Shooting For The Top Pick


When your team has the #1 pick, you are coming off of an awful season. Your team is the worst of 32 teams in the league, and you probably have more leaks in the boat than you can plug in one year. No matter what anyone says, there are few teams that deliberately tried to win the honor of the #1 pick, and I’m sure that even those situations are debatable.

The Indianapolis Colts striking gold on a “Suck For Luck” campaign, after letting hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning walk the previous year, is an example of where “tanking” may make sense. Andrew Luck has already led his team to three playoff appearances, and as many Pro Bowl appearances. He will also be sticking around for a while, presumably. A season removed from losing one of the best players to wear a Colts jersey, followed by a lackluster season of back-up QB Curtis Painter… Let’s just say that they probably aren’t second guessing the decision. But, not every team has a lucky horseshoe on their helmet, to say the least. Picking first in the draft holds no guarantee of immediate or long-term success.

Another example of a first overall pick doing well is Cam Newton, who also has two Pro Bowls under his belt, and is currently heading up the only undefeated team in the NFL. He also made Rookie of the Year, and was a Heisman Trophy winner. It’s safe to say they got their money’s worth there. In fact, over the last 25 years, 15 quarterbacks have been drafted. The Manning brothers & Drew Bledsoe jump off of the page immediately as successful picks, with rings to prove it. Other notables are Michael Vick, Carson Palmer, Matthew Stafford, and Alex Smith. It depends on your point of view whether these players were worth the first pick, or not. Three of the four no longer play with the team that drafted them, and arguments can be made on either side of whether they brought success to the teams they play for. There are also some QB’s who didn’t make a Pro Bowl, or a Super Bowl, like Tim Couch, Jeff George, and Sam Bradford. JaMarcus Russell was just a stinker. David Carr gets an asterisk, because he DID earn a Super Bowl ring, but I wouldn’t say he was worth the first overall pick. In Jameis Winston’s case, it’s just too early to tell, as he was just drafted last season, and the Bucs are still working on being playoff contenders in an a division that has been below average, up until the Panthers went on their recent streak. It’s to be noted that both the Panthers & Bucs have had some pretty high round picks themselves.

As for the other 10 players selected, 3 were offensive tackles. Orlando Pace was absolutely worth it, making seven Pro Bowl appearances, and winning a Super Bowl ring with the St. Louis Rams in 1999. Jake Long was a good choice, making the Pro Bowl in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Eric Fischer is TBD, not making the Pro Bowl yet, but he has only been in the league since 2013. There is still time for him to make a statement, and he has played better this season. However, he is injured, and is still considered a below average tackle. Keyshawn Johnson was the only wide receiver that was chosen in the last 25 years, and paid off pretty well. He was selected to the Pro Bowl 3 times, and won a Super Bowl with the Bucs in 2002. There has also only been one running back, Ka-Jana Carter in 95’. He was drafted by Cincinnati, then played for Washington & New Orleans. He suffered a career ending ACL injury, and never lived up to his first overall pick status.

There were 3 defensive tackles chosen during this time period. In 1991 Russell Maryland was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys as the first overall pick, and he helped lead his team to a whopping 3 Super Bowl titles! However, he only made the Pro Bowl once in his ten year career, and but was a known as a relentless run-stuffer with a high motor. He was later picked up as a free agent by the Oakland Raiders in 1996, where he played for three years before being waived. Green Bay picked him up for his final year, until he retired after the 2000 season. Despite only having one Pro Bowl appearance, you can’t really knock a guy with three rings. The other two DT’s were Steve Emtman (1992), and Dan Wilkinson, neither of whom saw the Pro Bowl, or a Super Bowl.

There have been two defensive ends chosen as the number one pick during this span. Mario Williams was drafted by Houston in 2006, and has been one of the top defensive ends in recent history. He made the 2008 & 2009 Pro Bowl with the Texans, before signing with the Buffalo. He made the Pro Bowl last year with the Bills. So, not a total waste, as when he was playing at a high level, he was almost unstoppable, and he still continues to earn his contract.

The other defensive end is Jadeveon Clowney, also drafted by Houston in 2014. Clowney did not appear in the Pro Bowl in his first year, as he didn’t really get a chance to see the field much. After a head-to-head collision in preseason, he was experiencing concussion-like symptoms, and spent time on the sideline. He would return to the field later in the season, until he was put on IR to have surgery on a torn meniscus. He also hurt his knee, which also required surgery. In 2015, he skipped preseason recovering from these injuries, but hasn’t been able to make the impact that the draft experts were hoping for. He has just one sack to his name, and one forced fumble. To make things worse, he has missed two games this season due to yet another injury to his back, making it a total of 14 games that he has not played. After earning a 22 million dollar contract, with 14 million guaranteed, I’m sure the Texans are disappointed that Clowney has not been the third head of the monster, along with teammates J.J. Watt, and Whitney Mercilus. Obviously, this is only his second year, and there is plenty of time for him to live up to his pre-draft expectations. As Charger fans, we understand, having seen our own players struggle with injuries. Melvin Ingram, D.J. Fluker, Manti Te’O, and Jerry Attouchu all came with high expectations, but have spent considerable time on the sidelines nursing injuries.

This leads us to the topic at hand. There are many fans calling for the team to lose out the season on purpose. The rationale behind this is that the higher the draft pick we obtain the better chance we have of landing a Hall of Fame caliber player, or at least a perennial Pro Bowler. In fact, some are pretty adamant that the Chargers should be shooting for the first pick of the draft. I only went back 25 years into the first overall picks of the draft, as the NFL has changed so much, and going back to the dawn of the draft seemed like overkill. Quite honestly, I only wanted to go back 20 years, but there were 3 defensive tackles picked between the years of 1990-1994, which I figured that was worth mentioning. But, it would seem that the trend has been to draft a quarterback with the first overall pick. This brings up many questions. What exactly would the Chargers do with the first overall pick? Let’s take a look at the facts.

The Chargers just signed Philip Rivers to a pretty nice contract, with a “no-trade clause”, which Philip asked to have put in there. I assume he could waive this clause, if he wants to, but it’s in there now. It would appear that the Chargers are not in the market for a new quarterback, barring a career ending injury this season, which we all hope does not happen. We must also consider the fact that the future of the team is up in the air.  If the Chargers go to L.A., I am assuming that Philip Rivers and the team have come to the arrangement that Philip is going with them. I don’t like to assume, as Rivers could always decide to retire, or maybe even ask to be traded. You can’t ignore the fact that Floyd is retiring, Weddle looks like a goner, and who knows what Gate’s future is with the team? I think he plays another year with PR, but we’ll see. If all three leave, Rivers will be the last man standing of the “old school vets”. This has to have crossed his mind, and probably has been on his mind since Hardwick & Clary retired.

The good news is that Rivers is breaking his hero’s records left & right, and does not have a ring yet. I think he is far from retiring, unless something awful happens. Now that Mariota is starting for the Titans, and Whisenhunt is no longer in Tennessee, I am guessing that we won’t be seeing Rivers flying home for a family reunion. Perhaps Whisenhunt could bring Rivers over to whatever team he ends up on next, but Rivers already didn’t like uprooting his family to go to Los Angeles. Unless it’s in his own back yard, I don’t think he will be going to Whisenhunt’s next destination. So, it would appear that Rivers is in for the long haul, no matter what city name goes before the word “Chargers”.

The next question is, what would Telesco do with the #1 overall pick? It’s not like this situation comes around all the time. Would he pass up the chance to choose a quarterback? The stats show that out of 15 QB’s chosen over the last 25 years, 8 have made the Pro Bowl multiple times, or at least once. 3 have Super Bowl rings. 6 have led & are still helping lead their teams to playoff contention, and 10 out of 15 have started games this season. With all of backlash of choosing a running back in the first round, trading picks away to do it, and Gordon’s struggles this season, would he go against the flow? Would he pick another position with the first pick?

Obviously, Telesco (and his committee) don’t seem to care what anyone thinks when it comes to drafting, and do their own thing. So, would he pick a tackle, a defensive lineman, a wide receiver? Knowing that Tom Telesco LOVES value picks, it’s hard to see him taking a defensive lineman, unless he was absolutely sure that they were going to be the quarterback of the defense. After looking at the Mario Williams situation, it’s tough to think that TT would pick a defensive lineman with the first overall pick, even if a player was presented by draft pundits as “a rare talent, basically to the defensive end spot what Andrew Luck and, and RG3 were to the quarterback position”, like Clowney was. RG3 isn’t even a factor anymore, and Luck has had his fair share of struggles this season in a weak division.

So, that statement from the draft “experts” is flawed, especially since Clowney is looking like a bad pick right now. I bet Telesco would take a left tackle, in light of the Dunlap concussion situation, and have him play right guard for a while, and drop Barksdale. I would like to say that he would orchestrate a trade-down for extra picks, but I just don’t see him giving away (hopefully) his only first overall pick to some other team for extra picks. If it didn’t work out, Charger fans would hold his feet to the fire for a long time, and it might cost him his job.

Quite honestly, it’s looking like the Chargers will be picking in the top ten, and maybe the top five. Unless they suddenly get MUCH better in all three phases of the game, the Oakland Raiders & the Miami Dolphins are the only two teams I see them beating. That puts them at 5-11, at best. And, neither of those games is a guaranteed win. I don’t think the Chargers liked losing to the Raiders like they did, so I expect them to have a chip on their shoulder about that game. Also, Pagano will be coaching defense for his life in the NFL. The Miami game is possibly the last game to be played at Qualcomm. I have my tickets, and I’m certain a lot of other people do too. So, in honor of Malcom Floyd’s last game as a Charger, and in response to that shutout in Miami last season… I hope we whip them into submission, and the stadium is thunderous. We’ll be hosting a Bolt Beat BBQ in the parking lot, and you should drop by.

So, who are the worst candidates today?

The Browns: I would say that the Browns are the worst, and need a QB, as usual. Anyone has to be better than what they are fielding now, who is their ? string QB. Except for losing to the 49’ers, there is not a lot of benefit for the Chargers here. There isn’t much of a chance that we will end up with a worse record, even if we lose out. They are done & cooked, and have the first pick. The Browns are not in the market for offensive linemen. Their line is second only to the Dallas Cowboys in the league, overall. But, their defensive line is slightly worse than the Chargers, which is saying a lot. So, depending on what they want to plug first, they could be in the market for a defensive lineman. Not a lot we can do about it at this point, it would seem. I’m not sure there was anything that could have been done. The Browns are just a bad team. Let’s hope they pick a QB, eh?

Remaining schedule:  #1 Draft pick.

The Titans:  It was a real crap shoot of who is worse between the Browns & the Titans, but I am going with the Browns as the worst. The Titans have a QB, but are failing in so many other areas. They just fired Whisenhunt, and are probably going to need some more receiving weapons for their rookie QB, Marcus Mariota, besides Delanie Walker & Kendall Wright. Also, Mariota has been sacked a billiontimes so far this season, including four games where he was sacked three or more times. He was sacked 7 times in week two against Cleveland, 5 times against Miami in week 6, and 4 times against Jacksonville in week 11. I’m not sure what the full details of those sacks are, but I imagine that the Titans will be looking for offensive linemen. Their remaining schedule is at Jets (7-5), at Patriots (10-2), vs. Texans (6-6), at Colts (6-6).

The Cowboys: Obviously, the Cowboys have their starting QB. But, he is done for the season, and Matt Cassell is under center, and then Kellen Moore, and then who knows what. But, they are pretty much out of playoff contention as the 16th seed. The Eagles suck, but are in contention with the­ Redskins at the top of the division with only five wins, and the Giants hot on their tail, it’s hard to see the Cowboys pulling out a miracle here. Even in a division that always comes down to insane mathematics. Either the Vikings, or Packers, are probably going to lock down a wild-card spot, leaving only one spot left, which the 6-5 Seahawks currently occupy. Unless one of these teams falls off t­­­he wagon, and the Falcons, Giants, Bucs, or Bears can unseat them, there is little reason for the Cowboys to win. The Cowboys have the #1 offensive line in the league, so their focus will be elsewhere.  Their remaining schedule is at Redskins (5-6), at Packers (8-4), vs. Jets (7-5), at Bills (6-6), vs. Redskins (5-6).

The Chargers: This is where the Bolts currently sit, in my opinion. We face both the Chiefs & the Raiders on the road, who are trying to secure a wild-card spot. Both teams embarrassed us IN QUALCOMM in the first meetings, and it wasn’t even close. We also have one more game against the Broncos, and are bucking for the #1 seed. I don’t see them taking their foot off of the pedal.

The Miami Dolphins are the only team that I see being a beatable team here. Both teams will have nothing to play for besides pride, or draft pick. Both teams are neck & neck in the draft position race. Both teams are in need of some serious help on the offensive line. But, the Chargers got HEAVILY embarrassed last season by the Dolphins in a shutout, and might want to put a hurtin’ on Tannehill for that. I would.

It will be the last game of Malcom Floyd’s career, and his tenure with Rivers, Gates, and Weddle. Depending on what happens, it might even be the last game played in front of the San Diego fans, and/or in Qualcomm. Having said that, Charger fans will be happy, knowing that M80 will go home with pride in his heart, because that is all this season was about anyway. It was to begin with. It always will be. He’s a BAMF. He was the best Charger, as far as I’m concerned. Better than Alworth. He talked to the fans more.

Remaining schedule:  at Chiefs (7-5), vs. Dolphins (5-7), at Raiders (5-6), at Broncos (10-2).

Out on da street… they call it murdah. 

The Rams: This one is interesting. They are coming off of a Sam Bradford hangover, currently have an awful Nick Fowles under center, and need a new QB. However, they also need to keep whatever QB they have upright, and have one of the worst offensive lines in the league. They just got decimated by the Cards (who they beat on the road earlier this season?), and then host the Lions, who are done too… and the Bucs… who are still fighting right now. Then, they play on the road at the 49’ers to end it off, who are divisional rivals, but are further in the race for worst.

If they lose out, they will cement themselves in the top 5 (maybe even pick 4), but they will also be handing these other teams a win, which would help the Charger’s draft position. Look at it this way… Aaron Donald is probably the only defensive tackle who is better than Suh, so they won’t be looking for a DT, unless they trade down with someone else. I can see the Seahawks trying to trade into the top five to get an o-lineman, as they have the worst offensive line in the league, and don’t have a lot of other problems. BUT, the Rams also need offensive line help, so it would have to be a sweet deal. Miami & Detroit would be two other candidates, depending on how the rest of their seasons play out, as they also have deplorable o-lines. The Rams remaining schedule is vs. Lions (4-8), vs. Buccaneers (6-6), at Seahawks (7-5), at 49ers (4-8)

The Jags: They have Bortles, who doesn’t seem to be going anywhere for the foreseeable future. We beat them, so I think they’ll be ahead of us. With the loss to us, they lost their shot at competing in a weak division. The good news is that they play the Titans, so one of them has to lose, right? They could use a little help on the oline, I guess, but probably need offensive weapons more. They are pretty stout against the run, and not so much against the pass. So, I don’t see them going for a DT, but Their remaining schedule is vs. Colts (6-6), vs. Falcons (6-6), at Saints (4-8), at Texans (6-6)

The 49’ers: They may be in the market for a new QB, as Kaepernick has been benched for Blaine Gabbert! Gabbert is playing better, but I can’t imagine they feel like he is the quarterback of the future. They are another team with an atrocious offensive line. Things haven’t been the same since Mike Lupati signed with the Cardinals. Like the Cleveland Browns, their defensive line is even worse than the Chargers against the run, and the pass. So, they will be in the market for the best player available on either side of the trenches. Their remaining schedule is at Browns (2-10), vs. Bengals (10-2), at Lions (4-8), vs. Rams (4-8).

The Saints: They are just a non-factor. No matter where they pick, they will lose. I guess they need everything, they need a new Drew Brees, basically… but there isn’t one. The Saints are like the other crooked teams, but without the corporate backing. Deflate gate was a mirror to what the .. cough cough… saints did openly, but their QB isn’t a model. Reap it. I’m sure the NFL will pony Drew Brees as long as they make Nyquil commercials.

The Lions: They also could use a high draft pick, now that the referees have screwed them in favor of making Rogers look good like an NFL sweetheart. They play the Bucs at home, and the 49’ers to end it off. Like the Rams, the only good team they play are the Seahawks. However, sind Suh left, they might want a defensive lineman, depending on how they feel about N’Gata & company.

That’s it… Charger Football Forever ; )