I decided to take The Draft Network’s mock draft machine for a spin and came out with this group of prospects. I’m actually a pretty big fan of this one, especially the first two picks that really ramp up the potential for the defense.
I’ll probably post one of these a week to keep everyone educated on what players are commonly going in what rounds and to better inform fans on the vast amount of draft prospects that they’ll hear about come draft time.
So check it out and tell me what you think in the comments. Almost two months until Las Vegas!
Pick 6: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn
In last year’s first round, the Chargers selected defensive tackle Jerry Tillery to help beef up a defensive interior that has lacked size and any true pass-rush threat up the middle. In this mock, they decide the opportunity to draft a blue-chip player to pair with Tillery is just too good to pass up. I mean, seeing how the 49ers investments in their defensive line has panned out, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see team’s start to shift their priorities in this year’s draft.
Brown is a massive 6-foot-5, 318-pound animal that would complete the picture of twin monoliths in the middle of the Chargers defense in the same vein of the Niners trotting out 6-foot-7 defensive tackles DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead. Brown unsurprisingly saved his best season for last as he totaled 54 tackles to go along with 11.5 tackles-for-loss, four sacks, four passes defended, and two forced fumbles.
He doesn’t have the most eye-popping numbers for his career but neither did former SEC star Geno Atkins while he was at the University of Georgia. Brown finished his time at Auburn with 170 total tackles, 33 tackles-for-loss, only 12.5 sacks, eight passes defended, and five forced fumbles.
Pick 37: CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama
The brother of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs, Trevon actually came to Tuscaloosa as a wideout before transitioning to the defensive side of the ball prior to his sophomore season. The 6-foot-2, 207-pound corner is a phenomenal all-around fit for Gus Bradley’s scheme as he runs with zone coverage at one of the highest rates in the NFL. Bradley loves bigger corners and you can see it in the way he’s kept and developed both Michael Davis and Brandon Facyson, both of who are at least 6-foot-2.
Diggs come from a team coached by Nick Saban so you know the chance he pans out in the NFL is much higher than most DBs in the draft. It’s sort’ve like a fact of life.
Step 1: Draft a defensive back from Alabama.
Step 2: Prosper.
He finished his final season with just 37 total tackles but picked off three passes, taking one to the house, and had eight passeses defended.
Pick 71: OT Ben Bartch, St. Johns
There is always - and I mean ALWAYS - a small-school offensive lineman that shoots up draft boards through the months leading up to the draft usually by-way of the Reese’s Senior Bowl. In this year’s class, that lineman is Ben Bartch out of Division III St. Johns University.
Bartch came to St. Johns as a 6-foot-6, 255-pound tight end and, thanks to the help of a special “shake” that he created himself, he’s turned himself into a 305-pound road-grater that was one of the stars of the all-star showcase down in Mobile, Alabama.
It didn’t matter if it was Terrell Lewis of Alabama or any other pass-rusher from a Power-5 school, Bartch held his own and won the majority of his reps against the best senior competition in the country. There was also plenty of big-time OL down there with him and it was almost obvious how much better Bartch was than the rest of the pack. He’s extremely patient in pass-protection and way stronger than you would expect for someone coming from a Division III strength program. THIS was D3 offensive tackle the Chargers needed to take in the third round.
Pick 102: RB Cam Akers, Florida State
Melvin Gordon is likely signing elsewhere in 2020 and the Chargers will have to decide whether or not they’re comfortable rolling out with a duo of Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson entering their shiny new stadium.
The current RB3 on the Chargers is Troymaine Pope, a former undrafted player out of Jacksonville State University. If the Bolts were to feel confident in this trio moving forward, they’d be placing their rushing production to a seventh-round pick and a pair of former UDFAs.
Enter the running back who took over after former 2x All-American Dalvin Cook was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2017. During his three years as a starter, the Seminoles suffered from a plethora of issues with the offensive line. Their quarterback got beat up in every game and the lack of talent up front didn’t bode well for Akers’ time in Tallahassee. His best season was in 2019 when he rushed for 1,144 yards on 231 carries and scored 14 touchdowns. He’s also proficient in catching the football, totaling 69 catches in his career for 486 yards and seven scores.
Akers is ranked as the 52nd prospect on The Draft Networks prospect rankings and the 5th-ranked running back. The 5-foot-11, 212-pound former five-star recruit was a easy runner to transition to after Cook due to both of their propensities as shifty, ankle-breaking backs who enjoy making dynamic, vertical cuts at the line of scrimmage. Cook has found the perfect home in Minnesota and I believe Akers can find similar success at the next level. The Chargers offense finds itself behind the chains far too often when their runners dance too much at the line. They need a guy who can stick it up in there and make the quick decision.
Pick 133: WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC
Pittman is a prospect that’s been paired with the Chargers over and over again and I just can’t help but select him in these mocks when the value is just so good in the middle rounds.
The 6-foot-4 wideout enjoyed a big breakout year in which he caught 101 passes for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns. Pittman exhibits excellent physicality at the catch-point and strong mitts to come away with the rock. He ended his time in SoCal with 171 receptions for 2,519 yards and 19 total touchdowns.
The Chargers have found recent success with players from the state of California and I think it’s a well they will continue to return to for the foreseeable future. With big hits like Keenan Allen and Uchenna Nwosu from local schools, I sure would.
Pick 166: TE Josiah Deguara, Cincinnati
The Chargers may be parting ways with back-up Virgil Green this offseason to make way for some larger contracts that hold more priority in the near future. If that were to happen, the tight ends listed behind Hunter Henry would be Lance Kendricks, Sean Culkin, and Andrew Vollert. That’s a player on the wrong side of 30 and two former undrafted players.
Deguara is a solid player at the position with all-around average physical traits but is equally well-rounded when it comes to catching passes and blocking in the run game. He’s more of an H-Back or “move” tight end that will play a complementary role to Henry.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound former Bearcat was a reliable target at Cincy, catching 39 passes in 2019 which he took for 504 yards and seven touchdowns. He also took a short carry for a score in a goal-line situation. Can you say VERSATILITY?
Just kidding on that last part but tight ends carrying the ball at all gets me hyped.
The team may like their current young tight ends on the roster over a guy this late in the draft but I’m always going to be in the group that believes you can never have too many usable tight ends. The Chargers could get some nice value here in the sixth.
Pick 197: OG Zach Shackelford, Texas
The Chargers have found success with the past few seventh-round picks. Most notably in Justin Jackson and defensive end Isaac Rochell. Shackelford has been a long-time starter up front for the Longhorns and if you’re going to pick anyone in the seventh-round, you might as well take someone who has a ton of playing experience. This was the case for Jackson and Rochell.
Shackelford is also experienced in blocking in a run-heavy offense. The Chargers need guys who are adept at run-blocking. This pairing is no more complicated than that. He’s not a phenomenal athlete but he’s stout enough to hold his own against power rushers and shows some nice explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. As a left tackle who will likely transition to the interior, hes benefit from help on either side of him, as well.