General manager Tom Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy were in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to take in workouts and evaluate some of the top talent available in the upcoming draft. When the Chargers officially go on the clock with the 25th overall pick on May 8th, Telesco and McCoy may reflect back on what they saw at the combine to come to a decision on their first-round selection.
Here are 10 of the top players the Chargers should target in Round 1.
1. Justin Gilbert
|Vertical Jump||35.5 inches|
Gilbert solidified himself as the top corner in the draft with an impressive showing at the combine that included a 4.37 40, which was the fastest of the day. NFL.com labeled Gilbert "the most physically gifted cover man in this year's draft" and suggests he'll be ready for a starting job on day one of his rookie season.
The Chargers lack a shutdown corner in the secondary and Gilbert could be the first piece of the puzzle in fixing one of the league's worst pass defenses from a year ago.
2. Darqueze Dennard
Dennard put the final touch on his resume with a better-than-expected 40 time at the combine, placing him in the same conversation as Gilbert for the title of top corner. The 2013 Jim Thorpe Award winner is considered the more physical defensive back of the two and is a favorite of NFL media draft analyst Mike Mayock, per Mike Huguenin of NFL.com.
With Gilbert likely drawing most of the attention in the first round, Dennard could be a more realistic option for the Chargers at 25.
3. Zack Martin
|Bench Press||29 reps|
Martin started in all 52 games played for the Fighting Irish at tackle but a move inside suits him best at the next level. Senior Bowl executive director and former NFL general manager Phil Savage ranked Martin the top offensive line prospect on the North squad in Mobile, Ala. and views the former Notre Dame standout as a plug-in starter in his rookie season.
The Chargers have a need for interior linemen, but Martin's versatility at tackle could also benefit an offensive line that was riddled with injuries last season.
4. Mike Evans
|Vertical Jump||37 inches|
A deep receiver class could force Evans to fall right into the hands of San Diego in the latter part of the first round. Johnny Manziel's right-hand man set several receiving records at Texas A&M and has the desired size of a No. 1 target in the NFL.
Evans draws an uncanny resemblance to former Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson in the passing game—a luxury Philip Rivers should remember perfectly before the days of Keenan Allen.
5. Dee Ford
Ford talked an awfully big game before the combine, telling Sirius XM NFL Radio that he was better than top-rated prospect Jadeveon Clowney (h/t to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com). Ford was unable to back up the talk, however, when he was forced to withdraw from activities due to medical reasons stemming from a herniated disc in his back, per Steve Wyche of the NFL Network.
The Chargers continue to search for an elite pass-rusher in the draft, and Ford has the ability to be that player on the edge as an outside linebacker.
6. Louis Nix III
A slimmed-down version of Nix was on display in Indianapolis, looking to improve his draft stock and put to bed concerns over a torn meniscus last season. The Notre Dame product weighed in just over 330 pounds and was in good spirits during his combine presser with the media (h/t Josh Katzowitz of CBSSports.com).
Nix projects well as a scheme fit for the Chargers, who could potentially lose last season's starting defensive tackle Cam Thomas to free agency.
7. Marqise Lee
|Vertical Jump||38 inches|
Allen's breakout rookie year has him in a position to be San Diego's No. 1 receiver next season, but the Chargers lack reliable options in the passing game to pair with him. Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander suffered major injuries in 2013 both of which could be career threatening.
Lee's decision to return to USC may have hurt him in the end as he struggled with several injuries over the course of last season, but he remains one of the top receivers available and the Chargers need to add weapons at a potentially thin position.
8. Bradley Roby
|Vertical Jump||38.5 inches|
Roby's draft stock was hovering between the first and second rounds before the combine, but he cemented his spot as a first-rounder after the trip to Indy, according to Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report. Roby was just a hair behind the top 40 time among defensive backs and showed off an impressive vertical.
If Roby is still in play at pick 25, can the Chargers afford to pass on him?
9. David Yankey
|Bench Press||22 reps|
Yankey helped Stanford set a school rushing record with his play at left guard and that sort of effort is greatly needed in San Diego. The Chargers did the offensive line justice in selecting D.J. Fluker in the first round of last year's draft but some more adjustments need to be made.
Yankey started in all 42 games he played with the Cardinal and could be the extra help Ryan Mathews needs to have another big year in the ground game.
10. Jason Verrett
|Vertical Jump||39 inches|
A blazing 40 time, impressive vertical jump and "terrific performance in the position-specific portion of the workout" made Verrett a winner at the combine, according to Bucky Brooks of NFL.com. What may cause teams to shy away from the TCU defensive back, however, is his 5'9" stature.
Verrett has the skills necessary to solve San Diego's woes in pass defense, but his size could pose a problem.
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