San Diego Chargers Mock Draft: Final 7 Round Predictions
After countless hours of watching game tape, attending pro days and hosting visits, the San Diego Chargers are just a few days away from welcoming the 2014 draft class.
In just his second year as general manager, Tom Telesco will attempt to one-up last year's class, which produced D.J. Fluker, Manti Te'o and the biggest steal of the 2013 draft—Keenan Allen. Telesco's draft strategy helped catapult the Chargers into the postseason for the first time since 2009, but can he build another successful group despite his team sitting in the bottom half of all seven rounds?
That shouldn't be a problem in what's being called the deepest draft in over a decade.
The hype surrounding Round 1 has been off the charts as a result of the draft being moved back a month, and if all the buzz is true, Thursday evening at the famed Radio City Music Hall shouldn't disappoint. But as the eve of draft night approaches, there's still time left for one more mock before the clock officially starts.
Strap in and get ready, people. It's draft week.
All combine results and draft projections courtesy of NFL.com
Round 1: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Round 1 could present a challenging scenario for the Chargers if the player they want isn't there. As Telesco noted in his annual draft address (courtesy of Chargers.com), picking as far back as 25 may require some flexibility.
When you pick 25 you have to be flexible. You really can’t zero in on one guy or position. The farther back you pick you have to be ready to obviously pick, trade up or trade down. Last year when you pick at 11, you’re going to get a blue player. You may not know exactly who but you feel you’re going to get a blue difference maker. When you pick at 25, there may not be one there. You may want to get out. So you have to be flexible.
Blue players, as Telesco refers to them, are top prospects who scouts have deemed pro-ready or instant-impact players. These are the players teams strive to find with their first-round pick—a guy ready to contribute early and often.
That description matches up well with Virginia Tech corner Kyle Fuller. Considered one of the top five prospects at his position, Fuller would present San Diego with the answer to its problems in the secondary. That plan could be altered, however, if another teams shares the same interest in the Hokie standout.
If Fuller goes off the board before the Chargers go on the clock, I don't see Telesco settling for undersized corner prospect Jason Verrett. Ohio State's Bradley Roby could be an alternative route, but his off-the-field issues are concerning. Flexibility could come into play with San Diego trading out if a blue player isn't available.
Round 2: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
An aggressive hand could be needed from Telesco early in Round 2 if he plans on making a play for BYU's do-it-all linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Projected as a potential first-round or early second-round pick, Van Noy worked out for the Chargers in late April according to National Football Post, and his interest in joining the team is sky high.
Van Noy spoke with Darren Smith of The Mighty 1090 AM radio and he seemed sold on San Diego as a fit.
I’m going to be real with you, it would be like the ideal place for me. I’ve been a Chargers fan for a while. There’s beautiful weather, and I’ve got family there as well. So San Diego would be my No. 1 spot, even though being in this draft you’re not supposed to have favorites.
If Telesco is sold on Van Noy as a fit as well, he could make a similar transaction like the one he performed in the 2013 draft. When Te'o fell into the second round last year, Telesco moved up seven spots to snatch up the Notre Dame linebacker, parting with a fourth-round pick in the process.
Depending on where Van Noy's stock is valued, the Chargers could make a similar deal if the asking price isn't too steep. Selecting Van Noy would make a lot of sense for a team that currently has two starters on the other side of 30 (Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson).
Round 3: Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
Esteemed draft analyst Mike Mayock of the NFL Network says Clemson's Martavis Bryant would be a good fit for the Chargers in the second round. Bryant's projected draft stock, however, ranges anywhere from the second round all the way down to the fifth.
The "other" receiver at Clemson managed 42 receptions for 828 yards and seven touchdowns in the shadow of teammate and top receiver prospect Sammy Watkins. As Mayock put it, Bryant possesses an "awe-inspiring skill set" for a receiver his size, but he's far from a finished product.
A bigger receiver like Bryant would allow the Chargers to return a red-zone threat on offense, which they lost in injured veteran Malcom Floyd last season. A request for more speed on offense by Telesco could also be satisfied in selecting Bryant after he posted a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine—faster than Watkins.
Round 4: Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
The Chargers will likely miss out on "Irish Chocolate" (Louis Nix III) if they ignore the defensive tackle position in the first two rounds, but they could still satisfy their sweet tooth with the man known as "Jelly Bean" (Justin Ellis).
Sporting a similar body type to Notre Dame's Nix, Ellis used his 6'1", 334-pound frame to rack up 48 tackles with 5.5 for loss in his senior season at Louisiana Tech. Ellis struggled with injuries early in his career, but his body bounced back in 2013 as he started all 12 games for the Bulldogs.
At the combine, Ellis recorded slightly faster times in the agility drills than the numbers Nix produced at his pro day, and he looked very nimble in position drills. Ellis may not have enjoyed as fruitful of a career as Nix coming from a smaller school, but he possesses the same traits San Diego is looking for at the nose tackle spot.
According to Ricky Henne of Chargers.com, San Diego is still invested in Sean Lissemore, whom the team traded for last season. Kwame Geathers, an undrafted free agent from 2013, is also on the roster for next season. Look for Ellis to compete in a rotation, allowing more freedom for defensive coordinator John Pagano.
Round 5: Brandon Thomas, OL, Clemson
San Diego could be rewarded with a pair of Clemson Tigers if Brandon Thomas is still on the board in the fifth round.
Thomas suffered a torn ACL during a workout session in early April that will almost certainly cause his stock to plummet, but how far he'll fall is the difficult question to answer. Once regarded as one of the top guard prospects in the draft, Thomas has a long road to recovery before he can contribute for an NFL team.
The Chargers don't have an immediate need at guard with starters in place for next season, but Thomas could be the upgrade the team is looking for in the near future. Jeromey Clary hasn't been efficient in his transition from tackle to guard and Chad Rinehart wasn't able to stay healthy. Thomas could take the time needed for his recovery and still be in the mix for a starting spot the following year.
A two year-starter at left tackle, Thomas projects better inside at the next level and could prove to be yet another steal for San Diego if he's able to return to his former self.
Round 6: Zach Moore, DE, Concordia-St. Paul
Concordia's first invitee to the NFL combine could also become the school's first draft pick given the interest he generated late in the scouting process. Zach Moore had nine visits and 14 workouts that included the Chargers, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
A finalist for the Division II Player of the Year award, Moore tallied 33 tackles and seven sacks in 2013. His previous year was his best to date, however, with 39 tackles and 14 sacks. Moore dominated the competition at Concordia, and his physical talents were on display at the combine.
A 10'9" broad jump was tied for fourth among defensive lineman and he had a decent 40-yard dash of 4.84. Going defense again in the sixth round might seem like overdoing it, but think of the depth behind Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes—or lack thereof.
NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki also suggests Moore could be tried as an outside linebacker. Alternatively, Round 6 could make way for another receiver to join the ranks.
Round 7: Garrett Scott, OL, Marshall
Line depth is a big concern for San Diego after witnessing the slew of injuries that occurred at all five spots in 2013.
King Dunlap performed well when he was on the field, but multiple concussions forced him to miss some time. With Dunlap out, the Chargers had to shuffle Fluker to the left side and Clary back to right tackle in an attempted effort to give Philip Rivers enough time in the pocket.
Garrett Scott played both tackle spots and guard for Marshall. Despite earning a second team All-Conference USA selection in his senior season, Scott was not invited to the combine, but that hasn't stopped teams from inquiring about his services.