Now that the Chargers are going to be playing games inside a crowded Los Angeles sports area, the team is going to have to get creative in order to sell tickets.
What if that creative move as general manager Tom Telesco drafting one or two local products to bolster his lineup with?
The USC Trojans are as popular as an NFL team in the southern California area and adding a player or two off of that roster could intrigue fans in that area to at least watch some Chargers games.
Wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster was ranked right behind Mike Williams when the season began in terms of draft prospects at the wide receiver position. Currently, WalterFootball.com has him as the No. 6 wide receiver in the draft and still shows that he could be picked in the second or third round.
Smith-Schuster put together a great career at USC. In three years at the school, he played in 40 games and caught 213 passes for 3,092 yards and 25 touchdowns. He ranks fourth in school history in receptions, fifth in receiving yards and fifth in touchdowns, making him one of the best wide receivers in the school’s long, storied history.
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The question of whether or not he can get separation at the professional level is a legitimate one, but the Chargers wouldn’t have to line him up on the outside. They could use him as a slot receiver, the way they were using Stevie Johnson. In the slot, he could work defenses over the middle and use his experience at the position and large frame (6’2″, 220 pounds) to make plays. He’s gotten plenty of big-game experience at USC and it’s not far fetched to think that he could come in and contribute right away.
In addition, the Chargers could use their first-round pick on one of the draft’s top safeties, either LSU’s Jamal Adams or Ohio State’s Malik Hooker. Yes, they would end up passing on Mike Williams under this scenario, but the team still has Keenan Allen and if he can stay healthy (and that’s a big if), he’s a true No. 1 wide receiver.
Adoree’ Jackson is a different case. He’s possibly the best playmaker in the entire draft—and he plays defense.
A true cover corner, Jackson is a premiere athlete that can also go back and return kicks and punts. In 2016, he was a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender for the Trojans.
Take a look at these highlights against Notre Dame, where you’ll even see Jackson play some offense. It doesn’t take long to recognize his talent.
He wouldn’t fill a need in Los Angeles. The Chargers have a solid duo at cornerback with Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett. In addition, Jackson could cost a first-round pick and it’s probably too high to take him at No. 7 overall.
But for those that say he should be disregarded for those reasons should consider that the Denver Broncos—arguably the best secondary in the league—used a first-round pick on Bradley Roby when they already had Chris Harris and Aqib Talib. It gave them a dynamic nickel defender and helped set the stage for their “No Fly Zone” defense.
As for Jackson costing a first-round pick, Telesco could look to trade into the back end of the first round in order to take him (in addition to making a pick at No. 7).
Yes, it would be a bold move. But bold moves are going to be expected in Los Angeles. Looking to bring in players that made a name for themselves as college players in the area would not be a bad move.
After all, if we’re honest, selling tickets in Los Angeles is going to be more important than winning, at least in 2017. The Chargers must make a splash to avoid becoming an also-ran LA sports team, and this could be that move.