49ers

GordonWatt2The fans of the blue and gold should be feeling pretty good about this year’s draft. Depending on your point of view, either Christmas came early or it came late. Glass half-full or half-empty? Mine is half-full.

Here’s why.

The Chargers’ GM, Tom Telesco, addressed two of my biggest concerns for the upcoming football calendar. Those were center and fullback. Yes, I’m aware that there was a hole left in the secondary with the departure of Eric Weddle. However, the two most glaring chasms on the offensive side of the ball were the aforementioned spots.

We expected to see an electrified offense after Telesco moved up two spots in the 2015 draft to take running back Melvin Gordon (first round, 15th overall via trade with the 49ers).

To say that the Bolts’ offense was in tatters for the second year in a row is a fair assessment. They may not have had five centers in-and-out like 2014, but it they were still unable to provide much assistance to either help keep Philip Rivers from being pounded, or create seams for any of the Chargers’ ball carriers.

Whether you like all or a few of the choices the team’s general manager made last week, I hope that seeing Derek Watt lining up in front of Gordon in the Bolts’ backfield is one of them. The two played together at the University of Wisconsin, and both are excited to get that chemistry going once more.

Watt is 6’2″ and comes in at 236 pounds. He had 24 starts in 47 games for the Badgers, compiling 309 yards on 30 receptions and a lone touchdown. He was the 2012 Rookie of the Year for UW, as well as being named to the Academic All-Big 10 every year from 2012 thru 2015. On the down side, he missed five games in 2014 due to a foot fracture. In 13 games last season, he had 15 receptions for 139 yards to go along with 45 yards on nine rushes. It was his second best statistical year going back to his freshman days.

Whatever schemes offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt can put together for his newest two backs, I cannot help but look towards the future with excitement. There has not been a fullback on the roster since 2013 when Le’Ron McClain last played. Prior to McClain, San Diego had the likes of Mike Tolbert and Jacob Hester (2008-2011), who blocked for Darren Sproles from 2005-2010. Let’s not forget that Lorenzo Neal (one of my favorites), who is considered to be one of the best blocking fullbacks in NFL history, spent five seasons here in front of good ol’ No. 21 himself, LaDainian Tomlinson!

Should Watt and Gordon be able to get into that groove they had going on at the University of Wisconsin, I think we will see a tremendous leap from ranking 31st in 2015 with a league average 84.9 rushing yards per game.

All in all, it is my fervent wish that the San Diego Chargers get their running game back on track with the one-two punch of Watt blocking for his former college teammate, Gordon.

Thank you, Tom Telesco, for that selection. You recognized that need for the offense to excel this year.

The situation with the stadium/convention center proposal being what it is right now, there is an onus on the team to not only come out strong, but to also stay strong as the season progresses.

Looking forward to minicamp followed by preseason!

Thanks for reading!!

Cheryl White

#BoltUp!

Oct 12, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon (25) during warmups prior to the game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 35-6. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

 

 

After trading up from pick 17 to pick 15, the Chargers selected Wisconsin’s running back Melvin Gordon. Gordon has already become a fan favorite without playing a single snap. You all know of the stats, of the record-breaking game he had against Nebraska and the LT comparison. He was a sensational back in college, showing great vision and unbelievable lateral movement coupled with great speed at the college level. He was the top running back on many people’s big boards, and a no-brainer pick for the Chargers at 17.

So what’s all the negativity about? Melvin Gordon has some flaws, just like 99% of the players in any draft class. But Gordon ran behind the best offensive line in college football a year ago, and didn’t have to do much work. Gordon is “very in love with the sidelines”, meaning he will, more times than not, try to use his speed and bounce out of a hole to get to the sidelines and outrun defenders. With a 4.52 40-yard speed, he might not be able to do that in the pros.

Gordon lost 6 fumbles in his last seven games while fumbling in 50% of his games played in 2014. His fumble problems got worse after beginning his collegiate career with one fumble in 2012, then four in 2013 and seven in 2014. That can only get worse while at the next level.

But did the Chargers really need to move up two spots to take him? San Diego swapped their first-round pick with San Francisco and traded their 2015 fourth-round selection and 2016 fifth-round pick to nab him. It wasn’t necessary to move up and lose more picks, for a team who lacks depth and is in a slight rebuild mode. The 49ers were still targeting Arik Armstead and the Texans have Arian Foster and Alfred Blue. There is a high chance Gordon would have still been there. This was one of the deepest RB classes the NFL has seen in recent years. The team could have been able to get impact starters (Duke Johnson, Jay Ajayi, Ameer Abdullah, TJ Yeldon, Tevin Coleman) in rounds two and three, while drafting BPA (best player available) at 17. This trade only really makes sense if the Bolts trade back and get more picks.

At the end of the day, the pick was fine. Gordon is a heck of a back and one who can be put in as the starter day one.

Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Zak Darman

DGB

 

Former Bills and 49ers wide receiver Stevie Johnson chose to sign with the Chargers on Tuesday for three years and about $10.5 million. That fills a much-needed veteran receiver spot after Eddie Royal signed with the Bears. So, are they done? Do the Bolts need to draft a receiver? Yes, they still need to draft a receiver.

Receivers currently on the active roster: Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd, Stevie Johnson, Jacoby Jones, and Dontrelle Inman.

Allen is the youngest at 22, and the one with the most upside. The second youngest is Inman. He played a total of two games last season and did fine, but seems to have little upside. Johnson, 28, has seen his production fall off since his last season in Buffalo (2013). Floyd and Jones are 33 and 30, respectively. M-80 is two seasons removed from what could have been a career-ending neck injury. In 2014, he played a 16-game season for the second time in his career. Jacoby seems to be more of a deep threat receiver than an every down receiver. So, with that being said, the depth on this team in the receiving corps is still thin.

Some receivers to watch for in this upcoming draft:

This year’s NFL draft is loaded with wide receivers. This is a perfect opportunity for the Bolts to draft one. Here’s a few that could be there for San Diego at pick #17:

DeVante Parker: Senior from Louisville 6’3″, 209 pounds.

He ran a 4.45 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 36 1/2 inches. His last season at Louisville he had 43 catches for 855 yards and five touchdowns. He leaves Louisville with 2,775 career receiving yards and 33 career touchdown catches, ranking him in the top-five in Louisville football history in those categories. Every time I watched him, he looked a lot like Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown. He could come in right away and help out.

Jaelen Strong: Junior from Arizona State 6’2″, 217 pounds.

He ran a 4.4 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 42 inches. His last season at Arizona State he had 82 catches for 1,165 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is a very good jump-ball receiver who is a crisp route runner. His hands are the best part about him. He has hands similar to those of Odell Beckham Jr, as in the ball sticks to him. He could have an impact day one.

Dorial Green-Beckham: 6’5″, 237 pounds.

He ran a 4.49 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 33 1/2. He transferred from Missouri to Oklahoma and was suspended for the 2014 season. But in the final season he played, he had 59 catches for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has a big catching radius and quarterbacks can just throw the ball up to him, something Philip Rivers loves to do. He has been compared to Julio Jones, in terms of talent. His off-the-field trouble has him ranked as the fifth best receiver by many in this draft class. If it wasn’t for the off-the-field troubles, he could very well be battling Amari Cooper and Kevin White for the number one ranked receiver in the class.

The Chargers should take a look at all three of these options at #17 for receiver help. If this is the way general manager Tom Telesco wants to go, he will add an immediate starter and a future number one receiver to go along with Keenan Allen. What do you guys think? Who do you like in the draft? Let me know below!

Zak Darman
(@RealZakDarman)

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