Several former Chargers made headlines on Wednesday in a flurry of NFL news that hit the interwebs as teams start making moves for the start of their respective training camps.
It looks as if former Chargers’ linebacker Donald Butler has finally found a new home. Via multiple reports, he signed today with the Arizona Cardinals. This is interesting for several reasons. First, the Cardinals and Chargers are scheduled to hold a joint practice before both teams meet August 19 for a preseason skirmish. It will be interesting to see if the Arizona coaching staff can get any productivity out of a player who had woefully underwhelmed in his last few seasons with the Bolts.
Former Charger running back Ryan Mathews is hurt again, and he didn’t even get hurt playing football. The Eagles announced today that they are placing him on the Non-Football-Injury list for an ankle injury he suffered last week when the team was on their CBA- mandated break before training camp. There are literally so many potential jokes here that I can’t even pick one. It looks as if parting ways with Mathews after the 2014 season was the right move for the Chargers. Mathews’ NFL career could possibly be in jeopardy.
In other NFL news, Nick Foles asked the Rams to be released and they obliged him. Via ESPN, the Rams released Foles after he agreed to take less guaranteed money if they let him walk. Foles was benched last season after going 4-5 with six touchdowns and throwing seven interceptions. The Rams drafted Foles’ replacement a few months ago with the 1st overall pick in Jared Goff from Cal.
The New York Jets’ first-round pick, linebacker Darron Lee, signed his contract Wednesday. Lee was one of three remaining first-round draft picks that had not been signed. The others are 49ers’ Joshua Garnett and, of course, Chargers’ Joey Bosa. All three players are represented by the same agent, working for Creative Artists Agency. All three players are fighting for no offset language in their contracts (essentially allowing them to be paid double if they are cut from the team that drafted them before their rookie contracts are up). Many first-round draft picks fight for no offset language, but few get it. It’s unclear whether Darron Lee’s contract has any offset language, but his signing is good news for Chargers fans that the Bosa signing could be next.
Personally, I think these contract disputes are less about the players and more about the “business” of the NFL. I don’t think college players start off as freshman saying, “I want to play in the NFL and have a contract with no offset language.” I think the players and players’ families are talked into these situations by profit-driven, money-hungry agents who take advantage of a vulnerable and critical time in a young man’s life for their own benefit. Hopefully Bosa signs soon and we can all forget about offset language until next year!
Who is excited for training camp to start?!
The countdown to training camp continues, as only 10 days remain until we get our first glimpse of the San Diego Chargers’ full 90-man roster. Of course, I’m optimistically saying 90 because we know 89 of them will be there for sure.
In an ongoing effort to introduce Chargers Nation to players in the program we haven’t heard of, I shine my player spotlight on Tyler Marcordes.
Marcordes signed with the Chargers immediately after the 2016 NFL Draft as an undrafted free agent. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound outside linebacker played in the ACC for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. After redshirting his first year in 2011, Marcordes did not miss a single game the following four seasons at Georgia Tech.
He finally became a full-time starter in his senior season in 2015, posting an impressive 51 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles. In his four seasons on the field, he compiled 102 tackles (67 solo), 14.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, two interceptions, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery. More impressively, of his 53 games only 21 were starts with 19 of those starts in his redshirt junior and senior seasons.
Marcordes greatest moment of glory on the field came during his junior year versus Elon. The play is held in high esteem as an ACC Must See Moment. Check out the footage below.
Marcordes had a great showing at the Georgia Tech Pro Day. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds. That time would have placed eighth among linebackers at the NFL Combine. Marcordes posted a 35-inch vertical jump and broad jumped nine feet, ten inches. He comes from a football bloodline as his father, Bill Marcordes Jr., played linebacker for Illinois Wesleyan. His grandfather, Bill Marcordes Sr., played defensive end at Bradley University on the way to being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 18th round of the 1965 NFL Draft.
Marcordes will have ample opportunity to make a name for himself in training camp, working to crack a very crowded field of linebackers. He showed he can make plays when he’s on the field in college. Here’s hoping he can do the same on the field at Chargers Park and in the preseason. San Diego nailed it with an ACC linebacker last year (University of Miami product Denzel Perryman).
Will Marcordes prove them right again?
He will be #44 in your program. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@TylerMarcordes).
Good luck, Mr. Marcordes.
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.
We are just 48 hours away from the start of the 2016 NFL Draft, live from Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. Picking third, we all now know that the draft truly begins with our beloved San Diego Chargers. The Chargers have the luxury of knowing the first two selections will be quarterbacks, giving them pick-of-the-litter among all the non-quarterback players.
To quote a famous line from comic book lore: With great power comes great responsibility.
The Chargers can not miss with this pick. This must be a player who will be a mainstay for the next decade provided he can stay healthy. We all know that is easier said than done in San Diego. This man must be a building block of the future, someone who can step into a starter’s role from game number one.
Many intriguing storylines are attached to the 2016 edition of the NFL Draft. Here’s a look at the biggest ones on everyone’s minds and lips heading into Thursday night.
1. What will the Chargers do?
San Diego can enlist a franchise player from this spot but will they? Temptation will be heavy to trade down and try to add picks and value. If the Bolts trade down and add picks, the chances of hitting on a prospect increase. The risk is passing on the next big superstar/future Hall Of Fame enshrinee. What to do, what to do…
As we’ve already seen, quarterbacks drive the action in this draft. The number one and two selections have exchanged teams. More movement to acquire the top five quarterbacks on the board will occur, most likely in the first round. Carson Wentz and Jared Goff will undoubtedly go in the first two picks. Expect Paxton Lynch, Connor Cook and Christian Hackenberg to be drafted in round one.
Aside from the rookies, don’t be surprised to see Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Colin Kaepernick traded in the first round. The Philadelphia Eagles (Bradford) and San Francisco 49ers Kaepernick) find themselves in the same boat. Both teams have quarterbacks that don’t want to play for them anymore. Both quarterbacks have plummeted on the field and in overall value. Will the two teams make the best of their bad situations and swap headaches (err…quarterbacks) especially after new 49ers coach Chip Kelly was just fired by the Eagles.
Whether it’s an even exchange or not, the Niners would be helping the coach that has set back their organization untold years. (Insert dramatic music here…) Quarterback desperate teams will rule the first two days of the draft. Sleeper team to be a player in the quarterback sweepstakes: The New England Patriots. You heard it here first.
3. Ole Miss players
There are always players that fall from grace in the draft. It’s most likely that player will come out of Ole Miss. Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil is considered the best offensive lineman on the board in the last five years. Robert Nkemdiche was the chosen one for the number one pick in the draft just six months ago. A handful of off-the-field incidents later, he is not expected to go until the second round or worse. Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is the top-rated wide receiver prospect in the draft despite an unimpressive 4.6 40-yard dash time.
The NFL won its appeal and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will serve his four-game suspension for his role in the Deflategate scandal after all. This dark cloud will manifest itself multiple times during the proceedings, starting with the fact the first round will only be 31 selections due to the Patriots losing their first round draft pick. With the news dropping just 72 hours before the draft, it is sure to be a hot button issue all week long. As mentioned above, this news could also precipitate a move by the Patriots on the quarterback front.
5. Winners and losers
Every year, the talking heads will compile their winners and losers list for the draft as a whole. Some teams will reach way to high for a head-scratcher of a pick. One team will get the ‘steal of the draft’. We’ll all comb the internet and sports channels for the draftniks’ grades of each team.
We all know what’s coming, and like Christmas, we can’t wait for it to get here. We’re anxiously anticipating Roger Goodell taking the podium to thunderous boos as he announces the 2016 NFL Draft is underway and the Los Angeles Rams are on the clock.
The themes are the same, only the names will change. We’ll ogle a players’ smoking hot girlfriend. We’ll shake our head at a couple of players’ choices of suits. We’ll see that big name player plummeting down the draft board and keep a curious watch on how far he slides as if rubbernecking at the site of a car crash. We will watch every pick and celebrate the entire three hours like we’ve never seen it before.
Because football, that’s why.
Are YOU ready?
The Greg One
After suffering an embarrassing loss last week at home to Denver, the San Diego Chargers will have the daunting task of defeating the Kansas City Chiefs on the road at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are red-hot, riding a six-game winning streak and pushing for a playoff spot. San Diego is playing for pride in their last four games as their season has been derailed by a litany of injuries to key players on offense and defense.
Kansas City was also expected to fall into the AFC West cellar after losing their perennial Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles for the season eight weeks ago. Instead, they rallied around each other and have recovered from a 1-5 record to put themselves in playoff contention. Keying their turnaround has been an improved defense led by bookend defensive ends Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Add in an emotional boost from safety Eric Berry (after missing a year and successfully beating Cancer) and you have a defense that has forced multiple turnovers a team record seven weeks in a row.
San Diego has a tall mountain to climb but we all know the old adage about any given Sunday. Last week, the lowly Philadelphia Eagles beat the almighty New England Patriots. Anything can and will happen on an NFL Sunday. The Bolts stand the same punchers chance of winning that the Eagles did. How could if happen?
When the Chiefs have the ball
Kansas City handed the Chargers their worst home loss of the season, 33-3 in week 11. Unknown running back Spencer Ware lit up the Chargers defense for 96 yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a 52-yard run. Running backs Ware and Charcandrick West will look to ground out a victory as they have been doing during their current winning streak.
The passing game has also found life in Kansas City, led by offseason acquisition Jeremy Maclin. Maclin leads the receiving corps with 66 catches for 817 yards and five touchdowns. A close second is tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce has 56 catches for 731 yards and four touchdowns.
Quarterback Alex Smith is known as a game manager but a better adjective would be consistent. Smith doesn’t have gaudy numbers but he also does not turn the ball over. To date, Smith is 246-376 for 2843 yards, 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Smith is also dangerous with his legs. While is isn’t a speed demon, he is third on the team in rushing with 60 carries for 326 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he has run for 19 first downs on the season.
San Diego will have to find a way to generate a pass rush which has been easier said than done this season. For as great as their defensive line has been, the same can’t be said for their offensive line. KC’s offensive line has given up 38 sacks. The Chargers are not averaging two sacks a game as they have 22 sacks on the season. Liuget was third on the team with three sacks. Melvin Ingram (5 sacks) and Jeremiah Attaochu (4.5 sacks) lead the team rushing the passer and will be leaned on to continue to do so. The defense will also have to do a better job bottling the KC ground attack. In the last game the Chiefs had three ground touchdowns and one pick-6 by Justin Houston.
When the Chargers have the ball
Quarterback Philip Rivers is losing targets seemingly every week. Three wide receivers are gone with Keenan Allen, Dontrelle Inman and Stevie Johnson out. Malcolm Floyd is playing through a shoulder injury. During the week, the Chargers enlisted the services of former Charger wideout Vincent Brown. Brown will start in a thin receiving lineup currently consisting of Floyd, Javontee Herndon and Tyrell Williams. The load of a team and a city has rested heavily on the shoulders of Rivers. Somehow, Rivers is third in the league in passing with 3713 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Rivers is also playing through a foot injury and illness he contracted during the past week.
Tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green are the most consistent options Rivers has at this point. The two have combined for 70 receptions for 784 yards and eight touchdowns. Using the underutilized option of playing the two together would open running lanes for Gordon and Danny Woodhead and allow the Chargers to move the ball down the field. In their first encounter, Rivers only managed to 178 yards on 30 attempts without a touchdown.
Rivers has had no help in the running game. Melvin Gordon has not been able to get going and carries the ignominious label of running back with the most carries without a touchdown. Gordon has 565 yards on 155 carries. The Chargers offensive line has had more combinations than an Rubik’s Cube and Rivers has paid for it. The line has given up 30 sacks.
Chargers O-line vs. Kansas City pass rush. Rivers was harassed throughout the first encounter by the stout Kansas City defensive front. Rivers was sacked three times, and gave up the pick six to Houston. Chiefs NT Dontari Poe generates significant pass rush up the middle. If the Bolts offensive line can keep those three in check, Rivers will have time do dissect the Chiefs’ formidable secondary led by Berry and rookie of the year candidate CB Marcus Peters. Peters has 50 tackles, 18 passes defensed, five interceptions, one forced fumble and one touchdown on the season.
This game does not look like winnable on the surface. San Diego has lost seven of their last eight games. Three of their last four games are against the AFC West where they are 0-3 to date. Will the Chiefs be looking past the Chargers? Having Rivers under center always gives the Bolts a chance to win. The Chargers know what to expect now that they have game tape on West and Ware. Rivers had his worst game of the season against the Chiefs. Look for the QB to bounce back and put yardage and touchdowns against the Chiefs. While I won’t go so far as to say the Bolts will win, they will give Kansas City a better battle than the 33-3 beatdown the Chargers suffered at home three weeks ago.
The Greg One
Malcom Floyd has entered his 11th season in the NFL at the impressive age of 34 years old. There were many questions swirling this last offseason regarding whether or not he would enter the 2015 campaign still capable of competing with more youthful opponents. The answer to those questions is clear, and last Sunday’s performance, coupled with a solid offseason with the team, gave a sneak peek of his relentlessness.
Floyd (M80) is one of those age-defying players. Less than two years ago, he suffered a season-ending neck injury during the second week against the Philadelphia Eagles. Not only did he bounce back the following year, he prevailed. Now that he is approaching that time in his career where many consider retirement, the Chargers’ longtime wideout is still showing signs of excellence.
Since joining the team as an undrafted free agent back in 2004, Floyd has built a special bond with Rivers. In 2014, he recorded 52 receptions, logged 856 receiving yards, all while averaging 17.7 yards per reception; giving him one of his best seasons yet. The rapport between the two has given the Bolts hope in clutch conditions.
During last week’s comeback win against the rugged Detroit Lions, Floyd seemed to fly under the radar. Granted, the All-Pro Philip Rivers has more passing options this year, limiting the receptions Floyd would have seen in the past. However, the veteran wide receiver still notched a 29-yard reception in a critical situation. Although he only had one catch, it is worth noting that he did a solid job blocking in the running game from the wide receiver position.
The season is still very young along with many players, but M80 hasn’t showed signs of stopping. Heading into Week 2, the Bolts travel across country to Cincinnati face off against the Bengals. Last week, the Bengals held the Oakland Raiders to a lousy 183 passing yards, while the Chargers notched 388 yards against Detroit. Floyd and the receiving corps has their work cut out for them, but certainly have the opportunity to advance their record to 2-0.
Briana Soltis (@BrianaSoltis)
The end of the 2015 NFL Draft saw general manager Tom Telesco pick up an undrafted kicker in Josh Lambo. Current placekicker Nick Novak re-signed with the team in 2013 on a four-year, $6.6 million deal. Yet, I wondered, why a kicker?
We all know that Novak is one of the top players at his position. The only place it appears his game is lacking is on kickoffs. So then I decided to do some quick research on kickers and/or touchback specialists who are close to Novak in age and entered the league around the same time.
Here is what I found:
Novak, 34, has four place-kicking rivals, and they are all great at what they do. Robbie Gould (Chicago Bears, age 33), Shaun Suisham (Pittsburgh Steelers, age 34) and Mike Nugent (Cincinnati Bengals, age 33) are from the 2005 draft class. Rounding out the list is Josh Scobee (Jacksonville, age 32). Only two were drafted – Scobee in the fifth round of 2004 and Nugent was chosen in the second round of the ’05 class. As of right now, Gould and Suisham are among the most accurate top-20 kickers on a list that also has six other active individuals in a minimum of five years. Mike Vanderjagt is the number one all-time, and former-Charger Nate Kaeding appears as the third. Kaeding and Gould could generally be found in the top-three during the regular season in terms of accuracy.
Looking at field goals, Novak is 120/147 and 81.6%. Gould: 243/284/85.5%; Suisham: 231/275/84%; Nugent: 190/235/80.8. Scobee (80.7%) has made the most attempts with 291, but has missed 56 of them.
When it comes to touchbacks, though, the competition is clearly different. For 2014, Nugent and Scobee both had 37; Suisham 32; Gould 21 (through 12 games) and Novak only had 10. In 2013, they were well ahead of him by 18, almost 2 to 1. While in 2012, they were all about the same and only Gould was over 30.
One other comparison I looked at was there were eight placekickers added after the 2015 draft. Four of those actually went on to sign with an NFL team: Justin Manton (rated number one) to the Baltimore Ravens, Kyle Brindzia (108 career touchbacks and who broke John Carney’s single-season scoring record at Notre Dame) with the Detroit Lions, Ty Long chosen by the Washington Redskins, and Lambo.
So let’s get back to that guy that Telesco signed as an undrafted free agent..
Lambo is 24 years old, 6’0″ and 220 pounds. He was a walk-on at Texas A & M, playing just two years for the Aggies. During his tenure there, he was their most accurate kicker going 111/112 extra points and 21/25 field goals, giving him a career field goal percentage of 84% (a new record for Texas A & M). In 2014, he nailed all 59 of his field goal attempts. However, Lambo’s kicking duties were strictly extra point/field goal attempts, as he only kicked off twice.
While at the Combine, Lambo was 11 of 15 on field goals and showed great distance and hang time. He can be become a dangerous kicker from 40+ yards at the NFL level. The fact that he is a former MLS goalkeeper (FC Dallas from 2008-2011), as well as former US Under 17 and Under 20 soccer player with what sounds like a big leg, might be why he caught Telesco’s eye. Or, he could just be a camp body.
Time will tell.
Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles had one kicker for kickoffs and another for field goals. It’s not likely that the Chargers go that route. I believe, overall, they are happy with Novak’s performance. Lambo has looked impressive on kickoffs during training camp and in the team’s first preseason contest. But can Lambo’s strong leg force the Chargers to carry two kickers on the 53-man roster?
What are your thoughts on this choice of Telesco’s? Please share your them below.
Thanks for reading and Bolt Up!!
There are less than three days remaining until the offseason day we’ve all been waiting for aside from the start of free agency. The NFL Draft will commence with the Tampa Bay on the clock and a whirlwind of speculation surrounding our beloved San Diego Chargers. I will be there in person to see the events unfold and write of it in the days thereafter. After ingesting all the rumors and speculation of the last couple months, I have a feel for the way things go and I am brave (or stupid) enough to put them in print. Without further adieu. here are my top ten fearless predictions.
1. Philip Rivers will NOT be traded. Chargers GM Tom Telesco knows how valuable a commodity he has in Rivers and he’s simply not for sale. Not for Mariota. Not for Winston. Not for a handful of magic beans. No trade. No way. No how.
2. Adrian Peterson WILL be traded. To my chagrin, I have come to the realization that he will not be traded to the Chargers as dearly as I want that to happen. The Vikings know there is no chance in hell Peterson will ever suit up in the Purple and Gold ever again so on draft day he will be gone to the highest bidder. I will stand by my projection that the best they will get is a third round pick and maybe a late round throw in but their first round asking price will not happen.
3. Marcus Mariota will be the second pick in the draft but he will not play for Tennessee, who own the second pick. Not coincidentally, it leads to my next prediction…
4. Marcus Mariota and Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly will be reunited in Philadelphia. All the talk of a Mariota-for-Rivers deal has to make the Eagles happy because they have been largely forgotten in the equation. This will turn out exactly the way we expected it to at the end of the National Championship game. Chip Kelly wants Mariota to run his offense the same way he did at Oregon. Kelly knows there is no one better to run his offense than Mariota. Kelly will get Mariota.
5. To get Mariota, Kelly will trade off his offseason acquisitions. We all thought Kelly traded off his best pieces if he wanted to trade up to get Mariota. The Eagles sent former rushing champion LeSean McCoy packing. They traded away a strong quarterback in Nick Foles. What they did was overload their skill positions in order to make a deal the Titans would want. Let’s examine the facts. They now have DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles as running backs. They now have Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and Tim freaking Tebow in their five quarterback stable. Kelly is going to give the Titans the quarterback and running back of their choice AND their first rounder to get the Titans spot and claim Mariota. Book it.
6. Eight household name players will change addresses during the draft. Expect at least five veterans to get traded on day one and more on day two as Peterson comes into play. Chip Kelly will be responsible for three of those names alone. More will come.
7. The Chargers first round pick will be a running back. Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon will be the man depending on who’s available. Florida State center Cameron Erving will be the selection (as I indicated in my recent mock draft) if both are gone. Offense will be the order of the day in the first round. Telesco has not addressed the running back issue at all in the offseason and contrary to what has been said, don’t expect him to stand pat with Donald Brown, Branden Oliver and Danny Woodhead. A top two running back will be drafted.
8. Only two quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round but three will be traded. Among those names, expect Robert Griffin III to be one of them.
9. The bidding war for Adrian Peterson between the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys will be won by….New England. The Patriots will give the Vikings their first, second and fifth round picks to secure Peterson as Belichick shows why he is still the smartest person in the room. Hear that sound? It’s Bill Belichick dropping the mic.
10. Telesco will go against formula and trade down on day two to recover the seventh round pick he dealt last year. He’s saving one other bombshell for day two that lands the Chargers the services of.. disgruntled Bears feature running back Matt Forte. You heard it here first. A big name veteran will end up with the Chargers by the end of the draft. Telesco has a plan and its going to jolt Bolt Nation.
There you have it. My expectations for the draft. There’s always a few surprises, a few head scratchers but it will always be entertaining. Look for me on Thursday wearing my powder blue lightning bolted jersey of the quarterback who won’t be traded.
The Greg One
It’s that time of year in the NFL again. After the free agency frenzy dies every talking head in the industry gives birth to a mock draft in hopes of getting a few picks right. The reward for achieving such a task is getting to label themselves a ‘genuis’, ‘guru’, ‘svengali’ or other related overexaggeration. Getting a few no-brainers right makes one no more of a draft expert than picking the right Powerball numbers makes one a Numerologist. In the end, let’s call it what it is, guessing.
Not to be outdone, The Greg One is throwing his hat in the mock draft pool. The Chargers have a lot of holes to fill and GM Tom Telesco has shown himself very adept at filling those holes in the draft. This year will be no different. Below is my perfect Chargers mock draft. This isn’t my crystal ball of what the Chargers will do on draft day but what would happen if I were General Manager of the Chargers on draft day. Most of you will probably be glad i’m not by the end of this but it will make for a fun read and you can tell me how insane I am in the comments. Enjoy.
Cameron Erving, Center, Florida State
No position was hit harder last season than center. The Chargers played five centers last season, a major factor contributing to the overall instability of the offensive line. Rivers was hit more last season (37 sacks allowed, 75 QB hits) than the season before (30 sacks, 60 hits), causing multiple injuries. If the Chargers are going to maximize the remaining years on Rivers odometer (and they will, don’t listen to the Mariota hype) they need a legitimate starter now and for the future. Erving is a 6’6, 315 lb. giant that has all the tools to be the rock the team needs in the middle of the line. He is the best center in the draft and made all the line calls for the Seminoles last season as they contended in the inaugural BCS playoffs. As long as he can stay healthy, Erving has ten-year veteran and Pro Bowl written all over him. A talent like this won’t last into the second round so the Chargers need to pounce.
Jordan Phillips, Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma
The defensive tackle position is another area that hasn’t been addressed during free agency and while the players they have there are serviceable at best, they need a player that will solidify the nose tackle position the way Erving will on the other side of the ball. Phillips is a 6’5, 330 lb. space eater with massive upside. A reason he falls into the second round is the back surgery he had in 2013. Lauded for his athleticism, Phillips showed no decline in skill coming off that back surgery last season and would be a steal for the Chargers in the second round.
Adrian Peterson, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings
Ladies and gentleman we have ourselves a trade! The Chargers trade their third round pick to the Vikings for the rights to Adrian Peterson. This move shows the Chargers are committed to winning now, especially with the stadium movement underway. The Chargers need a name that will create a buzz in the community and Peterson is the name that can do it. With the picks the Chargers are using to solidify the lines, this will make the Chargers not only a playoff contender but a Super Bowl favorite. This works on a number of different levels.
1. Want to convince Philip Rivers to stay with the team even if disaster happens and they move to Los Angeles? Here’s AP to get you a Super Bowl ring. They sure won’t be contending for one in Tennessee any time soon.
2. Peterson gives the Chargers a legitimate three down back that forces defenses to commit eight men in the box. In turn, the Chargers tight ends, receivers, Woodhead and Oliver will all have favorable one-on-one matchups and the Chargers will ring up points at a rate they haven’t since the prime years of Ladainian Tomlinson.
3. After essentially having the year off last season, Peterson is going to come back healthy, angry and hungrier than ever. The Chargers can still draft a back to groom for when Peterson retires but i’d expect no less than three more productive years out of the All-Pro.
4. The Chargers are on Peterson’s short list of teams he wants to be traded to. He will allow Telesco to craft a deal that makes it possible to sign him without hamstringing the budget.
5. It’s a third round pick! Even for a proven commodity the Vikings are not going to get much better than a middle round pick in exchange for his services. Third round would actually be overpaying. The last time a player over 30 drew a high draft pick in exchange for his services was when the Oakland Raiders gave the Cincinnati Bengals their first round pick in 2012 and second round pick in 2013 for Carson Palmer. We all know the Raiders are the last team to be used as a measuring stick in the front office. Third round is going to be more than the Vikings will get from another team and it solves the void left behind by the departure of Ryan Mathews.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Cornerback, Oregon
This player will be a steal reminiscent of the Chargers getting Keenan Allen two drafts ago. Like Allen, Ekpre-Olomu is a first round talent who’s stock has plummeted because of injury. In the weeks leading up to the inaugural NCAA playoffs he suffered a serious knee injury and missed both of Oregon’s games. That injury, while healing ahead of schedule according to reports, will cause him to miss rookie camp, training camp and possibly some of the season. That alone will scare teams away and drop Ekore-Olomu into the middle rounds.
He is however, a ball hawk of the highest order. Although undersized at a hair under 5’10, he is a very physical corner with great instincts. An All Pac-12 selection for the past three seasons, Ekpre-Olomu finished his Oregon career with 18 takeaways (nine interceptions, eight forced fumbles, one fumble recovery) and was adept playing in press man or off coverage. He is solid against the run and the type of value pick Telesco covets. However, the GM may have to trade up in the round to get ahead of Ekpre-Olomu’s college coach, Chip Kelly and the Eagles, who pick four selections before.
Sean Mannion, Quarterback, Oregon State
With all the talk surrounding Rivers and his contract situation, it is time to seriously address the quarterback of the future instead of just finding a clipboard holder. Sean Mannion is one of the top five quarterback prospects in this draft class and has the potential to be very successful at the next level. Mannion is similar to Rivers in stature, standing at 6’5, 220 lbs. Among his other advantages is that he comes from a traditional pro-style offense at Oregon State, has above average grade in accuracy and a cannon for an arm.
The knocks on Mannion are his ball security (30 funbles and 54 interceptions in his four years at OSU), his immobility and handling pressure. A year or two sitting behind a franchise quarterback like Rivers will leave the Chargers well prepared moving forward after Rivers retires the same way Rivers benefited from sitting behind Drew Brees for three seasons.
Jamison Crowder, Wide Receiver, Duke
Crowder was the speed burning ace of Duke’s receiving corps during his four years in blue. He will be another candidate to fill the slot receiver void opened by the departure of Eddie Royal. In his last three seasons, Crowder topped 1000 yards receiving and at least 76 receptions. Jamison is a threat to go the distance on special teams as well as he had four punt return touchdowns over his last two seasons.
The knock on Crowder will be his size. Standing at 5’9, 185 lbs., GM’s will wonder if he has the ability to withstand the rigors of playing in the NFL with his slight frame. This isn’t stopping teams from working him out as New England, Cincinnati and Houston are among the latest teams to bring him on for private workouts.
So there you have my mock draft. I’ve addressed the present and the future, strengthened the offensive and defensive lines, secondary and brought in a legend to get Rivers a ring now. You can feel free to tell me how awful I am below. I’m looking forward to attending the draft in two weeks to find out what the Chargers do in real time. In the meantime, it’s fun to speculate. What do you think? Good, bad or indifferent?
The Greg One
On the second day of free agency, the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to a three-year, twelve million dollar deal (5 million guaranteed) with Chargers free agent running back Ryan Mathews. Mathews flew to Philadelphia and pending a physical, is ready to sign on the dotted line and start a new NFL life in the city of Brotherly Love.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to the doctor’s office.
The Eagles were set to halt their pursuit of Cowboys free agent running back Demarco Murray. That is, until Eagles head coach Chip Kelly received a phone call from Murray himself. Murray pitched himself to the coach and the Eagles took the bait. As of the time of this writing on the third day of free agency, March 12, Murray is on a plane to Philadelphia with the intent of signing a deal with the Eagles when he enters the building.
Brotherly Love indeed.
Back to Mathews. He is at time of this writing, finishing his physical and it’s approaching the time where the deal would be signed and he would be issued official Eagles gear. The contract is not signed. Murray’s arrival could mean a couple things. Either the Eagles are planning on sharing the load with two workhorse running backs OR Murray’s signing will put Mathews back on the street looking for work. The latter seems to be the more likely scenario.
Why else would the Eagles bring in Murray after agreeing with Mathews if not to supplant him? Murray is the shiniest jewel in the running back free agent crown. Demarco ran for over 1800 yards last season. Mathews was injured for all but six games last season. Of course Murray is the sexier addition.
The latest breaking news is Murray has agreed to a 5-year, 40 million dollar deal with the Eagles with twenty million guaranteed and a couple million more possible with incentives. Neither player has signed yet. Why would Mathews want to stay? The Eagles undoubtedly made promises about him being the number one back and a day later they brought in the league’s rushing leader.
Essentially, the cute girl in class has been dumped for the head cheerleader.
I am in no way a Mathews fan. Anyone who has read my columns knows I have been campaigning for him to leave since Boltblitz started over two years ago. The injuries, the inconsistency and watching my favorite player, quarterback Philip Rivers, get beat down as a consequence of not having a dependable running game soured me to Mathews seasons ago.
As much as I want to laugh my fool head off at the situation, I can’t. I am waiting to throw my celebration party until Mathews officially signs a deal with another team and that still hasn’t happened yet. Yes he’s a free agent so that means he’s not in any way affiliated with the Chargers anymore. He’s not under contract with San Diego and if the front office wanted him to stay with the team they would have made an offer to him before free agency began. They didn’t. He’s gone.
What I expect will happen is the Eagles will tell Mathews he’s no longer needed or Mathews will tell the Eagles he’s not staying if Murray is their guy. Either way, that means he’s still up for bids. There should be teams willing and waiting to acquire him but what if Chargers GM Tom Telesco decided to make an incentive-laden offer at a lower price and Mathews accepts?
Call it an irrational fear but it isn’t. Stranger things have happened. Look at what’s happened in Philadelphia alone as the example. They had Frank Gore and Gore decided to back out of his oral agreement. Philly then agreed to a deal with Mathews and a day later they agree to a deal with Murray after Murray picked up the phone and offered himself like a hooker on the Las Vegas strip. In the span of a week, Philadelphia has changed running backs three times! A call out of the blue from the old team is downright standard these days.
There are no reports that the Chargers have any interest in getting back in the running for their former running back but we’ve been surprised before. Nobody saw Jimmy Graham getting traded on day one of free agency either. We don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes and that’s what worries me. The more running backs that sign as this soap opera unfolds, the more worried I am that Mathews dons the lightning bolts again. The title of a favorite Motley Crue song comes to mind: Don’t Go Away Mad, Just Go Away. Maybe the Eagles are telling him that right now…
What do you think? Should the Chargers jump back in the mix for Mathews?
The Greg One