In the 2013 NFL draft, the San Diego Chargers selected right tackle D.J. Fluker with the No. 11 pick. The expectation was that the Chargers would select one of the top five linemen available.
But after the first four were off the board, it looked as though it would entice the Chargers to go in a different direction and perhaps grab a safety such as Kenny Vaccaro who was still available at the time. Unexpectedly, Telesco gave the green light to Fluker.
At first glance, Chargers fans were prepared to riot, angrily ready to knock down the general manager’s door and oust him for his unconventional decision. By the end of the year, the critics were silenced by Fluker’s strong play.
Now, it’s a new year and the Bolts hold the 25th pick in the 2014 NFL draft. It will be worth watching to see whether or not Telesco has more magic left in him.
Some obvious holes on the Chargers roster include cornerback, nose tackle and offensive guard. Telesco is wise enough to know not to spend the first round on a guard, especially since the top rated players at that position will still be on the board late in the first and early second. Some of these names include David Yankey from Stanford and Xavier Su’a-Filo out of UCLA, one of which the Chargers could seek in the second or possibly third round, if available.
With the first pick in the draft, the Chargers should be focused on restocking their defense. As Telesco stated earlier in the year, he wanted to add more team speed. The combine wasn’t short on Telesco’s wish.
Could the combine shape the picks?
After what was a competitive combine, the top defensive backs made a lot of noise. Justin Gilbert had a spectacular showing and recorded the fastest 40-yard dash from his position group with 4.37 seconds. If Gilbert is still available at 25, the Chargers would be wise to grab him. Along with Gilbert, Jason Verrett and Bradley Roby had good showings to be considered in the conversation of elite prospects. According to CBS Sports, both Verrett and Roby were a concern for their lack of size and strength. Both cornerbacks challenged critics with their speed and athleticism.
The Chargers would be wise to invest early in one of the top cornerbacks. Prospects such as Lamarcus Joyner of Florida State and Loucheiz Purifoy of Florida were unable to inspire with their combine performances. With the urgent need at this position the Chargers will need to avoid dabbling with what could be a bust.
If cornerback isn’t the direction the Chargers plan to go, fortifying the middle of the defense is a good option to focus on.
Aaron Donald ranked among the top defensive lineman prospects, posting a 4.68 in the 40-yard dash, 35 reps at the bench press and 7.11 in the three cone drill. Donald was noted for his lack of size, standing at 6-foot-1 and 285 pounds. He would be smaller than both 300 pounders, Corey Luiget and Kendall Reyes while manning the center of the defense. Louis Nix didn’t impress, but his lackluster effort could be attributed to a torn meniscus in his knee he’s recently recovered from. Nix also shed some weight to stand in at 331 pounds and 6-foot-2.
Either player would be a value pick for the Chargers as both Donald and Nix are expected to be selected mid-first round.
Telesco and the Chargers would be wise to draft Gilbert at cornerback or Donald or Nix at defensive tackle, if available. Any of these players can be plugged in immediately to start.
Nevertheless, the combine doesn’t tell the whole story, it merely sets the tone. Telesco and coach Mike McCoy want players that are teachable and as Telesco stated earlier, he wants more speed — the previously listed players don’t disappoint.
Photo Credit: Eldrick Bone / Sports Out West
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