Potential first round targets…so far
At this point in the season one can grasp and have a fairly good understanding of what the team may need to address going into the offseason. Especially so when the team sits at 4-7; the personal needs are glaring. Yet with five games left to play in the season it is hard to pin point exactly what the teams exact draft position will be. I say this because I’m not sure what to expect from them down the stretch. The defense I humming yet the offense aside from the running game remains stale. Derwin James and left tackle Russell Okung will return next week and this will likely provide a boost. It’s easy to imagine this team going on a run to end up at 9-7 and putting themselves in wildcard contention. However on the other hand the Chargers have yet to have a single game run smoothly where the team is clicking on all cylinders except maybe against Green Bay. So I can also easily imagine them going 2-3 the rest of the way, at this point nothing would surprise me. Currently the team would have the 11th pick of the draft, so it’s safe to say even with a few more victories they are looking at the 10-18th pick range. During the offseason I will be bringing back my “missing link’s” series that goes into greater depth and analysis of each position group that is a specific are of need. It will also go into greater detail and information about the specific individuals. For now here is a quick glance on potential first round targets for the Bolts in a few different position groups. (May be subject to change depending on outcome of remainder of season)
Andrew Thomas of Georgia is widely regarded as the top offensive tackle in this year’s draft. In fact he projects so high and is so pro ready that he will likely be a top 5 pick so that eliminates him from the teams radar unfortunately. However the good news is this is a great year to be looking to draft a tackle as there is more top talent at the position than in the last handful of seasons. Below i have listed three prospects as this is just supposed to be a quick glance, however there is several other tackles to consider and be excited about as well.
- Tristian Wirfs out of Iowa.
Wirfs is 6’5” 320 pounds. He plays right tackle at Iowa and was also born and raised there. He set the Iowa school record for most weight hang-cleaned with 450 pounds. He was also a high school state champion heavyweight in wrestling so he brings a physicality much needed for the team at right tackle. He is considered a much better pass protector and above average run blocker but pass protection is exactly what the Chargers should be looking for.
- Alex Leatherwood out of Alabama.
Leatherwood might be my favorite first round target for the team as he shows great versatility. He plays left tackle at Alabama which is not the blindside for them because Tua was left handed. He has also played guard but is a much more natural fit at tackle. At 6’6” 310 pounds he could easily slide in at right tackle right away and be groomed for the left tackle job after a few seasons.
- Austin Jackson out of USC
Jackson is probably the most athletic tackle of the bunch. He stands at 6’6” 305 pounds. Most evaulators agree that Jackson projects as a left tackle in the NFL which is rare because usually the scouts are always wanting to move left tackles to guard or the right side for the NFL, so I would say that speaks great volumes. He still needs some coaching up but he plays with very good leverage and his athleticism helps him make up for some mistakes.
Again the top rated player at the position is off the board as a potential target as we likely won’t have a high enough pick to draft him. In the case of cornerback it happens to be Jeff Okudah out of Ohio State. Okudah looks every bit like a top 10 selection.
- Trevon Diggs out of Alabama
The little brother of Stefon Diggs with the Vikings, Diggs stands at 6’2” 200 pounds. Diggs is a lanky corner and fits the perfect mold of what defensive coordinator Gus Bradley looks for in his system. He has 3 interceptions and 7 pass deflections so far on the year. Adding a high rated corner could make this defensive back group flawless and might be worth having as an eventual replacement for Hayward in a few years. The team could use a reliable corner across from Hayward who is having a monster year.
- Paulson Adebo out of Standford
Adebo has had a busy season putting up 10 pass deflections along with 4 interceptions. Yet another lanky corner at 6’1” 190 pounds Adebo could very well be available right around where the Chargers would pick unless he goes in front of Diggs but it’s usually hard to figure out what order this group will be valued at by individual teams.
- Kristian Fulton out of LSU
One thing is for sure and that is when drafting you can never go wrong with a defensive back from LSU. He may not be as big as the other top rated corners but he still has a good build at 6’0” 195 pounds. Last season Fulton was opposite and yet more impressive than Greedy Williams who was selected in the second round by Cleveland. Although he hasn’t been as consistent as last year when up against high level competition but still has 9 pass deflections and 1 interception.
Although I’m not big on the idea of the team drafting a linebacker in the first round or even consider it a top need, there is one player at the position that I would consider a good selection.
- Isaiah Simmons out of Clemson
Now just here me out! Simmons is an absolute freak athlete as I’m sure will become big hype after the combine. Simmons also seems to fit the mold of what Gus Bradley has been looking for the last couple years and that’s converted safeties. Imagine this, what if Derwin James played linebacker? I say that because Simmons is basically a carbon copy of Derwin except that somewhere along his college career coaches decided to change is position. Simmons is 6’3” 220 pounds and will probably run a 4.3 second 40 yard dash at the combine. This would be a case of selecting the best player on the board if this happened to be the selection.
While the team likely won’t select a wide receiver in the first round, the offense could certainly use a third option at the position. Travis Benjamin has never lived up to the billing when the team signed him. The offense is set at outside wide out with Allen and Williams but a consistent threat in the slot could help open the outside up even more while also adding another weapon.
- Jalen Reagor out of TCU
Reagor is a guy who could soar up draft boards just before the draft based out his possible numbers at the combine. Reagor comes in the mold of a desired slot receiver at the next level. He is 5’11” 190 pounds and is an absolute burner and that should be with a capital B! I would bet money that he runs a 40 yard dash somewhere in the high 4.2 second rang-low 4.3. This would bring an element of speed the team hasn’t really had in a number of years as Allen is known for his precise route running and Williams for his size and ball skills. Needless to say this prospect would be a great compliment.
- CeeDee Lamb out of Oklahoma
Lamb has 1,000 yards on the season with 14 touchdowns despite receiving fewer targets with Jalen Hurts at quarterback. Standing at 6’2” 190 pounds Lamb could serve as a bigger slot guy. He has actually only has 106 snaps out of the slot while over 600 came from the outside He will likely be considered a first round talent but some sources see him as an early second round pick. I myself see him as a top 20 pick. It is unclear of where he may be drafted but either way he should be a prospect worth keeping an eye on.
- Laviska Shenault out of Colorado
Shenault would be getting a lot more attention if he had been playing at a more successful program. Standing at 6’2” 220 pounds “Viska” as he is called, draws many comparisons to JuJu Smith. This isn’t for the fact that they are built very similarly but also due to the fact they both possess a physical and mental toughness that is rare to see in players of the same position. Colorado has also been running some wildcat formations allowing Shenault to run the ball and show off just how difficult it is to bring him down. This could prove to be a great player to have running screens and serving as gadget slot receiver.
While some people won’t consider this a big need, I see it another way. Brandon Mebane is old and doesn’t seem to have much left in the tank. Along with that first round pick Jerry Tillery has been fairly invisible in his rookie year despite pilling up plenty of playing time. Tillery may need more time to develop if he even does at all. I wasn’t a fan of the pick at the time but talked myself into liking it. The team is set on the defensive end positions but could still use more consistent play from the inside to truly get the most out of the defenses potential. I maintain that the game is won in the trenches and one could look to San Francisco and how they piled up first round defensive lineman for years and are now a force to be reckoned with.
- Derrick Brown out of Auburn
Brown could be a top ten pick this year yet as we have seen before with the Derwin James pick that sometimes players slide. Brown is probably the most well rounded defensive tackle in this year’s draft as he is tremendous in both run and pass defense. At 6’4” 320 pounds Brown has had a ton of disruption in the backfield in the run defense category. The Chargers could use a solid run stuffer up the middle as this is something the team has lacked for a number of years now. Brown also has 4 sacks and 4 passes batted down this season.
- Raekwon Davis out of Alabama
One thing I truly like about defensive lineman from the SEC is they are used to going against pro size and skill set opposition so it makes them more “pro ready”. With that being said Davis is probably the best run stopping specialist in the country. He has recorded 18.5 tackles for a loss in the last 3 seasons and countless others for minimal gain. At 6’6” 315 pounds Brown could turn this defensive line into one of the best at the pro level is much more likely to have an immediate impact unlike last year’s first round defensive tackle.