San Diego Chargers 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling
The San Diego Chargers need to draft well in order to add young talent to their football team. General manager Tom Telesco didn't have the resources to spend freely in free agency, nor would that necessarily have been the smart thing to do.
San Diego's offense was fantastic in 2013 and basically carried the team to the postseason. High draft picks were wisely reserved for the defense (with the exception of one used for a right guard). As far as needs go, the Chargers did a great job filling their biggest ones.
The Chargers addressed the cornerback, outside linebacker, offensive guard and nose tackle positions with their first four picks. Three of the first four picks came on the defensive side of the ball, just as they should have been.
Even the best drafts aren't void of a few head-scratchers on draft day. Misses happen for a variety of reasons.
The Chargers had a great draft with multiple good picks, but they also made one bad and one baffling decision.
2014 Draft Picks
Round 1, Pick 25 - Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Round 2, Pick 50 - Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
Round 3, Pick 89 - Chris Watt, OG, Notre Dame
Round 5, Pick 165 - Ryan Carrethers, NT, Arkansas State
Round 6, Pick 201 - Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State
Round 7, Pick 240 - Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor
Round 2, Pick 50—Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB
One of the reasons San Diego's defense struggled last year was because of it lacked a pass rush. Outside linebackers Melvin Ingram and Dwight Freeney got hurt, and the Chargers struggled without them.
The entire defense was better once Ingram returned from injury late in the season. That's no accident.
Freeney is 34 and coming off a torn quad, so the Chargers don't really know how good he will be. It's also the final year of his contract and there isn't anyone pushing for his spot.
Enter Attaochu at 6'3" and 252 pounds. The Chargers moved up to get Attaochu, which was a great move, even at the expense of their fourth-round pick.
"He (was) the last of the true 3-4 outside linebackers in this draft," NFL Network Analyst Mike Mayock said after he was drafted. "Attaochu can play inside or outside or with his hand in the dirt. I love his motor, and he makes plays everywhere."
Attaochu is a home run for Telesco and the Chargers.
Round 3, Pick 89—Chris Watt, OG
Right guard Jeromey Clary has been a whipping boy of Chargers fans for years now. Even when the team replaced him at right tackle, he found a new home at right guard and continued to drive the fans crazy with his play.
Now, Clary's days on the roster may be numbered. At $6.3 million in salary, Clary is far too expensive to even be on the roster when the Chargers can save $4.6 million by cutting him. They now also have a good alternative to take over his guard spot.
At 6'3" and 310 pounds, Watt is a decent size for a zone-blocking guard. He's got a nasty demeanor, he's a technician and he should be a Day 1 starter for the Chargers.
NFL.com's draft profile on Watt has this to say about him:
Good-sized, physical, competitive, bump-and-steer technician with starter-caliber ability in multiple schemes. Has a desirable temperament for the position and is a projectable, low-risk prospect.
Goodbye, Clary. We knew you too well.
Round 5, Pick 165—Ryan Carrethers, NT
As nose tackle like Carrethers isn't going to be an every-down player. That's okay because that's not his role.
Carrethers is a space-eater responsible for stuffing the run and forcing teams to run laterally. He primarily does one thing, but he can do it well. At 6'1" and 337 pounds, he'll occupy quite a bit of space in the middle.
No, he isn't an elite athlete for his size, and he doesn't have long arms. But Carrethers is strong, having benched 225 pounds 32 times at the combine.
A good nose tackle is essential in San Diego if inside linebackers Manti Te'o and Donald Butler are going to be impact players. In the fifth round, Carrethers was well worth the pick.
Round 7, Pick 240—Tevin Reese, WR
While Reese is small at 5'10" and 163 pounds, he's also explosive. At the combine, Reese ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds, but he had a 41" vertical jump and a broad jump of 11'0". Reese is also fluid, as evidenced by his 6.63-second three-cone drill time.
That kind of athleticism is worth a seventh-round pick more often than not. The Chargers can use Reese as a gadget player initially and eventually as a slot guy along the lines of Eddie Royal.
Reese athleticism alone makes him worth developing, even if it takes some time.
Round 6, Pick No. 201—Marion Grice, RB
Another running back? How many running backs are the Chargers going to keep on their 53-man roster? Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown are virtually locks for 2014, which means Grice would have to make it as a fourth.
Running backs have become a dime a dozen, so a player like Grice should be easy to find next season. Zone runners are usually even easier to find if history is any indication.
Unless Grice is going to push the three backs ahead of him for playing time in 2013, the pick seems like a waste.
On the positive side, Grice can be a good player if the Chargers give him enough of an opportunity. Grice will likely make the team as a returner in 2014.
It's hard to find much fault in Telesco's draft as it was solid from top to bottom. The pick of Grice just happened to be toward the bottom of list.
Round 1, Pick 25 - Jason Verrett, CB
Normally, a baffling pick would be a bad one. In this case, that's not necessarily true. The thing that is baffling is that the Chargers opted for a player at No. 25 overall who may project as a slot corner.
A cornerback fills the team's biggest need, and Verrett is a very good player, but his size may limit him at the pro level. Verrett is just 5'9" and 189 pounds.
Verrett has virtually every other trait a team could want in a cornerback, but the Chargers really needed a someone who could slow down AFC West receivers, like Demaryius Thomas (6'3") and Dwayne Bowe (6'2"). Verrett is going to lose some of those matchups regardless of how polished he is.
The good news is that Verrett will play right away. Rookie cornerbacks often take some time to adjust to the NFL game, but Verrett is technically sound enough to help the Chargers in 2013.