFL for a couple years due to his obligations for playing at a service academy.

Dollar General Bowl

Troy: CB Blace Brown

Brown could have left for the NFL following his junior year. But his decision to return for the 2018 season ended up being the right choice. Brown gained another year of experience and improved on his previous numbers registering 44 total tackles, 1.5 for loss, five passes defended and one interception. In July, NFL Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein ranked Brown in his Top 10 Defensive Backs to watch in 2018. Opposing quarterbacks did not throw in Browns’ direction as they didn’t want to test his coverage ability. Brown has been a ball-hawk over the past three years with 12 interceptions and 15 passes defended.

He has decent size at 6’0, 186 pounds and plays with good speed and instincts. But he will need to add more strength to his frame in order to handle bigger bodied receivers on the outside. The Chargers could use another addition to their depth at the corner position and Brown could be an option between rounds two and four of the NFL Draft.

Buffalo: WR Anthony Johnson

The Chargers could be getting back Artavis Scott but his skills are best used in special teams. The Bolts have been known in the past to let their players walk towards the money instead of resigning. If that trend continues to happen then Tyrell is likely heading out the door after the season ends.

A bigger receiver with the ability to win one on one battles in man coverage, Johnson has the strength and size that teams drool over during the draft process. While playing at a smaller school, Johnson’s production has been key for the Bison’s success on offense. Averaging 18 yards per catch in his career, Johnson’s consistent hands have been making his stock rise up over the past several seasons. While his route running will need to improve, his blocking is phenomenal for the run. While the Bolts will likely have to use a second or third round pick on him, Johnson’s skills could be worth it to help out Rivers in the long run.