See what two of our writers, Zak Darman and Chris Hoke, have to say about whether or not the 2016 San Diego Chargers will make the playoffs this season.
Zak Darman: NO DEAL! The San Diego Chargers will NOT make the playoffs at years end.
The Chargers made some nice moves in the offseason to boost up their offense by signing wide receiver Travis Benjamin and center Matt Slauson. It is no secret that the offense is much improved, starting with the addition of offensive guru Ken Whisenhunt. The offense was looking very good in Week 1, right before Keenan Allen left that game with a torn ACL, ending his season. The running game looked much improved with a better and more decisive Melvin Gordon. The loss of Danny Woodhead from Sunday’s game against Jacksonville will hurt immensely, though, and they hope the recent signing of Dexter McCluster will help. We will see.
On defense, however, is where the weaknesses still stand out. The Bolts used the No. 3 overall selection on defensive end Joey Bosa, who has not played in a single game this season due to contract negotiations/injury, and brought in nose tackle Brandon Mebane, cornerback Casey Heyward and safety Dwight Lowery. I still don’t like this group because in my opinion they don’t have enough playmakers to take this team to the next level. Manti Te’o is below average and prior to being lost for the season due to injury, there was a question whether he should be starting or not. The safeties are a joke and the pass rush is still bad. Outside of Pro Bowler Jason Verrett, who else is there? It also does not help to have one of the worst defensive coordinators in all of football in John Pagano. Yes, the defense looked great in the first half vs KC but lets not forget that the Chiefs were without Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith was missing some wide open short route throws that he usually doesn’t miss. This unit has been overrated from the get-go and it needs to be addressed. The defense looked better in week 2, but that was against a young and inexperienced Jaguars team. On Sunday, Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton did what they wanted. Verrett wasn’t on his game and the defense had no shot.
First let me start by saying for the sake of this piece I will make a case for Mike McCoy even if my previous articles and opinions have stated otherwise. Mike McCoy has shown flashes of being a Coach who can lead this team. All of the losses, huge injuries, off the field drama with Eric Weddle and now Joey Bosa, has caused major distractions which is never a good recipe in the locker room. In this case for Mike McCoy winning fixes everything. Even through three major season-ending injuries to key players, this team is built to win and get deep into the playoffs. Here’s how:
As Zak had pointed out above, the improvement of this offense is the running game. Yes it is odd to say this, due to the horrible run game the Chargers have had in a long time, a running game is very much back in San Diego; maligned since the departure of Ken Whisenhunt and Ryan Mathews. It’s no coincidence that since his return to America’s finest city, the run game has been rejuvenated. Gordon, who had zero touchdowns last year, has already compiled four scores along with his first career 100 yard rushing game against the Jags. Follow that up with a passing attack, without Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead whom are both lost for the season, still has the weapons to be very dangerous. With the old reliable Antonio Gates on the sidelines, there is not much room for panic with the emergence of second round pick Hunter Henry. Even with the fumbled tragedy that ended any last ditched efforts for a win last week against the Colts, Hunter had a pretty solid game; breaking open for huge yards. Continuity between him and Rivers will only begin to grow more with each big play Hunter makes. The future is still bright for these Bolts offensively.
After being released from the Chargers after the 2012 season, former Head Coach Norv Turner was asked for a quote regarding the new incoming coaching staff. “They need to have a lot of patience with them.”
“Them” referencing all Charger fans.
Maybe we need to really forget about 2013 as maybe the Chargers caught lightning in a bottle with a group of talent that really wasn’t that good, at least defensively. Moving on to this year, it’s been four years and four drafts since Tom Telesco and company took over. Some naysayers have claimed that he has missed on players, but at the same time he has found some gems, such as Jason Verrett. There are others like Craig Mager and DJ Fluker where the verdict is still to be determined however in my opinion they are good additions to this team.
I will say that the defensive talent on this team, is what Pagano has been waiting for. We all have seen what Hayward has done thus far and of course what the Pro Bowler Verrett can do, but the key addition, in my opinion, is the addition to Brandon Mebane – whose presence alone has shifted protection schemes. That ability, to force opposition to change schemes, is not listed in the box score yet it creates room for the linebackers, such as new defensive captain Melvin Ingram, to reap the rewards.
The first round pick Joey Bosa has yet to take the field – signs pointing to week 5 or 6. The Chargers seem fine to just ease him in slowly rather to not risk further injury. Even with the loss of Manti Teo, Jatavis Brown stepped in and showed that he can be an instant playmaker. When Bosa does finally step in and is at game level, this defense will be headed to the next level. We already see what happens when Mebane is on the field and when you add in the beast Corey Liuget and Bosa – the three-headed monster will lead this team to playoffs and hopefully back to the Super Bowl.
In closing, if McCoy can remain aggressive, this team can and will make the playoffs. If his attitude is as assertive as I saw it to be in 2013, it will resonate throughout the whole locker room. As long as we do not continue to lose key players every week, this team has the talent to beat any team on any given Sunday. The defense could easily be ranked in the top five, sans injuries of course, and as we have seen in the past, defense wins championships. Toss in a future Hall of Fame quarterback, a running back who is so raw and talented, and a receiving core who has already manifested themselves as reliable, the San Diego Chargers will make it deep into the playoffs. Perhaps we will hear this again.
Let us know your opinion on whether or not the Chargers, as it stands, will make the playoffs this season.
Thanks for reading
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?!
Let me get right to the point: Mike McCoy should be on the hot seat this year.
The 2016 campaign begins his fourth year as the Chargers’ head coach and the team has steadily gone backwards under his watch. I really thought he was the antithesis of his predecessor, but that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
In 2013 (his rookie year as a head coach), we saw the Chargers (barely) make the postseason with a 9-7 record. They beat Cincinnati in the Wild Card round before falling to the Broncos in the Divisional Round. Frankly, the team exceeded my expectations.
Conversely, the Bolts failed to make the playoffs in 2014 and 2015. The 2014 season saw the Chargers mimic their 9-7 record. In 2015, the wheels fell off the bus and the Bolts finished with a pathetic 4-12 record.
A lot of people have given McCoy multiple passes. The destruction of the offensive lines because of injury. Every team sustains injuries. Nick Hardwick’s injury in ’14 was devastating, but good teams overcome those injuries. Add to that the fragility of Ryan Mathews and injuries to Jason Verrett, Jeromey Clary, and a host of other offensive linemen, Philip Rivers was running for his very life. The running game was largely ignored by the predictable and unimaginative play calling of Frank Reich. Even Norv Turner had a better imagination than Reich.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that Reich was let go after the 2015 campaign where the Chargers finished 4-12. The blame doesn’t rest there.
McCoy is a terrible clock manager. Several times during his three-year tenure, he has left points on the board by failing to properly manage the clock at the end of the first half. Normally, when confronted with his failure to use timeouts (you can’t bank ’em), his response was a cliché of some babble about doing what was in the team’s best interests.
Not scoring is in a team’s best interests?
And not overruling Reich on his play calling? Draw on third-and-18, anyone?
Yeah, yeah. Philip Rivers could have called out of said stupid play selection. That’s assuming you have a personnel package you can change out of a play with.
After the 2014 season, which many consider to be a renaissance for Philip Rivers, Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt was hired away from the Chargers to be the Head Coach of the Tennessee Titans. Guess what, kids? The Whiz is back as the Chargers OC, so I look for improvement in many facets of the Bolts’ game. I also take this as a sign from heaven. McCoys days are numbered. Why else would they bring Whiz back after being dealt the short straw in Nashville?
If the Chargers falter, if McCoy continues his, dare I say, Belichickian arrogance and cliché-ridden, no-answer answers with the media, they have his replacement waiting in the wings. Mike McCoy should be feeling the heat this year. The last thing the Chargers need is a crappy team while they’re trying to rally support for a downtown stadium.
Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments!
With the news about Melvin Gordon’s microfracture surgery, a recent article posted to this site had me thinking.
I hate to be the doom and gloom forecaster, but to quote Creedence Clearwater Revival, there could be a “bad moon rising” in San Diego.
With what we saw from Gordon last season, with his inability to find the right lane to run through, I still feel like even with newly drafted fullback Derek Watt, Gordon’s teammate at Wisconsin, this may not equate to success for him and the Chargers’ running game.
One of Gordon’s many weaknesses coming out of college seemed to be his lack of vision. When the offensive line wasn’t banged up and was actually opening holes for Gordon, he seemed to lack the ability that separates great running backs from average to below average ones. The former Badger doesn’t seem to see the whole field. He lacks that killer instinct as a runner.
Is this just a rookie being a rookie and adjusting to a complex offensive system? Only time will tell.
Another issue I have with the chemistry of Watt and Gordon is how many offensive snaps will we actually see a fullback on the field with Gordon?
Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt isn’t exactly like Marty Schottenheimer; he doesn’t power it up in there all day long. Most of his offense runs off of multi-WR and TE sets. With the addition of Henry, the Bolts’ offense may be more likely to use those sets instead of Power-I formations.
Will we see those formations enough for that so-called chemistry to even make a difference? Again, only time will tell.
It isn’t just chemistry that makes a running back. Barry Sanders had little to no offensive line help pretty much his entire career. But when he retired he finished second in NFL history in total career rushing yards.
I’m not saying I expect Gordon to be Sanders. For years we give all these excuses for our stars; it’s almost as if we are scared to face the truth. Sometimes our players just don’t have what it takes.
Gordon’s fumbling, lack of vision and consistent knack for rushing to an outside line when there’s nothing there has handicapped a running attack that ranked 31st in the league last year.
Chemistry is great; it brings continuity to a running game that certainly could use it. Will it bring success and make Gordon an elite runner? Maybe.
Of all the physical attributes about Melvin Gordon his intangibles are highly lacking. He was a superstar runner in college. Was he just a one-year wonder behind a line that had multiple players drafted high? Or is there something I’ve yet to see from Gordon in a San Diego Chargers uniform?
The only thing we can do is be patient. Not everyone becomes Marshawn Lynch overnight. Liken Ryan Mathews to Gordon. When the line came together, Mathews flourished under Whisenhunt.
Patience, tons of patience, Chargers fans.
As all of the NFL world knows, rookie running back Melvin Gordon has yet to reach the end zone. Going into Week 6, Chargers fans are anxiously waiting to see his first touchdown. The game in Green Bay at Lambeau Field might be the perfect venue for Gordon to get it done.
Gordon was drafted in the first round. The Chargers traded with the 49ers to move up two spots from 17th to 15th to assure the pick. Many would argue that drafting a running back, and moving up to do so, in the first round was a bad idea. Tom Telesco knew what he wanted, a solid running back after releasing Ryan Matthews, and did what he felt was needed to get Gordon. It is too early to determine if the pick was worth giving up their fourth-round pick in 2015 and the fifth-round pick in 2016.
The former Badger has some big shoes to fill. The Chargers had one of the greatest running backs to ever play the position, LaDainian Tomlinson. LT spent nine years with the Chargers between 2001 and 2009. Tomlinson had 12,490 rushing yards with the Chargers and 138 rushing touchdowns. Ryan Mathews was drafted in 2010 to take the reins from Tomlinson. Mathews was a decent running back registering 4,061 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns in his five years with the Bolts. Unfortunately, he seemed to always be injured and was not re-signed during the 2015 offseason.
It seems a little unfair to expect Gordon to be the next Tomlinson or to pick up where Mathews left off. Tomlinson had one of the best offensive lines in the league during his tenure with the Chargers. He also had workhorse Lorenzo Neal at fullback. With with exception of last year, Mathews also had a decent offensive line. Gordon has been playing behind an offensive line pieced together with duct tape after early injuries this season.
Gordon was not the only rookie back selected in first round of the 2015 draft. The St. Louis Rams drafted Todd Gurley out of Georgia with the tenth pick overall. Due to an injury that had yet to heal, Gurley missed the first two games of the year, and played sparingly in Week 3. In the last two games, the rook has gained 314 yards. Gordon only has 270 yards through five games.
The Chargers also have Danny Woodhead who is getting a majority of the snaps at running back, especially in the red zone. Gordon had his best chance to get into the end zone on a 1st-and-goal against the Cleveland Browns in Week 4. Unfortunately, he was not able to get reach the end zone. The bottom line is that he is a rookie and still getting used to the playbook and the speed of the NFL.
Sunday’s game in Green Bay will be a homecoming of sorts for Gordon. He was raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kenosha is about three hours from Lambeau Field. He also played for the University of Wisconsin. Gordon will have a lot of his friends and family in attendance. He told ESPN that his grandmother will be able to attend this game. He added that it would be too hard for her to fly to California to see him play.
It feels like the perfect scenario for Gordon to get his first touchdown in his home state. While it’s always better to get a first touchdown in front of the home crowd, getting it in your home state with friends and family present is a very close second.
If he does get his first touchdown, maybe the fans will let him do the Lambeau Leap? Probably not, but crazier things have happened!
Thank you for reading.
This article is not (just) to remind you that Melvin Gordon is a rookie. Even though most people are already passing judgment on him after only a few preseason appearances and one official NFL game. Am I defending 14 carries for 51 yards? Never. But here’s my point: Stop blaming Melvin.
“Cool, so which offensive lineman should we hate? I had a feeling Orlando Franklin still had some Bronco in him!”… It’s not the O-Line’s fault either. Point fingers at the inadequacy of the coaching staff.
Check this out.
Since 2010 (the first season without LaDainian Tomlinson), the Chargers have only finished with a top-10 rushing statistic TWICE and they were both in the attempts category. In 2010, they were 9th with 457 rushing attempts which was the first year sans LT. In 2013, they ranked 6th with 486 carries in McCoy’s first season. The carries also did not translate to any success in the run game as San Diego finished 22nd (4.0) and 21st (4.0) in yards per carry in respective seasons.
You could argue there was no talent in these post-LT years and I’d point to the fact that Ryan Mathews (2011), Mike Tolbert (2013), and Darren Sproles (2014) all went to Pro Bowls. While only Mathews represented the Chargers in his Pro Bowl appearance, they all were awarded the honor by filling the same role they were known for in San Diego for their respective teams.
Five years. Two different coaching staffs. Same results.
I’d sum it up to the fact that the formula for running the football has not been found in San Diego. Melvin Gordon is not good enough to change that himself, nobody but Barry Sanders is. It will take a concerted effort by coaches and players alike for him to become a premier running attack.
I say all of that to get this point across: Have patience.
San Diego obviously knows how much better their run game needed to be with the way they built the offensive line this offseason and spent TWO draft picks on what should be a top-talent at running back in Gordon. It will not happen overnight, but I do have faith it will happen.
The bottom line is, cut the kid some slack. He’s going to be just fine.
You just #ReadTheBlitz
The 2014 season finished in what can be accurately described as “disappointing” for the Chargers. The team started 6-1, were No. 1 and on top of multiple power rankings to start the season. Philip Rivers was getting consideration for the league’s Most Valuable Player and they were being thrown around as a possible Superbowl team.
Then, injuries happened.
Danny Woodhead broke his leg. DJ Fluker played through half the year on a hurt ankle. Ryan Mathews played in six games. Keenan Allen missed the last two games with a broken collarbone. Rivers played with a back injury that limited his ability to throw and move. It goes without saying the playing five different centers makes it difficult to build cohesion on the offensive line.
As you can tell, the Chargers played beat up and with a lot of back ups and third stringers. But they finished the season 9-7, and one game shy of the playoffs.
Just how good are the Chargers when healthy?
As everyone knows, the Bolts added some playmakers this season. They upgraded many areas of their team and they are also coming off a very disappointing, yet not terrible season. The offseason has been a disaster, however, from the talks of relocating to Los Angeles, to Eric Weddle not being extended which then lead to a brief holdout and then the biggest bomb of them all, future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates being suspended for Performance Enhancing Drugs.
So why the optimism?
Well, the Chargers are good. REALLY good. Tom Telesco has altered the o-line as one of the best in the AFC, gave Rivers another weapon in Stevie Johnson, got more physical defensively with the signing of Patrick Robinson and Jimmy Wilson and made the return game something teams fear with the signing of Jacoby Jones.
Is it enough?
The schedule this season is very favorable. Early on in the year is the toughest stretch, with games in Cincinnati, Minnesota and Green Bay and games at home vs Pittsburgh and Detroit. I mention these five games because they seem to bring the toughest competition to the Bolts.
Early in the season, it is not that big of a deal to drop a game or two to a team of that caliber. Win two of those five and you’re set up perfectly for the stretch run. The notable games after the bye week (week 10): Home/away versus the Chiefs, home/away versus the Broncos and home against the Dolphins. These are very winnable games and with the depth and offensive line that Telesco has provided, the Chargers should be able to compete and win at least three of these five games mentioned.
That leaves you at 5-5 through the toughest stretches of the schedule. The remaining games are at home versus the Browns, Raiders, Bears and on the road against Raiders, Ravens and Jaguars. Five of the six just named are extremely winnable with the Baltimore game being winnable, but a difficult game, nonetheless (and Chargers have experience winning there as they did it this past season). That leaves the Chargers final record at 10-6 or 11-5 and should be enough for a wild card berth and a potential AFC West division title.
The key to the playoffs is health (also, having an elite QB in Philip Rivers doesn’t hurt either) and the Chargers have depth, but will they stay healthy? Head coach Mike McCoy has been doing a great job trying to keep everyone healthy during training camp. That won’t change during the regular season.
On paper, this is the most talented team the Chargers have had since 2009 where the Bolts went 13-3 and snatched up the second seed in their conference. The AFC doesn’t seem to have that one Superbowl favorite team that you know will dominate the conference. It is wide-open, and the way Telesco has built this roster, the Chargers very well could end the year in Santa Clara playing in Superbowl 50.
Do you think the Chargers have what it takes to reach the Super Bowl? Let me know in the comments!
After suffering a season-ending broken fibula in week three of the 2014 season, running back Danny Woodhead is ready to get back out on the field with his teammates.
“It’s been a long process,” he admitted via an article on Chargers.com. “But definitely it makes you hungrier when the game is taken away. It makes you realize how blessed you are to play it. Not that I didn’t understand that before, but when it is taken away for such a long amount of time, it makes you even hungrier. You miss being out there with your brothers. I’m excited for this season. I’m always excited, but my mentality might even be younger and hungrier than ever before.”
“I mean, I look forward to it every year because it is being back with the guys. There is so much that is put in to building a team, and you want to reach the playoffs and the Super Bowl. The offseason is very crucial. So I am always excited, but when you’ve been out for a little bit longer, you 100% look forward to it more. I’ve always said I look forward to everything that we do, but this is more excited than I’ve ever been.”
The loss of Woodhead last season changed the entire dynamic of the San Diego offense. The 30-year-old veteran provides so much versatility as a runner and receiving option. Additionally, Woodhead is solid as a pass protector when called upon to do so, a much underrated portion of his game.
If Woodhead can return to full health by the beginning of the regular season, the Charger offense would certainly benefit. In 2013, his first season with the team, he set career-highs in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. The threat of him as a safety valve for Philip Rivers makes it difficult for opposing teams to gameplan against. He provides a matchup nightmare for linebackers in coverage, as they just can’t keep up with him.
The addition of Melvin Gordon in this year’s draft will, without a doubt, help keep Woodhead fresh. After losing Ryan Mathews in free agency, Gordon is a welcome addition to the running back corps. Second-year running back Branden Oliver will also be in the mix for carries, along with Donald Brown.
The Chargers have a backfield that should provide them with a variety of options regardless of the down. Woodhead will definitely be a factor and make an impact. The fact that he had to sit out most of last season leads one to believe that he is primed and ready to go in 2015.
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