San Diego Chargers' Perfect Late-Round Draft Prospects

Rick Devereux@rick_devereuxContributor IIApril 10, 2013

San Diego Chargers' Perfect Late-Round Draft Prospects

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    Every draft is important for an NFL franchise, but this 2013 draft seems even more so for the San Diego Chargers and new general manager Tom Telesco. The previous regime under AJ Smith left gaping holes along the offensive line and a lack of depth in several positions. How Telesco uses the team’s seven picks will be an indicator of future success, not just in 2013, but in the years to come.

    But how close or how far away are the Bolts from the playoffs? The previously mentioned lack of depth is a real concern, and usually, late-round draft picks are expected to be backups and special teams contributors.

    For players selected in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds of this year’s draft, they may have to contribute sooner rather than later.

    The following players should be available when San Diego is on the clock for the No. 145 pick (fifth round), the No. 179 pick (sixth round) and the No. 221 pick (seventh round).

Hugh Thornton, OG, Illinois

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    It is no secret the Chargers desperately need to upgrade the offensive line. In the offseason, Telesco has added Chad Rinehart, Rich Ohrnberger and King Dunlap, free-agent acquisitions who can play multiple positions along the O-line.

    Thornton fits that mold and should be available when San Diego is on the clock in the fifth round. He played right tackle, left guard and left tackle in his four years at Illinois. Because of his size (6’3” 320 lbs.), Thornton is expected to play inside in the NFL.

    What Chargers fans will be excited about is Thornton’s nastiness. He was a two-time state wrestling champion in high school and continued to pin opponents to the ground while manning the line for the Illini.

Tharold Simon, CB, LSU

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    If someone was to tell you there was a cornerback from LSU available later in the draft, you may automatically think of Tyrann Mathieu, but Simon could end up being the better pro.

    At 6’2” and 202 lbs., Simon has the size teams drool over in defensive backs. The reason his name is not being mentioned for the higher rounds is because he only started one year, but he still managed to make plays (22 pass deflections and seven interceptions) in his three years of playing time.

    Simon may not start at corner or nickel right away, but he could develop into a regular contributor on defense as the season progresses. 

Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt

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    San Diego already has Ryan Mathews, re-signed Ronnie Brown and added Danny Woodhead, so why should the team use a valuable draft pick on another running back, even if it is in the sixth or seventh round?


    Because the team is still short a bruising short-yardage runner.

    Stacy tied for the fourth-most bench presses among running backs at the combine with 27, while also clocking in at 4.55 in the 40-yard dash.

    Last season, Stacy rushed for 1,141 yards (third-most in the SEC) and finished his collegiate career as Vanderbilt’s all-time leader in rushing yards (3,143) and rushing TDs (30). 

Sanders Commings, CB, Georgia

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    Sanders Commings has the experience at cornerback, but the size of a safety. Commings could be drafted in the final two rounds and be an immediate option at corner, nickel or safety.

    Even with the addition of Derek Cox to the defensive backfield, there are still questions regarding the other corner position, the nickel and dime defenders as well as another safety to pair with Eric Weddle.

    Commings could answer those questions.

T.J. Barnes, NT, Georgia Tech

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    The Chargers' defensive line is promising with young talent, but there is a lack of depth, especially in the middle. Cam Thomas is currently the starting interior defensive lineman now that Antonio Garay is gone.

    San Diego runs a 3-4 defense, and while there are a lot of talented defensive ends and defensive tackles in the draft, quality nose guards are a rarity.

    Barnes has the size (6’6” 396 lbs.) to occupy blockers while the linebackers make the tackle on the ball carrier.