3: Round 1, Pick 3
Defensive end DEFOREST BUCKNER
6-foot-7, 291 pounds
Buckner is a mountain of a man, sporting hands as large as any other participant in Combine history. The former Oregon Duck made a living in opposing teams’ backfields, wreaking havoc play after play. The addition of Buckner would certainly please Corey Liuget, as he would finally have a dominant player opposite him on the line, freeing him up to make plays sans a double-team block each down.
Though Buckner does have a tendency to play “too tall” at times, his brute strength allows him to overcome that. The selection of Buckner makes perfect sense for the Bolts in Round 1, especially considering that defensive back Jalen Ramsey was already selected for the purpose of this mock.
35: Round 2, Pick 4
Safety KARL JOSEPH
5-foot-10, 205 pounds
Starting as a true freshman since coming to WVU, Joseph provides a hard-hitting presence in Mountaineer secondary. Despite being a bit undersized, Joseph does not shy away from contact.
Joseph needs to work on not overpursuing in the running game, but he does a solid job corralling ballcarriers. The 2014 All-Big 12 selection suffered an ACL tear in October of 2015, ending his season. His medical reports and the condition of his knee will ultimately determine where Joseph is taken in this year’s draft.
66: Round 3, Pick 3
Center NICK MARTIN
6-foot-4, 299 pounds
The younger brother of Dallas Cowboys’ offensive lineman Zack Martin, Nick displays solid footwork and strength for the position. Martin could come in and man the starting center position for the next 8-10 years, replacing the incumbent center, and former Notre Dame teammate, Chris Watt.
102: Round 4, Pick 4
Quarterback CARDALE JONES
6-foot-5, 253 pounds
I have gone on record multiple times stating how I am not a fan of this year’s quarterback draft class. It is my belief that if you are taking one of this year’s signal callers and expecting them to come in and start that you are in for a very long 2016 campaign.
There are, however, a couple of names that come to mind when thinking about drafting a guy who can sit on the bench and learn the quarterback position in the NFL from Philip Rivers. Cardale Jones rings a bell.
Jones is not going to be confused for an accurate passer; he struggles with even some of the most rudimentary of throws at times. That being said, he does have special arm talent. He can throw the ball deep downfield, showcasing his arm strength.
Jones would definitely be a work in progress. In San Diego, he wouldn’t be asked to do much more than hold a clipboard and study his ass off in the classroom his first few seasons in the league.
175: Round 5, Pick 36
Fullback Glenn Gronkowski
6-foot-2, 239 pounds
Just what San Diego needs in its life, a little Gronk! All joking aside, the Chargers, without a doubt, need a true fullback added to the mix in the running game. There isn’t anything too flashy about Gronkowski, but he is versatile in that he can play fullback, h-back, tight end and special teams.
Gronkowski does a solid job of getting to the second level in the running game, sealing off defenders while opening holes for his running backs.
As a runner, he runs a bit too high, but he won’t be asked to carry the ball that often in the NFL.
179: Round 6, Pick 4
Defensive tackle D.J. READER
6-foot-3, 327 pounds
The Chargers solidified the nose tackle position on the team by signing Brandon Mebane in free agency this offseason. However, Mebane, 31, is not a long-term answer for the Bolts.
Drafting a player like D.J. Reader would give the team another young member to come in and split reps with Mebane and third-year player Ryan Carrethers. When healthy, Carrethers has shown that he can come in and make plays, or eat up multiple blockers.
Reader would be a solid selection this late in the draft. He moves very well for a man his size, showing impressive athletic ability.
The major concern with Reader is that he left the Tigers due to unspecified personal reasons. He did return to the squad, earning an invite to the Senior Bowl. Reader had a strong performance in the National Championship game against Alabama.
198: Round 6, Pick 23
Wide receiver DEMARCUS ROBINSON
6-foot-1, 203 pounds
When looking at the wide receiving corps in America’s finest city, one may be under the impression that the group is set for 2016. I couldn’t disagree more, seeing as Stevie Johnson isn’t getting any younger and players like Dontrelle Inman and Javontee Herndon are not starting caliber players in the NFL. Additionally, as much as I like Tyrell Williams, he is still incredibly raw.
Drafting Robinson would give the Bolts another developmental player with a lot of upside. I would have preferred to snag a receiver earlier, but this is how the draft played out.
Robinson is highly athletic, possessing nifty feet in the open field after securing the catch. He does an above average job of highpointing receptions, and then making the most of his opportunities with elusiveness after the catch.
224: Round 7, Pick 3
Punter DREW KASER
6-foot-2, 212 pounds
Although you cold probably wait until the draft is over and attempt to sign him as an undrafted free agent, Kaser has the strongest leg of all of the punters in the draft class. He broke Shane Lechler’s Texas A & M record for net-yards-per-punt average with 46.3.
In his three seasons as A&M’s punter he never had a punt blocked. He needs to work on his placement/accuracy while also learning how to get more hang-time on his punts, as opposed to distance. He has a tendency to outkick his coverage.
Drafting Kaser would obviously mean the end of Mike Scifres’ tenure with the Chargers. Scifres has had a remarkable career with the Bolts, but his skills have diminished in recent years. Releasing Scifres would also save the team much-needed money against the salary cap.
There is much debate over when the San Diego Chargers need to take a serious approach toward finding a replacement quarterback and prepare to move on from Philip Rivers.
Some believe the time is now, while others contend that Rivers still has a few solid years left under his belt.
Whether you agree or not, one fact rings true: Rivers turns 35 at the tail end of this season.
This is not to suggest we dump him on the street right this instant, but to recognize all great things must come to an end.
There is a trend of less and less QB talent entering the draft each year. Couple that with the threat of having to start a sub-par signal caller if the front office does not act soon, and you would think Tom Telesco should be proactive rather than reactive.
This year, where a FCS QB is thought to be the first selected at his position, Cardale Jones could be the diamond in the rough that the Chargers could use.
Weight: 253 lbs
Vertical Jump: 36 inches*
*Top performer at his position at the Combine
Jones brings a championship pedigree to the table. His first three starts for Ohio State were all post-season contests that led to winning his first College Football Playoff Championship.
Many people knock his leadership, but teammates and coaches alike refute those arguments. Jon Gruden also commented on how he immediately took a leadership role in his first game against Wisconsin which resulted in a 59-0 victory.
His size is an obvious strength, as he has no problem seeing over offensive lineman. His 250+ lb frame also helps him absorb hits and bowl over defensive backs when he uses his other strength…
He may not look like it, but Jones can move. He can evade pressure in the pocket and get a throw off or leave the pocket all together and get good yardage.
His weaknesses are correctable. He has such great arm strength that he has a hard time completing short passes that require some touch. He consistently looks for the big play instead of taking what is given to him. He sometimes gets flustered with complicated defensive schemes.
Although Jones only has 11 starts at the collegiate level, he is a great talent who will only get better with reps. He is the definition of a project-QB, who can blossom into a starter in the NFL with time, proper coaching and hard work.
For more on Cardale Jones:
Jarvis Royall (@defineroyallty)