San Diego Chargers' Mock Draft: Minor Needs for Major Super Bowl Push
The past couple of months, many of you have seen me gave some pretty tough criticism on everyone and their San Diego Chargers mock draft. I felt it's only fair that I put up my own mock draft on who the Chargers should draft. Let's remember that I'm not saying who AJ Smith is going to draft but if I was him, these are the group of players I would draft base on the current situation with the CBA and recent events surrounding the team with potential free agents.
I hope you enjoy my mock draft as I invite any and all feedback.
1st Rd. 18th Pick: Gabe Carimi Immediate Help Will Go Beyond Just the Offense
Truth is, the Chargers don't have many needs. The one thing they do need to shore up on the higher quality of players they do have. Many argue that the Chargers need a OLB or a DE. That is one of the most logical argument anyone can make for drafting a defensive player in the first round. I on the other hand wouldn't mind getting a defensive player or a elite prospect at that but I do believe the Chargers should look at a different player to draft.
That player stands at 6'7", 315 lbs., from the University of Wisconsin. None other than OT Gabe Carimi.
There are a couple of reasons why I believe that Carimi is the best option at pick 18 and the first thing I'll state first is the upgrade in the running game.
The running game will be so important for the Chargers next season. The Chargers already have a "down your throat" pair of RB's. Those RB's will explode even further if their offensive line improve. The entire Chargers' offensive line are nasty players and Carimi fits into that mold. He may be a above average pass blocker but he won't be going against top notch pass rushers as a RT.
Having a more improved running game and giving Ryan Mathews another running game weapon will not only help the offense control the ball and the game with a lead, but more importantly, it will help a defense in transition under a new but familiar defensive coordinator.
Philip Rivers have the arm to destroy any defense regardless of who his starting receivers are. The problem will lie in the defense not having enough time to learn the new, although familiar scheme, while the CBA is still ongoing. The offense won't skip a beat and getting a new RT in there is a lot easier than getting a defensive player to learn a new playbook and scheme, along with everyone else, before the season starts.
Marcus McNeil at left tackle. Kris Dielman at left guard. Nick Hardwick a center. Louis Vasquez at right guard and possibly Gabe Carimi at right tackle. That'll be one heck of a offensive line. Besides, the defensive group of draftees is very deep.
2nd Rd. 18th Pick: Brandon Harris Will Solidify the CB Position
Some say that Brandon Harris will be a first round draft choice a couple of months ago. Now we're a couple of weeks away and it seems that there haven't been much talk about the young corner with many projecting him to go in the second round with the late first round being a big "what-if".
No one has as much upside than Brandon Harris at the CB position. The reason why I say that is because he's pure talent. Not too raw but not too great to where he's better than the top two CB's heading into the draft.
Harris is a great run support CB and doesn't shy away from contact. He's a instinctive type of player. He shown the ability to react to the ball in the air and make breaks on the run in order to make plays. Everything about Harris screams a player that will fit into Manusky's defensive scheme.
In a defense that is ultra aggressive as Manusky's defensive scheme, Harris will benefit greatly from the pressure the front seven will inflict on opposing QB's. But there is something else that made me believe Harris will be a better fit than other CB's and that is his ability to play the nickelback position.
Of all the CB's in the draft, no one is more capable and more experience than playing the nickelback position more so than Harris. The problem with ultra aggressive defenses like the Jets, Steelers, and Cowboys (under Wade Phillips) is that they are exposed by teams that have a competent QB that runs a spread offense. Having a player like Harris is a huge plus for the Chargers that may face the spread offense when and if they make the playoffs next season.
2nd Rd. 29th Pick: Jabaal Sheard to Add Stability to an Often Injured OLB Corp.
You don't hear much about Jabaal Sheard. That's because this is one of the most deepest front seven draft in a very long time. It's easy to see why he gets overshadowed. One thing is very evident, he will prove soon enough how underrated he really is amongst the best in the NFL draft.
Sheard is projected to be a project 3-4 OLB. I say he's a project if he's a player for a team that isn't aggressive and plays a zone blitz discipline defense like Ron Rivera. Sheard isn't going to be a project with Greg Manusky if he just so happens to find himself in San Diego. The reason is simple, he may not boast the fastest 40 yard dash but he does boast one of the fastest 10 yard splits out of all the DE's and OLB's in the draft.
Having a fast first step isn't something that can be coached. Technique is something he'll learn along the way and with the help of Shaun Phillips, who also has one of the fastest 10 yard splits during his draft year, he'll find his way.
The Chargers don't necessarily have a need at OLB only because they put up half of the Chargers second ranked sacks in the NFL. The problem is having consistency at the position which is something the Chargers didn't have last season in terms of personnel.
It should be noted that Sheard put up 52 tackles and nine sacks. Playing alongside the top defense in the NFL should only amplify his ability to get to the QB.
3rd Rd. 18th Pick: Lawrence Guy to Be the Best Not-Talked-About 3-4 DE in Draft
That's right, I said it. Lawrence Guy will be the most dominant 3-4 DE if he's taken by the Chargers come draft day.
Guy stands at 6'4", 304 lbs. with the words PURE SLEEPER written all over him. In 2010, Guy put up 41 total tackles, six tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. These numbers aren't as dominant as the top defensive linemen in the draft but what makes Guy's numbers so impressive is the pure fact that he had those numbers playing on a very mediocre squad last season.
Other defensive linemen in the draft like Robert Quinn and Adrian Clayborn have the opportunity to be surrounded by other very talented players. You put a player like Guy at DE along with Antonio Garay and Luis Castillo in a ultra aggressive blitzkrieg defense under Greg Manuksy, I'll bet you'll see a guy that didn't fully show what he's capable of.
The downside to Guy is that he wasn't academically there and didn't focus on school. Should that matter in the NFL? Sure, but not as much as you'd think. Players are in the NFL not for school but to play football. He's a very underrated talent and he'll only improve on a defense that has many talented players to play alongside and learn from.
3rd Rd. 25th Pick: Rob Housler Going to Easily Contribute in Chargers Offense
Not many of you know about this kid. It's easy to see why he's so overlooked when he's playing for the Florida Atlantic Owls.
Rob Housler is listed as a TE but he's more than that, he's a versatile player. He lines up all over the place for the Owls, very similar to how the Chargers used Antonio Gates. In 2010, Housler put up 39 receptions, 629 yards, and four touchdowns. That's a average of 16.1 yards per catch. Some may argue that he played against easy competition. I argue that he played with very mediocre players.
Housler is 6'5" and 248 lbs. He could easily add on weight to his frame with a couple of years under his belt in the league. The one thing that is outstanding about him that just sticks out is the fact that he runs a 4.46 40 yard dash. That's amazing! What is even more staggering is his 1.49 10 yard split which makes him a very fast player off the line of scrimmage.
With such tangible talent, the Chargers could even use him as a WR and pretty much anywhere on the field. Learning how to block will come with time but Housler's upside, especially with Philip Rivers at QB, is too much to not take a chance on the very talented TE from a small school in the Sun Belt conference.
6th Rd. 18th Pick: Hard Hitting Hawaiian Safety Mana Silva to Be a Late Steal
I'm a big Hawaii fan. Sure I'm from Hawaii and I may be biased but after not being invited to the NFL Combine, NFL scouts were in for a big shock when they realize who SS Mana Silva really is and what he can do.
In Hawaii's Pro Day, Silva ran a average 4.4 40 yard dash, had a 10 yard split of 1.53 seconds, put up 23 reps on the bench press, and a 40 inch vertical leap. All those tangibles on a 6'1", 206 lbs. frame. That's pretty impressive.
Before you go off and call him a workout Warrior like those before him like Adam Archuleta, Silva has the stats to back-up his numbers. Silva was part of a defense that gave up a lot of yardage through the air but a defense that had the most interceptions in all of college football.
Silva had 74 total tackles with 45 of those tackles being solo, one sack, and eight interceptions. What makes those eight interceptions so significant is that two of those interceptions was taken from Boise State QB Kellen Moore. Moore only gave away six interceptions in 2010 with Silva taking away two of those.
Silva is vastly underrated and I don't believe he'll fall to round six with his stock rising. If he does so happen to fall to the Chargers in the sixth round, they should take him as he'll be able to contribute greatly on special teams and learn how to be a outstanding NFL safety from one of the best, Bob Sanders.
6th Rd. 36th Pick: Kealoha Pilares to Solidify Chargers Slotback Position
Kealoha Pilares is your prototypical slotback receiver. The Chargers do have a huge hole at slotback. The Chargers have many outside perimeter receivers like Seyi Ajirotutu, Malcom Floyd, Patrick Crayton, and Vincent Jackson but none of them are quick enough to work the inside of the football field.
The only players the Chargers have that have decent proven experience at slotback is Kelly Washington and Legedu Naanee. The problem here is Washington will be turning 32 years old and Naanee will likely not be back with his most recent off-the-field issue.
Of all the draft picks that I have thus far in my mock draft, no one is more productive and ready to start in their perspective positions than Kealoha Pilares. Pilares isn't a outside perimeter receiver. He earned all of his yards from the slotback position just like his likely higher draft counterpart slotback Greg Salas.
Pilares put up 88 receptions, 1306 yards, and 15 touchdowns. That's a average of 14.8 yards per catch. Not to mention that he's a capable returner and with the likelihood of the Chargers moving on without Darren Sproles, the Chargers can't afford to have Antoine Cason returning kicks anymore.
Pilares spent his first two years in college playing RB for the Warriors averaging over 5.5 yards per carry in his first two seasons. He is a proven pass catcher out of the RB position as he had over 20 receptions as a RB in his first two seasons in Hawaii.
He can easily take over Darren Sproles role as a pass-catching RB and as a slotback receiver, very similar to how the Patriots use Danny Woodhead. He's a versatile offensive weapon.
You look at the most successful slotbacks in the NFL currently, the best come from colleges that run the "RUN AND SHOOT" offense. Davone Bess from the Miami Dolphins was a undrafted receiver and end up becoming one of the best slotbacks in the league. Wes Welker played college ball for Texas Tech and they ran the same offense like Hawaii. Is it surprising that the best slotback prospects come from schools that run the "RUN AND SHOOT" offense? Not really.
7th Rd. 33rd Pick: Chargers' Mr. Irrelevant Orie Lemon to Prove He Can Make It
Orie Lemon. Many of you think that this 7th round draft choice will probably not make the team but you couldn't be more wrong if he's drafted by the Chargers. He has a chance to make the team and develop into a starter someday. Two reasons why I believe so is because he's highly productive in college and two other players on the Chargers squad came into the Chargers the same way and they ended up being very respectable starters.
These two Charger players that ended up being somebody from nothing is found in the same position that Orie Lemon plays, inside linebacker.
Stephen Cooper came to the Chargers as a undrafted free agent from the University of Maine. Many teams overlooked him but the Chargers didn't because of one reason, Cooper was highly productive in Maine. From 1999-2002, Cooper put up 374 combined tackles, 57 tackles for loss, seven interceptions, and 25 sacks. That's a career average of 93.5 combined tackles, 14.3 tackles for loss, 1.8 interceptions, and 6.3 sacks per year. That's highly productive and if he was playing elsewhere with such stats, he would have been a high draft choice the year he came out.
The other productive ILB is known other than Brandon Siler. Siler put up 77 combined tackles, 10 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, three passes defended, and three sacks as a senior. As a junior, he put up 64 combined tackles, four sacks, and four passes defended. During his sophomore season, Siler put up 77 combined tackles, two sacks, and three passes defended. Siler found himself on the team as a special teams player and luckily, he made the Chargers active squad and it helped that the Chargers just got rid of Donnie Edwards and Randall Godfrey before the season started in 2007.
So back to Orie Lemon. His college stats is something that neither Cooper or Siler can ever say they can compare themselves to. In 2010, Lemon put up 133 combined tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and three passes defended. Out of those 133 combined tackles, 101 of those tackles were solo tackles. That's utterly amazing.
Consider the fact that Lemon is coming into a situation where the Chargers won't keep all three of their free agent ILB's, he can easily make the team especially when the Chargers have special teams problems. Lemon isn't considered in the first six rounds by many teams because of his combine numbers which is very pedestrian but looking at his numbers, I'll judge him on his production any day of the week. I'm sure AJ Smith is keeping his eye out for Orie Lemon.
So tell me what you folks think of my mock draft. Let me have it.
AJ Smith isn't likely to spend a first round pick on a offensive tackle as I believe the biggest need is at CB. Still, my reasons for every pick is sound and it's very reasonable that those picks will fall to the Chargers in those rounds.
Every player on this mock draft could help the Chargers tremendously and add insurance to those positions. Special teams will be addressed and the running game for sure with this mock draft which will help control the clock. The reason why that's important is due to the looming lockout and the fact that the Chargers don't have any contact with their new defensive coordinator. Sure the scheme is familiar with so many of the Chargers players but the reps still need to be there. Having a running game will help the Chargers not rely so much on their defense to be the difference in their games this season while they make the transition to a new philosophy.
It'll be interesting to see what the Chargers do but I wouldn't be surprise if the Chargers make early round moves and have two first round picks instead of one as there aren't many holes on the Chargers offense or defense. The Chargers just need more quality.
Thanks for the read and feel free to comment on my mock draft.