Who are the Chargers going to draft in the first round?

I am extremely excited and I expect to name at least a dozen possibilities throughout this email.  Most of the San Diego writers (and I would agree) that because the Chargers signed 15 offensive free agents (re-signing your own free agents such as Jared Gaither, Jacob Hester, and Randy McMichael counts), including 83 wide receivers (possibly an exaggeration), that the Chargers will be focusing on defense throughout the draft.  I completely agree with this focus.  So what have I been seeing ESPN draft guys Mel Kiper and Todd McShay say in their mocks?  Offensive lineman at the 18th pick.  Guys like OT/G David DeCastro from Stanford and Reilly Reif from Iowa.  Basically they keep saying that Jermoy Clary sucks and we need a RT.  First, he's not that bad, but we could use an improvement, second this has been the exact same issue for 4-8 years.  I don't think our success or failure depends on our right tackle.  I'm guessing AJ loves Gaither at LT anc Hardwick at C.  He likes Tyronne Green at LG and Vasquez at RG.  Clary and Dombrowski will be fine at RT, but I could see AJ looking for another young guy to maybe develop into a starter in the future, but not with the first round pick.  While AJ was sad to see Kris Dielman retire, he was ok, because he feels that Tyronne Green is ready to step into that starters role.  But I don't think we need to address this in the first round.  Would I be upset if we took a starting tackle in the first round?  No, because of the reason below.

Two years ago the Chargers T2 for sacks with 47 as a team, one behind Pittsburgh and tied with Green Bay and Oakland (what?  Oakland?  yep.).  So while the Chargers definitely could target a pass rusher with their first pick (what team in the NFL can't use another pass rusher?), firing Gregg Manusky and hiring Jim Pagano as defensive coordinator could be a bigger boost than a lot of people realize.  Pagano was the LB coach for the last few years and the Chargers really like him, but weren't sure he was ready to be the defensive coordinator last year.  Manusky failed to adjust within games and the Chargers had horrible, HORRIBLE results on third down.  The Chargers are confident that a scheme change can get them back to their 2010 ways.  Which means a pass-rusher is not a SPECIFIC need.  It's always a need, but we don't need to find a starter with our first pick.  Shaun Phillips and Jarret Johnson will be our starting OLB.  Johnson may come off the field on passing downs as he is a great run-stopper, but AJ seems to think he can grow as a pass-rusher.  It's also possible that Larry English stays healthy.  He isn't a bad pass rusher, he's just been injured so much.  So guys like Courtney Upshaw from Alabama, Melvin Ingram from South Carolina, Whitney Mercilus and Shea McClellin from Boise St. are all possibilities with the first pick. 

With the loss of Vincent Jackson, it's possible that Robert Meachem isn't quite the replacement.  A few studies have shown that stud WR really come from the first two rounds.  So Michael Floyd from Notre Dame is a possibility at the 18th pick.

As a Chargers fan, I kind of miss Jamal Williams.  Having a super star at NT in a 3-4 defense makes everyone else look better.  The only guy in this draft considered to be close to that would be Dontari Poe of Memphis.  While I really like Antonio Garay (REALLY glad we re-signed him.  To me, almost as important as re-signing Gaither, did not want to lose him) and Cam Thomas has the size/talent and could develop into a better NT, getting the next Jamal Williams or Haloti Ngata would trump any positional need.

DeCastro, Reif, Upshaw, Ingram, Mercilus, McClellin, Floyd, Poe.  Those are all guys I have seen linked to the Chargers picking at 18.  I'm also going to throw in Quentin Coples of North Carolina and Chandler Jones of Syracuse as other pass rushers who could fall to 18.  Other names that kind of come off the big board around where the Chargers could be drafting, based on my experience watching AJ Smith over the years: Stephen Gilmore CB South Carolina, Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama, Stephen Hill (6'4") WR Georgia Tech, Cordy Glenn G Georgia...

With all of these guys as potential targets, I could see the Chargers trading down a few spots, but I don't feel like that's AJ's style and with his job on the line, I think he's more likely to trade up, mortgage the future for an impact player.  Not saying he's going to trade up, but I wouldn't be shocked.

Which brings me to the biggest craziest trade that wouldn't surprise me at all.  The Chargers trade up and draft Mark Barron, S, Alabama.  Other safeties drafted in the first round over the last few years include Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, LaRon Landry, Michael Griffin, Michael Huff...and further back, Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed.  Safeties who grade into the first round can be pretty special players.  Strong safety is the only position on the Chargers where we have absolutely no idea who the starter will be.  I don't even know if we have a strong safety on the roster.  While I'm not always crazy about trading up, I would not be surprised or upset about trading up for this guy.

1 comment:

  1. I love the breakdown! Now I have to convince myself that Melvin "T-Rex Arms" Ingram is going to be a stud. Which hopefully he is.

    The good news is that it sounds like he'll be a great fit as a rushing linebacker in the 3-4.

    Hey look! The 2nd and 3rd rounds are coming up! Analysis / thoughts / predictions?