It’s that time of year in the NFL again. After the free agency frenzy dies every talking head in the industry gives birth to a mock draft in hopes of getting a few picks right. The reward for achieving such a task is getting to label themselves a ‘genuis’, ‘guru’, ‘svengali’ or other related overexaggeration. Getting a few no-brainers right makes one no more of a draft expert than picking the right Powerball numbers makes one a Numerologist. In the end, let’s call it what it is, guessing.
Not to be outdone, The Greg One is throwing his hat in the mock draft pool. The Chargers have a lot of holes to fill and GM Tom Telesco has shown himself very adept at filling those holes in the draft. This year will be no different. Below is my perfect Chargers mock draft. This isn’t my crystal ball of what the Chargers will do on draft day but what would happen if I were General Manager of the Chargers on draft day. Most of you will probably be glad i’m not by the end of this but it will make for a fun read and you can tell me how insane I am in the comments. Enjoy.
Cameron Erving, Center, Florida State
No position was hit harder last season than center. The Chargers played five centers last season, a major factor contributing to the overall instability of the offensive line. Rivers was hit more last season (37 sacks allowed, 75 QB hits) than the season before (30 sacks, 60 hits), causing multiple injuries. If the Chargers are going to maximize the remaining years on Rivers odometer (and they will, don’t listen to the Mariota hype) they need a legitimate starter now and for the future. Erving is a 6’6, 315 lb. giant that has all the tools to be the rock the team needs in the middle of the line. He is the best center in the draft and made all the line calls for the Seminoles last season as they contended in the inaugural BCS playoffs. As long as he can stay healthy, Erving has ten-year veteran and Pro Bowl written all over him. A talent like this won’t last into the second round so the Chargers need to pounce.
Jordan Phillips, Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma
The defensive tackle position is another area that hasn’t been addressed during free agency and while the players they have there are serviceable at best, they need a player that will solidify the nose tackle position the way Erving will on the other side of the ball. Phillips is a 6’5, 330 lb. space eater with massive upside. A reason he falls into the second round is the back surgery he had in 2013. Lauded for his athleticism, Phillips showed no decline in skill coming off that back surgery last season and would be a steal for the Chargers in the second round.
Adrian Peterson, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings
Ladies and gentleman we have ourselves a trade! The Chargers trade their third round pick to the Vikings for the rights to Adrian Peterson. This move shows the Chargers are committed to winning now, especially with the stadium movement underway. The Chargers need a name that will create a buzz in the community and Peterson is the name that can do it. With the picks the Chargers are using to solidify the lines, this will make the Chargers not only a playoff contender but a Super Bowl favorite. This works on a number of different levels.
1. Want to convince Philip Rivers to stay with the team even if disaster happens and they move to Los Angeles? Here’s AP to get you a Super Bowl ring. They sure won’t be contending for one in Tennessee any time soon.
2. Peterson gives the Chargers a legitimate three down back that forces defenses to commit eight men in the box. In turn, the Chargers tight ends, receivers, Woodhead and Oliver will all have favorable one-on-one matchups and the Chargers will ring up points at a rate they haven’t since the prime years of Ladainian Tomlinson.
3. After essentially having the year off last season, Peterson is going to come back healthy, angry and hungrier than ever. The Chargers can still draft a back to groom for when Peterson retires but i’d expect no less than three more productive years out of the All-Pro.
4. The Chargers are on Peterson’s short list of teams he wants to be traded to. He will allow Telesco to craft a deal that makes it possible to sign him without hamstringing the budget.
5. It’s a third round pick! Even for a proven commodity the Vikings are not going to get much better than a middle round pick in exchange for his services. Third round would actually be overpaying. The last time a player over 30 drew a high draft pick in exchange for his services was when the Oakland Raiders gave the Cincinnati Bengals their first round pick in 2012 and second round pick in 2013 for Carson Palmer. We all know the Raiders are the last team to be used as a measuring stick in the front office. Third round is going to be more than the Vikings will get from another team and it solves the void left behind by the departure of Ryan Mathews.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Cornerback, Oregon
This player will be a steal reminiscent of the Chargers getting Keenan Allen two drafts ago. Like Allen, Ekpre-Olomu is a first round talent who’s stock has plummeted because of injury. In the weeks leading up to the inaugural NCAA playoffs he suffered a serious knee injury and missed both of Oregon’s games. That injury, while healing ahead of schedule according to reports, will cause him to miss rookie camp, training camp and possibly some of the season. That alone will scare teams away and drop Ekore-Olomu into the middle rounds.
He is however, a ball hawk of the highest order. Although undersized at a hair under 5’10, he is a very physical corner with great instincts. An All Pac-12 selection for the past three seasons, Ekpre-Olomu finished his Oregon career with 18 takeaways (nine interceptions, eight forced fumbles, one fumble recovery) and was adept playing in press man or off coverage. He is solid against the run and the type of value pick Telesco covets. However, the GM may have to trade up in the round to get ahead of Ekpre-Olomu’s college coach, Chip Kelly and the Eagles, who pick four selections before.
Sean Mannion, Quarterback, Oregon State
With all the talk surrounding Rivers and his contract situation, it is time to seriously address the quarterback of the future instead of just finding a clipboard holder. Sean Mannion is one of the top five quarterback prospects in this draft class and has the potential to be very successful at the next level. Mannion is similar to Rivers in stature, standing at 6’5, 220 lbs. Among his other advantages is that he comes from a traditional pro-style offense at Oregon State, has above average grade in accuracy and a cannon for an arm.
The knocks on Mannion are his ball security (30 funbles and 54 interceptions in his four years at OSU), his immobility and handling pressure. A year or two sitting behind a franchise quarterback like Rivers will leave the Chargers well prepared moving forward after Rivers retires the same way Rivers benefited from sitting behind Drew Brees for three seasons.
Jamison Crowder, Wide Receiver, Duke
Crowder was the speed burning ace of Duke’s receiving corps during his four years in blue. He will be another candidate to fill the slot receiver void opened by the departure of Eddie Royal. In his last three seasons, Crowder topped 1000 yards receiving and at least 76 receptions. Jamison is a threat to go the distance on special teams as well as he had four punt return touchdowns over his last two seasons.
The knock on Crowder will be his size. Standing at 5’9, 185 lbs., GM’s will wonder if he has the ability to withstand the rigors of playing in the NFL with his slight frame. This isn’t stopping teams from working him out as New England, Cincinnati and Houston are among the latest teams to bring him on for private workouts.
So there you have my mock draft. I’ve addressed the present and the future, strengthened the offensive and defensive lines, secondary and brought in a legend to get Rivers a ring now. You can feel free to tell me how awful I am below. I’m looking forward to attending the draft in two weeks to find out what the Chargers do in real time. In the meantime, it’s fun to speculate. What do you think? Good, bad or indifferent?
The Greg One
Although it is far too early to be submitting mock drafts, I have received a number of requests to get one out there regarding your San Diego Chargers.
It is a bit of a waste of time to do a mock draft prior to free agency, but I aim to please. Hopefully I will do just that with the selections I have listed below.
Let’s get started.
C/T – Cameron Erving Florida State 6’5″ 309 lbs
There is no way that anyone can question the versatility of Erving. After playing on defense, Cameron moved to the offensive side of the ball to man the left tackle spot. After injuries were incurred along the FSU O-line, he was then asked to play center. Despite having not played the position, he unselfishly accepted the switch and he excelled in the middle. A big man like him shouldn’t be as quick as he is off the snap. He is very athletic and he is very good at controlling defenders once he fully extends his arms.
If the Chargers do move DJ Fluker inside to right guard, and they believe that Chris Watt’s future position is at left guard, drafting a player like Erving would certainly make sense. A right tackle would need to be added via free agency or the draft as long as King Dunlap is re-signed. I am of the opinion that Dunlap will receive another contract. Cam Erving is the kind of player that I could see Tom Telesco falling in love with. He is versatile, tough and his performance at the second level is top-notch. He could come in as a starter at center his rookie year.
There may be a possibility of trading back into the 19-23 range of the first round and picking up an additional 3rd round pick and still being able to draft Erving in the first. For the sake of this mock, I will not be including a trade down.
WR – Tyler Lockett Kansas State 5’10” 181 lbs
Do not let his size fool you, Lockett can make plays. He has excellent route running and his speed lends itself to taking the top off of a defense to making plays underneath via crossing/intermediate routes. Some may lock him in as a slot receiver but he has the ability to make plays on the outside as well. Another intriguing trait about Lockett is his special ability in the return game. With a total of 6 return touchdowns during his collegiate career, he would add a much-needed presence on special teams as a returner that the Chargers have been lacking since the departure of Darren Sproles.
Many draft pundits have him slated as a third-round selection, but after the combine he could position himself as a second-round selection.
He has fantastic game speed and his ability to create separation from defensive backs would help in the vertical passing game. A homerun threat would certainly benefit the San Diego offense. The drafting of Lockett could be dependent on whether or not Eddie Royal signs a new contract as he is currently a free agent.
RB – Jay Ajayi Boise State 6’0″ 216 lbs
It sounds as though Tom Telesco is content with having Branden Oliver, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown all contribute to the San Diego rushing attack. The fact of the matter is, not one of those runners is a true number one back. Ajayi can be just that. He has incredible balance and he has solid hands coming out of the backfield as a receiving threat.
When toting the rock he runs with good pad level and he has a bit of Gumby-like tendencies as his flexibility is impressive. Being a patient runner, he would fit into multiple run blocking schemes. The Chargers like to run a lot of power-O and Ajayi could excel running behind the pulling guard and picking up good chunks of yardage.
The problem with drafting Ajayi in the third is that he may not last that long. Stranger things have happened and if he is on the board the Bolts would be making a mistake if they did not pull the trigger on drafting him.
DT – Ellis McCarthy UCLA 6’4″ 330 lbs
It is no secret that the Chargers have been in need of an imposing presence at nose tackle for quite some time. Although he adds very little as a pass rusher, if McCarthy were to be added in a rotation with Ryan Carrethers, San Diego may have a solid one-two punch in the middle of the defensive line. He has great quickness for a big man and he is able to take on double teams. His bull rush is above average and he is able to push opposing linemen into the backfield, collapsing the pocket.
On a bad note, McCarthy has struggled with weight issues but that is something that an NFL dietary and conditioning program could help. He will most likely not step in as a starter, but he can provide a solid backup to either Carrethers or a free agent that is brought in to beef up the position.
OLB – Geneo Grissom Oklahoma 6’3″ 264 lbs
With the impending departure of Dwight Freeney via free agency and the possible retirement of Jarret Johnson, the outside linebacker spot must be supplemented. Grissom shows good acceleration around the corner and great athleticism. He is a bit of an unknown specimen as he saw limited action in college. He is good at the line of scrimmage batting down passes and has returned two of those plays back for touchdowns.
Although he is a liability in coverage at this point of his development, newly acquired linebacker coach Mike Nolan could work with him on keeping his eyes on the quarterback as opposed to committing to chasing down receivers with his back to the line of scrimmage.
The drafting of Grissom would be more about the future as opposed to immediate impact. He’s very athletic and there is some hidden talent in there and with the proper coaching he could develop into a solid contributor on defense and special teams.
It is worth noting that Grissom met with the Chargers at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
QB – Sean Mannion Oregon State 6’6″ 229 lbs
Coming from a pro-style offense, Mannion has a leg up on some of the other quarterbacks coming into the draft. He had a sensational junior year under Mike Riley but his numbers dipped a bit as a senior. His ability to place the ball on deep/vertical routes is very impressive, showing a touch that many teams will covet. The ball may not come out of his hand quickly, but he can make all of the throws. At times he has a tendency to throw off of his back foot and that shows that his footwork needs some attention. He needs to be taught to step up in the pocket and deliver the ball.
Mannion would be a project and it should be expected that he’ll need to sit behind Philip Rivers for 3 to 4 years. That would seem to fit the plan that people could expect if a signal caller is drafted to come to the Chargers.
He has good size for the position and when given time in the pocket he can sling the ball accurately and on time.
Well, there you have it. Again, until free agency goes down mock drafts are nothing but a weak shot in the dark. The Chargers have a lot of holes and areas that need upgrading going forward. Telesco believes in paying his own guys and the restructuring of players like Philip Rivers, Eric Weddle and Antonio Gates could be on the horizon. This would supply even more cap space and the team could take care of many of their needs in free agency.
This will be a very interesting and exciting offseason. The foundation for the Chargers to take the next step is in place. It is now time to build around that foundation and prepare the team to make some noise in the playoffs going forward.
Here is where you come in. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. Which picks did you like? Which picks did you think were terrible? I look forward to your responses and I would encourage you all to leave your own 6-round mock draft below.
Thanks for reading.