Monthly Archives: March 2016
Former Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner is visiting with the Chargers on Wednesday, according to Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Ex-Oregon DE DeForest Buckner is visiting Chargers now. Means two things: he’s on draft board; still i’s to dot, t’s to cross in evaluation.
— Michael Gehlken (@sdutGehlken) March 30, 2016
At 6-foot-7, 290 pounds, Buckner would provide a monstrous presence opposite of Chargers’ defensive end Corey Liuget, one that the team has not had since No. 94 was drafted by the Bolts.
Now that the organization has added veteran nose tackle Brandon Mebane, a defensive line consisting of Liuget, Buckner and Mebane is, by far, the most talent the team has had on the D-line in about a decade.
Here is what some of the media pundits around the NFL have to say about Buckner:
Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com –
STRENGTHS: Looks the part with a tall, long frame and growth potential to add bulk. Massive wingspan and uses his length to unglue himself from blocks or create spacing at the point of attack, locking out, setting the edge and preventing angle blocks.
Quickly stacks and sheds, using pop in his hands to work off contact. Fluid lower body and athletic footwork to move laterally and break down in tight spaces. Plays low for a man his size with good bend, making it tough for blockers to attack his chest.
Good chase skills and hustle to catch ballcarriers in pursuit. Uses his upper body and initial momentum to generate push off the snap. Rarely met by single blocks, attracting double-teams or chips. Uses his length to swallow ballcarriers as a tackler and drive them backwards.
Long-limbed to obstruct passing lanes (10 career passes defended). Quiet, reserved personality off the field, but warrior mentality on the field, giving full-go whenever he steps on the field. Versatile experience, lining up inside and outside in Oregon’s multiple fronts.
WEAKNESSES: Leverage can be an issue at times due to his height. Struggles to recoil and reset himself after his initial move stalls. Still learning how to set up his pass rush sequence and counter moves. Only average snap anticipation.
Needs to know his limitations as a pass rusher and not sacrifice the edge. Still learning how to use his hands and consistently convert speed to power – more of a reactor as a pass rusher. Inconsistent tackler on the move, losing balance in space and not timing his hits. Want to see more of a killer instinct on each snap.
COMPARES TO: Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals – With monstrous body types and vines for arms, Buckner is built very similar to Campbell and he has the upside to develop into a similar player.
IN OUR VIEW: Buckner played primarily as a defensive end in Oregon’s 3-4 base, lining up as the four-, five- or six-technique, but also saw snaps inside in the A-gap or at nose tackle. He plays with explosive movements and terrific body control for his size, flashing heavy hands and initial power to be a disruptive force, although he’s still learning how to use his hands and string together rush moves.
Buckner showed steady improvement at Oregon and became more of a consistent playmaker as a senior – perhaps Stanford head coach David Shaw described Buckner best when he said: “If you’re building a defensive lineman, that’s what you build.”
He should get even better with NFL coaching and has potential to be a long-term pro starter, projecting better than his former teammate Arik Armstead (17th overall pick to the 49ers in the 2015 NFL Draft).
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com –
It would be foolish for team to be wary of selecting Buckner because of the lack of success of former Ducks defender and number three overall pick Dion Jordan, as he’s a completely different type of player. The 2015 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Ted Hendricks Award finalist and member of multiple All-American squads (first team USA Today, second team AP, etc.) presents a thicker frame, portending an NFL career with his hand on the ground, rather than a stand-up pass rusher like Jordan. Buckner had become a name to note as a 2014 second-team All-Pac-12 pick (led team with 13 tackles for loss) after two seasons as a partial-year starter; he had 29 tackles and two starts, playing in every game as a true freshman in 2013, followed by a eight-start sophomore season (3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks). He finished off his career in style (83 tackles, 17 for loss, Pac-12 leading 10.5 sacks), putting himself among the top prospects in the senior class.
PRO DAY RESULTS
Bench: 21 reps of 225 pounds
Impressive NFL-ready physique. Has natural strength and power in his hands and improved their effectiveness this year. Not a content player, Buckner plays with effort and will continue working hands and feet to improve his positioning. Light went on as pass rusher in 2015. Generated top-end production by combining his power and dynamic athletic traits. Improved his pad level as rusher creating dominating pocket push that he was able to convert into sacks and knockdowns. Rare tackle production for defensive lineman with 163 over last two seasons. Long arms and good play speed allow him maximum field coverage to tackle. Flexible upper body. Can flip shoulders, then hips around the edge of blockers allowing him to play on the other side of the line. Has size and athleticism for scheme versatility. Quick off the snap and difficult to cut off in run game.
Plays too tall after the snap. Pad level so high that it impacts ability to stop and change direction with necessary body control. Needs to bend more when penetrating in order to avoid redirect blocks. Will need to play with wider base to take on blockers on next level. Has habit of turning shoulders and getting knocked out of position rather than taking on blocks with squared up pads.
SOURCES TELL US
“His comp is going to be Calais Campbell or Arik Armstead but I think he’s more talented coming out than either one of those guys. He’s twice the player Armstead was coming out.” - NFC Regional Scout
Headed into this season, Buckner was a traits prospect who flashed with quickness, strength and overall athleticism, but he put those traits together in 2015. Buckner has the body type of a classic 3-4 defensive end who can control the point of attack with length and power, but he has above average pass rush potential for that position which figures to push him into the early stages of round one. Buckner has similar power to former teammate Arik Armstead, but is a much better pass rusher and has a chance to become a dominant force in the NFL.
The bottom line on Buckner
Buckner is the classic example of play-by-play production trumping highlights. There has been no more productive football player in the nation over the last season or two than Buckner. He was a dramatically better player than Arik Armstead on the same defensive line a year ago, and has only improved since. Armstead went 15th overall in the first round last year, perhaps more for his potential than his productivity.
Some are going to focus too heavily on what Buckner can’t do. He won’t run down athletic quarterbacks, he will get blown off the ball at times, and he will leave some plays on the field. But if you instead look at the sheer volume of plays he is disrupting and instead focus on what he can do, then you see a player that deserves to be in the conversation when the Titans are discussing the No. 1 overall pick.
Buckner is a player that can fit in any defensive front and make a huge impact inside, and brings with him the versatility to move around and cause problems. He has consistently proven to be more disruptive than people expect him to be when you tally up all of the plays he makes, and he is one of the very best players in this draft.
Buckner would be a solid selection for the Chargers with the third pick in the year’s draft — it appears he will be available if the team wants to pull the trigger on the former Duck.
For me, it boils down to this cluster of players for the third selection: DB Jalen Ramsey, OT Laremy Tunsil, DL Joey Bosa and the aforementioned Buckner. That is, of course, only if the team stays at No. 3, as opposed to trading down in an effort to acquire more picks.
Above is what San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer had to say about the Chargers’ stadium proposal that was released on Wednesday, according to a tweet by Derek Togerson of NBCSanDiego.
If you have the time to read the 110-page stadium proposal drafted by the Chargers, you can find the link here.
Now that the initial wave of free agency has come and gone, there are still many questions that need to be answered and holes on the roster to be filled.
For the purpose of this interview, I’ll be sitting down with the lead writer of this website, Greg Williams.
Booga: Which of the recently signed Chargers’ free agents are you most excited about?
Greg: By the slimmest of margins, I am most excited about the addition of wide receiver/returner Travis Benjamin. Slightly edging out Brandon Mebane, Benjamin had nearly four times as many punt return yards in 2015 than the Chargers did. Giving the Bolts a much-needed advantage in field position, the former Brown can swing the field in favor of the Chargers’ offense, as opposed to struggling mightily in that department in recent years. His ability to take the top off of defenses is something Philip Rivers hasn’t had since the days of Vincent Jackson. His presence dramatically opens up two of the three phases of the game for the Bolts.
Booga: Which position do you feel could still be addressed via free agency?
Greg: The center spot. Due to the fact that San Diego needs a veteran presence in the middle of the offensive line, Stefen Wisniewski should have already received a phone call from Tom Telesco, by now. He’s a Pro Bowl center who (no offense, Trevor Robinson and Chris Watt) is far and away better than the guys filling that spot now.
Booga: With the third pick, in the 2016 NFL draft, the San Diego Chargers select…….
Greg: I want the answer to be Jalen Ramsey. With his size, speed, natural ball-hawking skills and versatility, he is going to be an instant game changer. The problem is his stock is WAY too high. I’m afraid he’s going to go top-two. Also, with the Chargers already signing Dwight Lowery, they may feel they have the safety position suitably covered. I would still want him since he can play corner just as well as safety. Play him opposite Jason Verrett, put Casey Hayward on the slot receiver and Brandon Flowers in the dime package. Unstoppable secondary.
All that being said, I think the Chargers will draft DeForest Buckner. He will be there. He has freakish size, speed and power. He’s got that Oregon conditioning so he won’t gas out. His presence will open up Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram and other pass rushers to favorable one-on-one conditions.
Booga: The retirement of Malcom Floyd has left a gaping hole in the wide receiving corps. Despite the addition of Benjamin, do you feel the position should still be addressed in the draft?
Greg: Yes. There is a good crop of receivers in this draft and none are projected to go higher than middle of the first round; meaning, there will be high quality guys available in the second and third rounds. The Chargers always seem to be pulling guys in off the street to catch the ball by the end of the year due to receiver injuries. Adding a receiver in the draft is a must. Better to have too much depth than not enough. I’m sure Rivers would attest to that.
Booga: Now that offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is back with the team, do you think he can help steer Melvin Gordon’s career in the right direction? His rookie season left a lot to be desired.
Greg: Absolutely. Whisenhunt is the perfect man for the job. He knows how to use a power back correctly. The most frustrating thing about last season for me was watching how clueless former OC Frank Reich was in using Gordon. This was the man who just had a 2,000-yard, record-breaking, Heisman Trophy finalist season at Wisconsin using a traditional Power-I system. Fullback makes the first crack in the line and Melvin blasts through it to outstanding results. Did Reich sample that formula at all last season? No. He’s so married to his system he doesn’t want to help Gordon along with a system he’s familiar with that showcases his strengths. Instead, he wants to put him as a single back in a pistol or shotgun formation, use him as a receiving back and overuse inside draw handoffs from seven yards deep in the backfield. Gordon was doomed to fail.
Whisenhunt has a ton of experience using the style Gordon knows from his time in Pittsburgh and Arizona, and he used that style to great success. Both of his teams made the Super Bowl. He did it as a coordinator in Pittsburgh and as a head coach in Arizona. He understands using a fullback yields positive results. He will run old-school, smashmouth power sets, and Gordon will be the back we were hoping to see last season. I’m thrilled for him. I met Gordon three times at the NFL Draft in Chicago last year. He is an amazing young man and it couldn’t be happening to a better person.
Booga: If you were to grade Telesco’s free agency period thus far, what grade would you give it and why?
Greg: I would give him a B-minus.
Getting Mack would have given him an automatic-A. Looking at what Atlanta gave him, the Chargers could’ve done that contract and still had the room to sign their other guys. In their defense, however, there’s no way to know how much other guys are going to command. Getting Wisniewski would give them an A, as well.
The center problem is still a problem and the solution is still sitting there.
Mebane is a great add. All his teammates talk about how he is the soul of their defense, more so than the heralded Legion of Boom. He can occupy two defenders, opening up pass rushers, he can stop the run and he can push the pocket into quarterbacks’ laps.
I love Benjamin for the reasons I mentioned above.
Hayward hasn’t reached his prime yet. He’s going to shine because a lot of balls will be coming his way. Quarterbacks are learning to stay away from Verrett. He had six picks his rookie year and he’s shown himself to be a solid, versatile defender.
Lowery has grown into a quality pro, despite becoming an NFL journeyman. He’s going to have every opportunity to write his name in pen for the next three years at that position if he produces.
I like this free agent class a lot.
Booga: Despite a horrible 2015 for the Bolts, both on and off the field, what are your thoughts on the 2016 offseason thus far, and the prospects of the organization moving forward.
Greg: The Chargers needed this past season to happen. They needed it to see what they were doing is wrong on so many levels. The revolving door on the offensive and defensive lines is wrong. The offensive philosophy was wrong for the talent they have.
They needed the stadium fiasco to play out to light a fire under their butts and realize you can’t half-step on these stadium proposals and say they did their part, essentially blaming the fans. Now they see that the way to win back your fan base is bring in names we know to spark interest, not only in the fan base but in their own locker room.
Do you think the defensive captains are happy to hear Brandon Mebane is coming? Do you think Philip Rivers is happy to hear Travis Benjamin is coming? You better believe they’re excited! Rivers has already said he and his son were watching YouTube clips on Benjamin. That’s how you begin building a winning culture. Now the stadium task force will come correct with a viable plan and a stadium will become a reality.
The draft is going to bring in another impact player or two, and this team has a very realistic shot at getting back to a double-digit win season. They will have everyone coming back healthy and they’re playing a last-place schedule. They needed to be smacked down by reality in order to move forward. Now you’re going to see the real Chargers and a front office with their heads out of the sand.
Believe it or not, it’s a great time to be a Chargers fan. I can’t wait for the season to start!
Thanks a lot for reading.
Please follow Greg on Twitter, @LordOfTheGregs.
Joey Bosa was everyone’s consensus No. 1 pick before the college season ended only to have some major question marks attached to him. Some people have even dropped him out of the top 10 after Alabama won the National Title. Well, despite all of the naysayers, Bosa is still my favorite player of this draft, and one I think will take the Chargers’ defense to the next level.
Arm Length: 33 3/8″
Hand Size: 10 1/4″
40-Yard Dash: 4.86 seconds
Vert: 32 inches
Bench: 24 reps
Broad Jump: 120.0 inches*
3-Cone Drill: 6.89 seconds*
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.21 seconds*
*Best combine result among his position
Bosa is a monster. There are questions about whether or not he can play in a 3-4 defense and if he has potentially already hit his ceiling. Well, if you watch his tape you will see that he answers both those questions with his play. He is quick off the edge and has shown the ability to play 3-tech. He’s a horse and seems to always be disruptive and always around the ball. Adding Bosa as the other Defensive-End opposite Corey Luiget upgrades the pass defense and the defense as a whole.
The knock on Bosa for me is he seems to be slow off the ball and will take some plays off. Now, we don’t know if he pulled a Jadaveon Clowney and saved his body, or if he really did “take plays off”. If that is the case, with him not going 110%, he could end up being a two down DE, and at the third pick in the draft that is something Telesco is going to have to consider.
Bosa is an instant upgrade and one teams will have to game plan for within time. If Bosa is there at number three, which he should be, Telesco may regret passing him up. He has his flaws, like every rookie, but he is to me the most ready prospect in the draft.
For more on Bosa: For full combine breakdown, click here
Do you remember how successful Donnie Edwards was in a Chargers’ uniform? How ferocious Steve Foley and Randall Godfrey were while in San Diego? Those guys were great in their own right, but none of those guys would’ve been as successful as they were if it had not been for Jamal Williams.
Now, believe me when I say that I am in no way, shape or form saying that Brandon Mebane is Jamal Williams, but I will say that the Chargers’ defense got exponentially better the second he signed on the dotted line.
I feel confident enough to guarantee you that there are four guys wearing Charger bolts on their jerseys that are the happiest men on the face of the earth: Manti Te’o, Denzel Perryman, Jerry Attaochu, and Melvin Ingram. Those four men must have a glimmer in their eyes like a family of little kids on Christmas morning. It goes without saying that defensive coordinator John Pagano is most likely sharing the same excitement.
San Diego’s linebackers have had to suffer through a carousel of nose tackles such as Sean Lissemore, Antonio Garay, Cam Thomas and rookies that never got a fair shake, like Ryan Carrethers.
Now they have a man capable of stuffing the run, taking on multiple blockers and a man who commands double teams. A man who brings a presence to the middle of the defensive line that the Chargers have not had in years.
Brandon Mebane is going to come in and help control the point of attack right away. A true nose tackle is essential when running a 3-4 defense. The Chargers haven’t had the personnel to run a successful 3-4 until now. Mr. Mebane is the missing piece to a defense that is both young and very talented.
During his nine-year career with the Seattle Seahawks, the 31-year-old amassed 349 total tackles, 15.5 sacks and eight passes defensed. Though Mebane’s impact on the defense won’t light up the box score, his teammates will certainly know exactly how much easier their jobs will be having the belly-rolling defender line up at nose tackle.
Chargers fans might have felt like there was no viable reason to continue to follow their hometown team, no matter if it was at the “Q” or on the road. After the horrendous 4-12 season that we all watched unfold, coupled with the uncertainty surrounding the team staying in San Diego, it didn’t seem like there was much to be positive about moving forward.
Don’t write them off just yet.
With the stadium issue at least temporarily resolved for one more season, let’s all start looking toward what could be for the 2016 campaign.
A pair of reasons to be positive can be found among the linebackers: Manti Te’o and Denzel Perryman.
In following some of social media with respect to the Bolts, I know there are many people out there who might like nothing better than to see Te’o in anything other than a Chargers’ uniform. The truth of the matter is, that he has progressively gotten better, for two reasons: his sidekick Denzel Perryman and former linebackers coach Mike Nolan. Both inside linebackers, these two guys play alongside one another as if they can read the other’s mind. Is this pairing what San Diego’s general manager Tom Telesco had in mind when he submitted Perryman’s name in the draft? Time will tell.
One is the finesse player, the other is the thumper.
Te’o came to San Diego when the Chargers traded up to the No. 38 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft to grab the Notre Dame linebacker. He had a stellar career at Notre Dame: 437 tackles (212 solo), 8.5 sacks and seven interceptions, was a unanimous All-American and won the Lott Trophy, Nagurski Trophy, Butkus Award, Lombardi Award, Bednarik Award, Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year, finishing second in Heisman Trophy voting to Johnny Manziel.
Perryman was Telesco’s 2015 second-round draft pick (No. 48). A huge hitter with a willingness to fill holes and take on offensive linemen, he had a reputation for being extremely physical and an excellent tackler (as evidenced by his receiving the 2013 Hard Hitter Award). His statistics while playing for the Hurricanes (96 tackles, 7 TFLs, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 4 PBUs (passes broken up), 3 forced fumbles) led him to be one of five finalists for the Butkus Award.
“You love it, it’s exciting,” defensive coordinator Pagano said of the young duo. “They’re both good players. One’s got great instincts. The other one’s going to knock your head off. It’s a good one-two combination of having those guys being able to play next to one another.”
He also had similar impressions of the pair after their respective drafts, stating that Te’o had great instincts, was a smart football player and played at a high level while at Notre Dame. Regarding Perryman: “He’s a smart football player, he’s got great instincts and he’s a hell of a tackler. He’s somebody we’ve got to find a way to keep building on it.”
Look at these stats: in the four games that they started together (Jacksonville, Denver and both against Kansas City), Te’o and Perryman combined for 87 solo tackles, two sacks (both came in the Chiefs game with the one by the rookie on Alex Smith resulting in a 14 yard loss). Te’o has the only interception, picking off Jaguars QB Blake Bortles last December.
The future is bright for the dynamic duo in the middle of the team’s linebacking corps. Now that Perryman has his rookie season under his belt, the impact of both on defense should only improve with time. As their chemistry builds, the entire defense will only benefit from their ability to complement each other.
The San Diego Chargers have made another addition to their secondary. According to multiple media outlets, cornerback Casey Hayward is now the newest addition to the Bolts’ roster. The contract equates to three years at $15.3 million, including $6.8 million guaranteed. The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers were also teams reported to have been in pursuit of Hayward.
Hayward, 26, was a second-round selection of the Green Bay Packers in 2012. Standing 5-foot-11, 192 pounds, he will compete with Brandon Flowers for the No. 2 cornerback position opposite Jason Verrett. In his rookie season, Hayward shined by finishing tied fifth in the league in interceptions with six.
Hamstring injuries derailed his sophomore campaign, costing Hayward all but three games in 2013. He has since bounced back and played in every game the last two seasons. During his time in the NFL, Hayward has 168 tackles, 35 passes defensed, nine interceptions, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one touchdown.
The Chargers have a strong top-three-cornerback rotation with this addition. The question now is what will happen with Patrick Robinson. Robinson is a free agent and had a strong 2015 season in San Diego so he’s bound to get offers from other teams. Retaining his services would ensure quality depth, but the price tag may be too high considering other holes that still need to be filled.
Keep in mind, cornerback Steve Williams had a very strong showing on the field in the last games of the season. If he can continue to build on his those games going into the ’16 season, it’s more reason the front office can justify letting Robinson take a deal elsewhere.
What do you think of the add? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
It wouldn’t be a San Diego Chargers free agency if former Colts GM Tom Telesco didn’t sign a Colt to the roster. For the fourth consecutive year, the trend continues. The Chargers GM has just added ex-Colts safety Dwight Lowery to their roster, filling the void left by Eric Weddle.
Lowery, 30, has agreed to a three-year contract. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed. An eight-year veteran, Lowery is 5’11”, 212 lbs. The Chargers will be the fifth team he’s played on. Originally drafted by the New York Jets in 2008, he spent three years in New York, three years in Jacksonville and one season each in Atlanta and Indianapolis.
Although his career trajectory was hampered by injury in the 2012 and ’13 seasons, Lowery has rebounded and played every game the last two seasons. Over the course of his career, he has 335 tackles, 5 sacks, 59 passes defensed, 16 interceptions and theee defensive touchdowns.
Another solid free agent addition by Telesco. What do you think of the signing. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
The San Diego Chargers have been very busy on this first day of free agency. Moments ago it was reported the Bolts have signed defensive tackle Brandon Mebane to a three-year contract. Terms of the contract have not yet been disclosed.
Mebane, was a key member of the Seattle Seahawks at the height of their ‘Legion of Boom’ run of dominance, anchoring the middle of the defensive line. The 31-year old nine-year veteran stands 6’1″ and tips the scale at 311 lbs. A picure of durability, he has only missed 13 games in his career. A hamstring injury in 2014 was responsible for seven of those thirteen absences.
Taken in the third round of the 2007 draft, Mebane compiled 329 tackles, 15.5 sacks, 8 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries in Seattle. Mebanes’ reputation is that of a disruptive force in the middle that specializes in pushing the pocket and stuffing the run. One of the top rated interior linemen on a yearly basis, Mebane will push past Sean Lissemore and Ryan Carrethers as the starting nose tackle next season.
Kudos to GM Tom Telesco and the Chargers front office for bringing in impact players on day one!
The Greg One
The Chargers announced on Wednesday that they gave exclusive-rights tenders to wide receiver Dontrelle Inman and offensive lineman Kenny Wiggins.
Assigning these tenders brings back both players on one-year contracts.
Financial terms of the respective deals has yet to be released.
Inman finished up his second season in the NFL by hauling in 35 passes for 486 yards and three touchdowns in seven starts last year.
The former CFLer will have another season to continue to be his rapport with quarterback Philip Rivers.
Wiggins started eight of the 15 games he played in during the 2015 season. A multiple-positional lineman, Wiggins saw time at both guard spots and right tackle.