There was a lot of work to be done this off-season to get the Chargers back in contention. Obviously Melvin Gordon will continue to be given the opportunity to lead the backfield, but improved results in the run game is a must, along with better protection for Rivers. The defense was crying out for more playmakers, especially with the loss of Eric Weddle, one of their top performers on that side of the ball over a number of seasons. They gave themselves some flexibility in the draft by adding the likes of receiver Travis Benjamin and cornerback Casey Hayward, but a few impact players from the draft who can contribute early were much needed on both sides of the ball.
Day 1 – Joey Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State (Rd 1, #3)
As a potential option for the Chargers, Bosa was mostly not really considered much, once the pre-draft trades meant that they would have their pick of the best non-quarterbacks in the class. Jalen Ramsey or one of the two top offensive tackles were considered to make up the short-list, with Buckner a sleeper option. Yet they went for the Buckeyes’ star edge rusher, and it seemed to even catch him off guard, admitting he didn’t expect the call. There’s no doubt that Bosa is extremely talented, and was getting his abilities picked at a bit too much in the build up to the draft. He commanded double and triple teams in college, was as good against the run as any edge player I’ve seen in the last few years, and uses superb technique and heavy hands to win in the backfield. He’s talented enough to succeed playing as a 3-4 defensive end or standing up rushing from a 3-4 but it’s not the perfect fit by any means. He’s a natural fit in a 4-3. Yes, every team plays multiple fronts and are spending more and more time in their nickel and sub-packages, but there will be a little adapting to a different overall role. I consider him a better prospect than Stanley and Buckner, and would understand to some extent if they didn’t want to take Tunsil given the late drama, but Ramsey is the one alternative that would have been a great choice that was passed over.
Day 2 – Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas (Rd 2, #35). Max Tuerk, OL, USC (Rd 3, #66)
Henry would have been worthy of going in round one, so picking him up at the top of the second is nice value. The former Razorback excels in the pass game, and forms a dangerous duo with veteran Antonio Gates. He’ll be productive for a long time, for the remainder of Rivers’ career and likely for his successor too. Ladarius Green was lost during free agency, but even though there were circumstances for it, Green never quite lived up to expectations or the upside his physical traits offered; it’ll be interesting to see if he finally does for the Steelers. This could end up being regarded as an upgrade a little down the line. Tuerk is a tough sell as an early third round choice. Presumably his medical outlook is ok, but is coming off an ACL. He’s a player without a true position. He lacks strength and is undersized for his frame that saw him frequently overpowered in college, and probably a big reason why someone of 6ft 6 was playing at center, despite his good IQ for setting up blocks being a plus. His frame could eventually lead to him playing at tackle, but he’s got some growing to do. He could end up as a versatile depth player to provide cover at all 5 spots, but obviously taking him this high, the Chargers will be expecting him to start. He is a fantastic athlete who really impresses pulling from center to get in front as a blocker in the run game. Given the need to get the ground attack going, he could work out well in that respect. He has a chance to beat out current starter Chris Watt who wasn’t great last year.
Day 3 – Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State (Rd 4, #102). Jatavis Brown, LB, Akron (Rd 5, #175). Drew Kaser, P, Texas A&M (Rd 6, #179). Derek Watt, FB, Wisconsin (Rd 6, #198). Donavon Clark, OG, Michigan State (Rd 7, #224).
Perry was a great start to day 3. He fell a bit as he’s not going to provide much in coverage as a heavier linebacker, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him outplay his draft position. He’s a tackle machine who can cover to the sidelines and provide a bit of a pass rush threat at times too. If you like Reggie Ragland, there’s no reason not to like Perry too. Brown is the opposite size-wise to Perry, but also ultra-productive and in a more versatile manner, filling the stat sheet in practically every category. He struggled when facing better opposition though and his size limitations are legitimate that sees him get over-power too easily. He’s a playmaker though and taken in the right range. Kaser quite likely has the strongest leg of all the top punters in this draft class. The issue is his touch and directional kicking are nowhere near as good. Watt is an interesting pick. He receives attention for a couple reasons, firstly for the notoriety of being JJ’s brother, and the fact that he resumes his role as lead blocker for Melvin Gordon, who was his teammate in college. That said, he’s not really a stand out blocker, and doesn’t offer a great deal else. Clark is physical and is another offensive lineman into the mix, but he lacks ideal arm length, doesn’t offer versatility and is technically a bit all over the place. He’s certainly no lock to make the roster.
The Chargers certainly added a pair of talented impactful prospects to begin with. However, the pair of offensive line choices aren’t perhaps quite what Rivers would have been hoping for, and there’s doubts about Tuerk that should have seen him be a day 3 pick rather than as early as he was taken. The pair of linebackers were nice later selections that should prove to be good value down the line, and Perry could well be an early starter. Bosa is a heck of a player, and should have a great career, but as good as Ramsey?