The San Diego Chargers are going to have a lot of new faces next season playing in Qualcomm Stadium, and the future looks brighter than ever. With Free Agency pretty much done, we will take a look at the Chargers mock draft, post free agency.
For starters, hats off to Tom Telesco, who has had a killer offseason. With acquisitions galore, Telesco started off free agency with a couple key re-signings. The Bolts re-signed Offensive Lineman Chris Hairston, who was the only Charger to start every game on that banged-up line last season. The Bolts also agreed to a contract with tight end Antonio Gates, as if he was going anywhere else was even an option.
Jan 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (85) scores a touchdown reception over Denver Broncos defensive back Shiloh Keo (33) in the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Then came the free agency period, and Telesco wasted no time. San Diego signed wide receiver/kick returner Travis Benjamin, who had spent his entire career with the Cleveland Browns. They also signed nose tackle and ex-Seahawk Brandon Mebane to a team-friendly deal, as well as bringing in safety Dwight Lowery. Lowery and Mebane were each given three-year deals, and if that were not enough. TT signed corner Casey Hayward from Green Bay to boost the secondary even more.
Jan 3, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin (11) makes a first down catch during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Telesco addressed the Chargers biggest need, which was secondary, as well as brining back the most reliable lineman from last season. With lifetime Charger Eric Weddle heading elsewhere, the Bolts needed to bolster the secondary, and Lowery and Hayward are great signings. With the addition of Hayward, the Chargers now have a 3-headed monster at cornerback with Flowers, Verrett, and Hayward, and have arguably the best 1-2 CB punch in the entire NFL with Hayward and Verrett. Jahleel Addae was also re-signed to a one year deal, and looks to be one of the starting safeties next season.
Dec 27, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Casey Hayward (29) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Packers 38-8. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mebane was a very underrated player in his tenure in Seattle, constantly being overshadowed by the many Pro Bowl players on the infamous Legion of Boom defense. Mebane is already the best nose tackle to wear a Chargers uniform since number 76, Jamal Williams. The addition of Mebane brings a bonafide run stopper to a team that desperately needs somebody to clog the middle, especially against the tough backs in the AFC West.
Jan 3, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (92) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Benjamin gives the Chargers what they desperately needed last season in special teams: a guy with return capabilities. The Chargers struggled to get any return yards last season, and Jacoby Jones was a flop of a signing last offseason. Benjamin adds a dangerous dimension to the return game, as well as a speedy option outside for Philip Rivers to throw to. With the retirement of Malcolm Floyd, Rivers now has Stevie Johnson, Keenan Allen and Travis Benjamin as the three receivers, given him perhaps his best tandem of wideouts since entering the NFL. Add future Hall of Famer Antonio gates into that mix and the Chargers offense has potential to be one of the top in the league.
With the draft coming up in just a matter of weeks, we take a look at who the Chargers might grab (and should grab) in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Now the question remains, what will TT do in the draft? The Bolts hold the number 3 overall pick, their highest since 2004 when they drafted Eli Manning first overall, who they later traded to get their current quarterback, number 17 Philip Rivers.
Here is my three-round mock draft for the Chargers.