Despite what many of us would consider to be a difficult time – waiting this long for the draft to occur, that is – we are less than a week from the NFL’s premiere offseason activity. The cattle call that is the NFL draft will be taking place before you know it. I’ll be in New York City in the blink of an eye. I’m on a plane as we speak, heading to Charlotte to see my amazing children. Then it’s time to take over NYC and the NFL draft. ( Editor’s Note: I began writing this on 5/3)
This is a big year for the Chargers and Tom Telesco. After having what many of us consider to be a solid 2013 draft class, the hope is to replicate last year’s success. Telesco nailed three potential first rounders in the first three rounds of the draft in his first go-around as an NFL GM. Perhaps, the expectation level increases knowing that a player like Stevie Williams, a fifth-round selection, has yet to play in a regular season game. Tourek Williams made the occasional play as well, despite being a sixth round pick. Additionally, Brad Sorensen managed to stay on the ’13 roster as the third quarterback. That could say a lot about what the team has in mind for the former Southern Utah signal caller.
I find it safe to say that the 2013 draft was a success. And, I think that most people in here would agree. But does that put even more pressure on Telesco to trump his rookie attempt at building the team through the draft? Sure, I can get behind that kind of thinking.
Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Marcus Martin, C, USC
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The NFL did a great job, in my opinion, of mixing up the prospects. So, the question remains, and I’ll leave it to you, is the next Charger going to be an invitee to Radio City Music Hall? Popular mock draft choices landing in America’s finest city such as Louis Nix III and Kyle Van Noy were not invited ( That is according to the above list which is credited to NFL.com).
Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Now that the combine has concluded, I have created my first mock draft of the offseason. This mock is slightly more geared to who I want while who San Diego needs takes a backseat. With that being said, I still believe it to be a good draft for the Chargers but my later mocks will be slightly more realistic as far as round destination is concerned. Let’s get to the good stuff!
Ra’Shede Hageman DT, Minnesota
Hageman possess a great frame at 6’6” and 310 pounds. At Minnesota Hageman showed his durability by starting all 13 games in his senior season and played in all 12 during his sophomore campaign. This guy is athletic as they come and his strength serves him well. Great redirection skills and tackling ability will make him an immediate contributor along our defensive line.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste CB, Nebraska
Jean-Baptiste was not on my radar until a couple of Chargers “tweeps” raved about him. As a guy who is extremely hesitant to jump on bandwagons, it says something that I leaped onto this one. “SJB” is a 6’3” 190 lbs corner who can/will be coached up to be as physical as they come. The same season Nebraska led the nation in opponent completion percentage, Jean-Baptiste led his team in pass breakups with 9. He went on to earn 2nd team All-Big Ten honors after his 2013 season. There is no doubt he will be a huge addition to our secondary.
Jeremiah Attaochu OLB, Georgia Tech
Attaochu is one of my favorite players in this year’s draft. He has one of the best motors of and LB I have watched. The 6’2” 252 pound Yellow Jacket did not participate in the combine but will work out at GA Tech’s combine. The Senior Bowl was the last time we saw Attaochu in action. In the third round I think this is a good value and will help our edge rush.
Devin Street WR, Pittsburgh
Street is a nice target at 6’3” and a notch under 200 pounds. He is known for catching just about anything in his radius (which is fairly wide). With Tommy Savage at QB there was definitely a pro-potential QB distributing the pigskin. Street is the type of receiver the Chargers need to place opposite of Keenan Allen. While he is not as tall as some WRs that San Diego has targeted in the past, he plays like one of them.
Russell Bodine OG/C, North Carolina
This 6’3” 310 pound Tar Heel made Honorable mention All-ACC starting at center all 13 games for UNC. Has some experience at guard as a fill-in for injured players. Bodine may be the strongest offensive lineman in the draft, throwing up 42 reps of 225 at the combine. With Hardwick on his way out sometime soon, we will need a guy to become the starting center sooner rather than later.
Storm Johnson RB, Central Florida
Johnson runs exceptionally well between the tackles and has the speed to still thrive on the outside. Johnson only had one year as the feature back, but in the case he goes to San Diego that works perfectly because he would come into a committee where I think he would be best suited anyway. Johnson may not end up being an every down back and in San Diego that would not be a problem and could end up developing him into just that. The 6’ and 209 lb back would be great value in the sixth round.
Max Bullough ILB, Michigan State
3rd Team AP All-American, First team All-Big Ten. This 6’3” 250 pound linebacker was a part of what was arguably the nation’s top defense in 2013. His stock is dropping due to being suspended from the Rose Bowl for reasons he still will not talk about.
In the seventh round, there is no way we can pass up on this Butkus semifinalist. A chance is all he needs to prove himself and I am sure he will take all advantages.
This concludes my first mock draft of 2014. Be on the lookout for draft profiles of potential Chargers, as well as overall intriguing draftees.
Alright, I tried to get this done and out before the combine started, better late than never I guess. As some of you know I am in Afghanistan right now and with the war winding down they are closing over half my base so we have had to move our sleeping tents and are moving our flightline. Due to this, I will be a little slow putting stuff up over the next month. Good news is, in 35 days…I will be back in AMERICA!!
But enough about me, lets get to the reason you are really here…football.
When putting this together I was trying to keep a few things in mind. First, all the holes we need to fill. Second, I ignored any potential free agents we might bring in for now. Third, what I think is important to bring to this team in a player.
I did throw one trade in here, I had us trading out of the 3rd round with the Browns. The Browns have a TON of picks this year which makes it easy for them to move up if the mood strikes them. There is no real basis for this trade, other than there were more players in the 4th that I wanted rather than settling for one in the 3rd.
To keep it semi-realistic I used Walterfootball.com’s Pick Value Chart so neither team was getting “ripped-off.” Our 3rd round pick (89) is worth 145 “points.” Their 2 4th round picks (102 + 129) are worth a combined 141 “points” which is close enough to work. I also used walterfootball.com’s mock drafts and player rankings to guesstimate where a player might be available.
So after all of that blabbing up there, on to the picks!
Round 1, Pick 25:
Ra’shede Hageman 6’6″ 310lbs (NT, Minnesota) / Kyle Van Noy 6’3″ 243lbs (OLB, BYU)
The pick here is Hageman, but Van Noy is my back up as Hageman may not be available. Hageman is a mountain of a man who is extremely athletic, plays with aggression, and forces opposing offenses to double team him. He is predicted by many to be the 2nd NT off the board after Louis Nix from Notre Dame. He is very long at 6’6 with 34 1/4″ arms and uses his length well, keeping offensive linemen from being able to engage and control him.
He has everything you want in a NT that can’t be coached such as size, power, and speed. Hageman will need coaching to reach his potential though, which is very high by the way. He does take plays off occasionally when he gets tired and he will need to learn to stay lower. Hageman would help end the drought of talented NT’s we have had since Jamal Williams and bring another athletic body to our defensive line between Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes.
If Hageman is gone, my pick would be Van Noy. Van Noy is a hyper athletic OLB. He has a a variety of pass rush moves and combines a very quick first step with a good anticipation of snap count to burst past the offensive line. Van Noy makes impact plays all over the field shown by his 26 sacks, 61.5 tackles for loss, 7 INT, 11 forced fumbles, 21 passes defended and 5 TD’s during his 4 years playing at BYU.
Van Noy would bring to the Chargers some much needed pass rush help, but also a defender in the pass game that the Bolts have not had since Donnie Edwards. With division opponents having a TE like Julius Thomas, and scrambling QB’s like Alex Smith and Terrelle Pryor an intelligent, fast LB like Van Noy would be invaluable.
Round 2, Pick 57:
Ja’Wuan James 6’6″ 311lbs* (OT, Tennessee)
James played RT at Tennessee, however his skill set would actually benefit him more at LT in the NFL. He is not a driving run blocker like D.J. Fluker, what he is is a great kick and slide mirroring pass blocker. James uses his long (35″) arms well, keeping pass rushers at bay. He does not have problems with speed rushers like almost all of our tackles have had recently, and is also big and strong enough to keep the bull rush at bay. Durability is very important to the Chargers going forward, especially with the recent run of injuries on the O-line, and James has that, starting all 49 of his college games.
Here is what walterfootball.com had to say about James’ day at the combine today:
“Tennessee right tackle Ja’Wuan James had a mixed day. He ran some slow times of 5.25 in the 40 with a 1.82 10-yard split. However, James really performed well in the field drills. He showed nice hip flexibility with great feet. He was relaxed and fluid in the mirror drills. James is an interesting prospect that could be steal on Day 2.”
He also received a good review from nfl.com:
“Big, strong, heavy pass protector with good balance, anchor strength and hand use to handle power and speed. Does not affect the run game the same way and almost appears more destined for the left side in the pros. Has instant-starter potential.”
Round 4, Pick 102:
Rashaad Reynolds 5’11” 191lbs (CB, Oregon State)
Reynolds is a gritty, scrappy CB. He is aggressive on the line in the press and has good speed to stick with WR’s downfield. Oregon State had him play a good mix of man coverage up on the line and in the zone lined up pretty far off the line like the Chargers often do. One of my favorite things about him is that if we picked him, he would show up to camp the best tackler in our secondary, he is that good. He shows good awareness and timing when turning to look for the ball. Reynolds is not afraid going up against bigger WR’s and sticks to everyone like velcro. While he doesn’t have elite speed, his instincts and football IQ keep him in good position to make plays on the ball. One thing that may hurt him in the NFL is that he is pretty “handsy” with WR’s and makes a little too much contact passed the 5 yard mark. Reynolds managed 10 interceptions and 29 passes defended during his time at Oregon State. He went out with a bang, returning 2 fumbles for TD’s in the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl against Boise State. Reynolds is also very durable, starting 38 consecutive games to end his career in college, something the Chargers desperately need.
Here is what nfl.com had to say about him:
“Good functional football player who capped his college career with a game-changing MVP performance in the Hawaii Bowl, where he returned two fumble recoveries for touchdowns. Has starter-quality physical traits and the positional skill to contribute readily in the pros. An underrated clingy cover man with a natural feel for the game.”
Round 4, Pick 121:
Michael Sam 6’2″ 261lbs (OLB, Missouri)
Ok, before anyone says anything, he is a football player and that is all I care about. The Chargers can always use more pass rushers especially with the injury history the Bolts have had lately. In the 4th round you can afford to take a player based on one spectacular season like Sam had and he would be one of the best pass rushers available at this point in the draft. This season Sam 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. He was always in the backfield. He has some drop back ability but he is mostly a situational pass rusher. Yes he would be somewhat of a media circus, but I think we have a positive enough locker room to deal with this, and I know Manti Te’o would be happy to have the spotlight on someone else.
Round 4, Pick 123:
Cody Hoffman 6’4″ 223lbs (WR, BYU)
I was looking for a big WR to pick up in the middle rounds and it was between Hoffman and Martavis Bryant from Clemson. I ended up going with Hoffman due to his much better hands, his kick return experience, and better body control. Hoffman goes up and attacks the ball at its highest point well and uses his big strong hands to secure the ball. He has great body control and can twist and turn in the air and on the run to go back for the ball. Watching him reminds me a lot of Malcom Floyd and would give us a big red zone target on the edge that Rivers missed this season. His negatives are his overall speed and his run blocking on the edge. He won’t break any speed records in the 40, but anything less than a 4.65 I would consider good for him especially after showing up to the combine 13 lbs over his listed playing weight from college. He finished college with 260 receptions for 3612 yards (13.9 YPC avg) and 33 TD’s. Hoffman also had 53 kick returns with a 25.1 yard per return avg.
Here is what nfl.com listed as his strenghts:
“Outstanding size with long arms. Extends outside his frame and can snag throws outside his body. Wide catching radius. Deceptively quick coming out of breaks. Has NFL pedigree. Experienced, four-year starter. Played through a shoulder injury during 2011 and ’12 seasons. Is tough and durable.”
Round 5, Pick 153:
Russel Bodine 6’3″ 310lbs (C, UNC)
This will most likely be Nick Hardwick’s last season. Behind Hardwick the Chargers did not have a true center last season, Guard Rich Ohrnberger filled in when he was out. According to chargers.com the bolts have 1 other Center on the roster, Nick McDonald. However according to nfl.com McDonald has 2 years experience in the NFL with 3 starts and time in 16 games overall, but as a Guard not a Center. Enter Russel Bodine. Bodine has already drawn some attention at the combine by putting up a Combine best, so far, of 42 reps on the bench. He has great size and strength and plays with a very nasty demeanor. We need to grab someone to groom behind Hardwick and I think Russel Bodine can be that player.
Here is what nfl.com says about him:
“STRENGTHS: Carries a load in his punch and plays with vinegar. Can seal and turn defenders in the run game to create small creases. Plays with a mean streak and likes to finish blocks. Is aggressive working up to the second level and efficient cutting linebackers. Rugged competitor. Stout anchor in pass protection. Versatile and has seen action at center and guard.
Round 6, Pick 185:
Darrin Reaves 5’10” 210lbs (RB, UAB)The Bolts need someone to replace the aging Ronnie Brown and to step in when Mathews gets hurt or tired. I believe Reaves was snubbed by the league not earning an invite to the combine. He is a solidly built RB who makes good quick cuts. Watching a highlight tape of his best runs he almost looked like he was greased up, arm tackles just fall off him as he runs and he pushes hard for yards. In 3 seasons, 2 as a starter, Reaves amassed 2343 yards on 496 carries (4.7 YPR avg), 27 TD’s (13 and 12 in the last two seasons). Reaves is also a good receiver out of the backfield with a lot of experience doing it hauling in 77 passes for 652 yards (8.5 YPC avg) and 3 TD’s.
Round 7, Pick 217:
Mike Pennel 6’4″ 332lbs (NT, CSU-Pueblo)
The Chargers need as much fresh depth on the defensive line as they can get. Mike Pennel comes from a small school but has perfect size for a NT. He is very strong at the point of attack. He will need coaching to maximize his potential since he is coming from a small school, but as the saying goes “you can’t teach size.”
Here is what nfl.com had to say about his strengths:
“Rare size and body mass. Looks the part with a well-distributed frame and carries his weight well for a 350-pounder. Is seldom moved off a spot. Can lock out and walk back blockers with sheer brute strength. Flashes some violence in his hands. Strong short-yardage/goal-line plugger.”
Well thanks for bearing with me through all that, let me know what you guys think, and feel free to submit your own picks and suggestions in the comments. Remember this is a very early mock draft. After the Combine, pro days, and what the team does in Free-Agency we will all have a better idea of what might happen and what our needs might be.
As we all know, the draft is approaching, and even quicker than we are used to due to the new offseason schedule. With that in mind, be sure to check in with me and my partner Matthew Stanley. We will be doing draft profiles on possible Chargers, top prospects, as well as sleepers.
As an appetizer to your draft hunger, I will present you with some players I have an eye on as far as the first round goes. Expect some profiles to be done on these players as they are all potential candidates as San Diego sits at 25 in the draft.
One player I can not get enough of is CB Justin Gilbert out of Oklahoma State. Not only does Gilbert have exceptional ball skills and speed, he also has the talent in special teams to match. Given this ability, there is no reason he does not see playing time in San Diego, should we be his landing spot.
Another player who is giving me a hard time declaring Gilbert as my favorite corner in this draft is Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard. This Rose Bowl champion has no lack of experience as a senior coming out of college. He won the Thorpe award which is awarded to the most outstanding defensive back in college football. Dennard is also great potential to be a significant upgrade within our corner corps.
Last, but surely not least, I will take stray from DBs, but not too far as it is still a defensive player in Ra’Shede Hageman, DE out of Minnesota. When I think of Hageman, the term “Monster of a man” comes to mind. His frame draws comparisons to J.J Watt. Who doesn’t want J.J Watt?
These are just a few players I’d love to see get called at 25. While being realistic, I’m prepared to see none of these players go to San Diego.
Here’s to Tom Telesco having a great off-season