Immediately after the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft the Los Angeles Chargers set to signing undrafted free agents. In all, 15 players were chosen to come into camp and compete for the opportunity of realizing their dream of making an NFL roster.
The names on this list are largely unfamiliar except to the devoutest college football fans. These are the underdog stories we’ll all root for in hopes they can join the ranks of the Chargers’ legacy of great undrafted free agent triumphs. Look no further than Hall Of Fame bound tight end Antonio Gates and the recently retired wide receiver Malcom Floyd for recent examples.
Here is the Los Angeles Chargers undrafted free agent class of 2017:
CB Brandon Stewart, Kansas
CB Brad Watson, Wake Forest
T Mason Zandi, South Carolina
K Younghoe Koo, Georgia Southern
LB Mike Moore, Kansas State
WR Artavis Scott, Clemson
LB James Onwualu, Notre Dame
WR Andre Patton, Rutgers
WR Dontre Wilson, Ohio State
QB Eli Jenkins, Jacksonville State
LB Nigel Harris, South Florida
RB Austin Ecker, Western State
C Dillon Deboer. Florida Atlantic
CB Michael Davis, BYU
TE Sean Culkin, Missouri
There are a lot of great underdog stories among this group that will be brought to light in upcoming UDFA profiles. Kenkins is a dual-threat quarterback that threw for 2100 yards and eleven touchdowns. He also ran 175 times for 984 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Chargers have never started a ‘mobile’ quarterback. It’s an interesting thought that of all the free agent quarterbacks available, he’s the one they chose. Zandi is a 6″9′-inch, 315-lb. behemoth. Before we get too excited about that prospect, we have to look no further than the recently departed King Dunlap.
The most intriguing prospect and my lock to make the team is Clemson wide receiver Artavis Scott. Scott was the wideout lined up opposite the Chargers number one draft pick, WR Mike Williams for three seasons. The 5″10′-inch, 190-lb. Scott was a freshman All-American, first-team All-ACC his sophomore year and second-team All-ACC his junior year. Entering the draft after his junior year, he caught 76, 93 and 76 passes for a combined 2,480 yards and 19 touchdowns.
The Chargers have made a conscious effort to foster a more collegiate atmosphere by selecting players that were teammates with existing core players. Cases in point, RB Melvin Gordon and FB Derek Watt (Wisconsin); DE Joey Bosa and LB Joshua Perry (Ohio State); K Josh Lambo and P Drew Kaser (Texas A&M). You’d figure taking such an approach helps the incoming player settle in a little quicker seeing a familiar face; a player they battled side-by-side with and won and lost together.
Now the two starting wide receivers from the reigning collegiate National Championship team arrive at the same time. They undoubtedly have chemistry together and will learn and grow together. The Chargers’ wide receivers room is already very crowded but the potential in bringing Williams and Scott through the ranks together and replicating the magic they had in Clemson is too good to pass up.
I, for one, can’t wait to see it!
Any UDFA’s you’re looking forward to seeing? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Over a month ago the San Diego Chargers drafted defensive end Joey Bosa with their third overall pick. Along with Bosa the Chargers drafted two more defensive players. One of them was Bosa’s running mate at Ohio State, Joshua Perry. These look to be great additions combined with the free agent signings of defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and safety Dwight Lowery.
Some Chargers fans are clamoring for the Chargers to switch defensive schemes. I’ll tell you why this can not and will not happen anytime soon. First, I’ll tell you the difference between the two schemes. For the purpose of this piece it will just be a base 3-4 scheme versus the base 4-3 scheme. After this I will give my opinion on why switching schemes wouldn’t be beneficial for the Bolts moving forward.
I’ve stated in a previous article (Bolt Up For Bosa) that the Chargers only run their base scheme about 50% of defensive snaps. It’s these 50% of snaps I will be focusing on. That being said what is a 3-4 defense? It has been used famously by Bum Phillips, the father of Wade Phillips.
Used by the Houston Oilers in the 70’s, it’s predicated on pressure by overwhelming the offensive line with multiple attacking defensive players. If used correctly this scheme can be virtually unstoppable. This was defensive scheme used most brilliantly by the Denver Broncos to defeat the Carolina Panthers in this past years’ Super Bowl.
The 3-4 was the staple of Dick LeBeau’s defense which helped drive multiple teams to Super Bowl appearances. Lebeaus’ defense has yielded two wins and four losses in the Super Bowl. In New England, the 3-4 has been the driving force behind the Patriots dynasty. Yes, Tom Brady has made his throws but its been the defense that’s given the Patriots four Super Bowl titles in 15 years.
Breaking it down the 3-4 consists of three down linemen and four linebackers. The four linebackers have endless possibilities on how they can be placed. There’s a multitude of packages to utilize. This makes the 3-4 a hard defense to plan against. With four linebackers you don’t know who is blitzing or who is dropping back in coverage. The point of a 3-4 defense is mismatches. It’s built to stop the run and apply endless amount of pressure on the opposing teams’ offensive line. In theory, the Chargers should be good at run-stopping although this has been the Achilles’ heel of the defense over the past several years.
Here’s a diagram of a basic 3-4 defense.
So how will the Chargers look defensively? Let’s start with the defensive line. At left defensive end will be Corey Liuget. Anchoring the middle will be nose tackle Brandon Mebane. At right defensive end will be Joey Bosa. At weak side outside linebacker will be Jerry Attaochu. The inside linebacker will be Manti Te’o. The middle linebacker will be Denzel Perrymen. The strong side linebacker will be Melvin Ingram.
Anchoring the back end of the defense from left to right will be left cornerback Jason Verrett. At Free Safety will be Dwight Lowery. Next to him will be strong safety Jahleel Addae. The right cornerback will be Brandon Flowers. Keep in mind this is how it stands right now. A lot depends on training camp and if the Chargers sign other free agents.
So now know how the Chargers will run their basic 3-4 defense. What is a 4-3 defense? The base 4-3 first came to us under Tom Landry when he was the Giants defensive coordinator in the 1950’s. He then made it even more famous with the Dallas Cowboys and through their vaunted “Doomsday” defense. Ever since, there’s been multiple variations of the scheme from the Bill Parcells stack defense to the Wide-9 defense famously used by the Philadelphia Eagles.
On to the basis of the 4-3. It’s four down linemen and three linebackers. In its most basic form the four down linemen will always have their hands in the ground and be in pursuit of whomever has the ball. The three linebackers are in charge of coverage in this base defense although they may blitz in certain packages.
Here’s a diagram of a basic 4-3 defense.
The Chargers run a variation of the 4-3 in a hybrid nickel package. The nickel package features Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu with their hands in the dirt. The 3-4 defense has been implemented since 2001 when Marty Schottenheimer took over as head coach. Since then the Chargers have had a few dominant defenses in ’06, ’07, ’09 and 2010. Its been proven very effective when the right pieces are in place. In 2016 this is such the case. My main reason for this belief is Joey Bosa and the signing of cornerback Casey Hayward. The Hayward addition was an amazing pick up.
It’s all about the anchor of the 3-4, the nose tackle. A viable anchor is something the Chargers have lacked for so long. Since the days of Jamal Williams its been a revolving door at this position. Brandon Mebane probably didn’t make headlines to the casual Chargers fan. I believe this is the most underrated pickup of the whole offseason. Mebane can garner double- and sometimes even triple-teams.
This defense, hell, this whole team is going too shock a lot of people. As I said earlier the 3-4 requires almost pure selflessness from its three down linemen. It starts with Mebane. I may call him Bane by seasons’ end. If you know Batman then you understand the reference. Its been five years in the making with this defense. Why change philosophies now when this defense is so close to grasping greatness? Its proven to be a dominant defense in the past. It can and will be for years to come.
Roger Staubach once said, “In any team sport, the best teams have consistency and chemistry.”
General Manager Tom Telesco drafted rookies and signed veterans in free agency who have ties to each other. If he did not do this on purpose, then he got very lucky. Players who already have chemistry might be the best thing Telesco has done in the offseason.
The Chargers drafted Joey Bosa of Ohio State with the 3rd overall pick of the draft. As the NFL world was discussing this shocking pick, the Chargers drafted Joshua Perry with the 102nd overall pick. Perry, a 6-foot-4, 254-pound linebacker, was also a Buckeye. Bosa and Perry already have chemistry from playing defense together at Ohio State. This should help them both transition into the Chargers’ defense.
During free agency, the Chargers signed wide receiver Travis Benjamin from the Cleveland Browns. With the 175th overall pick, the Chargers drafted OLB Jatavis Brown from Akron. This pick will not only boost the Chargers’ defense, but also reunite childhood neighbors. Although Benjamin is four years older than Brown, they knew each other because they lived only two houses away from each other in Belle Glade, Florida. Not surprisingly, Brown looked up to Benjamin and he became his idol. Benjamin, in turn, had followed Brown’s high school and college career, becoming one of his biggest cheerleaders. The 2016 Chargers’ offseason brought these two together to play on the same team and they couldn’t be happier about it. This is chemistry that is rarely found in the NFL.
Last year, the Chargers shocked the fans by letting kicker Nick Novak go, replacing him with undrafted rookie Josh Lambo from Texas A&M. This year, the Chargers shook up the special teams again with the release of punter Mike Scifres.
Scifres will go down as the best punter in Chargers’ history! The replacement for Scifres, Drew Kaser, was drafted with the 179th overall pick. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound punter also played for Texas A&M. Kaser will have big shoes to fill, much like Lambo did last year. Lambo, already having a relationship with Kaser, will be able to help him get acclimated to the NFL during his rookie year, as Lambo can share his experience being the new guy replacing the “really good old” guy!
Last year’s first-round pick, Melvin Gordon, had a less than stellar rookie year. Gordon never reached the endzone and was benched a couple of times after multiple fumbles. Many would argue that Gordon would play better during his rookie campaign, and much like he did in college, with the addition of a fullback. Not only did the Chargers draft a fullback, but they drafted Gordon’s fullback from the University of Wisconsin. With the 198th overall selection, the Bolts selected 6-foot-2, 236-pound fullback Derek Watt. This will be the best pick regarding “chemistry” of the 2016 draft. Watt, although a rookie, will bring motivation to Gordon, who is probably still feeling defeated following the 2015 season. Gordon is a workhorse and will do whatever it takes to have a better season. Having Watt as his fullback will lessen some of the load. This fullback-running-back combo is one to watch this season.
Staubach was right about consistency and chemistry being the ingredients to building a great team. Consistency, though, is the key to achieving that chemistry on a team.
The Chargers have added some new unique chemistry via free agency and the draft. The football gods just need to show the Bolts some mercy and allow the team to have a season without the plethora of constant injuries.
Telesco is a smart man. These ties to other players do not seem to be a coincidence. He definitely thought about the impact of having players that already have some chemistry to help individual transition into the NFL.
Let’s hope this science experience, of sorts, helps turn around the 2015 4-12 team in the 2016 season.
Since the end of free agency all the focus and attention has been who the San Diego Chargers were taking with the third pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. So many rumors and names were thrown around prior to the draft. Chargers Nation feared the worst. Ronnie Stanley was widely rumored to be the pick. Well thank God these couch GM’s aren’t actually making the picks. Chargers GM Tom Telesco made the pick and boy did he make a good one. With that third pick the GM chose:
Joey Bosa DE Ohio State
Virtually a unanimous number one pick before 2015 college football season his stock seemed to take plunge with worries about his first step. I even questioned his motor at times. That notwithstanding I love this pick! Telesco shows that defense needs to be the priority. With an aging Philip Rivers the defense needs to start setting the tone instead of the offense. Taking Bosa ensures a man with unmeasurable talent will be manning our front seven for years to come. Bosa is a phyiscal freak and his brute strength gives him power to bull rush opposing offensive linemen.
Where does he fit in our Scheme?
Truth be told the Chargers only run our base 3-4 defense 50% of the time. The other 50% is a 4-2-5 (4 Defensive linemen 2 linebackers 5 defensive backs). In this scheme Bosa can put his hands in the ground and do what he did at Ohio State and play defensive end. The Chargers said he will play defensive end in our 3-4 scheme as well. Bosa’s role will be similar to JJ Watt. Will we see the bolts move Bosa around as well like the Texans do with Watt? Time will only tell.
Will he be a game wrecker?
One thing the Chargers have lacked for years since the days of Merriman and Philips is a true game wrecker up front. Bosa has all the skills and ability to wreak havoc up front. With the addition of Mebane and a healthy Corey Liuget it may be hard to stop Bosa from busting through. Add Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu coming from the outside and this defense could be the best it’s been in years.
Biggest takeaway from the Bosa pick
Joey Bosa wants to be here. He comes to work. He eats drinks and sleeps football. “I don’t have many passions in my life” Bosa said in his interview. “One is football. I love football.” This kid comes from a winning pedigree at Ohio State where he helped lead the Buckeyes to a national title. Oh and who can forget he was rocking that bolo tie! What could be a better sign than that!
It might be a difficult thing to imagine. The reality of not seeing a blue or white jersey with the No. 85 stitched on the back, running out on to the field. That day is contractually expected to happen a couple of years from now, so let’s not get depressed about it yet.
Not one of the four tight ends who backed-up Antonio Gates in the 2015 campaign are with the team now. The most experienced of the players behind him now is 28-year-old Jeff Cumberland, formerly of the New York Jets. The question now is if general manager Tom Telesco can find a guy in the draft that Gates can groom to be his replacement. Or, maybe that person could end up mirroring the All-Pro tight end. After all, back in 2003, the only team that Gatesy had a tryout with was the Chargers. They signed the undrafted former Kent State Golden Flash player and the rest is history.
It’s possible that TT can find that nugget of gold in Ohio State’s Nick Vannett.
Weight: 260 pounds
40 Yard Dash: 4.85 seconds*
Vertical Jump: 30 1/2″*
Broad Jump: 9’3″*
Arm Size: 34 1/4″**
Hand Size: 10″**
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.20 seconds** (Top Performer)
Has the size, length and hand size that every scout looks for. Aggressive blocker who recognizes his assignments and makes accurate reads when identifying his man. Playing at Ohio State means lining up all over the formation and while there may not be much film to review, Vannett provides positional versatility to an offense. Has athleticism and ability to go up and make the tough catch in order to bail out his quarterback. Plucks the ball from the air and will use his body to shade defenders and keep them out of contention over the middle.
A forgotten man too often in the Buckeyes offense, Vannett’s lack of use is not a knock on his talent, just the scheme he played in. Though he has mitts for hands and a body like Gronkowski, Vannett has to learn to shake safeties and use his length to create separation from tight coverage.
His numbers may not be what is expected of a college prospect entering the pros (53 games/55 receptions for 585 yards/six touchdowns) but the talent is there. With Gates as a mentor to help him develop his craft while putting in reps on special teams, Vannett could be a prospect worth pulling the trigger on.
Thanks for reading!
There is much debate over when the San Diego Chargers need to take a serious approach toward finding a replacement quarterback and prepare to move on from Philip Rivers.
Some believe the time is now, while others contend that Rivers still has a few solid years left under his belt.
Whether you agree or not, one fact rings true: Rivers turns 35 at the tail end of this season.
This is not to suggest we dump him on the street right this instant, but to recognize all great things must come to an end.
There is a trend of less and less QB talent entering the draft each year. Couple that with the threat of having to start a sub-par signal caller if the front office does not act soon, and you would think Tom Telesco should be proactive rather than reactive.
This year, where a FCS QB is thought to be the first selected at his position, Cardale Jones could be the diamond in the rough that the Chargers could use.
Weight: 253 lbs
Vertical Jump: 36 inches*
*Top performer at his position at the Combine
Jones brings a championship pedigree to the table. His first three starts for Ohio State were all post-season contests that led to winning his first College Football Playoff Championship.
Many people knock his leadership, but teammates and coaches alike refute those arguments. Jon Gruden also commented on how he immediately took a leadership role in his first game against Wisconsin which resulted in a 59-0 victory.
His size is an obvious strength, as he has no problem seeing over offensive lineman. His 250+ lb frame also helps him absorb hits and bowl over defensive backs when he uses his other strength…
He may not look like it, but Jones can move. He can evade pressure in the pocket and get a throw off or leave the pocket all together and get good yardage.
His weaknesses are correctable. He has such great arm strength that he has a hard time completing short passes that require some touch. He consistently looks for the big play instead of taking what is given to him. He sometimes gets flustered with complicated defensive schemes.
Although Jones only has 11 starts at the collegiate level, he is a great talent who will only get better with reps. He is the definition of a project-QB, who can blossom into a starter in the NFL with time, proper coaching and hard work.
For more on Cardale Jones:
Jarvis Royall (@defineroyallty)
Joey Bosa was everyone’s consensus No. 1 pick before the college season ended only to have some major question marks attached to him. Some people have even dropped him out of the top 10 after Alabama won the National Title. Well, despite all of the naysayers, Bosa is still my favorite player of this draft, and one I think will take the Chargers’ defense to the next level.
Arm Length: 33 3/8″
Hand Size: 10 1/4″
40-Yard Dash: 4.86 seconds
Vert: 32 inches
Bench: 24 reps
Broad Jump: 120.0 inches*
3-Cone Drill: 6.89 seconds*
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.21 seconds*
*Best combine result among his position
Bosa is a monster. There are questions about whether or not he can play in a 3-4 defense and if he has potentially already hit his ceiling. Well, if you watch his tape you will see that he answers both those questions with his play. He is quick off the edge and has shown the ability to play 3-tech. He’s a horse and seems to always be disruptive and always around the ball. Adding Bosa as the other Defensive-End opposite Corey Luiget upgrades the pass defense and the defense as a whole.
The knock on Bosa for me is he seems to be slow off the ball and will take some plays off. Now, we don’t know if he pulled a Jadaveon Clowney and saved his body, or if he really did “take plays off”. If that is the case, with him not going 110%, he could end up being a two down DE, and at the third pick in the draft that is something Telesco is going to have to consider.
Bosa is an instant upgrade and one teams will have to game plan for within time. If Bosa is there at number three, which he should be, Telesco may regret passing him up. He has his flaws, like every rookie, but he is to me the most ready prospect in the draft.
For more on Bosa: For full combine breakdown, click here