Free agent quarterback Robert Griffin III worked out with the Los Angeles Chargers on Tuesday, igniting talk throughout the league, TV and social media. That visit came and went with little fanfare. The most that was reported was that the visit went ‘well’ and was ‘positive’. Not exactly ringing endorsements.
On Wednesday, the news broke that the Chargers have traded a conditional late round draft pick (7th) to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for quarterback Cardale Jones. Jones was a fourth-round pick of the Bills in the 2016 NFL Draft. This could be a game-changing move for the second team to move into Los Angeles in as many years.
Unless you watched the last game of the Buffalo Bills 2016 season, (I thought not), the last time we saw Jones he was holding up the first NCAA National Championship playoffs trophy as a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes. In the first season the NCAA went to a playoff system in the 2014-2015 season, Jones led the Buckeyes to a come-from-behind win over Alabama and defeated a Marcus Mariota-led Oregon Ducks team to win the championship.
In the 2015-16 season he was named a co-starter with J.T. Barrett. That season he had almost as many rushing attempts (153) as passing attempts (167). Ohio State won all 11 games in which Jones had a role in quarterbacking the team.
Jones was literally the last man up in what was an Ohio State quarterback carousel and he led the Buckeyes through the final three games of the season, including the NCAA playoffs. Playing behind J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller, Jones led OSU to a 59-0 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers leading into the playoffs. Take a look at the clip below for a refresher of how that season culminated.
Jones is the epitome of a ‘raw’ talent. At 6’5″-inches tall and 250 pounds he is a dynamic playmaker who can throw the ball a mile and move the ball with his legs. At the combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds, impressive for a man his size. He ran the ball 153 times for 617 yards and passed for 2,323 yards on 167 completions out of 270 attempts.
What led to his acquisition by the Los Angeles Chargers is his familiarity with Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn. Last season, Lynn was the man calling the plays as the interim head coach in the Bills’ season finale. The Bills had fired head coach Rex Ryan the week before. That was the one game Jones played as a Bills quarterback, playing the final quarter after starter E.J. Manuel was benched due to poor performance. In the game. Jones went 6-11 for 96 yards and an interception.
Lynn thought highly enough of Jones from watching his scout team reps and practice habits to convince the front office to trade for him. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Jones cried tears of joy upon being informed he had been traded. The Bills signed a free agent quarterback and drafted a quarterback this offseason, most likely leaving Jones as the odd man out. In L.A., he will get meaningful reps and could land as high as the number two quarterback on the depth chart if he plays to expectations.
Excited for the new start, can’t wait to get to work @Chargers ⚡️
— Cardale Jones (@Cardale7_) July 26, 2017
Jones will be joining former teammates Joshua Perry and Joey Bosa. Undoubtedly they will be excited to welcome Jones to the Chargers. What do you think? Do you like this signing? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
The San Diego Chargers find themselves poised to take the most talented player in the draft from where they sit in the number three slot. The top two slots, held by the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns respectively, will be used on quarterbacks. While Carson Wentz and Jared Goff both grade out to be the top two quarterback prospects in the draft, neither are viewed as a plug-and-play franchise quarterbacks but from where they will be selected in the draft that will be the expectation.
While the jury will be out on the top two picks for the next four years, it put the Chargers in control of their own destiny. The top choice on their big board will be available when their number is called. The right pick can result in a stalwart player who is a day one starter, perennial All-Pro and Hall Of Fame worthy. The wrong pick can set your team back years.
Should the Chargers consider trading down?
It depends on how far down and what the Bolts receive in return. The short answer is no. There is an embarrassment of riches at the top of the draft then it devolves into a guessing game with each passing selection.
Which player is the Chargers golden ticket?
There are only three names that need to be considered with the number three selection. That’s it, three. Any other selection is an out-an-out fail. Those three players are (in my order of preference):
1. Jalen Ramsey CB/FS Florida State:
Standing at 6″1′ and 209 pounds, Ramsey ran an impressive 4.41 in the forty-yard dash and recorded the best vertical (41.5 inches) and broad jump (135-inches) at his position at the NFL Combine last month. The first freshman to start at cornerback at Florida State since Deion Sanders, Ramsey is an exceptional athlete. In 2015 he won the ACC indoor and outdoor long jump titles.
Ramsey split time between cornerback and free safety in his three seasons at FSU. Over his career he compiled 181 tackles, 22 passes defensed, 15.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries.
Adding Ramsey to the Chargers secondary fills the void left by the departure of Eric Weddle. The Bolts added Dwight Lowery through free agency to fill that position so using Ramsey as a press corner makes a lot more sense. With Jason Verrett and Ramsey covering the top two receivers, Flowers and free agent addition Casey Heyward can come in as slot and nickel corners. The Chargers would instantly have one of the top secondaries in the league.
2. Deforest Buckner, DL, Oregon
Standing an imposing 6″7′, 291 pounds, with 34 3/8-inch arms and the largest hands of anyone at the draft (11 3/4-inch), Buckner is the definition of a freak athlete. He was able to parlay his brute strength and raw athleticism into a successful four-year career at Oregon. As an interior defensive lineman he was able to consistently push the pocket, often able to beat double teams. When he lined up as a defensive end he showed a great nose for the ball as he racked up sacks, pressures and tackles for loss.
At the NFL Combine, Buckner registered a 116-inch broad jump, 32-inch vertical jump and ran the 40 in 5.05 seconds. Those are remarkable numbers when you consider his position and his size. Placing Buckner on the interior defensive line in San Diego alongside Corey Liuget and free agent addition Brandon Mebane would be a huge upgrade and solidify a defensive line that finished 18th against the pass and 6th against the run. Pass rushing has long been a weakness for the Chargers. Adding Buckner to the existing unit greatly improves the pass rush which allows the secondary more time to make plays.
Coming out of Oregon, you know Buckner has a high motor and it shows in his game tape. Over his career he logged 232 tackles, 36 tackles for loss, 18 sacks, 10 passes defensed and 2 forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. Last season, Buckner had 10.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss on the way to being named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
3. Laremy Tunsil, LT, Ole Miss
Laremy Tunsil tips the scales at 6’5″, 310 pounds, 34 1/4-inch arms and 10″ hands. Largely considered to be the best tackle prospect in years, Tunsil has not seen his stock drop despite a tumultuous senior season. Tunsil missed time after suffering a broken leg and dislocated ankle in the 2014 Peach Bowl and ran into off-the-field trouble which caused the NCAA to suspend him for the first seven games of the season.
At the combine, Tunsil did not run or jump and stuck to doing positional drills. There, he wowed those in attendance with his size, fluidity and excellent footwork. At the Ole Miss Pro Day he improved his stock as he did 34 reps of 225-pounds, vertical jumped 28 1/2-inches and broad jumped 9’3″.
This isn’t a fast-forward effect.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 28, 2016
Tunsil is undoubtedly a franchise left tackle but it may raise more questions than it answers for San Diego. King Dunlap took less money to stay at left tackle, which includes playing time incentives due to his recent injury history. Joe Barksdale was re-signed to a four-year deal to stay at right tackle. They make too much money to come off the bench and fans will not be happy to see the Chargers number one selection sitting and waiting for his name to be called.
All three of these players have the potential to be Pro Bowl regulars and Hall Of Fame nominees if they can stay healthy. These are the three best at their position and arguably the three most gifted athletes on the board, period. These are the only three players the Chargers war room needs to be discussing and if any of these three are not the pick, personally, the draft itself was a failure.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Agree or disagree? What name would you add to this list? Remember, we’re talking about someone worthy of the third overall selection in the draft! Post your thoughts below.
The Greg One
San Diego Chargers All-Pro, future Hall-Of-Fame tight end Antonio Gates made headlines this summer when he said he wanted a lighter workload this season. After years of dealing with debilitating plantar fasciitis, Gates looked like his old self as he caught 12 touchdowns, one short of his career high of 13 touchdowns in his breakout 2004 season.
The next touchdown Gates catches will be the 100th of his career, the rarest of air for a tight end. To date, only one tight end has caught more than 100 touchdown passes in NFL history, Kansas City great Tony Gonzalez with 111. Gates will do it in three fewer seasons than Gonzalez.
This will be a season to watch number 85 for a number of reasons. Barring injury, he is most assuredly going to catch number 100. It will be worth keeping an eye on Gates all season to see if Philip Rivers can get him 13 touchdowns this season, placing him at No. 1 all-time for touchdown catches by a tight end.
Fittingly, like Rivers, Gates is also in the last year of his contract.
Can all this talk of wanting a lighter workload be indicative of wanting to complete an unspoken farewell tour in one piece? No one is more deserving of a victory lap than man that revolutionized the tight end position by using his basketball background as a standout frontcourt player at Kent State to become the greatest undrafted free agent in Chargers history.
While it is possible Gates could continue his career beyond this season, the writing is on the wall. It is time for the heir apparent to Gates’ throne to step up and claim it. Who will do it? Let’s look at the candidates.
Ladarius Green: Now entering his fourth season on the roster, the 6’6″, 240 lb. Green was expected to have a breakout year last season. Instead, Gates found the fountain of youth and played most of the snaps last season. Green has shown flashes of potential on offense. The highlight of his season was a 60-yard touchdown grab against Kansas City, where he showed great agility and surprising breakaway speed for a man his size. He’s had three seasons to learn from the master, now it’s time for him to put up or shut up.
John Phillips: The 6’5″, 250 pounder is a seven-year veteran. Used for protection, Phillips proved to be an asset due to his skill as a blocker. During the 15 games he played for the Chargers last season, he lined up at fullback in addition to his tight end duties. He caught one pass for one yard last year, but it went for a touchdown. A knee injury landed him on IR for the last game of the season, but he looks to be ready to go when the new season begins.
David Johnson: Like Phillips, Johnson (6’2″, 260) is entering his seventh season. Signed away from the Pittsburgh Steelers last offseason, Johnson was primarily used as the de facto fullback. He was a good physical point of attack blocker and utilized on special teams. He had one reception for four yards. Expect more of the same this season unless an unknown makes a stronger case for his spot.
Kyle Miller: Two weeks ago the Chargers claimed Miller off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons. The 6’5″, 260 pound product out of Mount Union is a second-year pro. He played one game with Indianapolis in 2012 and was cut from the Miami Dolphins in 2013. Last season he was on the Falcons practice squad. Miller is the son of former NFL quarterback Mark Miller. At 27, he is still looking for his first official NFL reception. In college, he was a three-time Ohio Athletic Conference first team selection as a tight end. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to show what he can do in training camp.
Dave Paulson: The (6’4″, 240) former Oregon Duck spent the first two years of his NFL career (2012, 13) in Pittsburgh. The Chargers signed him to their practice squad shortly after the beginning of last season. Coming from Oregon, Paulson was recognized as a dependable pass catcher and leader. His ability to block will most likely determine whether he will make the team.
UDFA rookies Eric Frohnapfel and Brain Parker: Frohnapfel is an intriguing prospect from a size standpoint. He stands 6’7″ and weights 235 pounds. As a member of the Marshall Thundering Herd he accounted for 37 catches for 420 yards and five touchdowns. If his blocking and route running are on par, he could be an unstoppable red zone target after the staff gets time to coach him up.
The 6’4″, 260 lb. Parker logged similar numbers in college at Albany, where he collected 39 balls for 500 yards and five touchdowns. The two are camp bodies but the scouts have seen enough impressive tape on them to extend invites and give them the chance to make the team. The Chargers obviously won’t carry seven tight ends on the roster, but three on the active roster and one on the practice squad is very likely.
At this point Green, other than Gates, is the only person I would pen onto the opening day roster. Everyone else is expendable. All of these players will have the advantage of being able to watch how a future first ballot Hall-Of-Fame player at their position prepares and trains. They will also have the benefit of having a legend of the game as their position coach in Buffalo Bills’ great Pete Metzelaars. Metzelaars won a Super Bowl ring as an offensive quality control coach for the Indianapolis Colts. It’s up to them to learn and adapt as much of their expertise to their game as they can.
We all look forward to seeing this camp battle play out. Who do you think will secure the role of Rivers’ next security blanket?
The Greg One
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.
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.
Weight: 218 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.52 seconds
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.
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!
Name: Greg Anthony Williams
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
Alias(es): The Greg One, The ‘novelist’ of Boltblitz, Hootie
40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds
Hand size: 10 1/2
225-pound bench press: Nope
Vertical: I’d rather be horizontal
Sports played: Football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, track and field, volleyball, tennis
Role models: Ozzy Osbourne, Philip Rivers, Sam Kinison
Biggest passions: My family, writing, acting, performing. I have had stints as a stand-up comedian, DJ, VJ, and worked in TV, movies and theater since I was 8.
You make that sound like a bad thing… -Yours truly
To BE the man, you’ve got to BEAT the man! -Ric Flair
Not everyone who wanders is lost. -Tolkien
If stuck on a desert island with only…
3 CD’s: Pearl Jam- Ten; My Chemical Romance- Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge; Slipknot- The Subliminal Verses Vol. 3
3 DVD’s: Lord Of The Rings trilogy (counts as 1); Decline Of Western Civilization Pt.2, the Metal Years, Friday
3 Books: It by Stephen King; The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3 little known facts about me: I was a singer in a country/rock band. I was a writer for a NFL fansite called Seahawks Huddle in 2003. I won the Jane Austin Spirit Of The West film award for a student film I starred in called Sure Thing in 1996. That award is still in my former agent’s house somewhere. Haven’t seen her since. (I’ll find you yet…)
On where ‘The Greg One’ came from: High School. We all had nicknames on the student newspaper. ‘The Great One’ was currently in use by Wayne Gretzky so I thought ‘The Greg One’ was a clever spin on it. It’s close enough in sound and it feeds my ego so I kept it. I think i’m the only one who gets it though. I’m my own inside joke.
On Twitter: @LordOfTheGregs. One Greg to rule them all. One Greg to find them. One Greg to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them! You’ll find no bigger LOTR fanboy than me!
On Playstation Network: Saruman316. Representing for the PS3 owners out there! Let’s play! Currently deep into Diablo 3.
Favorite non-NFL sports/teams: NBA-Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, UFC, NCAA football/basketball- N.C. State, Duke, Florida State, Oregon, WWE
Favorite current Charger: Philip Rivers
Favorite All-Time Charger: Junior Seau
On when he became a Chargers fan: The game was rite of passage a in my house. I learned the way a lot of us did, sitting on my dad’s knee. Six years old. Dad’s drinking buddies would come over because we had the biggest TV on the block. It was a Zenith floor model TV that probably weighed 200 pounds. Amidst all the drinking and swearing the guys always tried to keep me involved. ‘Who do you want to win little man?’ They would always ask. Until I got to know who was who I always picked the winner by who had the best looking helmets. The Chargers always had the best looking helmets so they were always my favorite team with the Seahawks coming in second. Keep in mind I grew up on the East Coast. The Redskins were the default every week team and most of my family were Redskins or Cowboys fans. The Chargers were seemingly always on in the 4 pm late game. I was the one weirdo who chose a west coast team!
Greatest Chargers moment: 1994 AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That game stands out because my favorite player, Junior, was questionable to play because he had a pinched in his neck that rendered his left arm useless. Junior played. With that one good arm he had 16 tackles and dominated the game. I’ve seen no better individual performance in a game where that stakes were that high. Seau was literally a one-armed man in an ass-kicking contest, and he won!
Lowest Chargers moment: The game after Seau’s amazing performance, the Chargers lone Super Bowl appearance against San Francisco. The Chargers were boatraced by the 49ers 49-26. As soon as Jerry Rice caught that 80-yard strike over the middle with no one in the picture on the second play from scrimmage, you knew it was going to be a bad day. I held out hope that the Chargers could come back even deep in the fourth quarter (Ok, all we need is to score a touchdown, stop them, score another touchdown, onside kick, score another touchdown…) It was definitely my worst day as a Chargers fan. I knew how great the 49ers were that year but that loss still stings and it will until the Chargers do win a Super Bowl.
On Boltblitz: Dave and I both wrote for another sports site before he decided to form Boltblitz and I hold it as the highest honor that I was the first person he asked me to join him. Boltblitz has been a great part of my life. I have enjoyed meeting scores of Chargers fans at games, tailgates and local events. We share the vision of making Boltblitz the greatest Chargers website in existence and nothing will change that! Thank you all for reading through these last two years, it’s only going to get better!
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?
The Greg One