Oklahoma left tackle Lane Johnson is one of the top options for the Chargers.
The San Diego Chargers will take their new front office and coaching staff to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine to continue scouting for the 2013 NFL draft. New general manager Tom Telesco will now have his staff completely organized with a clear plan for what they are going to accomplish in Indianapolis.
The general public watches NFL Network to see the prospects get measured by stopwatch, cord, laser, Bod Pod, camera and Tricorder while wearing the latest fashionable male leotards. The real work is done behind the scenes, where teams are interviewing prospects.
Players are grilled on their past and the team already has the most of the answers. Football intelligence is tested and the team tries to get a feel for how the players will fit on their teams. Teams want players who love football and to know what they are getting.
There’s also the medical component of the combine. Prospects are poked, prodded, dipped and scanned to determine if they have any preexisting conditions the team needs to be worried about. The teams often want to check the progress of players who are coming off injuries to see if they will be ready by training camp of if they might be out significantly longer.
Teams will often fall for a prospect or remove their name from the board entirely at the combine. Essentially, teams will buy or sell prospects based on a lot of the information they get at the combine. Which top names will be good fits with the Chargers, and which ones are not?
The Chargers will probably not have a chance to draft left tackle Luke Joeckel, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be an amazing fit. It’s no secret the Chargers need a left tackle, and Joeckel is the considered the best one in the draft.
In the off-chance that other teams view Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson over Joeckel; the Chargers need to be prepared. The Chargers could even slide up a couple slots to draft Joeckel if one of the other offensive tackles were to go off the board first.
Most offensive linemen are usually pretty clean prospects, but there is some concern that Joeckel’s arms might be shorter than you would prefer for a franchise left tackle. Regardless of his measurables, the Chargers will be buying Joeckel at the combine.
Alabama offensive guard Chance Warmack is considered one of the safest players in the draft. Warmack is clearly the top player at his position and some team is going to be really happy to get him. The Chargers need offensive line help, so all of the offensive line options should be considered.
The problem is scheme fit. The Chargers will probably transition to more zone-blocking techniques in 2012 and a power guard is just not worth such a high pick. While zone-blocking teams often focus on left tackles in the draft, it’s rare for them to take a guard early.
Warmack might be a great player, but don’t expect the Chargers to have a lot of interest.
Eric Fisher takes protecting the quarterback seriously.
The expectation is that Joeckel is going to go early, but beyond that it will be interesting to see where Eric Fisher lands. If the Chargers prefer Fisher or have him graded closely with Joeckel, it would be reasonable to assume they would move up to land him.
Many of Fisher’s measurables are already available because he participated in the Senior Bowl last month where he dominated the competition. Fisher’s stock has been rising since the Senior Bowl with some scouts asking if he could be better than Joeckel.
Alen Dumonjic analyzed Fisher’s play at Central Michigan for thescore.com and believes he could become and All-Pro left tackle in at the NFL. Fisher isn’t without a few issues, but all of them appear to be correctable. He’s coming on strong and the Chargers should be heavily interesting in him.
Jarvis Jones is one of the more interesting prospects in the draft. Not only does he have spinal stenosis, but scouts grade him vastly differently. Some believe Jones is a top-10 pick as a 3-4 outside linebacker, while others are calling him a third-round pick.
Jones has also been given a clean bill of health according to NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt.
The Chargers have all kind of potential turnover in the front seven and could use a pass-rusher, but Jones doesn’t seem like an ideal fit. Not only to the team draft an outside linebacker in the first round last year, but Jones might not be an elite player at the NFL level.
Jones might lack some of the necessary physical skills to become an elite pass-rusher at the NFL level, such as hip flexibility. While Jones might become a solid player, the Chargers will look elsewhere to shore up the pass rush.
Lane Johnson was able to slow down top defensive end prospect Damontre Moore.
If both Joeckel and Fisher are gone, the Chargers might still be in luck because there is a third left tackle prospect who could be just as good. Oklahoma left tackle Lane Johnson is a top prospect in his own right and he’s still learning the position.
Johnson is an athletic tackle that many people are comparing to Joe Staley because he’s only been playing tackle for a couple years. He’s also got longer arms than Fisher (and probably Joeckel) and would be an ideal fit in a zone-blocking scheme where he’s asked to use his movement skills.
In just about every mock draft, Johnson is the presumed pick for the Chargers. It’s tough to find a reason why the Chargers would not be buying Johnson to be their next left tackle. It’s even possible that the Chargers have Johnson graded higher than Joeckel and Fisher because of the new blocking scheme.
Jesse Williams certainly has an interesting hair style.
Three players rotated at the nose tackle position for the Chargers in 2012. Aubrayo Franklin was the best of the three and he’s a free agent. Antonio Garay is likely going to be a cap casualty and Cam Thomas hasn’t yet proven he’s an every down player. The Chargers could use a nose tackle upgrade.
Despite there being some need for a nose tackle, the Chargers have used two early picks on the defensive line in the last two years. Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes could become one of the better 3-4 defensive end combos in the NFL, and that gives the Chargers the luxury of piecing together the nose tackle position.
Jesse Williams out of Alabama is not a sexy pick, and he’s also not a pick the Chargers should make after having invested so much in the defensive line in recent years. The draft is also deep, and there are a couple of other nose tackles prospects the Chargers could get later in the draft.
Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright are the only cornerbacks on the roster that should make the team next season. Expecting both Gilchrist and Wright to step into starting roles is probably asking way too much. The Chargers need a cornerback and they could be in position to land the best one in the class.
Dee Milliner is a tall, lengthy cornerback. He’s a willing tackler and likes to play physical football. While this draft class is chock full of cornerbacks, the Chargers may not get an instant starter if they wait too long to draft one.
The Chargers should probably draft two cornerbacks, but at least one of them needs to be an instant starter capable of matching up with No. 1 wide receivers. Milliner is that player.
After the combine the cornerback rankings get messed up because of the 40-yard-dash times, which is funny because cornerbacks don’t often run in a straight line. Milliner might not be one of the fastest cornerbacks, but that shouldn’t deter the Chargers from buying Milliner.
Takeo Spikes is scheduled to make a lot of money in 2013, and there are people who are wondering if he might be a cap casualty. If Spikes were to be released, the Chargers would have a huge hole at inside linebacker next to Donald Butler. Demorrio Williams played well in limited snaps and should be brought back for depth, but the Chargers have a need at the position.
Alec Ogletree is fits the mold of the new breed of linebackers necessary to defend the passing game in the NFL. Ogletree was a safety just two year ago, making him capable in coverage. Ogletree is a dynamic player, but he’s also not real stout against the run.
Ogletree has some off-the-field issues, doesn’t use his hands real well to shed blocks and misses a lot of tackles for a linebacker. Ogletree’s physical ability will make a lot of people talk about at the combine, but he who doesn’t really fit in the 3-4 defense. The Chargers will sell on Ogletree.
If the Chargers are going to fix Philip Rivers, they are going to do it with pass protection and by providing him adequate offensive weapons. While offensive tackle has to be considered, the Chargers might also fall in love with a top pass-catcher.
Cordarrelle Patterson has just one year of experience at the FBS level, but it was a good one. He’s a dynamic athlete who is still a bit raw, but he’s one of only a couple physical freaks at the position this year.
Patterson is tall, well-built wide receiver who has elite potential. Even if Patterson needs a year at the NFL level to get comfortable, he’s got added value as a return man. There will be a few teams drafting after the Chargers who will be pretty sad to see Patterson get taken earlier than expected.
If giving Rivers a weapon is the goal, the Chargers will be buying Patterson. Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd aren’t getting any younger, and Danario Alexander would be a lot better as the No. 2 option.
Gates is slowly declining and the Chargers need to have his successor on the roster as soon as possible. Since Ladarius Green saw very limited action in 2012, there’s no way to know if he’s going to develop into a suitable replacement
It’s hard not to like Zach Ertz’s production and size. He’d instantly replace Randy McMichael as the team’s second tight end.
It’s worth noting that Ertz might be a superior prospect to Coby Fleener, who Telesco had a big hand in drafting with the Colts in 2012. Both Ertz and Fleener went to Stanford, and Fleener was taken with the 34th overall pick. Realistically Ertz should go a little higher in the draft than Fleener did last season.
Telesco also had a hand in drafting tight end Dwayne Allen a round after Fleener, who ended up having a fantastic rookie year. Telesco drafted two tight ends and the Broncos signed two tight ends for Mike McCoy’s offense in Denver.
All signs point to the Chargers at least considering a tight end, but the team should sell the entire idea. Even if Ertz becomes a great tight end, he might not be worth the 11th overall pick—especially not in a year where the Chargers have so many needs.