Michael Sam

debate

 

Potentially, the biggest name on the free agent market is Adrian Peterson. Sure, Ndamukong Suh will be a close second but with the added morality issue attached to his pending availability, Peterson is the hot button name of the offseason.

To that point, myself and Boltblitz co-editor Mike Pisciotta differ on Peterson becoming a Charger. I am all for it, he is not. Time to take the matter to you, our loyal readers, to see who has the better argument for or against AP in lightning bolts next season. Enjoy.

Greg: To start, I want Adrian Peterson in lightning bolts next season. Peterson, even after a year off, is still the gold standard for running backs in the NFL. Who’s better? DeMarco Murray? Murray has had one good year out of five. Eddie Lacy is still a pup. LeSean McCoy was traded by the Eagles mere days ago. Teams just don’t trade away franchise running backs without damn good reason, and we still don’t know what the Eagles’ reason is. Peterson is the best running back in the game and he’s going to be available to the highest bidder. The Chargers are the perfect fit. So Mike, what reason could you possibly have for NOT  wanting AD (All Day) Peterson in powder blue?

Mike: First off, Greg, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Peterson is still a Viking.  He hasn’t been released, nor is he officially on the trading block.  Yes, the Chargers are rumored to be a potential trade partner.  To your point, teams don’t trade away franchise running backs without damn good reason, so what’s the reason for trading Peterson?  Dean Spanos doesn’t want or need the public relations firestorm that will surely surround a trade for Peterson.  Not while in the middle of a push for a new stadium and trying to gain public support.

Greg:  Peterson is on the trade block because he wants out!  He feels disrespected by the organization for the way they strong-armed him into going onto the Commissioner’s exempt list last season, he feels he didn’t get the show of support he expected from the front office and now his agent’s shouting match with high-ranking team officials during the combine has become public. He might still be under contract, but the writing is on the wall. The Vikings are shopping Peterson without coming out and saying it. It’s funny you mention stadiums because Adrian Peterson in a Chargers uniform just might be what gets the Chargers a new stadium! People will come out in droves to see Peterson and Rivers on the field at the same time! Don’t forget he’s already made his wishlist of teams public and the Chargers are one of them.

Mike: He feels disrespected.  Cry me a river!  Just because he wants out of Minneapolis.  Just because some talking head named San Diego as a possible landing spot.  Just because star-struck fans think he’d be a fit in San Diego doesn’t make him a candidate to play in America’s Finest City.  These same fans wanted Michael Sam in powder blue!  Fact is, anyone with a recognizable name, anyone with an endorsement contract or a headline is desired by the casual fan.  People will also come out in droves against any  form of public support for the Chargers’ stadium effort for bringing on a man convicted in the court of public opinion  for child abuse.  Nobody cares that he pleaded no contest.  Nobody cares he wasn’t humiliated in front of a jury of his peers and convicted.  Do you honestly believe that public sentiment won’t swing further away from the Chargers over this?  The timing is simply awful.

Greg:  You’re making the mistake of lumping him in with the multitudes of middle-of-the-road prospects available at this time every year. This is Adrian freaking Peterson, the one man you can put on the roster of any team and they automatically become a playoff capable team. Even Minnesota. You’re also overestimating the whole court of public opinion angle. I was wondering how long it would take you to get there. AP starts averaging 120 yards and two touchdowns and that morality issue will conveniently be pushed aside. San Diego is the best place for a player who wants to win and keep a low media profile. Winning is the best deodorant and that’s what will happen with Peterson in SD.

Mike:  I’m making no mistake at all, Greg. The Chargers cannot afford to give up a king’s ransom for someone who sat out virtually the entire 2014 season.  He is not a free agent.  Minnesota is not stupid enough to release him and get nothing in return for him.  That leaves trading Peterson.  This would amount to a fool’s errand.  Many insiders have said a trade for Peterson would resemble the 1989 Herschel Walker to the Vikings trade.  Need I remind you of how these same Vikings got fleeced?  In case you do, let’s recap from Wikipedia, shall we?

Players/Draft Picks Received by the Minnesota Vikings
  • RB Herschel Walker
  • Dallas’s 3rd round pick – 1990 (54) (Mike Jones)
  • San Diego’s 5th round pick – 1990 (116) (Reggie Thornton)
  • Dallas’s 10th round pick – 1990 (249) (Pat Newman)
  • Dallas’s 3rd round pick – 1991 (68) (Jake Reed)
Players/Draft Picks Received by the Dallas Cowboys

Truth is, Chargers have way too many holes to pull off a trade of this magnitude.  It would be career suicide for Tom Telesco, not to discount the aforementioned public relations firestorm.

Greg: What you fail to realize, Mike, is Peterson has the all  the leverage with the Vikings. Peterson will account for 15.4 million against the Vikings salary cap. The Vikings will obviously want to restructure his contract to make it more cap-friendly. They owe him 12.5 million if he suits up for them this season. With all the ill-will between the sides, what reason does he have to want to do anything to help the front office that has shunned him and looked to distance themselves as far away as possible from his off-the-field transgression? If Peterson flat-out refuses to redo his deal, the Vikings are hamstrung in free agency and their chances of fielding a contending team are greatly compromised. At that point, the Vikings would look to move AP.

After what you’ve seen the last two seasons, do you really think Telesco would get fleeced the way the Cowboys took the Vikings to school in 1990?  C’mon, Man! We know Telesco is one of the most capable GM’s in the league and we’ve commended him (for the most part) for doing so much with so little money. In Telesco we trust, right? We know a deal coming from his office will be a good deal for the Chargers. Give the Vikes a few draft picks. Give them Mathews (please!!) You know why? With AP on the Chargers, SD’s picks are going to be in the high 20’s or (dare I say it) low 30’s anyway because the Chargers will be playing in the championships at the end of the playoffs! That’s what this type of move says, Super Bowl or bust!

Mike: Greg, what leverage?  Trade me or I sit out another year?  What kind of leverage is that?  That’d be akin to the kid sitting in the corner holding his breath until he gets his way!  I’d love to cite Saturday Night Live’s Dan Aykroyd right about now.  I’ll give you this, you’re right about the or bust part.  Trading for Peterson will equate to Los Angeles, make no mistake about it.  But, enough of the politics that will surround this acquisition.

If Telesco even desires Peterson (and I say he’s making a mistake if he does), I say hold out, force the Vikings’ hand and make them release him so there’s no trade liability there.  The Chargers need a NT, depth at linebacker, depth at WR on top of needing a running back.  Telesco can’t afford to surrender draft picks that are needed to fill holes!  What idiot would pay a king’s ransom for a player in a position the game has devalued?  The draft class is running back rich, so they can get younger and faster at a fraction of the cost.  I can’t believe you don’t recognize that.  Additionally, they can’t trade your favorite Charger anyway, he’s not under contract come Tuesday.

Greg: The only thing dumber than not moving a disgruntled player is paying the man 12.5 million to stay home! That’s Raiders stupidity. I don’t think the Vikings would go that route. You are right that Telesco will be best suited to force their hand and wait for him to get cut. The GM would be a fool not to look at ways to acquire Peterson but he’s not a king’s ransom type of guy and we all know it. While they’re waiting for the shoe to drop in Minny, sign line help and draft skill positions for depth.

Contrary to what you think this is not a Los Angeles move, this is a stay in San Diego play. This is a last ditch effort to rouse enough interest to get the fan base to come out and vote for keeping the team in the city because there is a team worth watching within it. The buzz Peterson brings will move PSL’s and fill the Q to the rafters. Knowing Rivers finally has a reliable running game will renew faith in the team. The bolts will have a true home field advantage!! Make no mistake, Peterson makes the Chargers a Super Bowl favorite!

Aside from cost of acquisition and media relations, you haven’t given me any other reason he shouldn’t be on the team. We’ve already agreed there are ways to get him without costing the team a fortune in picks and players. Media? Meh. He’s not the first player to have issues in San Diego. Remember Vincent Jackson? How about the Mantei Te’o catfishing black eye?  All those issues were non-issues in the media landscape outside of San Diego. The Chargers were in the market for Suh and they were also in on Steve Smith last year so it’s obvious they have no aversion to players with problems.

Mike: Greg, you’re naive if you think this won’t result in a public relations nightmare.  You can’t compare VJax’s or Suh’s or Smith’s on-field or locker room issues to Peterson.  He pleaded no contest to beating his kid!  What’s worse, is if he had it to do all over again, he’d do the same thing!  Right or wrong, he’s labelled.  He’s damaged goods and Telesco is a fool if he brings him in.

Peterson is 30 years old in May.  That’s 75 in running back years.  He won’t be the effective player he was.  He missed all of last year, save one game.  This is a “what have you done for me lately” business and in 2013, he ran for as many yards with as many carries as Ryan Mathews.  You want Mathews strung up, tarred and feathered and burnt at the stake!  Where’s the upgrade?

Greg:  You’ve heard of separation of church and state, right? In the sports world, there’s separation of on-the-field and off-the-field. Basically, the child abuse case will be an afterthought to the football loving public. I am in no way condoning what he did but he has to lie in that bed now. The Chargers are not culpable for his actions a year ago. Sure, there will be a media circus when mini-camps begin. It will carry into the preseason and maybe the first couple regular season games. After that, it’s all about the football and how he’s performing on the field.  Most likely, there will be a big press conference to clear the air and allow everything that needs to be said to be said. After that, there will be no more answering of questions on the subject. We’ve seen this continually with superstar players through the years, most recently with Alex Rodriguez.

Speaking of on the field, if you had to put your money down on a 30-year old running back, who better than Adrian Peterson? Two years ago he returned from a horrific ACL injury and ran for over 2,000 yards! He came nine yards short of achieving the highest single season rushing mark in NFL history! Not counting last season, in his eight year career he has missed eight games. Eight! In only seven years he ran for 10,000 yards! Those are just rushing yards, we haven’t even discussed his ability to receive out of the backfield in which he also excels. The man runs with remarkable power and breakaway speed. He is the definition of a freak athlete and now he will be coming back after what was basically a year off. He is going to be angry and motivated and he might shatter the rushing record by a mile this time around. So yes, I will hitch my wagon to this 30-year old every day and twice on Sunday! And on that last Sunday I will dance hardest because he and Philip Rivers will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy!

Mike: Nice dream, Greg.  But let’s face facts.  His shelf life has expired.  If he were a loaf of bread, he’d be in the go-back basket.  He fell way off after that 2000 yard season.  He fell all the way to Ryan Mathews’ 2013 numbers.  He was just an average Joe in 2013, and Minnesota quarterback couldn’t hold a candle to Philip Rivers.  Remember how San Diego’s beloved LaDanian Tomlinson’s numbers fell off?  I love LT to death and hated to see him go, but numbers are numbers.  Same goes for Peterson.  He’s past his prime as a running back, and no way will he come even close to the star-crossed numbers you describe.  In the Charger offensive scheme, with the talent they have in the receiving corps, the featured back will not thrive.  I want Philip to hoist the Lombardi, but I don’t think Adrian Peterson will contribute to that success.

There may be no more answering of questions on the child abuse subject, but locals won’t forget that.  Let’s not forget the non-fan who may be swayed to vote in favor of keeping the team in town.  Signing Peterson could be the proverbial nail in the coffin.

Greg: I will end on this note. You’re right. Numbers don’t lie so here’s your numbers. That season you said he ‘fell off’ after the 2000 yard season, he was fifth in the league in rushing. He had 1266 yards and he missed two games! I’m happy if my starting running back ‘falls off’ to fifth place in the league! That season the Vikings were 28th in the league in passing and they were 14th in rushing on his ability alone. Peterson averages 1400 yards a year from scrimmage, is durable, he beats eight man fronts with ease and his presence is going to open up the entire passing game for Philip Rivers.  Think of the threat of play action alone! Eight men in the box is going to leave Antonio Gates one-on-one in the middle of the field. Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd are going to stretch the field vertically and defenses won’t be so quick to blitz Rivers knowing they have to account for the dump off to Peterson in the passing game. Add in some grunts on the offensive line to open holes and that’s a recipe for an unstoppable offense.

Morality wise, who are we to judge? We’re not looking to hire him to be CEO of our company. We’re not voting him to be the next President of the United States. We’re not looking to him to be our role model. Peterson has had his day in court and it’s over. Life goes on. He’s not the first athlete in the NFL to exhibit questionable judgement off the field and he won’t be the last. A team is going to give him a chance. Why not us? That’s a question you’ve failed to answer in my opinion.

At the end of the day we want the best players to help our team WIN. That’s it. We want the Chargers to win a Super Bowl and Adrian Peterson can be a huge piece of the puzzle in the form of a solution to fixing the running game. Peterson. Woodhead. Oliver. Who can stop that three-headed monster? Nobody. That’s why we make the deal. Everything else will follow. The stadium. The Ring. The vindication.

Mike: It’s clear that Greg and I do not agree when it comes to Adrian Peterson in lighting bolts.  He makes very compelling arguments in favor of pursuing and I feel my arguments are compelling against him coming to San Diego.  What do you, loyal Boltblitz readers have to say?

 

 

 

What Should The Chargers Do?

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The final cuts have come and gone. All 32 teams reduced to the league-mandated 53 man roster. Now the games begin. Teams kept players they hope to sneak through waivers to put on the practice squad while they comb through the waiver wire to look at the 600+ cuts made across the league, looking to fill any gaps they feel still remain.

With these cuts come the uninformed comments on social media saying let’s go sign this guy or that guy. Why? Because he has a name they recognize. Ironically or not, the same folks making these statements are the ones pushing the panic button over a 2-2 preseason record. In the interests of keeping it clean, I will refer to these folks as “star chasers”.

Let’s take a look at a couple of these and why the desired is an ill-advised move for the Chargers.

Champ Bailey. Released by New Orleans, his best years are clearly behind him. While there’s no disputing his first-ballot Hall of Fame credentials, he doesn’t belong wearing lightning bolts. At 36, he’s lost a step too many and had an injury-plagued training camp. Besides, the cornerback position looks pretty strong with Brandon Flowers, Jason Verrett, Steve Williams, Shareece Wright, Richard Marshall and rookie Chris Davis.

Michael Sam. He didn’t survive the Rams’ final cut and no team picked him up. I’m not worried about Sam being a distraction for the Chargers. After all, the whole Mantei Te’o circus blew out of town after he was drafted last year without as much as a whimper. Could his being open about his being gay scared teams away? Maybe, but why is Sam not a fit for the Bolts? He played Defensive End in college in a 4-3 scheme and the Chargers employ a base 3-4 defense. A 4-3 DE is a lot different from a 3-4 DE or OLB. A 4-3 DE doesn’t drop back in coverage and that can’t be taught over night. Again, with Jerry Attaochu, Dwight Freeney, Melvin Ingram, Jarret Johnson and Tourek Williams, barring injury of course, OLB isn’t a high concern.

Leon McFadden. OK, I get it. He played for the Aztecs. He was released by the Browns, kids! The Cleveland Freakin Browns! At any rate, the Jets claimed him anyway. The Chargers play the Jets in Week 5, so maybe we’ll be crying in our Cheerios, maybe we won’t. Besides, who would he replace?

Some times we as fans spend too much time dreaming and grasping at players because of their name without looking at whether they’d even be a fit for our team. As fans, we have to look past the name and look at the player’s fit against scheme and against the current roster.

The passion for our team is fantastic, but let’s stop and think before we start chasing names.

VanNoy

 

 

Everyone and their dog has a mock draft out these days. The Greg One is not one to be left out of the fun, so here it is, people. I’ll be adding one more to the ever growing list of seven-round educated (and not-so educated) guesses called a mock draft. I have been keeping an eye on prospects and listening to the talking heads on tv and radio for some perspective. Mind you, these are the same pundits who predicted the Chargers would finish at the bottom of the AFC West last season while your friend The Greg One correctly predicted the Chargers record within one game (my guess was 10-6) and the Chargers making the playoffs when none of the ‘experts’ would. Sometimes the best information comes from someone close, passionate about their team but also sees their team realistically. Suck on that ESPN!

Also keep in mind that in my 2013 Chargers mock draft I was one pick away from being dead on. I had the Chargers choosing Alabama guard Chance Warmack as the Chargers selection and he was chosen one pick before the Chargers selected, going to Tennessee with the 10th pick right before the Chargers picked at 11. The Chargers took Alabama right tackle DJ Fluker and had a great season. Still, I had the position (offensive line) and even the school (Alabama) correct, which is more than Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay did. Now that I’ve built my pundit resume to impossible, only a dead on pick will do kind of level,  here is my Chargers seven round mock draft!

Round One: Louis Nix III, DT Notre Dame.  The Chargers have a gaping hole at defensive tackle after the departure of Cam Thomas this offseason. The Chargers are left with Sean Lissemore and the injured Kwame Geathers as the only nose tackles on the roster. There is no one of note left on the free agent market which makes this the biggest priority to fill through the draft, slightly ahead of the secondary. CB’s Justin Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard and Bradley Roby will be long gone as will safeties Ha Ha Clinton Dix and Calvin Pryor. Nix is the best pure nose tackle in the draft and will be reunited with teammate Manti Te’o, easing his transition to the team. Renewing the chemistry they had in college will be an added benefit on the field.

Round Two:  Kyle Van Noy DE/OLB BYU. The Chargers are keeping a close eye on Van Noy, who has had a visit with the team and has said he would love to play for the Chargers. Van Noy is a high motor, disruptive force blitzing from the edge. His specialty is rushing the passer but drops into coverage very well and is solid against the run. Van Noy will be a great addition from a depth standpoint and has outstanding veterans around him to learn from. Even with offenses designing plays to go away from him, Van Noy logged 68 tackles with 17.5 for loss, four sacks, two interceptions and seven batted balls.

Round Three:  Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama. Kouandjio stock is dropping after a sub-par showing at the combine including a failed physical. His surgically repaired knee has received a clean bill of health from the esteemed Dr. James Andrews. The Chargers will most likely trade up, sacrificing a late round pick (6 or 7) to get high enough in the order to make the selection, but taking advantage of another first round grade talent will be too impossible to ignore. The Chargers again reunite teammates as Kouandjio becomes the bookend on the left side to D.J. Fluker on the right side of the offensive line.

Round Four: The Chargers trade their pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the rights to wide receiver Justin Blackmon. The troubled wide receiver was the fifth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft after two seasons as an All-American receiver for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Blackmon is currently suspended following his second violation of the league’s substance abuse policy and was recently cited for a one-car incident when he ran his SUV into a guard rail  and landed in a ditch last month. Fortunately, there was no alcohol involved which would’ve lengthened his suspension. Blackmon can apply to be reinstated before the start of the 2014 season but chances are the Jaguars may be looking to rid the locker room of his presence.

A change of scenery and a fresh start with a new, contending team can be the perfect scenario for the 24-year old Blackmon. A bona fide deep threat, he will provide the perfect complement to Keenan Allen. Blackmon was only making 1.2 million so a new contract will be easy for GM Tom Telesco to negotiate.  If the opportunity is there, Telesco should make the deal.

Round Five: De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon. Telesco wants to improve team speed and you won’t find many in this draft faster than De’Anthony Thomas. At Oregon’s pro day Thomas posted a 4.34 and 4.35 40 yard dash times. Thomas is electric in the return game as he had four return touchdowns for Oregon in his three-year career. Thomas was a standout member of Oregon’s track and field team anchoring the 4×100 relay for the team that made it to the 2012 NCAA Championships.  Thomas is a great 10-15 carries per game running back but does not have the body to be an every down back. He can be a specialty back in the vein of Darren Sproles or Danny Woodhead as he is a great receiver out of the backfield and operates best in space.  Speaking of whom, Woodhead is on the second year of his two-year contract with the Chargers. Thomas would be a great insurance policy/heir apparent if Woodhead gets injured or leaves in free agency next season.

Round Six: Terrance Mitchell, DB Oregon.  Mitchell’s stock dropped at the draft combine when he ran  a 4.69 40-yard dash time. Mitchell is a little undersized at 5’11 but makes up for it with impressive ball skills and instincts. Mitchell stared 38 games for the Ducks and played in high-profile games against the best receivers the Pac-12 had to offer. Mitchell had five interceptions last season as a season-long starter. Mitchell’s excels in press coverage and knows how to use his hands and body in coverage. Mitchell is a playmaker who will also be a valuable contributor on special teams.

Round Seven: Michael Sam, DE Missouri. Sam was the story of the day for about a week when he came out, making him the first openly gay player to take the field in the NFL. However, the story didn’t do anything to his draft stock and he has been forgotten amidst all the draft hoopla. Sam would be a fantastic bargain here as the Chargers are woefully thin all across the defensive line. Like Te’o the year before him, San Diego will provide shelter from the harsh media scrutiny of other NFL cities and allow Sam to thrive.

The Chargers most likely won’t have a seventh round pick. I expect the seventh round pick to be used in a trade up scenario or in the Blackmon trade. Similarly, a team like the Ravens or Steelers will take Sam in an earlier round. However, he will be a late day three pick if he gets chosen at all. If he’s there the Chargers will take him but if he’s gone and the pick is not traded the Chargers will more than likely stash a quarterback like they did last season with Brad Sorensen.

I only took one defensive back because the Chargers will also gain the services of defensive back Stevie Williams, who was chosen with a fifth round pick in last season’s draft. Williams missed all season with a torn pectoral muscle.

The (mostly) unintentional coupling of past teammates will only serve to improve team chemistry and provide a mentor-like relationship in the cases of Fluker and Kouandjio; Te’o and Nix. The team adds valued speed with Blackmon and Thomas and the defense gets much-needed depth with a handful of blue chip prospects.

 

What do you think Boltfam?

 

Bolt Up!!

 

#TelescoMagic

 

 

The Greg One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

draft

Alright, I tried to get this done and out before the combine started, better late than never I guess. As some of you know I am in Afghanistan right now and with the war winding down they are closing over half my base so we have had to move our sleeping tents and are moving our flightline. Due to this, I will be a little slow putting stuff up over the next month. Good news is, in 35 days…I will be back in AMERICA!!

But enough about me, lets get to the reason you are really here…football.

When putting this together I was trying to keep a few things in mind. First, all the holes we need to fill. Second, I ignored any potential free agents we might bring in for now. Third, what I think is important to bring to this team in a player.

I did throw one trade in here, I had us trading out of the 3rd round with the Browns. The Browns have a TON of picks this year which makes it easy for them to move up if the mood strikes them. There is no real basis for this trade, other than there were more players in the 4th that I wanted rather than settling for one in the 3rd.

To keep it semi-realistic I used Walterfootball.com’s Pick Value Chart so neither team was getting “ripped-off.” Our 3rd round pick (89) is worth 145 “points.” Their 2 4th round picks (102 + 129) are worth a combined 141 “points” which is close enough to work.  I also used walterfootball.com’s mock drafts and player rankings to guesstimate where a player might be available.

So after all of that blabbing up there, on to the picks!

Round 1, Pick 25:

Ra’shede Hageman 6’6″ 310lbs (NT, Minnesota) / Kyle Van Noy 6’3″ 243lbs (OLB, BYU)

The pick here is Hageman, but Van Noy is my back up as Hageman may not be available.  Hageman is a mountain of a man who is extremely athletic, plays with aggression, and forces opposing offenses to double team him.  He is predicted by many to be the 2nd NT off the board after Louis Nix from Notre Dame.  He is very long at 6’6 with 34 1/4″ arms and uses his length well, keeping offensive linemen from being able to engage and control him.

He has everything you want in a NT that can’t be coached such as size, power, and speed.  Hageman will need coaching to reach his potential though, which is very high by the way.  He does take plays off occasionally when he gets tired and he will need to learn to stay lower.  Hageman would help end the drought of talented NT’s we have had since Jamal Williams and bring another athletic body to our defensive line between Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes.

If Hageman is gone, my pick would be Van Noy.  Van Noy is a hyper athletic OLB.  He has a a variety of pass rush moves and combines a very quick first step with a good anticipation of snap count to burst past the offensive line.  Van Noy makes impact plays all over the field shown by his 26 sacks, 61.5 tackles for loss, 7 INT, 11 forced fumbles, 21 passes defended and 5 TD’s during his 4 years playing at BYU.

Van Noy would bring to the Chargers some much needed pass rush help, but also a defender in the pass game that the Bolts have not had since Donnie Edwards.  With division opponents having a TE like Julius Thomas, and scrambling QB’s like Alex Smith and Terrelle Pryor an intelligent, fast LB like Van Noy would be invaluable.

Round 2, Pick 57:

Ja’Wuan James 6’6″ 311lbs* (OT, Tennessee)

James played RT at Tennessee, however his skill set would actually benefit him more at LT in the NFL.  He is not a driving run blocker like D.J. Fluker, what he is is a great kick and slide mirroring pass blocker.  James uses his long (35″) arms well, keeping pass rushers at bay.  He does not have problems with speed rushers like almost all of our tackles have had recently, and is also big and strong enough to keep the bull rush at bay.  Durability is very important to the Chargers going forward, especially with the recent run of injuries on the O-line, and James has that, starting all 49 of his college games.

Here is what walterfootball.com had to say about James’ day at the combine today:

Tennessee right tackle Ja’Wuan James had a mixed day. He ran some slow times of 5.25 in the 40 with a 1.82 10-yard split. However, James really performed well in the field drills. He showed nice hip flexibility with great feet. He was relaxed and fluid in the mirror drills. James is an interesting prospect that could be steal on Day 2.”

He also received a good review from nfl.com:

Big, strong, heavy pass protector with good balance, anchor strength and hand use to handle power and speed. Does not affect the run game the same way and almost appears more destined for the left side in the pros. Has instant-starter potential.

Round 4, Pick 102:

Rashaad Reynolds 5’11” 191lbs (CB, Oregon State)

Reynolds is a gritty, scrappy CB.  He is aggressive on the line in the press and has good speed to stick with WR’s downfield.  Oregon State had him play a good mix of man coverage up on the line and in the zone lined up pretty far off the line like the Chargers often do.  One of my favorite things about him is that if we picked him, he would show up to camp the best tackler in our secondary, he is that good.  He shows good awareness and timing when turning to look for the ball.  Reynolds is not afraid going up against bigger WR’s and sticks to everyone like velcro.  While he doesn’t have elite speed, his instincts and football IQ keep him in good position to make plays on the ball.  One thing that may hurt him in the NFL is that he is pretty “handsy” with WR’s and makes a little too much contact passed the 5 yard mark.  Reynolds managed 10 interceptions and 29 passes defended during his time at Oregon State.  He went out with a bang, returning 2 fumbles for TD’s in the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl against Boise State.  Reynolds is also very durable, starting 38 consecutive games to end his career in college, something the Chargers desperately need.

Here is what nfl.com had to say about him:

Good functional football player who capped his college career with a game-changing MVP performance in the Hawaii Bowl, where he returned two fumble recoveries for touchdowns. Has starter-quality physical traits and the positional skill to contribute readily in the pros. An underrated clingy cover man with a natural feel for the game.

Round 4, Pick 121:

Michael Sam 6’2″ 261lbs (OLB, Missouri)

Ok, before anyone says anything, he is a football player and that is all I care about.  The Chargers can always use more pass rushers especially with the injury history the Bolts have had lately.  In the 4th round you can afford to take a player based on one spectacular season like Sam had and he would be one of the best pass rushers available at this point in the draft.  This season Sam 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss.  He was always in the backfield.  He has some drop back ability but he is mostly a situational pass rusher.  Yes he would be somewhat of a media circus, but I think we have a positive enough locker room to deal with this, and I know Manti Te’o would be happy to have the spotlight on someone else.

Round 4, Pick 123:

Cody Hoffman 6’4″ 223lbs (WR, BYU)

I was looking for a big WR to pick up in the middle rounds and it was between Hoffman and Martavis Bryant from Clemson.  I ended up going with Hoffman due to his much better hands, his kick return experience, and better body control.  Hoffman goes up and attacks the ball at its highest point well and uses his big strong hands to secure the ball.  He has great body control and can twist and turn in the air and on the run to go back for the ball.  Watching him reminds me a lot of Malcom Floyd and would give us a big red zone target on the edge that Rivers missed this season.  His negatives are his overall speed and his run blocking on the edge.  He won’t break any speed records in the 40, but anything less than a 4.65 I would consider good for him especially after showing up to the combine 13 lbs over his listed playing weight from college.  He finished college with 260 receptions for 3612 yards (13.9 YPC avg) and 33 TD’s.  Hoffman also had 53 kick returns with a 25.1 yard per return avg.

Here is what nfl.com listed as his strenghts:

Outstanding size with long arms. Extends outside his frame and can snag throws outside his body. Wide catching radius. Deceptively quick coming out of breaks. Has NFL pedigree. Experienced, four-year starter. Played through a shoulder injury during 2011 and ’12 seasons. Is tough and durable.

Round 5, Pick 153:

Russel Bodine 6’3″ 310lbs (C, UNC)

This will most likely be Nick Hardwick’s last season.  Behind Hardwick the Chargers did not have a true center last season, Guard Rich Ohrnberger filled in when he was out.  According to chargers.com the bolts have 1 other Center on the roster, Nick McDonald.  However according to nfl.com McDonald has 2 years experience in the NFL with 3 starts and time in 16 games overall, but as a Guard not a Center.  Enter Russel Bodine.  Bodine has already drawn some attention at the combine by putting up a Combine best, so far, of 42 reps on the bench.  He has great size and strength and plays with a very nasty demeanor.  We need to grab someone to groom behind Hardwick and I think Russel Bodine can be that player.

Here is what nfl.com says about him:

STRENGTHS: Carries a load in his punch and plays with vinegar. Can seal and turn defenders in the run game to create small creases. Plays with a mean streak and likes to finish blocks. Is aggressive working up to the second level and efficient cutting linebackers. Rugged competitor. Stout anchor in pass protection. Versatile and has seen action at center and guard.

WEAKNESSES:Stiff-bodied. Plays short-armed and overextends. Average agility. Is late to switch off blocks. Relies too much on his upper-body strength. Mechanics deteriorate the farther he is asked to travel. Slow to adjust to counter moves.In my opinion, all of those weaknesses are just bad habits that can be coached out of him, especially when Hardwick is there to teach him.

Round 6, Pick 185:

Darrin Reaves 5’10” 210lbs (RB, UAB)The Bolts need someone to replace the aging Ronnie Brown and to step in when Mathews gets hurt or tired.  I believe Reaves was snubbed by the league not earning an invite to the combine.  He is a solidly built RB who makes good quick cuts.  Watching a highlight tape of his best runs he almost looked like he was greased up, arm tackles just fall off him as he runs and he pushes hard for yards.  In 3 seasons, 2 as a starter, Reaves amassed 2343 yards on 496 carries (4.7 YPR avg), 27 TD’s (13 and 12 in the last two seasons).  Reaves is also a good receiver out of the backfield with a lot of experience doing it hauling in 77 passes for 652 yards (8.5 YPC avg) and 3 TD’s.

Round 7, Pick 217:

Mike Pennel 6’4″ 332lbs (NT, CSU-Pueblo)

The Chargers need as much fresh depth on the defensive line as they can get.  Mike Pennel comes from a small school but has perfect size for a NT.  He is very strong at the point of attack.  He will need coaching to maximize his potential since he is coming from a small school, but as the saying goes “you can’t teach size.”

Here is what nfl.com had to say about his strengths:

Rare size and body mass. Looks the part with a well-distributed frame and carries his weight well for a 350-pounder. Is seldom moved off a spot. Can lock out and walk back blockers with sheer brute strength. Flashes some violence in his hands. Strong short-yardage/goal-line plugger.”

 

Well thanks for bearing with me through all that, let me know what you guys think, and feel free to submit your own picks and suggestions in the comments.  Remember this is a very early mock draft.  After the Combine, pro days, and what the team does in Free-Agency we will all have a better idea of what might happen and what our needs might be.

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