Marcus Mariota

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The staff here at Boltblitz.com gives their takes on what they think will happen today versus the Titans.

Zak Darman: The Titans record is better than their talent says. What that means is they aren’t a team that should be 4-3. They have Murray on offense, and that’s really it. Delanie Walker didn’t practice Friday so it’s safe to assume he won’t play this week. They have been the team who has given up the most 20+ yard plays this season, and I think one of Travis Benjamin or Tyrell Williams will go for 100+ yards. Chargers 31, Titans 10

Charles LaFurno: Late Mariota drive with a TD pass to Murray seals it as the Bolts lose in powder blues and we all officially hop on the tank wagon. Titans 24, Chargers 20

Michael Brazeel: This is a game Chargers have to win at home. Rivers has big day against this secondary, and defense gives Mariota fits. Bolts win 34-21

Martin JC Jr: I see Rivers having a bounce back game against a sketchy secondary. He gets 3 touchdowns. Gordon will get to the endzone because Whiz will realize that Gordon can score the rock in the redzone. Chargers win 31-10

Travis Blake: The Chargers’ defense is going to be really sore on Monday, that is, if they can slow the Titans running attack. The Titans bring in one of the scariest ground games in the league. Scary because DeMarco Murray and Derick Henry are beasts, and the Chargers starting middle linebackers will consist of a backup and an outside linebacker moved inside. This is a recipe for disaster, in my opinion. We’re really going to see what the Bolts defensive line is made of in this game. If they can curb the Titans running game, the Chargers will have to worry about Mariota who can hurt them with his arm or legs. On offense the Bolts will sputter with no Henry, and both primary receivers banged up. I’d love to see someone else start at right tackle, not sure what’s going on with Joe Barksdale but his play is hurting this team. Chargers lose another close one, 28 – 19.

Brian Scott: With Hunter out the Rivers-Gates combo notch 2 more on their belts. Gordon runs ragged and get his most all-purpose yards of his career. Bosa continues his dominance as he spends all day in Marcus’s kitchen. Titans maintain their run game through most of game but abandons it in the 4th Quarter as Chargers have a big lead…only to dwindle and give fans another heart attack. Chargers win 36-26

Chris Hoke: Let’s see I had us losing in close one last week which Rivers did throw a pick 6 so your boy was right! No Perryman and Brown. Our run defense is screwed just in Preseason the Titans ran us over. Murray being hurt will limit his carries but he still gets 90 yards and a TD while Henry does the heavy lifting going over 100 yards himself. Mariota throws 2 TD’s and 1 pick. On offense we don’t know whether to run or pass so we just settle for 4 Lambo field goals. Rivers throws a TD late to Gordon it’s not enough as the bolts lose another close one and hope fully the McNorv shit finally ends! 21-20 Titans

Cheryl White: Whiz says that two yard line series has kept him awake. I think this is a game where Gordon is continually given the ball. Gates will be in for a good day as well while Williams & Benjamin play as well as expected with knee injuries. Barksdale plays smart this week (no Miller/Ware/Wolfe to face). Defense does ok with the plug-in players, Bosa & Ingram get to Mariota. TD’s by Gordon (2), Gates (1) & Inman (1) with a couple of FGs by Lambo give Bolts a close win. 34-27 bolts

Mike Pisciotta: Individual accomplishments by Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Hunter Henry, Dontrelle Inman, Joey Bosa, Jatavis Brown and Brandon Flowers will be erased by last-minute Tennessee heroics. McCoy, Pagano and Whisenhunt will again out coach themselves to deliver a heartbreaking loss in the closing minutes yet again. I don’t trust the coaching staff. I lost faith in Whisenhunt after Sunday’s embarrassing series of plays from the Denver two yard line. Mike McCoy gets in the way again this week, failing to manage the clock. Titans 27-24

Will McCafferty: I am quite worried about how far down the depth chart the Chargers have to go to fill spots like linebacker and receiver. On the bright side, I think the Bolts can do a decent job of stopping the run and that is the Titan’s strength. I’m not impressed with the Titans overall, but I think it will be a game. Chargers 31, Titans 27

Dave Peters: Whiz gets the better of LeBeau in this one, controlling both the tempo and the clock. Due to injuries adding up on defense, Rivers and the offense must score early and often. Gordon scores and notches another 100-yard game on the ground. Inman steps up with six catches and a TD. Ingram and Bosa each add sacks to their season totals. Bolts win, barely 29-27

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The NFL regular season starts in just under two months. The 2016 schedule has the Chargers facing the AFC South, NFC South, the Miami Dolphins (AFC East) and the Cleveland Browns (AFC North).

Below is a breakdown of their 2016 opponents.

Week 1: @Kansas City Chiefs 

2015 Record: 11-5, 2nd AFC West

Offense: 27th overall

Defense: 7th overall

The Chiefs started 2015 slow, losing five straight games. They ended the season winning 10 straight and won their first playoff game in 20 years. The running game should be solid for the Chiefs in 2016. Jamaal Charles is coming back from an ACL injury. Along with his fellow running backs, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, KC sports one of the best backfields in the NFL.

Week 2: Jacksonville Jaguars

2015 Record: 5-11, 3rd AFC South

Offense: 18th overall

Defense: 24th overall

The Jaguars had a less than stellar season, placing third in the worst division in the NFL in 2015. Jacksonville only won one road game last year. The Jags took to the draft to help beef up their defense by signing defensive players with their first five picks, including DB Jalen Ramsey from Florida State and LB Myles Jack from UCLA.

Week 3: @Indianapolis Colts 

2015 Record: 8-8, 2nd AFC South

Offense: 28th overall

Defense: 26th overall

The Colts had a 3-5 record in the first half of the 2015 season, losing starting quarterback Andrew Luck in Week 8. Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and journeyman signal caller Josh Freeman went 5-3 in the second half, but it still was not enough to win the division. If Andrew Luck can stay healthy in 2016, the Colts could make improvements on offense.  They drafted a much-needed center, Ryan Kelly from Alabama, with the 18th pick overall.

Week 4: New Orleans Saints 

2015 Record: 7-9, 3rd NFC South

Offense: 2nd overall

Defense: 31st overall

The Saints were a very lopsided team in 2015. Their offense averaged 403.8 yards and 25.5 points per game, but their defense allowed an average of 413.8 yards and 29.8 points per game. That is clearly not a recipe for success. The Saints should continue to have a stellar offense with veteran Drew Brees at quarterback.

Week 5: @Oakland Raiders 

2015 Season: 7-9, 3rd AFC West

Offense: 24th overall

Defense: 22nd overall

The Raiders made some improvements last year in an attempt to have their first winning season since losing the Super Bowl in 2003, but fell short, again. Their 7-9 record was an improvement considering they have averaged only 4.9 wins a season in the last 13 years. The Raiders will probably continue to improve in 2016. They have a young team lead by third-year quarterback Derek Carr. Don’t sleep on the Raiders in 2016.

Week 6: Denver Broncos 

2015 Season: 12-4, 1st AFC West

Offense: 16th overall

Defense: 1st overall

The Broncos won the division — again — for the fifth consecutive season and went on to win Super Bowl 50. Peyton Manning had his worst season, finishing with only nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 10 games. The stellar Broncos’ defense allowed an average of only 283.1 yards and 18.5 points per game.  The Broncos are bringing back pretty much the same defense in 2016. The retirement of Manning brings veteran Mark Sanchez, back-up quarterback Trevor Siemian and rookie Paxton Lynch fighting for the starting position. Rumor has it that Sanchez and Siemian are neck-and-neck in the fight to win the job.

Week 7: @Atlanta Falcons 

2015 Season: 8-8, 2nd AFC South

Offense: 7th overall

Defense: 16th overall

The Falcons started out the 2015 season hot, winning six of their first eight games. The second half was the exact opposite, as they went 2-6. One of the two wins in the second half was against their division rival, and eventual Super Bowl runner-up, the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons drafted strong safety Keanu Neal from Florida with the 17th overall pick to boost their struggling defense.

Week 8: @Denver Broncos 

See week six.

Week 9: Tennessee Titans 

2015 Season: 3-13, 4th AFC South

Offense: 30th overall

Defense: 12th overall

The Titans looked like a sleeper team in Week 1 of the 2015 season, when they won 42-14 against the Tampa Bay Bucs, led by 2nd overall pick, Marcus Mariota, who had 209 yards, four touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Despite Mariota’s success in Week 1, the Titans ended up with the worst record in 2015, averaging only 311.8 yards  and 18.7 points per game. It will be hard to do much worse in 2016, but anything is possible.

Week 10: Miami Dolphins 

2015 Season: 6-10, 4th AFC East

Offense: 26th overall

Defense: 25th overall

The Dolphins were led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who averaged 263 passing yards per game and had 24 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. While those numbers aren’t terrible, his offensive line could not keep him standing up, as he was sacked 45 times. The Titans could fare better in 2016 when it comes to sacks with the signing of offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil from Ole Miss.

Week 11: BYE

Week 12: @Houston Texans

2015 Season: 9-7, 1st AFC South

Offense: 19th overall

Defense: 3rd overall

The Texans started the season off rocky, going 3-5 in the first half of the season but turned it around in the second half, only losing two games. The third ranked defense allowed only an average of 19.6 points for game and even had five games where their opponent only scored six points. The Texans liked what they saw when Brock Osweiler took over the quarterback duties for the Broncos and signed him to be their starter in 2016. This move could either make them or break them.

Week 13: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2015 Season: 6-10, 4th NFC South

Offense: 5th overall

Defense: 10th overall

The Buccaneers should have had a better record in 2015 since they had a top-10 overall offense and defense. Stats don’t always show the big picture, especially considering their offense averaged 375.9 yards per game, but only 21.4 points per game. The defense allowed an average of 340.4 yards per and 26.4 points per game. The Bucs took to their coaching staff to bring change, naming Dirk Koetter as the new head coach, replacing Lovie Smith, along with Mike Smith as the new defensive coordinator and Todd Monken as the new offensive coordinator.

Week 14: @Carolina Panthers

2015 Season: 15-1, 1st NFC South

Offense: 11th overall

Defense: 6th overall

The Panthers had an explosive offense in 2015, leading the league with 500 total points and an average of 31.3 points per game. Their offense, lead by quarterback Cam Newton, was not able to fare well against the best defense in the league and lost the Super Bowl to the Broncos, scoring only 10 points. The Panthers will be without DB Charles Tillman, who recently announced his retirement after 13 years in the league. They signed former Chargers punter Mike Scifres to a one-year deal.

Week 15: Oakland Raiders

See week five.

Week 16: @ Cleveland Browns

2015 Season: 3-13, 4th AFC North

Offense: 25th overall

Defense: 27th overall

For the fourth straight year, the Browns were in last place in their division. The quarterback situation in Cleveland was their biggest downfall in 2015. The off-field antics of quarterback Johnny Manziel had the Browns switching the starting positions between the former first-round draft pick and Josh McCown. The Browns lost their best wide receiver, Travis Benjamin, to the Chargers during free agency. They went to the draft in hopes of replacing him, drafting five wide receivers, including Corey Coleman from Baylor with the 15th overall pick.

Week 17: Kansas City Chiefs

See week one.

 

The Chargers only face four teams with a winning record last year, but two of the four of those teams are the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. They will face two teams with a .500 season and seven teams with a losing season in 2015, including the Oakland Raiders.

The schedule seems pretty easy — on paper — and I predict that they will definitely win more than four games this season. The Chargers play in a tough division and will need to win some of those games to be contenders in 2016.

Thanks for reading!

Go Chargers!

 

Laura Leech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

weddle

 

Uncharacteristically, high-profile San Diego Chargers have been making headlines during this offseason. It started in the front office with the ongoing stadium issue, Antonio Gates asking for reduced playing time and rolled into the Philip Rivers-for-Marcus Mariota trade chatter that consumed national and social media in the weeks leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft. Since the draft, defensive captain Eric Weddle has proclaimed he will not show up for offseason training activities until he is signed to a new contract.

Weddle is the undisputed leader of the defense and one of the best if not the top safety in the league. Safety play is going to be critical if the Chargers are going to make the postseason. Let’s take a look at who the Chargers currently have on the roster at the safety position.

Eric Weddle: One of the few safeties wearing the helmet mic to receive the defensive calls from the sideline, Weddle is the conductor of the Chargers defense. Now entering his ninth season in lightning bolts, Weddle hasn’t missed a game in five seasons and has only missed four games in his career. Unlike other seasoned vets, Weddle has gotten better with age. The 30-year old has compiled 97, 115 and 114 combined tackles in the last three seasons. Weddle has been elected to the Pro Bowl four times, three in the last four seasons. Once Weddle signs his new deal, he and his beard will be permanently inked into his starting safety spot for the rest of his Chargers days. It will happen.

Jahleel Addae: Another Chargers undrafted free agent success story, Addae is entering is third season with San Diego. After contributing significantly on special teams he was thrown into the mix on defense halfway through the 2013 season and continued his stellar play. Last season, Addae started at safety alongside Weddle in five games and played eleven games. He compiled 48 tackles (35 solo), one sack, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Although he missed five games, two to hamstring and three to concussion, he showed an aptitude for the position. Addae has great safety instincts and he can be expected to start significantly more games at safety this season as long as he can stay healthy.

Darrell Stuckey: Heading into his sixth season, Stuckey has established himself as the Bolts’ special teams captain. He has continually improved his production each season to the point where he was named special teams Player of the Year and was selected to his first Pro Bowl last season. Stuckey was also given extended playing time on defense at safety and proved his coaches right in doing so. The Chargers have an excellent three-man core at safety with Weddle, Addae and Stuckey consistently making plays.

Jimmy Wilson: An offseason free agency pickup by the Chargers, Wilson signed a two-year deal with the Bolts in March.  A native San Diegan, Wilson was a seventh-round draft pick by Miami in the 2011 NFL Draft. He is expected to challenge Addae for the starting strong safety and nickel corner positions. Durable and versatile, Wilson has only missed four games in his four-year career and has compiled 153 tackles (133 solo), 16 passes defensed, four interceptions, three forced fumbles and two sacks. Last season was the first time he started more than four games when he started in 13 of the Dolphins 14 games. As a result he had his best statistical year with 58 tackles, two passes defensed and one interception. Wilson provides another playmaker into the Chargers rebuilt secondary and will be exciting to follow as camp progresses.

Adrian Phillips: The undrafted free agent out of Texas spent last season on the Chargers practice squad. Phillips was team captain for the 2013 Longhorns and had 206 career tackles from the safety position. He did see action in the Miami Dolphins game, where he recorded one tackle.

UDFA’s Johnny Lowdermilk and Gordon Hill: If the name Lowdermilk sounds familiar, it’s because his father Kirk Lowdermilk had a 12-year career in the NFL with Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts as an offensive lineman. Iowa’s Lowdermilk is lauded for his physical play, nose for the football and coverage ability but lack of speed is a concern. Last season he totaled 103 tackles (58 solo), three tackles for loss, three interceptions, three passes defensed and two forced fumbles. He’s worth a look just from a hustle and bloodline standpoint.

Hill entered the NFL after leaving Sacred Heart after his junior season. An All-NEC (Northeast Conference) first team selection, he collected 85 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and two interceptions last season. It will be a long way up to make the main roster but he will get his opportunity to shine in camp.

The Chargers have one of the better collections of safeties in the NFL. Weddle deserves to be the highest paid safety in the league and likely will be soon. Addae and Stuckey fly to the football and are finally coming into their own with regular playing time on defense. There is definitely room for a fourth man in the rotation. Whether it comes from this lot or from an unexpected name arising when roster cuts are made remains to be seen.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

 

The Greg One

 

 

#TelescoMagic

 

Rivers Sad

 

 

It is safe to say that most of you have read Kevin Acee’s article about why trading quarterback Philip Rivers is the right thing to do. I must admit, I was hoping that the post would say more about why he believes that the trading of Rivers would make sense. Quite honestly, he doesn’t say much to support the idea.

I should have started this by stating how much I respect Acee. I have interviewed Kevin on multiple occasions, and I wouldn’t be out of line saying that he might be the coolest guy I have interviewed. Despite his large number of “haters,” I can assure you he has a good sense of humor and he really does know football.

Now that we have that out-of-the-way, are you kidding me? Trade Rivers? Trade away arguably the best quarterback in the history of the Chargers’ franchise? Child, please.

I am just going to throw out a few names here to remind the fans what the Chargers’ quarterback situation has looked like in the past, prior to Rivers taking the helm:

  • Mark Herrmann
  • Babe Laufenberg
  • Billy Joe Tolliver
  • Mark Vlasic
  • John Friesz
  • Mark Malone
  • Gale Gilbert
  • Craig Whelihan
  • Moses Moreno

……… Ryan Leaf

It goes without saying that franchise quarterbacks do not come around all that often. Let us not ignore the misery of watching a team without a quality starter at the position.

Acee’s article, along with other speculation around the NFL, suggests that if the Chargers think Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is the signal caller of the future for the team, Tom Telesco should pull the trigger on trading Rivers in an effort to draft Mariota.

Let me get this straight. Trade a proven commodity in Rivers for the opportunity to draft a rookie that has yet to play a down of NFL football? Sure, it is probably time to begin looking toward the future at the quarterback position in San Diego. But with Rivers under contract through the 2015 season, wouldn’t it be prudent to focus on doing all things possible to extend his contract and lock him up for the next three or four years?

Yes, Rivers has gone on record saying that he will play out his contract and see where it goes from there. But shouldn’t the Chargers go above and beyond to prove to Philip that they want no one else as their quarterback? That has not been the case, as the Chargers are working out Mariota, and they have worked out other possible incoming rookie options at quarterback this offseason. The visits have extended as far as Uncle Rico, per sources… In other words, the team is doing their due diligence when it comes to working on the next option at quarterback should the team move on from Rivers.

Let’s talk about Mariota. Then we’ll delve into the obvious reasons why the Chargers would be fools to not retain the services of Rivers.

Coming from a spread offense at Oregon, you won’t find many plays in which Mariota took snaps from under center. His collegiate numbers, especially last year, showed that he excelled in Oregon’s offense, throwing 42 touchdowns against only four interceptions. He also rushed for 770 yards and 15 touchdowns. We are not talking about Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning or John Elway; quarterbacks that were, indeed, a sure thing when it comes to their collegiate efforts translating to success in the NFL. Although he is very athletic, what can he do in an NFL offense? It is difficult to say whether or not he would be comfortable being a drop-back, pocket passer.

When watching tape on Mariota, his collegiate numbers aren’t exactly the best representation of how he’ll perform in the NFL. He keeps his eyes locked onto his primary read, neglecting to go through his progressions and find other options. Even if quarterback guru Mike McCoy were to work with him in helping to adapt his game, Mariota would most likely resort to locking onto his first read when under duress. I don’t see him as being able to function properly in the pocket of an NFL offense. Although he is capable of making plays with his feet, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll be able to move around in the pocket and deliver the ball accurately. Mariota may very well turn out to be a solid NFL starter, but I don’t see him becoming the caliber of player that Rivers is.

Speaking of quarterbacks who can work in the pocket, let’s talk about Philip Rivers. Despite his lack of mobility, he is incredibly crafty in the pocket. We all may like to poke fun at the way he runs when he scrambles, but he handles the pocket as well as any other passer in the league.

Rivers has one of the most awkward deliveries of any quarterback that I have ever watched throw a football. That being said, he is as accurate as they come. Fans outside of San Diego, and some that cheer on the Chargers, like to complain about the way that Rivers reacts when things don’t go his way. Quite frankly, I love it. His fire and passion can be misconstrued as being whiny. Each and every play means the world to him. He holds every player accountable down to the most intricate of details. To put it quite simply, he makes everyone on the team better due to the way he carries himself. He was born a leader and that is not denied by those in the know.

Trading Philip Rivers for the chance of drafting Marcus Mariota sets this franchise back a few years, at a minimum. The team already knows what they have in Rivers. The same can’t be said about Mariota. There is nothing but guesswork involved when it comes to prognosticating whether or not Mariota can fit into an NFL offense. McCoy has made some pretty poor quarterbacks look serviceable; Jake Delhomme and Tim Tebow immediately come to mind. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Rivers is the heart and soul of the Chargers.

Going into this offseason, the Chargers knew that they needed to surround Rivers with a better offensive line and more playmakers via free agency and the draft. The first portion of the process, free agency, saw the team do just that, and the draft tomorrow can help finalize what should be an improved offense.

The Bolts upgraded their offensive line with the addition of Orlando Franklin. It looks as though the team is happy with second-year player Chris Watt manning the center position for the forseeable future. If the team were to draft an offensive lineman in the early rounds of the upcoming draft, the big boys upfront would possibly form the best line the Chargers have had in quite some time. It goes without saying that Johnnie Troutman is not the answer at right guard, so expect the team to draft a starter at the position in round one or round two. A line featuring King Dunlap, Franklin, Watt, DJ Fluker and a highly selected rookie should certainly provide Rivers with confidence in the fact that the front office worked to improve the hogs up front.

When looking at the receiving corps, the additions of Stevie Johnson and Jacoby Jones give Rivers two more weapons at his disposal. Keenan Allen will be entering his third season in the league, and hopefully some pressure will be taken off him. Although Malcom Floyd is entering the latter stages of his career, he has a solid rapport with Rivers. He is still considered a deep threat after averaging a team-high 16.5 yards per reception. It goes without saying that Antonio Gates had a fantastic year in 2014, leading the team with 12 touchdowns. Additionally, tight end Ladarius Green is primed to see more time on the field this upcoming season. The receiving corps is stocked and ready to roll. Rivers must be salivating while thinking of all of these receiving options.

After losing Ryan Mathews to the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency, the team is left with Danny Woodhead, Branden Oliver and Donald Brown at the running back position. Although Telesco has said that he is happy with the ball carriers on the roster, do not be surprised if the team adds a back in Thursday’s draft. The return of Woodhead will be huge for the Bolts. He provides so much versatility to the offense. As an undrafted free agent rookie out of Buffalo, Oliver was a pleasant surprise, making the 53-man roster. He may not fit the bill as a bell-cow back, but he does give the team a solid option at running back. Though Brown was a disappointment in his first year with the Chargers, the team seems to believe that he can get the job done. He may not ever live up to the contract that he signed during the free agency period prior to the 2014 season, but he is capable as a third option. If a ball carrier is drafted, Brown may be on his way out of San Diego.

Even if the Chargers aren’t willing to say it right now, they have the opportunity to keep Philip in 2016 via the franchise tag. Of course, he could refuse to agree to that option and sit out the season or retire. But wouldn’t it behoove him to remain with the team if there is an option to collect a top-dollar quarterback contract? I believe it would. I guess it would boil down to whether or not he believes in what Telesco and McCoy are building with the Chargers. It says a lot that he has said that he won’t sign a long-term deal at this point, opting to play out this year and see where things go from there.

Getting rid of Rivers would be a huge mistake. The team hasn’t had a franchise signal caller since the days of Dan Fouts. Although I was a bit young to truly appreciate the ability of Fouts during his playing days, an argument could easily be made that Rivers is the greatest quarterback in Charger history. If one was to look at the numbers, and take into account the weapons provided to each quarterback, it is fair to say that Rivers has passed up Fouts.

For all of you Oregon fans that would love to see Mariota in lightning bolts, I implore you to recall the fact that Rivers has played the part of Superman, overcoming numerous injuries to ensure that he would never miss a game since being given the role of starting quarterback in San Diego. He is an upstanding member of the community, involved in many charities that benefit America’s finest city. The focus should remain that, in my humble opinion, he gives the team the best chance to win for the next few seasons. Should the team ignore the obvious and take a chance on replacing Rivers with Mariota? Again, child, please.

 

Thanks a lot for reading.

 

Booga Peters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

qb

 

Listen to all the draft coverage on any network and you will hear the same thing coming from a different mouth. The two best quarterbacks in the draft are Jameis Winston of Florida State and Marcus Mariota of Oregon. All signs indicate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will select the man they see as the best quarterback, Winston, with the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

As they have been throughout their team’s history, Tampa Bay will be wrong.

A fact that has recently emerged regarding Tampa Bay sheds a little light on that statement. In the history of the Tampa Bay franchise, they have never signed a quarterback they drafted to a second contract. Every quarterback the Bucs have ever drafted has washed away or drifted off to another team. As a result, the team has to reset the position with the frequency of a Presidential election, every four years at best.

Of the 32 men who have been quarterbacks for Tampa bay since their inception in 1976, only 5 have played four or more seasons in Buccaneer Orange. Their frugality in contract talks have cost them players who went on to greater success and Super Bowl rings with other teams. (Steve Young, Doug Williams, Joe Flacco). Now they’re primed in the top spot of the draft to choose the new face of their franchise at the quarterback position.

The best quarterback is not Jameis Winston. Not by a long shot.

The measurables for Winston look great. He has a NFL build. He played in a pro-style offense at Florida State that everyone sees as the dividing line between him and the man who really is the best quarterback available, Marcus Mariota. Winston is a proven winner who won the Heisman Trophy his freshman year. Despite putting up better numbers than Winston, Mariota didn’t win the Heisman until last season, his junior season.

There are few positive metrics that Mariota does not beat Winston. Last season, Mariota was better than Winston in completion percentage, passing yards, rushing yards, passing and rushing touchdowns, yards per completion and quarterback rating while leading the fourth highest scoring offense at Oregon to the tune of 45 points per game. Winston led Mariota in one category, interceptions, with 18 to Mariota’s 4. He completed one pass more than Mariota (305 to 304) but it took 22 more attempts to do so.

To the eye, Winston looks much bigger than Mariota. In reality they’re practically the same. Both players stand 6’4. Winston (225-230) outweighs Mariota (215-220) by 10-15 pounds depending on how much indulging on crab legs he’s been doing lately. Winston does carry a spare tire around his midsection where Mariota has a more slender, athletic frame. Both men have rifle arms and show great pocket presence and escapabilty. Mariota gets the nod in the speed department after posting a 4.5 second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.

The single knock on Mariota is the system he played in. In Oregon, he was the maestro of the spread offense. He operated out of the shotgun and Oregon ran a play an average of every 20 seconds. Pro pundits debate whether that system of play will translate to the NFL. That stands as the only reason Winston is considered a can’t-miss NFL prospect while Mariota is seen as a project. The Oregon QB hasn’t ran a play from the under center since high school.

Any quarterbacks coach should be salivating over the possibility of having a prodigy such as Mariota to mentor. A three, five or seven step drop is not rocket science to teach. As Mariota gets comfortable operating under center he’s going to get better with each season as the drops become second nature. Look at his tape and Mariota goes through his progressions quickly, not just deferring to his first read as many have said. He has an above average release time and is adept at reading defenses.

Winston comes with a lot of red flags. All of his misadventures at FSU are well documented and it should force a GM to reconsider using the highest draft pick on one with such a questionable moral code. The quarterback is the leader of the football team, the face of his university. It could be argued that Winston has damaged the reputation of Florida State as much as he has enhanced it. Mariota has no such character issues.

Immaturity does (or should) play a role in the decision making process. If Winston makes such bad decisions when he’s a poor college student, what is he going to do with his free time with millions of dollars in the bank? How will he behave when the gold-digging groupies of the NFL come after him? What are the odds Winston will be able to keep his nose clean his entire pro career, help his team win games and be the first person the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have ever signed to a second contract? Things can always change but I wouldn’t bet he will.

Both quarterbacks are the top of their class. Mariota has unlimited upside while Winston enters the league at the height of his powers. This is shaping up to be the millenium edition of the Manning/Leaf debate. In my view, Mariota is trending to be the next Steve Young or Cam Newton (another spread quarterback) while Winston looks like the next Byron Leftwich or Jamarcus Russell. (All the raw, physical tools in the world but lacking the self-discipline to put it all together).  A quarterbacks’ most important weapon is his brain and I trust Mariota to be the film room junkie, first one in, last one out of the facility type of athlete that becomes a Hall-Of-Famer. Four years from now we’ll all look back and wonder how it was even a question.

Sorry Tampa, you got it wrong. As usual.

draft

 

There are less than three days remaining until the offseason day we’ve all been waiting for aside from the start of free agency. The NFL Draft will commence with the Tampa Bay on the clock and a whirlwind of speculation surrounding our beloved San Diego Chargers. I will be there in person to see the events unfold and write of it in the days thereafter. After ingesting all the rumors and speculation of the last couple months, I have a feel for the way things go and I am brave (or stupid) enough to put them in print. Without further adieu. here are my top ten fearless predictions.

1. Philip Rivers will NOT be traded. Chargers GM Tom Telesco knows how valuable a commodity he has in Rivers and he’s simply not for sale. Not for Mariota. Not for Winston. Not for a handful of magic beans. No trade. No way. No how.

2. Adrian Peterson WILL be traded. To my chagrin, I have come to the realization that he will not be traded to the Chargers as dearly as I want that to happen. The Vikings know there is no chance in hell Peterson will ever suit up in the Purple and Gold ever again so on draft day he will be gone to the highest bidder. I will stand by my projection that the best they will get is a third round pick and maybe a late round throw in but their first round asking price will not happen.

3. Marcus Mariota will be the second pick in the draft but he will not play for Tennessee, who own the second pick. Not coincidentally, it leads to my next prediction…

4. Marcus Mariota and Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly will be reunited in Philadelphia. All the talk of a Mariota-for-Rivers deal has to make the Eagles happy because they have been largely forgotten in the equation. This will turn out exactly the way we expected it to at the end of the National Championship game. Chip Kelly wants Mariota to run his offense the same way he did at Oregon. Kelly knows there is no one better to run his offense than Mariota. Kelly will get Mariota.

5. To get Mariota, Kelly will trade off his offseason acquisitions. We all thought Kelly traded off his best pieces if he wanted to trade up to get Mariota. The Eagles sent former rushing champion LeSean McCoy packing. They traded away a strong quarterback in Nick Foles. What they did was overload their skill positions in order to make a deal the Titans would want. Let’s examine the facts. They now have DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles as running backs. They now have Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and Tim freaking Tebow in their five quarterback stable. Kelly is going to give the Titans the quarterback and running back of their choice AND their first rounder to get the Titans spot and claim Mariota. Book it.

6. Eight household name players will change addresses during the draft. Expect at least five veterans to get traded on day one and more on day two as Peterson comes into play. Chip Kelly will be responsible for three of those names alone. More will come.

7. The Chargers first round pick will be a running back. Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon will be the man depending on who’s available.  Florida State center Cameron Erving will be the selection (as I indicated in my recent mock draft) if both are gone. Offense will be the order of the day in the first round. Telesco has not addressed the running back issue at all in the offseason and contrary to what has been said, don’t expect him to stand pat with Donald Brown, Branden Oliver and  Danny Woodhead. A top two running back will be drafted.

8. Only two quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round but three will be traded. Among those names, expect Robert Griffin III to be one of them.

9. The bidding war for Adrian Peterson between the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys will be won by….New England. The Patriots will give the Vikings their first, second and fifth round picks to secure Peterson as Belichick shows why he is still the smartest person in the room. Hear that sound? It’s Bill Belichick dropping the mic.

10. Telesco will go against formula and trade down on day two to recover the seventh round pick he dealt last year. He’s saving one other bombshell for day two that lands the Chargers the services of.. disgruntled Bears feature running back Matt Forte. You heard it here first. A big name veteran will end up with the Chargers by the end of the draft. Telesco has a plan and its going to jolt Bolt Nation.

There you have it. My expectations for the draft. There’s always a few surprises, a few head scratchers but it will always be entertaining. Look for me on Thursday wearing my powder blue lightning bolted jersey of the quarterback who won’t be traded.

 

 

Bolt Up!!

 

 

The Greg One

 

 

#TelescoMagic

Crying Chargers Fan

 

The San Diego Chargers find themselves between a rock and a hard place. With the words of franchise quarterback Philip Rivers ringing in their ears, they know they have a choice to make.

To paraphrase, Rivers said he’s going to play out his contract, which concludes at the end of the upcoming season, and what happens next happens. He has no interest in playing in Los Angeles and he’s simply going to focus on this season. His decision to play any further for the Chargers rests on what happens with the stadium issue and relocation to Los Angeles.

What’s a front office to do?

The rumor mill has been abuzz with talk of the Chargers possibly trading Rivers to Tennessee in exchange for the number two pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, affording them the ability to draft Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota to be the new quarterback of the Chargers. Other rumors are circulating about Rivers being dealt other places and for any combination of picks and players but that’s all they are, rumors.

Would the Chargers front office really trade Philip Rivers?

We all know football is a business before all things. No player is untouchable. Anyone can and has been traded. All-time legends of the game like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Franco Harris, Ronnie Lott, Deion Sanders, Brett Favre and countless others all saw phenomenal careers end in a jersey other than the one they were drafted in. The Chargers are well within their rights to do their due diligence in searching out options in case Rivers decides to leave if the Chargers relocate.

Obtaining Mariota with the second pick and then a game changing running back like Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley with the 17th pick has to look attractive on many levels. It’s a hyper speed rebuild with the intent of keeping up with the Joneses (Denver) at the same time. The Chargers would be taking two of the most dominant players at their position in college football over the last four years, rolling the dice and hoping to come up roses.

Here’s the problem. They’re still rookies. It’s still too much to ask them to take on such a huge task and expect immediate results. Quarterback and running back are arguably the two most difficult positions to come in and be the day one starter. There will be growing pains. There will be flashes of brilliance some days and startling ineptitude in others until they adjust to the game at the NFL level and some gifted players coming out of college never do. Ask Johnny Manziel how easy it is to go from being a big shot quarterback in college to playing against NFL defenses.

That is the very reason San Diego should not entertain the thought of trading Philip Rivers.

Rivers is the face of the franchise. He is the Captain, the undisputed leader of the team. As he goes, the Chargers go. No team feeds off their quarterback more than San Diego. Rivers has been the consummate team player. Seemingly every offseason the Chargers revise his contract to free cap space to sign players and he does so without complaint. He’s the first man in the facility and the last to leave. Rivers is the player every man in the locker room, rookie or veteran, can look up to and draw inspiration from. Philip Rivers is the heartbeat and the soul of the Chargers and the San Diego fan base.

In the San Diego county, Rivers has made himself at home and become a pillar of the community. He is a role model. Never do you hear of him getting into trouble at the club, getting arrested, bashing media or rival players in social media or falling prey to any other trapping of success afforded to a multi-millionaire athlete. Rivers began a humble son-of-a-coach and has stayed that way. He comes with a blue collar mentality. A true grinder in every sense of the word, he shows up with the traditional lunch pail and hard hat in hand, leaves it all on the field and quietly goes home to his family at the end of the day.

If only more players would follow his example….

I feel a strong connection to Rivers on a number of levels. Being born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina I literally grew up on the N.C. State campus. I saw all of Rivers games at NCSU. There hadn’t been a successful quarterback out of N.C. State since Roman Gabriel back in the 60’s. Logically, Rivers became my favorite player and I was elated when the Chargers fleeced the New York Giants in the Eli Manning fiasco to bring Rivers to my favorite pro football team in 2004.

Few players are more fun to watch than Rivers. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He feels the way we feel sitting in the stands watching the action unfold before us. We live through him. Ironically, I have to admit, Marcus Mariota is my favorite college player since Rivers. Mariota shows the same poise, accuracy, score at any moment capability Rivers did in college. All eyes stay on him and he does not shy away from the big stage. Mariota is going to be an amazing pro and the Chargers have every right to wine and dine him and work him out. That being said, I don’t want Mariota if the cost is Philip Rivers.

It is alarming the Chargers haven’t made significant strides to assure the fan base that Rivers isn’t going anywhere. Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. GM Tom Telesco has said he wants to do everything to make sure Rivers retires a Charger. We’re all wise to front office speak by now and what happens at the draft will speak volumes.

I will be attending the draft in person with my Rivers jersey on as it is every year on day one. A nightmare scenario will be hearing that the front office pulled the trigger and sent Rivers to Nashville. Soul crushing would be the phrase that comes to mind. I grew up a Chargers fan. I bleed Navy and Gold. I thought nothing would ever change my allegiance to the one team I hold on a pedestal above all others regardless of sport.

However, I find my faith has been shaken. I’ve honestly had to sit down and reevaluate my allegiance to the Chargers if a trade were to happen.

One man is not bigger than the team but Philip Rivers is the embodiment of the San Diego Chargers. A move like this would make me question the decision making of the front office. Franchise quarterbacks don’t grow on trees. Ask the Browns, Jets, Cardinals, Rams, Titans, Raiders how hard it is to find a quarterback you can rely on day in day out, year in year out. Once you get out of the top ten quarterbacks in the league every team remaining would give anything to have a signal caller as great as Rivers.

To trade Rivers means they have given up all hope on keeping him even if they have signed and sealed documents confirming a move to L. A. sitting on their desk. It means they’re not willing to exhaust all avenues to convince him to stay. I know a lot of this rests on Rivers shoulders also, he is not without blame in this. Philip has painted the Chargers front office into quite a corner. However, aside from Rivers himself coming out and telling the world through TV, newspaper or radio that he is asking to be traded will I be able to forgive the Chargers brass for letting him go.

What are the Lakers without Kobe? Nothing. What would the 90’s Chicago Bulls have been without Michael Jordan? Nothing. What are the Patriots without Tom Brady? Nothing. What are the Chargers without Philip Rivers?…

Would YOU remain a Chargers fan if Rivers gets traded Thursday?

After long thought on the matter I arrived at this conclusion: I have been a Chargers fan since day one and that was three and a half decades ago. The Chargers are part of who I am. I have seen them all come and go both ceremoniously and unceremoniously. I have seen good, bad and inbetween. Without the Chargers I am a man without a country sports-wise. There’s no NBA team, no baseball team, no college team aside from my Alma Mater, N.C. State, that I root for nearly as feverishly. Leaving my Chargers would be like losing a family member.

I’ve been in the trenches with this team too long. I’m past the point of no return with this team. I want my casket to be in Chargers colors and the date(s) we win the Super Bowl to be inscribed upon it. Love won’t allow me to leave but I understand more practical, less emotionally invested fans leaving the Chargers ranks over a move like this. Let’s all hope it doesn’t come to that.

 

Bolt up!!

 

 

The Greg One

 

 

 

#TelescoMagic

 

Mariota Heisman

 

Wondering whether or not Tom Telesco has the name “Marcus Mariota” inked on the white board for draft day? Let’s take a look at what his being on the Chargers roster could provide.

Measurables:

Height: 6’4″
Weight: 218 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.52 seconds

Analysis:

Marcus Mariota is currently projected as one of the top-two quarterbacks entering the 2015 draft. While at the University of Oregon, he primarily worked out of the shotgun formation. The shotgun formation is one that Philip Rivers likes and the Bolts presently utilize most. Combined with his ability to run for yards, the former Oregon Ducks quarterback could be a dual-threat in San Diego’s offense for many years to come. His speed will be something that defenses will need to take into account, as it helps him escape from the pocket.

In his 41-game college career, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, and had a touchdown to interception ratio of 105:14. For his final season, he had 4,454 yards passing with four picks and 42 touchdowns (a 68.3 completion percentage), while leading the Ducks to a 12-1 record in 2014. Additionally, he rushed 117 times for 669 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Summary:

Regardless of what team drafts Mariota, he will most likely need to sit behind a veteran QB for a bit while he learns to better read defensive schemes, identify pre-snap blitzes and recognize when he should step up into the pocket rather than attempt to escape from it.

The NFL comparison for Mariota is Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback. They are of similar stature, though at 233 pounds and almost 6’5″, Kaepernick is a bit bigger. Even their college statistics are comparable, despite the Niners’ signal caller having more rushes (600), yards (4,112), and touchdowns (59) over four years of collegiate play versus Mariota, who is entering the draft as a junior.

Three of Mariota’s many awards in 2014 were the Heisman Trophy, the PAC-12 Offensive Player of the Year and being chosen as the Offensive MVP of the 2015 Rose Bowl. He was the first player from the University of Oregon to win the Heisman trophy.

 

 

It will be interesting to learn if or when he fits into the big picture for Telesco and company. What do you want to see happen? Please leave your comment below.

Thanks for reading!

#BoltUp!

Cheryl White

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.

 

Round One

erving

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.

Round Two

phillips

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.

 

Round Three

AP

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.

Round Four

Ifo

 

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.

 

Round Five

Mannion

 

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.

 

Round Six

crowder

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?

 

Bolt Up!!

 

 

 

The Greg One

 

 

 

#TelescoMagic

TGC-McCoy-and-Telesco

 

 

Even though the 2015 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, college prospects are still very busy visiting numerous clubs around the league.

There are many reasons as to why players visit NFL teams. Some team’s motives are intended to be a distraction, but others are exactly what many would assume they would be for – to visit a team that plans to select them in the draft.

So far, the Chargers have had eight pre-draft visits; including projected first rounder, Marcus Mariota from Oregon. Pump the breaks, though. What exactly does that mean to Bolt fans? Nothing.

Pre-draft visits are overrated, and here’s why.

 

A missed opportunity at the scouting combine

The NFL combine was established for college football players to perform various tests in front of league coaches, general managers and scouts. During the event, staffs attempt to preview every player on their radar. Yet, they don’t have the opportunity to run them through team-specific drills, ones that fit their team’s scheme. That being said, teams will have their players of interest visit before the draft, in order to gain a better understanding of each player on a one-on-one basis.

 

Post-draft planning

It is well-known that all college players do not get drafted. In fact, out of roughly 3,500 men, only about 250 are drafted. For the remaining players, they start their search for a job. However, there are players who are picked up right away as rookie free agents; ones that had previously conducted a pre-draft visit with that same team. For example, defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe had a pre-draft visit in 2014. That year, he went undrafted and was swiftly picked up and signed by San Diego. Pre-draft visits are not solely scheduled for individuals that NFL teams plan on being drafted.

 

Decoys

The NFL is a business, and those in back office operations have to continuously play a game of poker. It’s almost like wearing sunglasses at a poker table. There are some general managers that do not want many people knowing who they plan to draft.  So they schedule pre-draft visits with players that they truly have no interest in. Sneaky? Absolutely. And it is far more common than the casual fan would think.

 

Behind the scenes communication

Just because a player hasn’t visited a team for a private session, doesn’t mean that the club hasn’t been in contact with him. With advanced technology, communicating is now the easiest it’s ever been. Voice calling, text messaging, even Skyping are all ways coaches can converse with their college prospects. If you’re worried that your favorite draftees haven’t visited the Bolts yet, then you may want to reconsider the conditions.

 

Teammate insight

Since a lot players that are drafted come from the same schools, it’s possible that a team will host a player just to obtain information on one of his teammates. The Bolts brought in offensive tackle D.J. Humphries of Florida, yet he is also the teammate of outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr., who had an impressive showing at this year’s combine. Even with San Diego needing a legitimate tackle to solidify the offensive line, they do have some gaps to fill at the linebacker position. It’s very possible that Fowlers’ name came up a few times during Humphries’ visit. That’s not to say this was the case, but it is surely a possibility.

 

Overall, pre-draft visits do not always indicate what they imply. College players are visiting as many teams as they can before draft day. Additionally, one should not get worked up about Mariota working out with Philip Rivers in America’s finest city. All rumors aside, teams already have a good indication of whom they would like to take with their picks this year, and these pre-draft visits are just the cherry on top.

 

Briana Soltis
(@BrianaSoltis)

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