Despite coming close to the playoffs during their first year in Los Angeles, 2017 will ultimately go down as a failure for the franchise and General Manager Tom Telesco.
A lack of playoff football, coupled with a horrid run defense and a shaky wide receiver corps and offensive line mean the Bolts enter the 2018 NFL Draft with plenty of holes to fill.
Free agency was a quiet period for the Chargers, though they did manage to beef up the offensive line with the addition of former Miami Dolphins’ centre Mike Pouncey as well as bringing in a strong blocking tight end in Virgil Green, formerly of Denver and kicker Caleb Sturgis, formerly of Philadelphia.
Bringing in a kicker immediately addresses one of the biggest areas of concern coming out of last season. Special teams as a whole have been pretty dire for the Chargers for some time, so any improvement there should translate onto the football field in 2018.
There has been plenty of talk that the Chargers will look at a defensive tackle with their first pick but with the pick sitting 17th overall, there are plenty of pieces that must fit into place before a selection is made.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at how the 2018 NFL Draft might pan out for the Los Angeles Chargers. With each pick, we’ll make brief mention of some key guys off the board and those still in contention.
Off the board: Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Bradley Chubb, Saquon Barkley, Lamar Jackson, Vita Vea.
On the board: Mike McGlinchey, Derrius Guice, Maurice Hurst, Jaire Alexander, Will Hernandez.
With the 17th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Chargers select:
Da’Ron Payne DT – Alabama
The Chargers needed to add some beef and nastiness to their defensive line, in particular through the middle when it comes to stopping the run and they’ve opted to do that with their first pick in this draft.
Da’Ron Payne comes highly regarded. The Alabama product is 6’2″ and weighs in at 311 pounds and possess a rare and powerful combination of sheer strength and freakish athleticism. Payne stands as the best genuine run-stuffer in the draft but he’s no slouch in pass-rush either, so the Chargers add a serious weapon right off the bat.
Off the board: Calvin Ridley, Derrius Guice, Mike McGlinchey, Maurice Hurst, Jaire Alexander, Leighton Vander Esch.
On the board: Mason Rudolph, Christian Kirk, Rashaad Penny, Harrison Phillips.
With the 48th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Chargers select:
Justin Reid S – Stanford
With the departure of Tre Boston from last year’s secondary, the Chargers have the need to add a physical and athletic presence in the backfield and they do that with Justin Reid out of Stanford,
Weighing in at 207 pounds and standing at exactly 6’00” Reid is not the biggest option at the position in the draft, but he definitely looks like one of the better candidates and if he’s on the board when the Chargers pick in the second round I think he gets plenty of consideration.
Reid also comes with good versatility, a trait which Tom Telesco values highly, so I can imagine he would be a big fan.
Off the board: Mason Rudolph, Christian Kirk, Rashaad Penny, Harrison Phillips, Lorenzo Carter, Frank Ragnow.
On the board: Nick Chubb, Malik Jefferson, Royce Freeman, Orlando Brown
With the 84th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Chargers select:
Deon Cain WR – Clemson
Ok, I know the jury is still out on the last Clemson receiver the Chargers selected, but there’s every chance that Mike Williams can become a valuable pass-catcher in this league and a handy weapon for Philip Rivers over the next season or two.
Cain represents a big-bodied, athletic receiver capable of quick slaps and good vertical push on his routes and with the depth chart looking a little thin behind Keenan Allen and the obvious issues with Travis Benjamin, a mid-round flyer on a guy like Cain isn’t a wild idea.
He’s also a smooth runner and his tape is enjoyable to watch, putting him in a similar mould to Williams and plenty of Clemson’s pass-catchers before him.
Off the board: Kyle Lauletta, Nick Chubb, Malik Jefferson, Royce Freeman, Orlando Brown, Deontay Burnett.
On the board: Trenton Thompson, Rashaan Gaulden, R.J. McIntosh, Kurt Benkert, Duke Dawson.
With the 119th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Chargers select:
Sam Jones OT – Arizona State
Jones is a big, imposing guy and he stood out at the combine with his shock of long hair and his surprisingly good movement and ability to get up quickly out of stance and become a strong blocking option on the offensive line.
The problem with Jones is, despite his clear size, he has trouble maintaining weight on his frame and that’s always going to be an issue when taking the next step into the NFL. If Jones doesn’t get up to size and maintain it quickly, he could get bullied and bashed around by veteran defensive line guys who will see him as an easy target.
Sam Jones is a pick based on potential, but if his weight issues can be solved, he could be an impact guy on a stodgy Chargers o-line.
Off the board: Trenton Thompson, Rashaan Gaulden, R.J. McIntosh, Kurt Benkert, Duke Dawson, Shaquem Griffin.
On the board: Trey Quinn, Folorunso Fatukasi, Will Clapp, Josh Adams, Bo Scarbrough.
With the 155th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Chargers select:
Dorance Armstrong Jr DE – Kansas
Armstrong managed to earn first-team All-Big 12 honours during his sophomore season at Kansas when he notched 10 sacks, 56 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles on the back of his speed, agility and arm-reach.
His production wasn’t as impressive last year but there is still plenty to like about the kid from Houston, Texas.
Armstrong’s build is well-defined and his arm-reach is a valuable weapon that can’t be coaches or built at any level. He’s well worth a flyer this late in the draft and could come into camp and surprise a few people.
Off the board: Trey Quinn, Folorunso Fatukasi, Will Clapp, Josh Adams, Bo Scarbrough, Oren Burks, Poona Ford, Trey Marshall.
On the board: Skai Moore, Reginald McKenzie, Andre Smith, Zachary Crabtree, Colby Gossett.
With the 191st overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Chargers select:
Logan Woodside QB – Toledo
Most franchises, and fans for that matter, are turned off Logan Woodside based on his size alone. Woodside is definitely an undersized option at quarterback and his arm is definitely not the calibre of guys like Lamar Jackson.
Woodside makes his way through the game with a high football IQ. Put simply, the kid knows football and he’s smart enough to pull the right strings from under centre. Coupled with a decent accuracy and there’s an outside chance that Logan Woodside could become a steady and stable backup quarterback in this league. With Cardale Jones and Geno Smith currently behind Rivers on the depth chart, a project guy coming in isn’t a bad thing.
Off the board: Skai Moore, Reginald McKenzie, Andre Smith, Zachary Crabtree, Colby Gossett, Bilal Nicholls.
On the board: Byron Pringle, Akrum Wadley, Grant Haley, Parry Nickerson.
With the 251st overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Chargers select:
Nick DeLuca LB – North Dakota State
Ok, so we’re definitely going to be taking a project guy this far down the board, but I like the look of DeLuca. Out of North Dakota State, He’s a good size and looks capable of holding his own as part of a linebacker corps which is in desperate need of fresh faces.
Anthony Lynn, Gus Bradley and their team will have their work cut out dragging DeLuca up to NFL standard, but there’s every chance he could fill out the bottom of a 53-man roster by the end of training camp if things fell his way.
What do you think of our Charger’s mock draft for 2018? Let us know in the comments below.
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