Re-Grading San Diego Chargers' Past 5 Drafts

Marcelo Villa@@_marcelovillaFeatured Columnist IIIApril 24, 2015

Re-Grading San Diego Chargers' Past 5 Drafts

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    With the 2015 draft about to get underway next week, a stroll down memory lane might be in order.

    The San Diego Chargers have drafted 33 players in the past five years, not all of whom made the roster their rookie year. But of the ones who did, who have stood out and influenced their respective draft class? 

    The last five draft classes have been graded based on the value of the players selected and by what they accomplished as a member of the Chargers. One thing to keep in mind is that San Diego underwent some changes in the front office during this time, so it will be fun to compare draft styles of the two general managers. 

2010

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press
    RoundOverall PickSelectionSchoolPosition
    112Ryan MathewsFresno StateRB
    379Donald ButlerWashingtonILB
    4110Darrell StuckeyKansasS
    5146Cam ThomasNorth CarolinaDT
    5168Jonathan CromptonTennesseeQB
    7235Dedrick EppsMiami (FL)TE

    2010 would mark the end of an era in San Diego as the team parted ways with career rushing leader LaDainian Tomlinson. Naturally, the Chargers planned to draft the heir apparent to Tomlinson, and they genuinely believed Mathews was that guy, trading up 16 spots to get him. But as the Chargers would soon come to find out, his aggressive running style became a pitfall for frequent injuries. For what it's worth, Mathews had all the physical traits to be a great back, but his body betrayed him in the end. 

    Butler was the product of a trade with San Francisco that allowed the Chargers to move up 12 spots. The 49ers wound up selecting All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman with one of the picks they acquired from San Diego, so I guess you can figure who got the better end of that deal. Aside from a breakout year in 2011, Butler has struggled to stay healthy most of his career and just wrapped up a horrid 2014.

    Stuckey's contributions on special teams have been well worth his fourth-round price tag. He has served as captain two years in a row now, and a Pro Bowl invite in 2014 was icing on the cake. Thomas worked his way up to a starting gig in 2013 but was not brought back under the new regime. Crompton bounced around the NFL before settling in the CFL, and Epps flamed out after two seasons.

    Stuckey was a nice gem in this class, but the Chargers sacrificed a lot for both Mathews and Butler, who turned out to be injury-prone. 

    Grade: D+

2011

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press
    RoundOverall PickSelectionSchoolPosition
    118Corey LiugetIllinoisDE
    250Marcus GilchristClemsonDB
    261Jonas MoutonMichiganILB
    382Vincent BrownSan Diego StateWR
    389Shareece WrightUSCCB
    6183Jordan TodmanConnecticutRB
    6201Stephen SchillingMichiganOT
    7234Andrew GachkarMissouriILB

    Liuget has been a stud for the Chargers and is knocking on the door of his first Pro Bowl. Gilchrist came into the league as a slot corner before transitioning to safety, where he shined from 2013-14 for San Diego. Regrettably, Gilchrist was not offered a new contract to stay on with the team, signing instead with the New York Jets in the offseason.

    The bust of this class had to be Mouton, who played a grand total of three games for the Bolts. Injuries never allowed the Michigan standout to reach his true potential, and he was waived in 2014.

    San Diego figured it had a good thing going with Brown, as he showed promise his first year. But in 2012, he broke his foot and was forced to sit out the entire season. He would return the following year but never seemed to catch on like he did as a rookie, and eventually he was waived due to injuries.

    Wright, on the other hand, came back from a foot injury early in his career and played his way into a starting role, which he held for two seasons before moving on to San Francisco.

    Todman was relegated to the practice squad his first year up and later signed on with multiple teams. Schilling made a couple of spot starts for San Diego and stayed on as a reserve for two more seasons before landing a deal with Seattle, where he recently called it quits, per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.

    Gachkar started out as a special teams standout before getting the call on defense in 2013. This past season, he was utilized in a rotation by defensive coordinator John Pagano, tallying a career-best 49 tackles. For his efforts, Gachkar received a new deal with Dallas, per Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports.

    There was some good value here with players like Gilchrist, Wright and Gachkar, but the Chargers really missed in the second round with Mouton. 

    Grade: C

2012

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press
    RoundOverall PickSelectionSchoolPosition
    118Melvin IngramSouth CarolinaOLB
    249Kendall ReyesConnecticutDE
    373Brandon TaylorLSUSS
    4110Ladarius GreenLouisiana-LafayetteTE
    5149Johnnie TroutmanPenn StateG
    7226David MolkMichiganC
    7250Edwin BakerMichigan StateRB

    In need of a pass-rusher, the Chargers made Ingram their first-round draft choice in 2012, which would be the last class put together by then-GM A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner. The pressure was on to find instant contributors, as Smith and Turner were already on the hot seat before the season started.

    Ingram played a full season his rookie year but suffered a series of setbacks from there on out. He tore his ACL in 2013, returning late to play four games, and suffered a hip injury in 2014 that placed him on short-term injured reserve. Still, the hope is that Ingram can stay healthy for this upcoming season and be the pass-rushing force he was projected to be coming out of college.

    Reyes started strong out of the gate, racking up 10.5 sacks his first two years in, but he really struggled last season and may be in danger of losing his starting job, should the team bring in someone else to compete.

    San Diego had high hopes for Taylor to join Eric Weddle in the defensive backfield for years to come, but a torn ACL toward the end of his rookie season put those plans on hold. Taylor attempted to make his way back from the injury, but things didn't go his way, and the Chargers released him in 2014.

    Green was groomed to one day take over for future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates at tight end, but he has been forced to wait for his time to shine as Gates continues to defy Father Time. But in the few appearances he has made, Green has shown an ability to create mismatches with his size and exceptional athleticism.

    Troutman appears to be gearing up for a second year in a row as the starting right guard, though he hasn't performed up to par. The Chargers cut Molk and Baker during training camp.

    It's tough to say if Ingram is a hit or miss at this point, as he hasn't been on the field long enough to give a proper evaluation, but the draft as a whole wasn't enough to save the jobs of Smith and Turner. Reyes and Green are the only bright spots to pull from this class.

    Grade: C-

2013

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press
    RoundOverall PickSelectionSchoolPosition
    111D.J. FlukerAlabamaOT
    238Manti Te'oNotre DameILB
    376Keenan AllenCaliforniaWR
    5146Steve WilliamsCaliforniaCB
    6179Tourek WilliamsFlorida InternationalOLB
    7221Brad SorensenSouthern UtahQB

    Tom Telesco's draft debut went splendidly, as he managed to select essentially three full-time starters with his first three picks. Fluker has been criticized recently for his pass protection, but excluding that flaw, he has shown himself to be a solid starter on the offensive line. Te'o has been bothered by foot injuries early in his career, which limited his playing time the past two seasons, but his game is constantly improving.

    Allen was easily the steal of the entire draft, going over 1,000 receiving yards his rookie year. His patience led to a prime opportunity, and he now finds himself as the team's legitimate No. 1 receiver moving forward.

    Steve Williams didn't play his rookie year due to a pectoral injury and briefly appeared in 2014. Tourek, meanwhile, made six starts because of injuries to Dwight Freeney and Ingram. Sorensen turned heads in the preseason, possibly stating his case as a potential successor to Philip Rivers, but the following year he digressed and took his name out of the running.

    It's tough to beat this class in terms of sheer talent. Fluker, Te'o and Allen jumped right into big roles and haven't looked back.

    Grade: A

2014

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    Craig Ruttle/Associated Press
    RoundOverall PickSelectionSchoolPosition
    125Jason VerrettTCUCB
    250Jeremiah AttaochuGeorgia TechOLB
    389Chris WattNotre DameG
    5165Ryan CarrethersArkansas StateDT
    6201Marion GriceArizona StateRB
    7240Tevin ReeseBaylorWR

    Verrett's rookie season, though brief, had its high points, such as the game-sealing interception he made in Oakland against the Raiders. At first, it seemed like his 5'9" height might cause him trouble at the next level, but Verrett showed toughness and a lot to look forward to in 2015.

    San Diego moved up six spots for Attaochu, but the jury is still out on whether it was worth it. He was limited by a bum hamstring but did show explosiveness off the edge. Another year of seasoning might be all it takes to unleash his potential.

    Watt, who was drafted to play guard, ended up learning center in training camp and started five games when injuries depleted the position. He is penciled in as the starter for the upcoming season.

    Carrethers played in only six games, but there is reason to believe he'll be much better in Year 2. Chargers.com managing editor Ricky Henne wrote this glowing piece on Carrethers, highlighting his confidence to get back to work. Grice was sent down to the practice squad where he was picked up by Arizona. The Bolts waived Reese, who was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals.

    Verrett has a high ceiling and so does Attaochu if they can keep off the injury report. Watt is a solid pickup considering he didn't even play center in college, and Carrethers has a lot to prove.

    Grade: B

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