General manager Tom Telesco spent roughly an hour on a Zoom conference call where he took questions from a variety of media members in the comfort of his own home. A lot of the usual topics were touched on: offensive line (specifically left tackle), linebacker depth, draft prospects with injury issues (a.k.a Tua), the WR3 position, and how the Bolts are handling the lack of information regarding pro days, smaller prospects, etc.
I personally love Telesco at the podium. He and Lynn normally don’t blow smoke in our faces when they answer our questions and I feel like we get a decent amount of information whenever they take the stand. As we get closer to the draft, they obviously aren’t going to go into major detail with their answers concerning potential draft picks but there’s enough there to keep us satisfied for the time being.
Here are my personal takeaways from his call and what I think it means for the Bolts going into the NFL Draft and beyond.
1.) Telesco could add linebacker depth at any position at the second but loves their young guys
Daniel Popper of The Athletic asked Telesco what his overall assessment was of the current linebacker group and specifically asked his thoughts where guys like Drue Tranquill fit best right now.
TT said Tranquill and newly-signed linebacker Nick Vigil can both play MIKE and WILL in the Chargers’ defense. Vigil saw time at all three spots with the Bengals and most recently started all 16 games in 2019 at the SAM but he’s much more suited for the weak-side role as an above-average guy in coverage.
I keep forgetting about Denzel Perryman at MIKE and I think he’s going to be the starting guy there until his leg falls off. The best MIKE linebacker on this team is Tranquill and you won’t tell me otherwise. TT also mentioned Malik Jefferson, another former Bengal that found his way to the Chargers’ practice squad just a year or so after being a Cincinnati draft pick on day two in 2018. Telesco said they had “very, very high grades” on him when he was coming out and they believe he fits their defense extremely well. The team scouts were apparently stoked when they signed him. He went on to say that Jefferson will probably get more run at MIKE than WILL this season.
Bengals select LB Malik Jefferson with the No. 78 pick pic.twitter.com/jfONdrP8BH— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 28, 2018
In terms of their SAM linebackers, TT said he feels good about the depth there but is open to more bodies there for competition purposes. Kyzir White is still set to be the starting SAM even though he won a starting job at WILL as a rookie back in 2018. Telesco mentioned he liked the way he stayed healthy there so I think that means it’s his position to lose.
Lastly, he mentioned Uchenna Nwosu as someone who can play both SAM and LEO, but I would truly be surprised to see him do anything else besides rush the quarterback in 2020. At the end of the day, with as much Nickel and Dime that the Chargers play, the SAM position is almost imaginary anyways.
2.) There isn’t a lot of concern about finding a third wide receiver
Fernando Ramirez of NBC San Diego asked about the team’s need for a third wide receiver, pointing to a stretch of five weeks where no receiver other than Keenan Allen and Mike Williams caught a single pass. Telesco seemed prepared for this question and immediately pointed to the other trio of players who deserved targets in Austin Ekeler, Hunter Henry, and Melvin Gordon.
He’s right to a degree. Henry and Ekeler will always deserve the ball before a WR3. However, it doesn’t mean the team shouldn’t prioritize the position. Defenses found ways to minimize the impacts of those four players in the later parts of the season and no offense is truly at its’ potential without a true deep threat. If Allen and Williams are blanketed, Ekeler and Henry aren’t usually in a spot to make chunk plays. A third wideout is still needed, even if he only catches 25-30 passes a year. (God, I miss Tyrell Williams.)
There’s a real chance that the Chargers will utilize more sets with two tight ends this season. They made a point to go out and sign the 6’8 Donald Parham from the XFL which, to me, was very unlike the Chargers. They weren’t one of the teams to go get players when the Alliance of American Football folded and I did not expect them to go get players from another semi-pro league. Parham was one of the best receiving threats in the XFL, regardless of position, and you have to imagine they have legitimate plans to utilize his size and skill-set. Can you say red-zone threat? A one back set near the goal line could feature the 6’2 Allen, 6’4 Williams, 6’5 Henry, and 6’8 Parham. Guess which one of those guys is likely to draw the one-on-one coverage?
3.) There are already a handful of potential options on the roster to play left tackle
Regarding the left tackle spot, Telesco named several current Chargers who could potentially fill that role in 2020. Bryan Bulaga was not included among them as TT made it clear he’s going to be the team’s right tackle.
Among those named were....wait for it....Forrest Lamp.
Regarding LT, #Chargers GM Tom Telesco just mentioned Forrest Lamp as an option. Lamp played LT in college.— Jeff Miller (@JeffMillerLAT) April 17, 2020
But then TT went on to say this....
#Chargers GM Tom Telesco says offensive lineman Sam Tevi has "very good left tackle feet." Sounds like he will have a shot for the job.— Jason B. Hirschhorn (@by_JBH) April 17, 2020
So you would be right in guessing that my emotions hit the ceiling and the floor in a short amount of time. Lamp has consistently been tossed around as a potential player to fill that void based on his four years of elite play there in college and I think he’s the best option on the team at this very moment. I don’t understand the Tevi love. Telesco says he has “left tackle feet” which is highly debatable. If he has the feet, than he’s clearly missing the brain. Tevi has been a horrendous pass protector every year as a pro and it’s honestly a little disrespectful to fans to even mention his name in this discussion.
Another serving of pancakes for Forrest Lamp. pic.twitter.com/uZrqgMaSUA— Gavino Borquez (@GavinoBorquez) October 7, 2019
It’s going to be a dark blemish on Telesco’s draft resume if Lamp comes and goes as a former second-round pick who amounted to nothing even though he’s played a position of need his entire time in LA.