Sep 10, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Eddie Jackson (4) returns an interception for a touchdown against Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Hilltoppers at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
With still plenty of talent left on the board, the Los Angeles Chargers have a chance to add more playmakers. Who should they target on Day 3?
The Chargers drafted WR Mike Williams, OL Forrest Lamp and OG Dan Feeney with their first three picks. It may not have been flashy, but GM Tom Telesco did an excellent job getting help for QB Philip Rivers (it also helped that both linemen fell right into the Chargers’ lap).
With that said, look for the Chargers to go heavy on defense the next four rounds. In such a deep class, there are still Day 1 contributors left on the board.
Here are a few players the Chargers should target:
Alabama FS Eddie Jackson: Jackson could have been a first- or second-rounder if it were not for a broken leg he suffered midway through last season. He’s a ball-hawking safety with good cover skills. Why do I like him better than most? He can also play a huge role in the return game, and the Chargers desperately need help on special teams. Click here for a more detailed analysis on Jackson.
FS option #2: Colorado S Tedric Thompson
Auburn DE Carl Lawson: Like Jackson, Lawson is falling because of injuries. In Lawson’s case, it’s past injuries that has teams worried. He missed all of 2014 with an ACL tear and sat out six games in 2015 with a hip injury. It was a different story last season, though. Lawson, who earned first-team All-SEC honors, played in every game and finished the year with nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Pro Football Focus compared Lawson to Dolphins DE Cameron Wake, putting emphasis on Lawson’s (and Wake’s) pass-rush skills.
“The lack of consistency and overall production against the run is something of a concern with Lawson, but his talent as a pass-rusher is impossible to deny. In the very least though, he has the talent teams are going to fall in love with as a pass-rusher.”
DE option #2: Washington DE Joe Mathis
Iowa DL Jaleel Johnson: With NT Brandon Mebane on the wrong side of 30 and DT Corey Liuget underperforming as of late, the Chargers could use help on the interior defensive line. Johnson, another player who’s been pushed down the draft despite being talented, could come in and fight for a starting job right right away. A first-team All-Conference selection, Johnson led the Hawkeyes with 10 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks last season. While he didn’t shine at the combine, the 6-foot-3, 316-pounder is a powerful run defender and has the quickness and motor to thrive in the passing game (ranked sixth in pass-rush productivity last year, per PFF).
DL option #2: Tulsa DL Tanzel Smart
CB Damontae Kazee: The Chargers are lacking depth at corner. If it were not for his frame (5-foot-10, 184 pounds), Kazee would have been a Day 2 pick. The competitive four-year player out of San Diego State has the ball skills (15 interceptions in his final two years, including two pick-sixes) and coverage skills (allowed a passer rating of 43.7 into his coverage in 2016, per PFF). He has the footwork and vision you want in a corner. He’s as underrated as they come and could be the next defensive gem for the Chargers.
CB option #2: Miami CB Corn Elder
CB/S Desmond King: No set position, but King could be a playmaker for the Chargers if utilized correctly. The Iowa product is a ball hawk with great instincts (finished with 14 career interceptions).
LB Blair Brown/OLB Ejuan Price: Two small-school players who are undersized but were very productive in college.
RB Samaje Perine/Donnel Pumphrey: The Chargers need defensive players, and it would only make sense to trade back and get an extra pick to use for another offensive player; but Perine, a big bulldozer, and Pumphrey, a small but productive and versatile back, would fit nicely in new HC Anthony Lynn’s run-heavy scheme.