Little did Chargers fans know heading into the 2012 NFL Draft, it would be the last one in San Diego for both head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith.
To say that fans were a bit perturbed with some of the player moves made by Smith during his tenure here is just polite.
We all recall the 2009 firing of Marty Schottenheimer after the best season the Chargers had posted in 30 years; letting players such as Darren Sproles, Michael Turner, and Vincent Jackson leave San Diego, only to succeed with new teams – the issue there being that viable replacements for those positions never came to be; and finally the Drew Brees’ situation.
Oh, and let’s not forget the 2004 draft which gave us quarterback Philip Rivers in that trade with the New York Giants! So far as Turner is concerned, he came close many times but just couldn’t get the team to the penultimate game.
But, enough about those days! Here is a look at the men who comprised the results of Smith and Turner’s final Chargers draft.
Melvin Ingram – OLB University of South Carolina 6’2″, 246 pounds
Ingram was 18th selection taken in the first round. Playing under Coach Steve Spurrier, Ingram was considered one of the top pass rushers entering draft day.
His rookie year saw him post 27 solo tackles, 14 assists, one sack and one forced fumble, participating in his only 16 game season. Since then, Ingram missed multiple games in the 2013 (ACL) and 2014 (hip) seasons while injured.
Upon returning to the lineup in those injury-shortened periods (2013-14), he produced a combined 25 solo tackles with 12 assists, logged five sacks and three forced fumbles.
This past offseason, he trimmed 20 pounds off his weight because “…I felt quick but I kept getting injured. The lighter you are, the less stress it is on your body, the less stress it is on your knees, your hips, your joints or your ankles, your toes — everything.”
Through two preseason contests, the former Gamecock has shown us that the lighter weight has benefited him because he is flying around, making tackles and pressuring the quarterback. He looks to be back to his rookie form, though obviously time will tell. Having had his fourth-year option extended this past April, high hopes abound that No. 54 will remain healthy, thereby helping lead the Bolts defensive attack into a group of thumpers. Grade: C
Kendall Reyes – DE University of Connecticut 6’4″, 300 pounds
Reyes was chosen in the second round at selection 49. A former three-sport athlete in high school (football, basketball, track and field), he was the highest-drafted lineman in the history of UConn.
In his rookie season with the Bolts, Reyes led his teammates with 19 quarterback pressures and 15 QB hits, nine tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks – the most by a Chargers rookie in 26 years. ESPN.com gave him All-Rookie honors for his performance.
Pegged to start opposite of Corey Liuget in 2013, Reyes collected five sacks to go with his 34 tackles.
He has started all 48 games since being drafted, totaling 94 tackles and 11.5 sacks. Those look like good numbers, however, his play has dropped off in comparison to his stellar debut.
In the final year of his rookie contract, Reyes arrived at camp in better shape. He has flashed some of that rookie moxie in both preseason games, yet the question lingers: will he be given an extension when 2015 is done, or will he become a free agent? Grade: C-
Brandon Taylor – Safety LSU 5’11”, 205 pounds
Selected in the third round, Taylor was considered an NFL-caliber safety who could become a starter early on at the next level. His physicality and refusal to back down against his opponents was something that the Chargers secondary needed.
He debuted in December that year and played four games before tearing his ACL against the New York Jets, ironically his best game, as he was credited with half a sack and three tackles.
Taylor spent time on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list until August of 2013, but never saw the field again. He was eventually waived in June of 2014 and is still a free agent. Grade: F
Ladarius Green – TE Louisiana-Lafayette 6’6″, 240 pounds
A fourth-round selection, Green has long been perceived to be the heir-apparent to Antonio Gates.
Green had a breakout sophomore season: played all 16 games (10 starts), collecting 17 receptions for 376 yards along with three touchdowns.
Through 34 games, he has racked up 658 yards on 40 catches and three scores.
It was anticipated that Green would continue 2014 where he left off the previous season. Green managed to grab 19 throws from Philip Rivers for 226 yards and zero touchdowns.
With Gates serving a four-game suspension this season, Green is locked in as the starting tight end. Despite all his talent, and the rear-view window perhaps closing in on Gates, 2015 looks to be a make it or break it year for Green, as this is his last year under contract with San Diego. Grade: C
Johnnie Troutman – G Penn State 6’4″, 330 pounds
The fifth round, 199th selection, Troutman was instrumental on a Penn State offensive line that allowed only 12 sacks the entire 2010 season; No. 13 in the nation for fewest sacks allowed.
Entering the draft, he was considered a much better run blocker than pass blocker who could make explosive blocks once he met his man, but also getting overpowered when having to move to the second level or dealing with a quicker defensive lineman.
Troutman tore his pectoral muscle two weeks prior to the draft, thus beginning his professional career on the “Reserve/Non-Football Injury” list.
He competed for the starting left guard position in 2013; in 2014 named starting right guard after Jeromey Clary was placed on the PUP list after undergoing a second hip surgery in three months.
As mentioned above, Troutman struggles in pass protection. Although run-blocking is his strength, it is still nothing to write home to Mom about. Grade: D
*The team had no picks in the sixth round
David Molk – Center, Michigan 6’1″ 298 pounds
Selected in the seventh round, Molk played 12 games for the Bolts on special teams and in short yardage situations. He was placed on IR in December of 2012, and subsequently released in August of the following year. Presently on the roster of the Philadelphia Eagles. Grade: F