The first round of the 2020 NFL Draft kicks off tonight at 5 p.m. PT and Bolts fans won’t have to wait long until their team gets on the clock with the #6 pick.
This week, it seemed like every GM in the league threw out at least one smokescreen that helped stir the masses into a frenzy. The biggest being some form of he-said, she-said about potential shake-ups within the top-5, which would truly send this draft into the upside. After all, in the top-6 of the 2019 Draft, no one would have predicted both Clelin Ferrell and Daniel Jones to go within the first six picks.
One of the most-notable rumors milling around right now is the Chargers potentially taking Georgia left tackle Andrew Thomas with the #6 pick. NBC Sports’ Peter King gave Thomas to the Chargers at #6 and gave this reasoning:
“Anthony Lynn doesn’t view—at least now—Tyrod Taylor as a bridge quarterback. He thinks he can be a good NFL starter. And with the business side of football so up in the air in 2020 because of the pandemic, I think it’s more important to build the best football team rather than have the best marketing plan,” King said in his Football Morning in America column. “A Telesco team to be so bereft of building blocks at tackle is not good. And the Chargers have loved Thomas, a legit two-year left tackle at Georgia against the highest level of competition in the college game, throughout the fall and winter.”
It’s that last sentence that gets grabs my interest, “... the Chargers have loved Thomas.” At first, I thought this was just another piece of malarkey, but then something else came across my plate.
Andrew Thomas has some violent hands. pic.twitter.com/Co3TN7c7kd— NFL Film Review (@NFLFilmReview) April 22, 2020
Let me preface this — I do not have direct sources with the Chargers. I do not have guys that I directly text for information regarding the team. However, I have multiple connections with their own personal source inside the organization. One in particular has been very accurate over the last four seasons. This source was correct on Mike Williams in 2017, Justin Jones and Kyzir White in 2018, and Tillery in 2019 just to name a handful of picks. Here is what I got from this particular source: The Chargers are apparently deciding between Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons and Andrew Thomas. So that’s why King and his aforementioned comments about Thomas to the Chargers are all of a sudden much more fathomable.
The second source is fairly new within the last two years. But here’s what they had to say: new offensive line coach James Campen chose to join the Chargers because Tom Telesco promised he could have the control he wanted over the run game. That’s obviously why they brought in Bulaga, too. I think if Campen really wants a certain tackle near the top of the draft, they will take one. You might be thinking about Trey Pipkins and his future then. Well, since Campen hasn’t gotten to have any real connection with Pipkins, he’s probably not banking on him since he wasn’t involved with his selection last year.
Daniel Popper of The Athletic has also stated in recent articles that the Chargers are officially moving to a more zone-based run game. If true, those words from the source are confirmed about the team running Campen’s scheme. With this info, certain offensive tackles can be focused on a bit more since they would be better fits for the Chargers. Boise State’s Ezra Cleveland comes to mind, as well as Georgia’s Isaiah Wilson. Both played for teams who ran the ball extremely well and thrived with the zone offense.
Continuing on the theme of offensive tackles going higher than expected, here’s this answer from Popper in his latest Q&A. The question asked was “Are you buying the Miami trade-up for OT?”
Popper seems fairly convinced that this possible scenario is real. Obviously he wants to support his co-worker, but you can’t gloss over the “he’s very plugged in” comment.
Finally, shifting gears a little bit, I thought it would be worth throwing out Popper’s thoughts on targets for the Chargers on day two of the draft. If the team does not draft a QB in the first, they either get an OT or a Simmons. If #6 is a tackle, i’d expect the best receiver available at the top of two. I don’t see them banking on a QB past the first round. If they draft Simmons, I certainly see them taking a left tackle at the top of the second. In the third, I think linebacker and receiver are certainly the options, especially if the order is Simmons and an OT as the first two picks.
So that’s what I got for rumors and thoughts at this point heading into the draft tonight. Again, take it all for what you will. Like all things, it’s only real after it comes to fruition. Anything can happen and we’ve seen that ring true year after year.
Update 2:43pm PT: According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, the Chargers may seriously be looking to trade up into the top-5 of the Draft. Fowler reports that the Bolts have “talked to at least one team in the top five about tonight’s picks.” This is anything surprising as the Chargers potentially moving up to grab their quarterback of the future has been hinted at for some time but this is probably the most legitimate report on the matter up to this point.
For the last two weeks, it’s really been the Chargers and Dolphins jockeying for the win to trade with the Lions at #3. Fowler’s report also mentions that the Lions have spoken with “several teams” today, meaning there is a possibility there are more teams involved then just Miami and Los Angeles.
Chargers have talked to at least one team in the top five about tonight's picks, according to a source. The action could start at 3 with Lions, who have talked to several teams today.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) April 23, 2020