The 2013 NFL Scouting Combine wraps up Tuesday as the safeties and defensive backs wrap up a hectic week in Indianapolis. Like most combines, there were players who impressed and players who disappointed. Teams will review notes before setting off to individual players' pro days as their final task before the 2013 NFL Draft in April.
For the San Diego Chargers, the combine offered the new regime of Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy an opportunity to narrow their list of possible players to take come April 25th. For general manager Telesco, his first draft will he harshly reviewed. There is a lot of pressure for the Chargers to get things turned around and the first step of that is to excel in the draft.
Here are some of the takeaways that the Chargers have following an intense week of scouting in Indianapolis.
All Combine stats were found on NFL.com unless otherwise stated.
It has been known for a while that the Chargers are in need of an offensive lineman, and will address that area in the draft. Numerous mock drafts have the Chargers taking either an offensive guard or a tackle with the No. 11 pick.
The combine made sure that the Chargers will take an offensive tackle with their first pick. This offensive tackle group is very talented at the top and the Chargers cannot afford to pass on either Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson. I believe that Lane Johnson will be the man that ends up being drafted by the Chargers. Fisher will go before No. 11, but Lane Johnson is a complete athletic monster that will be a great upgrade to the Chargers offensive line.
Johnson was a beast at the combine. The offensive tackle ran the 40-yard dash in 4.72, which was the second fastest out of the offensive tackles. He bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times and recorded an impressive 34-inch vertical. Johnson is one of the most athletic offensive tackles in the draft and it showed.
According to Michael Gehlken, Johnson’s stock is on the rise and it is possible that the Chargers won’t be able to get him. The Eagles and the Browns both interviewed Johnson during the combine and both teams will pick ahead of the Chargers in the draft. Those two teams have other areas that will likely leave Johnson on the board for the Chargers to swoop up.
In Tom Telesco’s first draft he is given the luxury of having the opportunity to draft a player that could start in the NFL on the offensive line for many years. The Chargers have plenty of holes to fill as they claw their way back into playoff contention, but none are bigger than the offensive line. In the first round of NFL draft the Chargers will draft an offensive tackle and you can partially thank Johnson's impressive combine for that.
Much like I talked about in the first slide, the offensive line class is deep. This includes both the guard and tackle positions. This depth will free up the Chargers to address other weaknesses early in the draft. The offensive line (although the biggest weakness) is not the only concern heading into the 2013 season as the Chargers need to address concerns in the secondary and the lack of electric offensive weapons.
The Chargers need help at cornerback and the second round could be the perfect place for the Chargers to make a move to improve their secondary. A player like Logan Ryan or Xavier Rhodes could be on the board in the second round, and with the luxury of knowing they will still be able to add a talented offensive lineman later, Rhodes or Ryan could be taken by the Chargers.
The Chargers could also possibly add a player like Tavon Austin. Austin is an electric player, something that the Chargers have been missing since the departure of Darren Sproles. Austin had an exciting combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds. He also finished near the top of the receiver class in the 20-yard shuffle. Austin’s game is about speed and quickness, two things that Chargers are missing on their offense.
Not taking an offensive lineman here would be a gamble for Tom Telesco, but thanks to great performances turned in by many offensive line prospects, he should have a little more confidence in making a move like this.
Much has been talked about the depth of the offensive line class in this year’s draft. Well, the opposite can be said about this year’s running back class. There is not an outstanding player that has teams lined up to take him as soon as they can. This also works in the Chargers' favor. When there are a few talented players at a position, they drive up the value of the other prospects. In this year's draft, most of the running backs are clumped together, leaving the Chargers a chance to get a valued back late in the draft.
The Chargers will not be drafting this running back to come in and replace the often-injured Ryan Mathews. They will solely taking a running back to add depth that will help take the burden off of Mathews. A player like Le’Veon Bell might be the perfect addition for the Chargers.
Bell had a tremendous senior year at Michigan State and a solid combine workout helped cement Bell as a mid- to late-round pick. Bell stands at 6’1” and weighs 230 pounds. Bell has also shown that he is durable and can withstand the beating of being a every-down back. This should excite the Chargers has they continue to search for someone to spell Mathews throughout games.
Bell isn’t a player who will run away from any defenses in open field but he is a big back who is not afraid of contact. He has shown during his time at Michigan State that he can pick up short yardage. Bell is also a decent receiver when coming out of the backfield. All of these abilities are in areas where the Chargers struggled in 2012.
The Chargers need to add depth to their backfield, but with a free agency period that should focus on the offensive line they will need to add a running back in the later part of the draft. Bell showed at the combine he might be the perfect back to come in and help complete the Chargers’ backfield.