The San Diego Chargers hope to keep their legacy of uncovering diamonds in the rough through their undrafted free agent class this season. Many prospects have been brought in when you count the 20-player UDFA class signed immediately after the draft. Another twenty have been to Chargers Park for three-day tryouts.
As the old saying goes: Many are called, but few are chosen.
One player to keep an eye on during training camp will be West Virginia cornerback Terrell Chestnut. Standing 5’11”, 188-pounds, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds, vertical jumped 34″, broad jumped 10’2″ and ran the three-cone drill in 7.13 seconds at the Mountaineers Pro Day.
Overshadowed by his secondary teammates Karl Joseph and Darryl Worley, Chestnut had a standout season in 2015. Lining up at cornerback last season, he tallied 35 tackles (25 solo), 7 pass deflections, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. To further show his impact on the field, consider this tweet from Pro Football Focus:
Passers targeting San Diego Chargers UDFA Terrell Chestnut’s coverage had the second-lowest QB rating (47.8) among Big 12 CBs in this class
— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 1, 2016
So why did this man go undrafted?
There are two main answers to this question. One is he was overshadowed by his teammates Joseph and Worley. Joseph, a strong safety, was selected by the Oakland Raiders with the 14th overall pick in the first round. Worley, a cornerback, was selected by the Carolina Panthers with the 77th overall pick in the third round.
Knee injuries derailed Chestnuts’ freshman and sophomore seasons. He played six games as a freshman and ten games as a sophomore. Chestnut did finish strong, as he did not miss a game in his final two years at West Virginia. His draft stock may have dropped due to injury concerns and overall body of work.
The Chargers may have indeed found another gem, this time on the defensive side of the ball. Chestnut is bound to make the most of his opportunity. This is what he tweeted after signing on the dotted line:
Blessed to say that I have signed a free agent deal and will be joining my brother @Shaqpett_36 with the San Diego Chargers!!!!
— Rell16 (@TChestnut) April 30, 2016
Chestnut will be company on the Chargers as the team also signed his teammate LB Shaq Petteway to an undrafted free-agent contract. Current second-year Chargers’ running back Dreamius Smith was a West Virginia teammate who is very excited to see his running buddies coming to San Diego.
— Dreamius (@dreamius2) May 1, 2016
Here’s hoping that West Virginia chemistry spills over onto the field. Good luck, Terrell!
The Greg One
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.