There are just over five (5) weeks until this year’s draft and quite a few things have changed since the havoc of free agency was unleashed upon us last Wednesday evening. Scores of players have signed with new teams which means that a number of team’s needs have changed and numerous draft strategies are no longer what they used to be.
When it comes to Tom Telesco, the coupon God, however, his strategy is pretty much the same, even with signings of veteran linebacker Thomas Davis and quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
And of course we are only past the initial wave of free agency but I cannot see the team’s most pressing needs changing at all, even if they were to sign back defensive tackle Darius Philon (which they should).
The team currently has just two players signed who play primarily along the interior defensive line, second-year guy Justin Jones and newly re-signed veteran Brandon Mebane, who will turn 35 this season. After signing Davis to be the team’s new starting WILL linebacker, that raises questions about Kyzir White’s future while not providing adequate depth at middle linebacker behind Denzel Perryman, or at strong-side backer behind Jatavis Brown, both players who end up on IR to end the season more often than not.
Let’s also not forget that the right tackle position is still up-for-grabs with Sam Tevi struggling to claim that position for himself. With 2017 third-round pick left guard Dan Feeney having suffered a concerning sophomore slump, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see the Bolts take an interior offensive lineman to get some competition brewing among that group, either.
With every position of need still very much in play, the draft could go in so many directions. Here’s my latest attempt at throwing some darts and hoping for the best.
Round 1 - Pick #28: OT Dalton Risner, Kansas State
The four-year starter along the K-State offensive line is the personification of a guy who is just a better football player than he is an athlete. A true “try-hard” and the epitome of blue-collar.
His 5.30 forty and 28-inch vertical jump at 6-foot-5 and 312 pounds won’t wow anybody, but the guy just flat out gives 110% in everything. Whether it was during Senior Bowl week or a simple “rabbit” drill during the NFL combine, Risner was busting his tail from whistle to whistle. Unsurprisingly, this shows up on his film quite a bit.
*stands up*— Michael Peterson (@ZoneTracks) March 19, 2019
*kicks chair across the room*
*screams in the cat's face*
WOOOOOO! (Dalton Risner is fun) pic.twitter.com/wrUbgHGKbk
Many think Risner’s best position is at center where he can use his smarts and leadership capabilities to help lead an NFL offensive line, but he has more than enough ability to play at least four of the five position across the line.
After 13 starts at center during his freshmen year, he finished his career with 37-straight starts at right tackle. His nastiness is evident on film and that’s exactly the type of player that is missing from the Chargers offensive line.
In my opinion, Risner may be the last of the top offensive tackles left to go in the first round, and if that’s the case, the Chargers need to sprint up to the podium with his name on that card.
Round 2 - Pick #60: DT Daylon Mack, Texas A&M
Mack is a former five-star recruit out of high-school that really struggled to find a foot-hold as a starting player in his first three years at A&M.
In a reserve role as a freshman, Mack tallied 32 tackles with 9.5 tackles-for-loss and a forced fumble. As a sophomore and junior in ‘16 and ‘17, with only one start, Mack accumulated just 46 tackles with only 7.5 TFLs and 2.5 sacks, combined.
As a senior, Mack finally broke into a full-time starting role where he started all 12 games of the season and finished third on the team with 5.5 sacks and 9.5 TFLs, chipping in a blocked field goal for good measure.
Mack is the definition of “it’s not where you start, it’s how you finish.” After three underwhelming years, the stout defender took the all-star circuit by storm, parlaying a phenomenal week at the East-West Shrine Game into an invitation to the Senior Bowl where he showed flashes and dominated some of the top competition in the country.
With one of the most explosive first steps at the position, Mack often overwhelms interior linemen by beating them off the snap and winning the fight for inside hand position before the center even knows what happened.
A&M senior DT Daylon Mack resetting the LOS is a pretty sight... Against Elgton Jenkins too! pic.twitter.com/I0QRFondF0— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 28, 2018
Round 3 - Pick #92: LB Bobby Okereke, Stanford
Okereke is a bit of a wild-card in this year’s draft. He exhibits some impressive range between the numbers and loves to come downhill in a hurry. On the other hand, Okereke can get caught up and washed out just as quick.
I may be in the minority, but I’m high on Stanford LB Bobby Okereke. He is at his best coming downhill through gaps, excelling with twitchiness, diagnosis skills and speed. He needs to improve his take-on skills by using his length to keep himself clean. A few false steps, too. pic.twitter.com/Q2yzpfwfsA— Gavino Borquez (@GavinoBorquez) March 17, 2019
Okereke also shows a knack for covering tight ends down the seam, usually staying step-for-step. His instincts would be welcomed in the middle of any defense, but he just needs to get better at disengaging from blockers and finding a trick or two to help him overcome his lack of size.
In his final year in Palo Alto, Okereke finished first on the team with 96 tackles, adding in 7.5 for loss, and 3.5 sacks. He also broke up five passes, forced a pair of fumbles, and scored on a safety over his 13 starts.
Round 4 - Pick #131: OT Chuma Edoga, USC
Edoga turned-in an excellent week at the Senior Bowl which led to the athletic tackle receiving the overall Practice Player of the Week Award. The former-five star recruit has been a stalwart at right tackle for the Trojans over the last two years after starting just a pair of games in his first two seasons.
The former-Trojan is fleet of foot with excellent movement skills which would translate extremely well to a team with a power run heavy scheme.
The oddest thing about Edoga is how his body is structured. He has some of the narrowest shoulders I’ve ever seen on an offensive linemen, yet his wingspan is still in the top at his position. His lower body is also lacking some ideal mass but it’s hard to get worked-up about that when it probably aids in his ability to glide across the field.
In the end, Edoga would be excellent depth at the tackle position with the potential to earn a starting position should anything happen to Okung or, in this scenario, Risner.
Round 5 - Pick #167: S Sheldrick Redwine, Miami
The Chargers made two huge moves that have drastically affected their secondary over the last 365 days: 1.) They drafted Derwin James when he fell to pick #17 and 2.) they finally released Jahleel Addae. (HOLLA!)
Now the team currently employs just three true safeties in James, Jaylen Watkins, and Rayshawn Jenkins. Newly-signed Adrian Phillips is still an unknown and in no way fills the need of a single-high safety.
With one of the coolest names in the entire 2019 NFL Draft, Sheldrick Redwine could be that center-fielder the Chargers need at a pretty cheap price.
Pencil me down as a Sheldrick Redwine fan. Long, versatile, athletic, + great ball skills. Day 3 guy who can be a big nickel. pic.twitter.com/HhdfJeog5v— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) March 13, 2019
At 6-foot-1, 195-pounds, Redwine has the size and speed combination (4.44 forty) with the necessary instincts needed to rove around the back end. His transitions into pursuit-mode are super smooth, as well. As smooth as...a nice pinot noir or cabernet, one could say.
In his final season with the Hurricanes, he paced the team with three interceptions to go along with three sacks and 3.5 tackles-for-loss. He was named an Honorable Mention All-ACC selection for his efforts.
Round 6 - Pick #202: WR Jazz Ferguson, Northwestern State
The Chargers recently lost Tyrell Williams to the Oakland Raiders in free agency and that leaves a bit of a hole in the Chargers’ wide receiver group. They still have Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Travis Benjamin, and Dylan Cantrell on the roster but none of these guys have the same combination of physical capabilities as the former-UDFA from Western Oregon.
Enter Jazz Ferguson: a tall, lengthy wideout from another lesser-known school.
I’m excited that WR Jazz Ferguson (Northwestern St, 6’5”, 223lbs) got a Combine invite.— Jeremy Stevenson (@MyColtsAccount) February 8, 2019
Former LSU WR looks like a man playing amongst boys. Huge catch radius, high points the ball, no body catches. Surprisingly agile for his size.
Check out these Jazz hand(s). pic.twitter.com/BYj6mWPWSI
Not many wideouts come through the NFL Draft with the combination of size, speed, and body control of Ferguson. His 4.45 forty and 37-inch vertical jump support his explosiveness on film and give NFL teams plenty of reason to give this small-school gem a shot in the NFL.
If the Chargers would like to find another long-strider they can groom into the team’s deep threat, this may be their chance.
Round 7 - Pick #244: QB Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss
One of the biggest knocks against Ta’amu is his lack of production while throwing to the most-talented wide receiver trio in the country. Most commonly known as “Nasty Wideouts” or “NWO”, the group of DK Metcalf, AJ Brown, and DeMarkus Lodge are a quarterbacks fever dream.
In a true “pick-your-poison” offense, Ta’amu probably had the time of his life letting it spin in this offense. He was productive against the teams you would expect (like Southern Illinois) but he struggled mightily against any defense that was halfway competent.
Ta’amu looked pretty good during his week at the East-West Shrine Game, but unfortunately didn’t get the call up to the Senior Bowl like other participants. He has adequate arm strength and above-average mobility to help navigate the pocket and scramble if necessary. (4.78 forty).
His deep ball accuracy got a lot of work from throwing Metcalf and company, but Ta’amu will have to show he can make all the throws after being in the Ole Miss offense which limited his chance to make every type of throw.