With The Chargers lacking impact players at major positions they are expected to fill the remaining holes with their (8) upcoming picks in the 2012 NFL Draft. AJ Smith has more pressure upon him than ever before which suggests he may step outside the box and draft players that fall into the “Risk vs. Reward category, rather than the “Safe Bet” category. The Bolts first pick is the 18th overall and is expected to yield an above average player but may be just out of reach for the sure thing, therefore a trade may not be out of the plan. Let it be said that I believe the front office will pull the trigger and move up at least 6 spots to get a player to be discussed sooner than later but for this article we will assume the Chargers stay at #18 and we will address the trade possibilties at a later date. This will be the first of (8) articles before the draft at the end of the month in which we will mock all the Bolts picks, giving the top three options available in my opinion. So, in the words of the Commish: With the 18th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft the San Diego Chargers select….
Courtney Upshaw: OLB/DE University of Alabama
Height: 6’2″ Weight: 272 lbs. 40 yard. Dash: 4.77 sec. (unofficial) Bench Press: 22 reps at 225lbs.
Strengths: Upshaw has immense talent as a pass rusher and is a big time hitter, he has excellent hand and arm action to shed blockers on his way the quarterback or to the running back. His natural instincts make him a beast when it comes to defending the run, screen plays, and dump offs into the flats. He is widely considered to have above average strength and speed with regard to his size, which is pretty heavy for a OLB.
Weaknesses: Lacks experience in dropping into coverage, but showed surprising fluidity in the opportunities he had. Open field tackling is a concern, and Nick Saban‘s defensive scheme is considered simple for linebackers to play in. Character issues have been reported by coaches and NFL advanced scouts.
Conclusion: The Chargers need a pass rusher for their 3-4 scheme, well look no further than Alabama’s All American Courtney Upshaw who is perfectly suited for the job. He’s as advertised and could be the type of impact player that becomes a leader on any defense in the NFL. You could plug him into a rotation with Sean Phillips, Antwan Barnes, Travis LaBoy, and the oft-injured Larry English to make the group far more efficient right away. Upshaw will have to get passed the New York Jets at pick #16 to fall to the Chargers and an incident in 2009 which resulted in an arrest for domestic assault could work against this young talent. If Upshaw is available at #18 the I feel AJ Smith should take a chance (with concerns to character) and pull the trigger on the volatile pass rusher from Alabama, but if he’s not there lets go for:
Mark Barron: (S) University of Alabama
Height: 6’1″ Weight: 213 lbs. 40 yard dash: 4.51 (unofficial) Vertical Leap: 34.5″
Strengths: Barron is a classic ball hawk with big play ability when the ball is in his hands and he is a natural at being in position to make the big play. NFL scouts cite his quick feet and even quicker reaction time as one of his major selling points and his knack for reading the quarterback’s eyes is second to none. His above average hand eye coordination make him great in jump ball situations and to be able to snatch the ball out of the air on high velocity passes. He has a rare combination of balance, patience, and aggression which led to him becoming the “defensive quarterback” on the nations toughest defense and showed his smarts and leadership ability.
Weaknesses: He is recovering from a procedure to repair a bilateral sports hernia and is still not 100% which concerns some people. Barron lacks the bottom end speed to run with some of the top tier receivers in the league but his closing burst on the ball somewhat makes up for it. He’s not a huge hitter, he’s a good tackler so he might not make the bone shattering hit but he gets the job done. Some game film seems to show him being simply outmatched in the open field against running backs, which is a bit concerning if he’s the last line of defense. He’s somewhat injury prone with the hernia, and also a torn pectoral muscle suffered his junior year leading to his return to Alabama his senior season. Again, there is some character concerns with Barron as well. he was arrested in March of 2011 for hindering an investigation into a single car accident he was involved in.
Conclusion: Can you picture Eric Weddle (a ball hawk in his own right) and Upshaw patrolling the Chargers secondary like a couple of vultures over a fresh carrion? I’d wager that’s the last thing opposing quarterbacks want to see when they play the Chargers. Barron could finally be the missing piece the Bolts secondary has been lacking since the departure of stalwart SS Rodney Harrison, bringing a toughness that Clinton Hart, Kevin Ellison, and Steve Gregory lacked the capability to provide. Barron is the #1 safety on the board and it will take some luck to have him fall to the Chargers but he would be as close to a sure thing as there is available in this years crop. Can AJ overlook a bit of mis-spent youth and see the talent and potential that is a player like Mark Barron? I’m not sure, but you can count on the front office to give him a long hard look if he’s still there at #18 even if AJ is rumored to have a huge man crush on safety Harrison Smith from Notre Dame. If he’s not there they should look at….
Cordy Glenn: OG Georgia University
Height: 6’5″ Weight: 345 lbs. Bench Press: 31 reps at 225 lbs. 40 yard dash: 4.96 (unofficial)
Strengths: Cordy Glenn is simply a monster of a man-child, his arm length is 36″ which gives him an overall reach of over eight feet. His athleticism suggest he could play 2 if not 3 of the offensive line positions and he seems to always be in control of the guy in front of him. He is known for his good hands, and for being an excellent run blocker but the closing factor is that he’s NEVER been injured.
Weaknesses: Glenn’s massive size makes him a bit susceptible to speed rushers like Tamba Hali or Dwight Freeney. Some scouts and coaches have said he has a habit of leaning on his opponent depending on his size over technique. He wasn’t beaten often but his mild inconsistency off of the snap showed that he could be beaten if the defense was on top of the snap count.
Conclusion: Glenn is the #2 ranked OG in the 2012 NFL Draft behind Stanford‘s David DeCastro who will most certainly be gone by the time the Chargers pick, and I know that offensive line might be the third biggest priority for the team at this point. Glenn could be the player to change the Bolts mind on their desire to draft defense in the first round. His sheer size and athleticism, not to mention his versatility to move around on the line make Glenn a hot commodity. It’s not a secret that Jeromy Clary is not an elite right tackle and Glenn has the potential to not only unseat Tyronne Green as the current starter on the depth chart at guard but possibly push Clary out as the starting right tackle. The fact that he has never suffered any major injuries is intriguing because of the brutality of playing offensive line, these guys fight battles in the trenches and his durability is a sign of good things to come. If the Chargers select Glenn with pick #18 I would not be surprised in the least, if he is the highest rated player when the Bolts pick it might just happen.
Check back tomorrow for a look at a trade scenario that probably won’t happen but sure will be fun to think about.
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Topics: A.J. Smith, Alabama, Antwan Barnes, Cordy Glenn, Courtney Upshaw, Eric Weddle, Georgia, Harrison Smith, Jeromey Clary, Larry English, Mark Barron, Nick Saban, Notre Dame, Sean Phillips, Travis Laboy, Tyronne Green