According to one NFL draft analyst, the Los Angeles Chargers fared very well in the 2017 NFL Draft.
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. handed out A’s to only two teams: The Los Angeles Chargers and the New England Patriots (included the players that were acquired in the offseason for picks). The Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished right behind the Chargers and Patriots with A-‘s.
Here’s what Kiper had to say:
“Keenan Allen has played only nine games over the past two seasons, which is why I pegged receiver as the Chargers’ top need. Los Angeles got my top-ranked receiver at No. 7 in Mike Williams, a potential perennial Pro Bowler who can be thrown to even when covered… Cutting D.J. Fluker, guard moved up to a need, and Los Angeles went with two interior linemen on Day 2. It got my Nos. 1- and 3-ranked guards in Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney. Lamp, a four-year starter at left tackle for Western Kentucky, could end up as the Chargers’ starting center when the 2017 season begins. Former Jim Thorpe Award winner Desmond King could end up at safety or slot corner — he had 14 career interceptions. That was good value in the fifth. Isaac Rochell isn’t much of a pass-rusher, but he can help in the running game.”
Kiper noted that he can’t grade a draft class on performance for at least a few years, so he made his decisions based off three things: The overall talent the team secured via board position, how the team addressed important needs and how efficient the team was in maneuvering on the draft board.
Apr 28, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers first round pick Mike Williams poses for a photo during a press conference at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
On paper, general manager Tom Telesco and the Chargers knocked it out of the park for the second year in a row–and they didn’t need to be flashy to get the job done either. They potentially drafted four Day 1 contributors with wide receiver Mike Williams, offensive linemen Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney and cornerback/safety Desmond King. Fourth-round pick Rayshawn Jenkins, a rangy, fast 6-foot-1, 214-pound safety who is a perfect fit for new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, could also make an impact early on as a hard-hitting enforcer.
The Chargers focused on defense last year (to an extent), so getting help for QB Philip Rivers and making the offense dangerous made sense. Not only that, but they ended up (potentially) fixing their biggest weakness on defense with the selections of King and Jenkins.
The only area of concern now is the defensive line. The DL has a ton of talent and is a strength, but several players could be gone after next season. Waiting until the last pick to select a DL wasn’t the greatest move, but it’s hard to argue against what Telesco did in Rounds 1-6. Perhaps the Chargers are on track to sign DE/LB Melvin Ingram to a long-term deal, which would make sense as to why they didn’t make the DL a bigger priority.
As for the Chargers’ rivals, the Denver Broncos received a B+ from Kiper, while the Kansas City Chiefs were given a C+ and the Oakland Raiders a C.