ONLY TWO MORE SLEEPS UNTIL THE NFL DRAFT!!!!
It’s really almost here. The most wonderful time of the year. The most exciting, blissful, and heart-wrenching weekend that draftniks have been working towards since the final seconds ticked off the clock last April.
There’s really not much to say at this point because you all know the drill. Here are another four prospects that the Chargers should instantly keeps tabs on should they escape the first round and find themselves waiting on Friday night.
DT Renell Wren - Arizona State
Surprise! This spot for Wren might wrinkle some feathers (I’m looking at you Jamie) but life isn’t fun unless a few fowl have been rustled.
Wren is a tough one to pin down as a prospect. He comes with plenty of questions. Can he find increased productivity in the NFL after not doing much at ASU? Can he find consistency? There are both real questions that a team must help answer when it comes to drafting Wren anywhere, but especially this high.
You can likely name a handful of tackles that you believe will be more reliable, but you can’t name too many that are more athletically-gifted than this former Sun Devil. Just take a look at clip below:
ASU's DL at it again this time #95 6'5 297 Renell Wren tossing MSU's center pic.twitter.com/ND8jZxXqZS— Kyle (@marblekyle) September 9, 2018
Wren possesses one of the most explosive first steps among the defensive linemen. In fact, it’s almost the sole way that Wren wins during games. He needs to find a better, more varied pass-rushing plan or else his career will end far too soon once opposing linemen figure out how to stop his shallow list of tricks.
But at a hulking 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, Wren is strong (30 reps on bench) and has some wiggle to him (4.53 in the short shuttle, 7.65 in the 3-cone). I believe Wren will go higher than most believe he should simply due to his upside. You see it every year. I think Wren is one of those guys in this class.
But let’s be real. Does his lack of productivity scare me? A little. However, some would argue that Wren was used all wrong in college. He spent most of his snap lined up as a nose tackle or as a shade. Wren’s skillset is much more suited for a 3-tech where he doesn’t have to worry about two-gapping. He’s a better player when he doesn’t have to think. Lucky for fans of Wren, he won’t have to do much of that in Gus Bradley’s defense.
S Juan Thornhill - Virginia
If you want a defensive back with elite productivity, look no further than Virginia’s Thornhill. In his final three seasons, Thornhill amassed 13 interceptions and a whopping 26 pass breakups. His senior season in 2018, he also posted 98 total stops, one of the highest numbers for a safety in this year’s class.
But wait, do you want elite athletic ability as well? We got you, boo.
At the combine last month, Thornhill jumped an incredible 44 inches in the vertical and 11’ 9” in the broad. Those numbers match up real close to the Cowboys’ Byron Jones who jumped a combine-record 12 feet several years ago. Jones was just rated as a top-5 cornerback in the NFL in 2018 by Pro Football Focus.
If you throw up a jump ball, expect Juan Thornhill to come down with it. The 2x All-ACC DB is ready to show that at the NFL level! #Wahoowa⚔️ (@UVAFootball, @Juan_Thornhill) pic.twitter.com/944YaliCks— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) April 22, 2019
There likely isn’t a more complete safety in this draft than Thornhill, who combines production, athleticism, and consistency into one heck of a player. I’m not sure Thornhill makes it all the way to #60, but with the bevy of defensive linemen and other premium positions in this draft, crazier things have happened.
OT Yodney Cajuste - West Virginia
Cajuste has been in talks as a top offensive tackle prospect for as long as I can remember. He was a top-3 guy at one point. I even think he was even the number one OT on someone’s rankings in early January. But at this very moment, Cajuste is likely a solid day-2 selection and possibly the fifth-best player at his position.
A 30-game starter out of 31 career games, Cajuste offers almost everything one could want in an offensive linemen: elite athleticism, a nastiness on the field, and the type of quick footwork that would make a boxer blush, but the one thing holding Cajuste back is good ol’ fundamentals in pass protection.
As the 2018 Big 12 Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year, Cajuste is obviously good. You don’t win awards for being “meh”. But lapses in his kick-slide and occasional deadening of his feet are notable concerns.
WVU LT Yodny Cajuste - Stays patient w/his hands which allows him to trap the incoming long arm & finish - pic.twitter.com/tSkpBa2Khm— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) February 9, 2019
If you are me, however, you raise your grades of offensive by a bit when you see them demolish a defensive line or pancake a poor soul into the turf. This is a temperament that is almost impossible to teach older offensive lineman, especially those now heading into the NFL. Some guys are just wired different and Cajuste wants to body whoever is unfortunate enough to line up across from him.
Cajuste would likely slide in at right tackle with the potential to take over once Russell Okung’s time with the team expires. In the short-term, he would be a welcomed upgrade over Sam Tevi and a positive role model for the offensive line when it comes to finishing opponents on the field.
LB Mack Wilson - Alabama
Wilson was touted as a “sure-thing” first round pick for pretty much the entire season up until the all-star games started coming around.
Due to a lingering injury, Wilson did not participate in the combine apart from jumping but did end up running through the list of athletic testing at Alabama’s pro day several weeks later.
His performance was less than ideal as the former five-star recruit ran his forty somewhere between 4.65 and 4.70, according to scouts in attendance. Not surprising when you take his lower-body ailments into consideration but Wilson was quoted saying he wanted to hit “a 4.5 or low 4.4s”.
When it comes to Wilson, teams are just going to have to trust the tape which shouldn’t be too hard because he’s got plenty of it.
One of the biggest things you will be getting with Wilson is his ball skills, which are arguably the best of any linebacker in this entire class. In 2017. Wilson led the Crimson Tide with four interceptions. The following season, he snagged another pair of picks and had five pass breakups. The 6-foot-1, 240-pounder had 71 total stops and five tackles-for-loss in 2018, leading him to a second team All-SEC nod following the season.
Wilson was a common pick for the Chargers at #28 earlier in the offseason but now seems to be a more realistic option at #60. If that were to happen, the Chargers would be already in the running for best draft based on value right out of the gate.