The 2014 NFL Draft is only a couple of months away and the big names in free agency have been snapped up. As a result, numerous teams around the league have seen their draft needs change. Taking into consideration these changes, while understanding that many teams maintain a “best available player” approach to the draft, I humbly submit my first mock draft. Let’s get to it!
ROUND ONE: The San Diego Chargers select…
Jason Verrett (CB – TCU)
At 5’10” some general managers have expressed concerns in matching up with bigger NFL receivers. There are also some concerns with an injured Labrum in his shoulder that required surgery this spring. It is this second guessing that could very well allow Verrett to slide to us at pick 25. However, the TCU Horned Frog posted impressive numbers at the combine running a 4.38 40 yard dash and posting a 39 inch vertical jump. Jason is very smooth in his back pedal and closes on the ball in a flash. He doesn’t back down against taller receivers and attacks the ball at the catch point with regularity. He plays with a confidence and swagger that I like! Simply put, he plays bigger than his size and is a flat-out playmaker.
ROUND TWO: The San Diego Chargers select…
Anthony Johnson (DT – LSU)
6’2″ and 300 pounds of explosive disruption up the middle. Anthony has good strength at the point of attack and the ability to shoot the gap on passing downs. The disappointing play of DE Kendall Reyes last season opened the eyes of many to the importance of a dominant DT to free up Reyes to do his thing. Johnson isn’t just a space-eater though, he is a playmaker. A player requiring double-team consideration by offensive coordinators. Many NFL Draft writers have labeled him a “high-ceiling” guy who is likely to develop into a dominant force down the road. Sounds like our kind of guy to me…
ROUND THREE: The San Diego Chargers select…
Carl Bradford (OLB – Arizona St.)
Bradford has some size concerns at 6’1″ and 250 pounds – which is why I project him slipping a bit in the draft, allowing us to snag him in the 3rd round. He has displayed difficulty in providing run support, but is without question a ferocious pass rusher. His presence on the roster would provide insurance behind an aging Dwight Freeney, who is returning from a season ending torn quadriceps muscle. Additionally, he would provide instant improvement in our kick coverage teams. If we invest a year or two in improving his strength against the run, Bradford has the makings of a pro bowl caliber linebacker in the future.
ROUND FOUR: The San Diego Chargers select…
Joel Bitonio (OG – Nevada)
Joel played left tackle in college, but he projects as a guard in the NFL. He has good hands and packs a punch. Bitonio consistently drives defenders back in the running game. The upside for the young man is great. Moving to guard will present some adjustment time for pass protection skills, but with patience and good coaching, Joel has starter potential by the 2015 season.
ROUND FIVE: The San Diego Chargers select…
Martavis Bryant (WR – Clemson)
Standing at 6’4″ and weighing 200 pounds, Martavis presents a big-time matchup problem for many cornerbacks in the league. He reminds me of a young Malcom Floyd with better speed. Like Floyd, Bryant excels as a red zone threat. His ability to run the fade and out jump the defender is tremendous. Many in the media have given Martavis the dreaded “Boom-or-Bust” label heading into this year’s draft, which accounts for him being available here in the 5th round. I’m betting he’d blossom in Mike McCoy’s system.
ROUND SIX: The San Diego Chargers select…
Brandon Coleman (WR – Rutgers)
Another gigantic target for Philip Rivers at 6’6″, Coleman is a project with equally gigantic upside. He is a good downfield blocker that would help turn 7 yard carries into 20 yard gashes. He is good at “posting up” smaller cornerbacks with his massive frame and then soaring high in the air to snag the ball. For a receiver his size, Coleman is surprisingly adept at tracking deep throws as well. Straightline speed is a bit of a concern. He clocked a 4.56 in the 40 yard dash at the combine, but he is good out of the break with decent hands. He is very raw and will need time to develop but I see this guy as a diamond in the rough…
ROUND SEVEN: The San Diego Chargers select…
Russell Bodine (C – North Carolina)
Selecting in the seventh round, the Bolts land a player who could develop into Nick Hardwick’s replacement at center. Russell Bodine has been a very good run blocker at the collegiate level. He is technically sound and very intelligent. He was able to get to the 2nd level smoothly and consistently during his tenure as a Tarheel. The question with Russell is whether or not he’ll be able to do the same thing against NFL defensive tackles. He’ll need to bulk up and add some strength to be able to hold up as a pass protector. His upside makes him intriguing. With time and coaching, Bodine should develop into a starting caliber center.
…and there you have it. My take on this year’s draft picks. This is a topic that always generates plenty of debate, so feel free to comment below. Thanks for reading and remember to come back to BoltBlitz.com for your daily Chargers fix!
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.