As the 2016 NFL Draft looms large over all 32 Teams in the league, final preparations are being made to shore up any questions teams may have in accordance with their final draft boards. With San Diego holding the number three overall pick in this year’s draft class and seemingly headed towards selecting the number one non-QB player in the draft the pressure is certainly on to make the right selection. Even though Tom Telesco and Co. most likely know who they are selecting already come Thursday evening I thought it would be fun to take a look at a scenario in which the impossible becomes possible. A scenario in which San Diego shocks us with brilliant move after brilliant move throughout the early rounds. Without further delay, here is my version of a perfect draft scenario for our Bolts.
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Ever since Cleveland traded away their top pick, I’ve only envisioned two situations with the Chargers number three overall selection. Either we stay put and draft Jalen Ramsey, or we trade back no more than three spots and compile a nice return in the process without sacrificing a blue chip prospect. Anything other than those two scenarios would surprise me and that’s saying something considering who the Chargers have drafted in the first round over the years (Exhibit A: Larry English). For the sake of this article the Chargers decide to get a little crazy by their standards and execute the following trade:
San Diego receives the No. 5 and No. 38 overall picks from the Jaguars.
Jacksonville receives the No. 3 overall pick from the Chargers.
Before anyone gets upset about the possibility of something like this actually occurring, I am going to pull an Aaron Rodgers and tell you all to R-E-L-A-X. This article is one hundred percent hypothetical and the chances of everything happening that I mention now and later on are slim to none. It’s just nice to keep all possibilities open heading into the draft. Meanwhile this trade makes a ton of sense for the Bolts and to be honest it becomes much more realistic with recent news about Myles Jack’s knee being a more serious problem than initially thought. If Jack is taken off of Jacksonville’s draft board, they may view Jalen Ramsey’s talent as too much to pass up on and with no fallback plan in Jack anymore, they could very well overpay us to jump the Dallas Cowboys who seem to be a lock to select the DB from Florida State if he “slides” to No. 4. With the number five overall selection, we take DeForest Buckner and fill our biggest need on the team at Defensive End while simultaneously stockpiling another pick in the second round.
However there is a second trade that the Chargers make in the first round courtesy of the following trade:
San Diego Receives the No. 27 overall pick from Green Bay
Green Bay receives the No. 35 and both a 2016 and 2017 fourth-round pick from San Diego
Oh you just knew that Telesco couldn’t resist trading away that fourth round pick for a third straight year. In fact, he was so anxious to unload next year’s as well, he decided to kill two birds with one stone. While the initial look of this trade seems to favor the Chargers, a closer look shows a more even trade. Green Bay is projected to select either a Defensive lineman or a Tight End in most mock drafts. Since the defensive line pool is relatively deep and no tight end in most people’s mind warrants a first round pick this year, Green Bay decides that an extra pick in this draft and next draft is worth trading down a few spots to most likely select the same player they were going to take in their original spot and if not, a player that is eerily similar.
With our newly acquired first-round pick, the Chargers select center Ryan Kelly out of Alabama who isn’t expected to make it past the Cardinals at No. 29 let alone to No. 27. Therefore, it’s suffice to say that I am banking on Kelly to experience a slight draft day slide just far enough for us to swoop in and nab him at a reasonable price. He excels in pass protection and although he struggles at times to reach the second level effectively, he would be an immediate plug and play, day-one starter, for San Diego.
In case you have gotten lost in the mayhem of Thursday’s first round, the Chargers now sit with the No. 38 overall pick. With that Pick the Chargers select Safety Karl Joseph out of West Virginia. If not for an unfortunate ACL tear this past season, Joseph seemed to be a lock as a top 15 pick. The New York Giants are a team that could be targeting Joseph at No. 40 in the second round, so in a perfect world, we take him just before that happens. Personally, I don’t see an incredibly large drop off between Joseph and Ramsey making him a fantastic value pick in the second round as well as filling a position of need on top of everything else. Even though he was limited to four games his Senior season, Joseph still managed to intercept five passes, was responsible for twenty tackles, and recorded a sack. While he is somewhat raw in terms of technique and coverage skills, Joseph is a plus run defender and a playmaker in the secondary that absolutely lays the wood whenever possible. Here is a highlight video confirming that last part.
Well would you look at that, in the first two rounds of the draft the Chargers have filled all of their most glaring holes on the roster. Now is the time to spoil themselves with a BPA pick in the third round. While it’s tempting to double dip on the Defensive line and go with someone like Austin Johnson out of Penn State or take a developmental tackle to replace Dunlap in the future like Shon Coleman out of Auburn, I have the Chargers going in a completely different direction. With the sixty-sixth overall pick, the San Diego Chargers select Sterling Shepard out of the University of Oklahoma. Now before you quit reading this article and turn off your laptop or phone, hear me out.
I am not convinced that Stevie Johnson has done enough to secure a long-term roster spot on this team. He was by no means terrible last year but, excluding a few games here and there, Johnson was mediocre throughout the season. Sterling Shepard is a younger and more importantly, cheaper version of Johnson. His route running is near perfect and Shepard possesses above average agility and sneaky speed to create yards after the catch which should be the focal point of Ken Whisenhut’s offense this season. In other words he is a perfect fit for the Chargers as a slot receiver and with other holes already filled, the team looks to create a formidable strength in the wide-receiver corps. The media and scouts alike seem to be sleeping on Shepard and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he turns out to be the best wide receiver in this year’s draft. Here is a highlight video to help alleviate any concerns those might have about this selection.
With the Bolts fourth rounder being traded on day one, we find ourselves not selecting another player until the end of the fifth round. This time San Diego uses its No. 175 overall pick to select fullback Glenn Gronkowski out of Kansas State. Yes he is the brother of All-Pro Tight End Rob Gronkowski and no, that is not why I have us selecting him here. In fact, you can actually say that this pick fills a need. Last year’s running attack was abysmal, plain and simple. There were many reasons why the running game sucked last year including awful schemes, injuries, and poor blocking. David Johnson was relatively ineffective at fullback last year so we sweep up a road grader with some hands to replace him. Throw in some special teams considerations, (maybe an upback on the punt team so Scifres doesn’t get mauled anymore because of Donald Brown) and you have found yourself a valuable fifth-round pick who can contribute in some areas from day one.
While I was tempted to take Kevin Hogan in the fifth round, I just don’t see him being available that late in the draft. If the ultimate wild card QB of the draft, Cardale Jones, is still available at pick No. 179, it would be in the Chargers best interest to take a flyer on him at that point. However, also assuming he is gone by then, I have the Bolts selecting Quarterback Brandon Doughty out of Western Kentucky. Nothing much to see here. Doughty put up stellar numbers in a not-so-stellar conference throughout his career and projects as nothing more than a developmental quarterback for the future. Could Philip Rivers work some magic on him over his final years with the team and mold him into his successor? Sure. Will that actually happen? Probably not.
We actually have two sixth-round picks this year so with the No. 198 overall pick, I have the Chargers taking a gamble on tight end Rico Gathers out of Baylor University. If you haven’t heard of him before on the gridiron, it’s because he played Basketball instead of football at Baylor. Yes, like so many college athletes before him, Gathers is attempting to become the next Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, or Tony Gonzales of the football world. Since Gates came from a similar background, I figure it’s worth a shot to find out if Gathers can learn a thing or two from the Hall-Of-Famer to be and possibly become his successor. After all, Gathers has all the physical tools at 6’7″ and 275 pounds alongside freakish athletic ability with a 39″ vertical jump and a 4.75 40-yard dash time. Once again, expectations are tempered with late-round draft picks as most aren’t even expected to stick on the team for more than a year or two, if that.
Finally we have come to the end of the Chargers draft with the No. 224 overall pick. Since this is a dream scenario draft I figured that we should go out with a bang. In a utopian society, San Diego selects Jaylon Smith, LB from Notre Dame with their final pick. Earlier in the month I wrote an article saying how the Chargers should invest a middle-round pick on the former All-American. However, alarming medical reports have since been revealed and there is growing speculation around the league that Smith is falling off multiple teams’ draft boards entirely because of the fact that he may never play football again.
Personally, I don’t see the big deal taking a gamble on him here. Yes, he won’t play next season. So what? Find a way to stash him on the roster for a year and see if he can become his former self again. If he can’t recover, big whoop, you wasted an oh-so-precious SEVENTH ROUND PICK. And if he does find a way to turn back the clock, or even be half the player he was prior to his injury, then you found yourself a solid piece to your team’s defense for years to come.
So in conclusion, the Chargers were able to find a starting defensive end, center, safety, and potentially even wide receiver in this draft with even more possibilities lying in the later rounds. Now I am not saying that we should keep our hopes up that this happens, but at the same time, I’m not saying that this draft class is impossible to replicate in some way, shape, or form. After all, it is the NFL and crazier things have happened. If you don’t believe me, go read the news, Tom Brady actually got in trouble the other day.