Over the last few seasons, the Chargers have showed a tendency to reunite college teammates in Los Angeles. Back in 2016, they drafted Derek Watt out of Wisconsin, just a year removed from drafting his running back, Melvin Gordon, in the first round of 2015.
In 2017, the team used their seventh-overall pick to select Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams before signing his fellow wideout, Artavis Scott, as an undrafted free agent.
We also cannot forget the litany of Notre Dame teammates who are finding themselves together again in Jerry Tillery, Isaac Rochell, Drue Tranquil, and Tyler Newsome.
To top it all off, the Chargers drafted their first quarterback in six years, nabbing North Dakota State signal-caller Easton Stick in the fifth-round of this year’s draft. They then, in the name of potential synergy, signed his center from NDSU, Tanner Volson, as a member of their UDFA class.
Tanner Volson North Dakota State Center— PFF LA Chargers (@PFF_Chargers) April 30, 2019
6'4" 303 lbs.
▪️78.6 Offense Grade (1st among FBS centers)
▪️81.2 Pass-Block Grade (3rd among FBS centers)
▪️6 QB pressures allowed in 2018 pic.twitter.com/MHMf6MFEhX
At 6-foot-4 and 303 pounds, Volson has ideal size for the pivot with adequate athleticism, as well. His athletic profile is pictured below and, as you can see, he is somewhere between “okay” and “good” across the handful of measurements. When it comes to these scores, a 5 is considered “good” so his overall of 5.7 still means he’s historically above-average at the position.
Tanner Volson went undrafted in the 2019 draft class.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) May 5, 2019
Tanner Volson posted a Good #RAS with Okay size, Okay speed, Okay explosiveness, Okay agility at the OG position.#Chargers pic.twitter.com/Plo7SnceCJ
Players don’t often come any more experienced or decorated than Volson. While at NDSU, he played in 59 career games with 32 total starts, the last 30 coming over his final two years.
In 2017, his first as a starter, he was named a second team All-MVFC selection en route to a FCS National Championship win over James Madison University.
As a returning starter for his final year in 2018, Volson ran the table when it came to accolades. He was an unanimous first team All-MVFC selection and a first team FCS All-American by the entire gambit of sporting publications (Athlon, Phil Steele, Associated Press, AFCA, STATS, HERO).
He was also named the 2018 FCS ADA Offensive Lineman of the Year and took home the 2018 FCS Rimington Award, the honor given to the country’s best center at the DI-AA level.
His five-straight years of being named to the MVFC Honor roll is just the cherry on top to show that the Chargers not only got a heck of a football player, but a smart one as well. (Note: it’s good to have a smart guy at the center position).
Great Scheme vs. Tite Front from North Dakota State— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) March 12, 2019
↖️ RG Pins Nose
↖️ RT Pins 4i
⤴️ Center Wraps for Mike LB
↖️ Slot Crack
⤴️ RB Arc Lead on the Overhang
✖️Leave the Backside 4i unblocked pic.twitter.com/U56NjIGWym
Volson plays with excellent awareness and easily diagnoses stunts/twists by opposing defensive linemen. The guy just looks like he knows what’s going to happen before it happens. I also appreciate the way he doesn’t overrun potential blocks when asked to pull out into space. Far too many times, pulling linemen explode out of their stance and forget that a linebacker could be scrapping underneath the block, which makes for a easy tackle-for-loss when they aren’t able to stick their foot in the ground and turn back for the defender.
In his final year, Volson also led the team in pancake blocks with 55. and allowed just two sacks. He earned the highest grade among FCS centers with a 78.6 grade according to Pro Football Focus, as well as the third-best Pass Blocking grade among that same group with an 81.2.
With a handful of linemen sitting behind starter Mike Pouncey at center, who also have the versatility to play guard in a pinch, Volson will have to standout and then some if he hopes to find a place on the active roster.
I like the kid. I like his intangibles and the winning pedigree he comes from, but all that means nothing now that he’s in the big leagues. Here’s hoping he finds success, with or without the Chargers.