(Tyler Starr, University of South Dakota)
Predicting which players a team may take, in the later rounds of the NFL draft, is always difficult. Not only will the Chargers be picking at the bottom of the draft order, but any number of needs could be addressed in earlier rounds. However, one thing that we can count on is that Tom Telesco is about getting the most “bang for his buck” with his picks. If he doesn’t think that a player is a value where he is picking, expect him to pass. Here are a few players, that the Chargers could possibly take a chance on, that will be available toward the end of the draft. Obviously, they aren’t popular picks. But, they all have the potential to add depth to the roster, or address team needs.
Zachariah Kerr, Delaware:
Cam Thomas is no longer on the roster, and that doesn’t seem to bother many people. In fact, it doesn’t seem to bother the Chargers, either. Telesco only made a run at one nose tackle in free agency, Earl Mitchell, and didn’t end up signing him. Since then, we have been assured that they are happy starting Sean Lissemore in the middle of the defense. However, that leaves second year undrafted free agent Kwame Geathers as the only back up. So, it seems inevitable that they will add someone else to the roster. It may be a starter, or a depth player. It might be in free agency, or the draft, or both.
If they don’t address this need in the early rounds. they might take a hard look at Deleware’s Zachariah Kerr. Kerr has all of the mental attributes that the Chargers like in a player. He is mature, humble, and takes pride in his play. He is a team leader, a hard worker, and pushes himself in the weight room, while practicing hard all week. He is a little shorter than a lot of NT’s, as he is only 6’1, and weighs in at 325 pounds. He has long arms for batting down the ball at the line of scrimmage, is always trying to rip the ball out, and has good awareness in the passing game. He is powerful, and is described as a “bully in the middle”. Furthermore, he comes with a clean injury history, and started all of his games in the last two years. He is scheme versatile, and suited for a 3-4 defense. Kerr is projected to go in the 6th round, and would be a nice depth pick up for the Chargers, if we are still in the market for a nose tackle.
John Brown, Pittsburgh State:
Some of you have seen me hint, in our “comments section”, that the Chargers should take a look at wider receiver & return man, John Brown. It is popular belief that Tom Telesco will take a wide receiver by the fourth round, at the latest. Vincent Brown didn’t impress last year, depite staying healthy for every game. Furthermore, it is perceived that we need a deep threat, especially if Malcom Floyd doesn’t return from injury. The Chargers are using the “short passing attack” much more these days, but it is clear that they need somebody who can stretch the field.
It also can’t be ignored that they badly need a return man, as well. Attempts to use Eddie Royal, Danny Woodhead, Keenan Allen, Ronnie Brown, and even ERIC WEDDLE in the return game have not yielded successful results. Not to mention, putting four of your star players in the return game simply isn’t an option anymore. If Woodhead, Allen, Weddle, or Royal (who already has trouble staying healthy) were to get injured, it could drastically hurt their chances of reaching the playoffs in 2014.
John Brown is predicted to go in the sixth-to-seventh round. He posted the second fastest time, in the 40 yard dash, at the NFL combine. He is a little on the small side (5’10″ / 179 lbs.), which is his biggest drawback. Being that small, you aren’t going to break many tackles, win a lot of physical jump-ball contests, or be able to be used as a blocker. At times, he can also get jammed at the line, and redirected. He doesn’t have ideal arm length, and has small hands.
He can also blow past defenders, and is a play-maker. Brown had no problems locating, or catching, over-the-top passes at the combine. He can be a speedy option in the slot, and can stretch the field, using his speed alone. In order to contest him, they have to catch him first. For as often as the Chargers attempt to “stretch the field” these days, he won’t be asked to do it very much. Heck, they used Danny Woodhead on the outside, and Philip hit him over-the-top for a TD last season. Brown is faster than Danny Woodhead, and could be (similarly) used over-the-top.
I haven’t heard anything about the Chargers showing interest in Brown, but they should think about it. If he is there in the sixth, and a decision hasn’t been made on a receiver, they could kill two birds with one stone here. Finding a player in the sixth or seventh round, that can can make an impact in the receiving game AND the return game would be a huge success!
Tyler Starr, South Dakota:
The later rounds of the draft are usually used to see if you can find a player who can add depth to the roster. Or, maybe you will find a player who might surprise you, and become a starter. With Freeney, Ingram, Johnson, English, Keiser, Williams, and Law… it seems like there will be some heavy competition at outside linebacker in camp this season. But, Dwight Freeney’s contract is up next season. If he isn’t brought back in 2015 (which it is likely that he won’t, due to his age), Johnson & Ingram are suddenly your best OLB’s. Barring breakout performances from Keiser, English, and Law… Tourek Williams could be the only other OLB under contract in 2015. Tom Telesco will need to add another future starter, and begin to develop him this season. He will also need to think about bringing in some more quality depth, over the next two seasons.
Tyler Starr is an Outside Linebacker that is expected to go in the seventh round, or later. Adding Starr in the seventh round, or in UDFA, might be a solid option. He played defensive end in 2011, racked up 14 sacks, 51 tackles (19 for a loss), and 7 forced fumbles. He was switched to rush linebacker in 2012, where he played 10 of 11 games, had 74 tackles (7 for a loss), 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and blocked a kick. He was a Buck Buchanan award finalist that year, despite playing hurt during the season. In 2013, he was the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year, started 11 of 12 games, had 71 tackles (15 for a loss), nine sacks, four pass breakups, an interception, and four forced fumbles. He is viewed as being versatile enough to possibly play Sam linebacker, and can hang with tight ends in coverage.
If he can strengthen his core a little bit, improve his technique,make an impact on special teams, he could be worth consideration. The Chargers have already noticed him, so this selection wouldn’t surprise me, whatsoever. We have learned that Tom Telesco likes production, and this guy has definitely been productive on the field.
These are just a few late round picks that I could see the Chargers taking a shot on. There isn’t much pressure for these guys to be day one starters. But, if the potential is there, you might find that “Diamond in the Rough”, and add some players that could make an impact.. sometimes in multiple areas. I will try to get another article up before the draft, with some more “Late Round Picks” that the Chargers might target. I will also try to throw out a couple of “Surprise Picks” that Telesco might have up his sleeve. I’m not sure that any of us predicted TT drafting Tourek, Stevie, and Brad last year. So, I am looking for “more of the same” from the Chargers this season. Please add your thoughts, and late round picks, in the comments section below. Have a great weekend, and…
Keep Bolting Toward Excellence!