San Diego Chargers Combine Preview: Top Targets, Sleepers and Prospects to Watch
What's been sometimes described as the most intense job interview in professional sports, the combine provides players with an opportunity to raise their draft stock while team representatives benefit from getting an up-close and personal look at prospects.
Here is a look at some of the top targets, sleepers and prospects to watch on San Diego's radar.
Top Target: CB Darqueze Dennard
Darqueze Dennard will be one of the top two cornerbacks taken off the board in May provided his showing at the combine includes a solid 40-yard dash time.
Mike Huguenin of NFL.com's College Football 24/7 writes that speed will be a key factor in Dennard's evaluation at the combine. Good vision and instincts are one thing, but Dennard has to show potential suitors he's the whole package.
Top Target: CB Jason Verrett
Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report offers a detailed breakdown of Jason Verrett that includes a very long list of positives.
What may hurt Verrett in the draft is a smaller stature that could affect his coverage skills at the next level. While size is important, especially at the combine where measurables mean almost everything, Verrett can redeem himself by showing teams he can make up for it with raw talent.
Top Target: CB Bradley Roby
Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report wrote "He may be the best athlete at cornerback that has entered the NFL since Patrick Peterson in 2011," in a detailed scouting report of Bradley Roby.
As it stands right now, Roby could be cracking the list as a top three or five cornerback in the draft. If Roby plans on making up ground to join Justin Gilbert and Dennard as top corner prospects, then the combine would be a good place to start.
Top Target: LB Kyle Van Noy
Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage awarded Kyle Van Noy his top positional rating, calling him (h/t Mark Inabinett of AL.com),"the most complete outside linebacker on the North and South rosters."
Van Noy isn't an elite pass-rusher comparable to Anthony Barr or Khalil Mack, but he does a lot of things well and can fit in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. Savage predicts Van Noy will be a starter in the NFL within two seasons.
Prospect to Watch: OG Gabe Jackson
Gabe Jackson received high praise from Senior Bowl executive direct Phil Savage, who ranked Jackson the top guard from the South roster. More importantly, Savage views Jackson as a starting guard in his first season in the NFL.
Free agency could force the Chargers to lose their starting guard from last season in Chad Rinehart, requiring an instant starter like Jackson to fill the void.
Prospect to Watch: CB Pierre Desir
Having played his entire collegiate career in Division II, Pierre Desir may not be ready for such a monumental jump in competition.
Even so, his size and ball skills peaked the interest of all those in attendance at the Senior Bowl, according to Mike Huguenin of College Football 24/7 on NFL.com. Desir has an opportunity to strike while the iron is hot and capitalize off the buzz he generated in Mobile, Ala., with a strong combine.
Prospect to Watch: LB Jeremiah Attaochu
Jeremiah Attaochu was one of the best pass-rushers in the ACC last season, but a week of practices at the Senior Bowl may have hurt the linebacker's draft stock moving forward.
As Steve Muench of ESPN noted in Mobile, Ala., Attaochu struggled in occasional man-to-man drills—something he didn't do a lot of for the Yellow Jackets (h/t Ken Sugiura of AJC.com). The team that drafts him will primarily be looking to utilize his strengths as a pass-rusher.
Sleeper: CB Keith McGill
Keith McGill towers over the traditional cornerback courtesy of a 6'3" frame, but his excessive size may affect his ability to play at the next level.
McGill will have to demonstrate at the combine that he has the necessary speed and quickness to stay with NFL receivers. An issue of durability could also loom over McGill, having played just one full season at Utah.
Sleeper: LB Devon Kennard
Devon Kennard played inside linebacker and defensive end before making the transition to outside linebacker, where he found himself to be most effective in 2013.
He totaled nine sacks and and 13.5 tackles for loss with the Trojans last season after missing all of 2012 with a torn chest muscle. A bounce-back year is a good start for Kennard, but a good combine would be the icing on top.