NFL Mock Draft: 7-Round San Diego Chargers Mock Draft

Alex Ramirez@@alexramirez127Correspondent IFebruary 23, 2012

NFL Mock Draft: 7-Round San Diego Chargers Mock Draft

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    The NFL draft is not that far away. A.J. Smith, who luckily kept his job, faces the same challenges he has the last three years. He needs to find a dominant pass rusher, a Darren Sproles-like back, a safety and a consistent cornerback.

    In recent years, Smith's drafts have been below average. Larry English was a terrible selection, and Corey Liuget wasn't all he was supposed to be his rookie season. Ryan Mathews has been the best first-round draft pick since Antonio Cromartie and Shawne Merriman. It's time for another solid draft class for the Chargers to get back to the playoffs.

    Here's who the Chargers should select in each round if they are still available.

1st Round: Nick Perry DE/OLB

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    Have you ever heard of a stud linebacker coming from the University of Southern Califonia? There is no surprise that USC is putting out another first-round pass-rusher. Hopefully, everyone remember the last time the Chargers had a linebacker from USC. If you don't, he goes by the name of Junior Seau.

    Nick Perry is a 6'3'', 250 lb. defensive end. It would be quite simple for San Diego to transition him into the linebacker position to take the spot of Larry English and Travis Laboy. Perry should be taken in the top 10 in my opinion, but with a lot of hype surrounding players like Courtney Upshaw, he could fall to No. 18, and if he does, the Chargers shouldn't think twice about taking him.

    If both Nick Perry and Courtney Upshaw are gone at No. 18, I see the Chargers taking an offensive lineman like Jonathan Martin from Stanford.

2nd Round: LaMichael James RB

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    This would send Mike Tolbert out the door, thankfully. Don't get me wrong, I love Tolbert's enthusiasm about the Chargers and his desire to play, but he slows the team down in many different areas. In Turner's offensive scheme, Tolbert is overused.

    It's already been shown that Ryan Mathews, when healthy, is an every-down back in this league. It's not enough, though. Even with LaDainian Tomlinson, the Chargers still needed that change-of-pace back, which was Darren Sproles.

    Darren Sproles is 5'6'' and 190 lbs.

    LaMichael James is 5'9'' and 185 lbs.

    James would be what the Chargers let go to keep Tolbert. He, like Darren Sproles, would excel mainly in the pass game, which would allow Rivers to open up his game like a year ago.

    I can also see San Diego using this pick on a player to help the secondary or a linebacker depending on Nick Perry in the first.

3rd Round: Nate Potter OL

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    The Chargers would be lucky if Potter fell this far. He could go as early as mid-second round but as late as the fourth round. Potter was the team captain at Boise State and is a very athletic lineman. His versatility allows him to either play the guard position or the tackle.

    With Nick Hardwick returning, the Chargers don't have to completely rebuild the front line. Marcus McNeill will more than likely be cut, and Kris Dielman may not return. Jared Gaither should be re-signed after ending the year very strong in San Diego.

    Potter, having played in a pass-first offense at BSU, would fit in perfectly in an open spot on the Chargers offensive line.

4th Round: Ladarius Green TE

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    An era is ending. We saw one leave in LaDainian Tomlinson, and Antonio Gates' time is coming as well. Honestly, Gates at 70 percent is probably better than most tight ends at 100 percent; he's just THAT good.

    Gates has been the go-to guy in San Diego and has about two more years in the tank. The Chargers need to do the smart thing and draft a young tight end to take over when Gates leaves.

    San Diego has Kory Sperry, a young tight end, on their roster already, but he isn't really what the Chargers want or need. Ladarius Green is.

    Green is 6'6'' and 237 lbs. He's known for his route running and catching ability. That's exactly what Antonio Gates is famous for. With two to three years of experience playing behind Gates, Green can become a dominant tight end in the NFL.

5th Round: Joe Adams WR

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    It would be very surprising if Joe Adams falls this far, but if he does, it will be because of his height. Adams is only 5'11'', but his speed and quickness definitely makes up for that. Adams won't be drafted to replace Vincent Jackson; he will be drafted to replace Patrick Crayton.

    Adams would become the No. 4 receiver behind Jackson, Floyd and Brown. The plus with Adams is that he has experience in punt returning and kick returning, something that Crayton was terrible at.

    Philip Rivers would love a consistent slot receiver. It would allow him to take more shots down the field.

6th Round: Sean Cattouse SS

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    Sean Cattouse will take some time to develop into a solid safety, but it's worth the risk. Playing alongside All-Pro Eric Weddle will speed that process up. If the Chargers sign a veteran safety in free agency, Cattouse would gain experience faster than ever.

    San Diego could even take a different approach with Cattouse. They could move him to cornerback and involve him in the rotation with Jammer, Cason and Gilchrist. That would only happen if a guy like Laron Landry or James Sanders was signed.

    Cattouse should be available in the sixth round, and the Chargers should jump all over him.

7th Round: Patrick Witt QB

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    This guy is an absolute stud all around. Earlier this year, Patrick Witt was given two choices, and he had to only pick one. Those two were to play against Yale's rival Harvard or attend the Rhode Scholars interview. He turned the interview down to play in the game, which they ended up losing badly.

    That pretty much shows his intelligence on and off the field. His passes are always on key, and he did all he did at Yale, where he didn't really have much to work with. He's an astounding 6'3''.

    He reminds me of Tom Brady. I know, I know, it's hard to compare a rookie to one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Witt will either be chosen very late in the draft, like Brady, but will end up shocking everyone with his ability.

    The Chargers need to draft Witt so he can learn under a Pro Bowl quarterback in Philip Rivers.