NFL Draft 2011: San Diego Chargers Report Card
It can be a little problematic to list your needs a year after fielding both the top ranked offense and defense in the National Football League.
Here you would think that a certain balance on both sides of the ball would be the ticket to continuity and the eventual bid for the ultimate prize. Pick a wideout, pick a defensive back, pick a linebacker, pick a running back, etc. until all needs are fulfilled while the balance of power and equality within all units on the team remain intact.
Yet the San Diego Chargers, from the owner on down to the merchandise in the shop, knew precisely that the draft would be heavy on defense, which is exactly what happened.
The fact of the matter was that the defense lacked both playmakers and depth in general. Too often, a sack was needed instead of merely a quarterback hit, a fumble instead of a loss of yardage, an interception instead of a deflected pass.
It is impossible for any draft report card of the San Diego Chargers to be final, just as absurd as it would be to ask a tarot card reader whether a certain player will or will not perform.
As they say, that's why they play the games.
This is an analysis and a dissection of the skills and abilities brought to the table by each one of these picks, as well as a preliminary grade for each of the seven picks listed and a final grade for the draft as a whole.
Cory Liuget, Defensive Lineman, Illinois, 1st round, 18th pick
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Anything less than a front seven defensive player with the first pick would have released a rush on the ticket offices, albeit one by a mob ready to torch them. If it wasn’t going to be a defensive end, it was going to be a pass rushing outside lInebacker. Any San Diego resident not living in a zoo saw that coming.
What is most impressive about Corey "Legit" Liuget is his relentlessness. This is a guy whose motor is probably still running in his sleep. At 6’2” and 300 pounds, this is a guy who can chase down anyone or anything in the backfield with legs on it.
Owing to his low center of gravity, he will move many offensive linemen before the opposing center has completed the snap to his QB. Offenses don't want to see this guy in their backfield any more than you want to see a giant cockroach in your pantry.
And yet, San Diego’s first pick still prompted a few fans to scratch their heads.
A defensive tackle at 300 pounds might have had the centers and guards soiling themselves in the year 1980, but clearly not today. We have to figure his role could be anywhere on the line. Whether he can make the adjustments required of him is another question.
What’s more, you have to wonder what Corey Liuget you are going to get as a person. Throughout high school and college, his apparent lack of motivation at times and weight problems have been well documented. Is this going to be the player who fell asleep during class or the tenacious leader we recognized in his junior year at Illinois?
Suppose training camp and Head Coach Norv Turner have him counting sheep and sawing wood? Will the millions of dollars he'll have signed for be motivation enough? Will he be a late bloomer with the Chargers as well? The Bolts here can ill afford for their first-round pick to wait two or three years until he shows up, as they will need production on the line right away.
Time will tell if Corey "Legit" Liuget can earn the nickname. Certainly a solid pick, but not without its question marks.
Marcus Gilchrist, Free Safety, Clemson, 2nd round, 50th pick
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The first thing that had the Chargers' front office slobbering through their dentures is the kid’s versatility.
Used primarily as a corner in 2010, the Chargers could switch him to safety and have him handle various punt and kick return duties, which should ease the workload on Darren Sproles somewhat. With a decent 40 dash time, this is a guy who can cover the field quickly, as evidenced by his high number of career tackles.
Clearly, though, the kid is in a grey area, one that might not make him fast enough to be a good corner or big enough to be a good safety.
His playmaking abilities on defense are questionable, to say the least. One career interception in college doesn’t exactly suggest shutdown corner status. Even if he were to start at safety, there are concerns about his physical abilities, since the guy is clearly not a hitter.
Like Liuget before him, this might be another hybrid player who might see some time as a nickelback before possibly cracking the secondary as a starter. Expect 10 plays from him on defense in his rookie season and possibly 10 more on special teams.
Jonas Mouton, OLB, Michigan, 2nd round, 61st pick
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Your prototypical weak side linebacker, Mouton, might fit in quite well in the Bolts’ 3-4. This is certainly a guy who could also fill in on special teams, a glaring weakness of the Bolts in 2010.
This is a guy whose play at least suggests an overall versatility required of a starting linebacker in the NFL.
Mouton can defend the pass and find the ball in any situation, which says a lot about him after playing on such a dreadful Wolverines defense last season. His size is not ideal, but the Bolts love the edge he brings to the gridiron, which is essential for a team often labeled as soft in the past years.
You have to wonder whether Mouton is indeed a second-round pick. Many draft reports did not see him going before the forth or fifth round.
Again, although the Michigan defense might have dropped his stock considerably, this might have been a reach for the Bolts.
Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State, 3rd round, 82nd pick
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This might turn out to be a hell of a pick, and who better to know that than the Chargers who’ve had the privilege of watching him in their own backyard throughout his college career?
With the status uncertain of wideouts Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd, the Chargers apparently saw the need to shore up the receiving corps as well.
In 2010, Brown was a pass catching machine on the Aztecs, which earned him first team All Mountain West honors.
Vincent Brown appears to be more a of possession receiver. His 40 yard dash is a tad below 4.6, although he was blessed with great hands.
And yet, not many scouts had him pegged as a third rounder, meaning the Bolts again might have picked him at least one round before he was due to be moved.
Charger fans can only hope they will see what the brass has seen in this kid in the coming years.
A solid pick, but a third rounder?
Grade: B -
Shareece Wright, CB, USC, 3rd Round, 89th Pick
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This is a tough one.
With already one defensive back picked in the second round, did the Chargers have to go DB again one round later?
You need to love the fact that he was available at pick number 89. Any corner with his kind of speed figures to be an immediate contributor to either defense, the special teams, or both.
His speed has enabled him to contribute in many ways. An efficient run stopper if the tailbacks take liberties on his side of the field, Wright has also been a good blitzer, meaning it is not a given to find him in pass coverage on every play—something the opposing QB will have to account for.
The one knock I have is that his hands are average, at best. Watch some of his highlight clips, and there are interceptions, even pick sixes, that he's left on the gridiron. If he can refine his catching abilities, this can be a special player.
Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut, 6th Round, 183rd round
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Although the Bolts do not lack for depth at running back, the brass must have seen something similar to a young Darren Sproles in this kid.
This is one in a long line of players picked who appears to be a Jack of all Trades. Now it remains to be seen which trade, in this case which position, he can master.
His 4.40 time on the 40 yard dash suggests superb athleticism, and It's evident Todman is not lacking for strength.
It is still doubtful that this kid can carry the rock 20 times a game.
He could prove to be an excellent complimentary player should the Bolts decide to limit Ryan Matthews' carries, or should the latter continue to display more cases of the disease head coaches have diagnosed as fumblitis. He would be the finesse runner running outside the tackles as opposed to Ryan Matthews being the powerback punishing defenders between the Tackles.
Todman could also get more touches on special teams, as either a kick or punt returner, although there are several candidates on the Chargers' roster now vying for the coveted return duties.
Named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year of 2010, Todman is a player who has succeeded and seems intend on continuing that trend.
In all, a good player, considering he was picked in the sixth round. There can never be enough competition at running back.
Stephen Schilling, G, Michigan, 6th round, 201st pick
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Plenty of scouts saw Schilling go earlier in the draft.
This was a player who had played Tackle until his junior season, when he'd switch to guard for good.
His technical or athletic aspects are not in dispute here. In fact, recruiters saw him as a prospect as a basketball player before he would bolt for the Big 10 and Michigan football after graduation from High School in Bellevue, Washington.
Though Schilling certainly has the strength and athleticism to be a dominant lineman, he simply isn't a great blocker yet and has had trouble finishing his blocks. This is clearly a player who could pack on more pounds on a huge frame like his.
What scouts love most about him is his work ethic and his coachability. He has the similar size of another guard, the Chargers' own Kris Dielman. Expect this kid to benefit from Dielman's tutoring and experience.
This could very well be a sleeper pick.
Andrew Gachkar, OLB, Missouri, 7th Round, 234nd Pick
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Some draft picks prompt fans to erupt in cheers. Others elicit a crowd of shaking heads. This one might fall under the category of fans shrugging their shoulders.
Although the kid is clearly undersized as an OLB for a 3-4 system, Gachkar has other intangibles that might make up for it. His 40 yard speed is excellent, the kid has played both strongside and weakside linebacker, meaning he can cover the pass and has a proven record as a runstopper.
The reality here is that he might not see time at either position at 6'2" and 230 pounds. Gachkar has the speed that would allow him to bulk up and still be effective, but that's a big if.
Gachkar certainly plays with a chip on his shoulder, which might have just grown with his late pick status.
This is a hit or miss prospect.
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In all, the Chargers' needs have been adequately met with this draft.
Although I find it puzzling that the brass should pick a wideout and a tailback before an offensive lineman, the picks on defense should improve that unit and add much needed depth.
That said, there are too many undersized players here playing too many hybrid positions. The success of these players is contingent on a successful transformation to the desired position the Chargers drafted them for.
For example, if Liuget can play DE, it will enormously boost the Chargers' chances in the 2011 season. If Gilchrist can switch back to safety, this will add depth to a secondary that was good but not great.
That's a lot of if's for a seasoned unit like the Charger D. If we can eventually see more of the 'it' instead of the 'if' factor, the Bolts' fans should be more confident with the front office's choices next season.
Here I am willing to give A.J. Smith a pass, given his proven track record.
It could very well be the last one he receives if this draft doesn't pan out.
Overall grade: C+