Wow. What. A. Weekend. If you don’t think I was buried in my dorm room all weekend long studying picks No. 1-253, than you are dead wrong.
It’s safe to say that the NFL draft is one of my favorite events of the year and one that I personally get over-excited for. As for the Chargers draft itself, I was pleased when we took Joey Bosa in the first round. Quite frankly, I was happy selecting anyone other than the 6’6″ human pillow that is Ronnie Stanley.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the Chargers came roaring back on day two and follow up a smart first-round pick with two solid picks in Hunter Henry and Max Tuerk in the second and third rounds respectively. However, the shock of the century was delivered on day three when Tom Telesco managed to nab not one, not two, not three, but four potential starters come next season.
This is the first draft of the Telesco era that I can’t complain about and to be honest that’s sooooooooo refreshing to say. “I LIKE THIS DRAFT CLASS”. Those words were three years in the making right there people. Here I was starting to doubt Telesco. Silly me, my previous opinions on our GM must have been utterly narrow-minded to disrespect him like that. Let me be the first to bring back the #InTelescoWeTrust campaign because quite honestly he deserves it after the draft he just pulled off.
Without further delay, here is my take on every draft pick the Chargers made in the 2016 NFL draft.
First Round: Joey Bosa
After Telesco drove every media outlet associated with the draft crazy by keeping his pick a sealed secret, he decided to ruin everyone’s mock draft by taking the number one player on his board since September; Joey Bosa out of the Ohio State University. Initially, I wasn’t enthralled with the selection here but after I heard that John Pagano and Co. would use him as a Defensive End instead of an Outside Linebacker, my smile grew wider and wider the more I thought about it. Bosa is a pass-rushing defensive end with a flurry of moves that he used in college to embarrass offensive lineman game after game. Don’t sell his defense against the run short either, as Bosa graded exceptionally high in that area throughout his college career too.
I can already hear some of you groaning and moaning in the background. “He only weighs 270 lbs; how do you expect him to hold up at DE in the NFL?” ” He was more of a 4-3 DE at Ohio State. We run a 3-4 so Buckner should’ve automatically been the pick here.” Here are two reasonable answers to your unnecessary worries about our home-run selection:
A: Bosa doesn’t win with his weight. He wins with strong fundamentals, excellent hand placement, and a relentless motor. Just because you don’t have as much weight in your back pocket as the player guarding you doesn’t mean you can’t beat him.
B: If that wasn’t enough here’s another fact for you. Bosa admitted to slimming down for the combine where he weighed in at 269 pounds. He has been previously known to play at weights ranging anywhere from 275-290 pounds; a much closer weight to that of a 3-4 DE.
Draft Grade: A
Second Round: Hunter Henry
It was tempting to take Myles Jack here and I will admit some part of me was rooting for that scenario. However, his knee is severely unstable. So much so that the Cowboys took Jaylon Smith over Jack the pick before us. Considering the Cowboys team doctor performed Jack’s knee surgery and opted for Smith’s knee instead, it says a lot about the perceived health of Jack’s knee and his future in the league.
Anyways back to Hunter Henry, who I liked value-wise at the top of the second. I didn’t have a first round grade on the tight end out of Arkansas but anytime you are able to grab the top player at his position in any other round besides the first, you are doing something right (negating Punter, Kicker “LOL Tampa Bay”, Fullback, and Long Snapper for all you ball-busters out there). Henry seems to be the heir apparent to Antonio Gates and if he was smart he’d pick the brain of the future HOFer-to-be these next two seasons. Hunter’s hands are great as he didn’t record a dropped pass this last season with over 50 catches to his name. He can even hold his own in the run blocking department which is just the cherry on top for San Diego. Hopefully Henry doesn’t ride the pine too hard this year. Expect Ken Whisenhunt to draw up some double tight-end sets featuring Henry and Gates this coming season.
Draft Grade: B+
Third Round: Max Tuerk
Just when I thought Telesco was satisfied with Chris Watt at the starting center position, he dropped this delightful bombshell on us. Max Tuerk, if healthy, is fantastic value here in the third and occupies an immediate position of need for the Chargers. That alone garners a B+ grade. However, the pleasantries don’t end there. Max is a monster in the outside run game. His pulls are flawless and his second and third steps after the snap cover a tremendous amount of ground. Coincidentally enough, Melvin Gordon would prefer to bounce the rock outside than run dives inside. Once again the Bolts have a center who can do some damage on the second level. We haven’t had one since Chris Hardwick left. Tuerk was realistically challenging Ryan Kelly for the top center in this year’s draft and if not for an unfortunate ACL tear midway through last season, there would have been zero chance that we get him in the third round. Another excellent pick by Telesco.
Draft Grade: A, A+ if healthy at start of season
Fourth Round: Joshua Perry
This is where the draft got interesting in a good way for me. Here the Chargers decided to go with Joey Bosa’s teammate, inside linebacker Joshua Perry out of the Ohio State University. Love the player and pick. Perry slipped a little as he was a solid top-100 talent according to most draft “experts”, we got him at No. 102 overall. A tenacious tackler, Perry was a cornerstone and captain of Ohio State’s defense the past few seasons. He immediately gives Te’o a run for his money at the starting inside linebacker position and at the very least becomes a key special teams contributor this season. Can’t ask for anymore out of a fourth-round selection.
Draft Grade: A-
Fifth Round: Jatavis Brown
Quite possibly my favorite pick in the draft, linebacker/safety Jatavis Brown out of Akron University offers so much versatility to San Diego. Jatavis is a baller. If you put him on the field, he will make plays for your team. He ran a sub 4.5 second forty-yard dash at a regional combine and was rumored to run faster than that at other undocumented events. At 5’11” and 230 pounds, that is uber-impressive athleticism being displayed for a human being, let alone a fifth-round pick. While he is raw in his tackling, his closing speed is amazing and he looks to make violent contact when he has a target lined up. Similar to Perry, Brown offers tremendous value at this spot in the draft and could very well challenge Jahleel Addae for the starting strong safety spot this season. Terrific Tom rolls in another fantastic pick.
Draft Grade: A- if placed at LB, A+ if placed at SS
Sixth Round: Drew Kaser, Derek Watt
I figured it’s getting late in the draft so I’ll couple these picks together. Starting with Drew Kaser, I’m always against taking a punter with a pick but if you were going to make an exception, Kaser would be your guy. It doesn’t take long watching his tape to realize what we liked in him. Significant hang time on most kicks with long-range distance following suit. He came in as the third best punter in the nation last year and his college stats say that his highest hang time was 5.5 seconds and his longest kick was 76 yards. Not bad stats for a college punter at all. Tack on the fact that he replaces a struggling Mike Scifres and replaces his 3.5 million dollar salary with a sixth-round salary and you have yourself a reasonable pick here.
Moving onto Derek Watt, my least favorite pick in this draft. Much like punters, I don’t see the reason to take a fullback in the draft. Solid options at FB are available as PFA’s (Priority Free Agents). Add on the fact that Telesco quite possibly took the sixth-best fullback in the draft with only two others being taken up until that point and you find yourself scratching your head. On the positive side, he was Melvin Gordon’s teammate and roommate in college for whatever that’s worth and he is JJ Watt’s brother. All in all, it’s a sixth-round pick so there isn’t too much hate from me here.
Draft Grade: Kaser B, Watt C+
Seventh Round: Donavon Clark
Nothing much to see here. A training camp body who will compete for a practice squad spot. Side note, he did hold Joey Bosa in check and throw around Adolphus Washington (who is an absolute dumpster fire of a third-round pick) when Michigan State played Ohio State this past season. Take that for what it’s worth but keep in mind that Clark was a projected PFA.
Draft Grade: B-
All in all, the San Diego Chargers absolutely nailed this draft. In my personal opinion, they had a top ten class in the entire league and that leans more toward the top five to be honest. They also had the hands down best draft out of every AFC West team which is a significant positive heading into next season. Overall, Tom Telesco was able to secure players that should start or at the very least compete at positions of need. There isn’t much more you can ask for out of a draft class as weak as the one this year. For the first time in Telesco’s tenure as general manager, I was able to look back at our picks with a smile on my face instead of a stern look of befuddlement. I don’t know about all of you, but I’ll take smart and conservative drafts like this from Tom for years to come.
Overall Draft Grade: A-