Throughout Tom Telesco’s tenure as general manager of the Chargers, we’ve all been taught time and time again about his team-building philosophy that centers around the motto “draft, develop, retain”
But if there was ever another overarching theme to Telesco’s structure on roster construction, it’s that he absolutely LOVES drafting players who partake in the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
And I mean, what’s not to love? The fact that they’re seniors means they’ve got plenty of experience and then the simply fact that they were invited to the all-star showcase tells us they’re plenty talented, as well. Not only that, but the Senior Bowl also takes into accounts off-field impact, including leadership and community service. So no matter which way you look at it, Telesco values well-rounded individuals who make an impact on and off the field.
Through 10 drafts, Telesco has selected 29 players who participated in the Senior Bowl. The easy math tells us that’s an average of roughly three players per year. But believe it or not, Telesco didn’t actually start drafting heavily from the all-star game until 2017. In his first four drafts as GM, he selected only four players: offensive tackle DJ Fluker, outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, linebacker Denzel Perryman, and linebacker Joshua Perry.
The following season, Telesco went all in on Senior Bowl players as five of his seven draftees that year were in Mobile.
Over his next five drafts leading up to this past April, Telesco’s totals for Senior Bowl players drafted were four, three, four, five, and four, respectively.
With that shotgun approach, I can’t say we should be surprised that he hit on a number of good players, including the franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert.
Other notables standouts from those seasons included cornerback Desmond King, linebacker Drue Tranquill, linebacker Kyzir White, wide receiver Joshua Palmer, and offensive linemen Zion Johnson and Jamaree Salyer.
Boston College guard Zion Johnson with the grit & brawn during drills @seniorbowl pic.twitter.com/VQ1fQuejR0— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 2, 2022
If there was ever a season where some of those investments into Senior Bowl players paid off, it was 2022.
Apart from Herbert and the other notable names above that are still with the team, the Chargers also got sizable impacts from safety Alohi Gilman (2020) and running back Joshua Kelley (2020).
So with the 2023 Senior Bowl currently ongoing this week, take it from me and go read and watch as much content as you can from the team’s practices and the eventual game this Saturday. The future can’t be seen, but history tells us that if you’re paying enough attention, you’ve probably already set your eyes on several future Chargers.