Midseason grades for Chargers’ 2017 draft class
By Matt Pagels
The Los Angeles Chargers are halfway through the 2017 season. How has the 2017 rookie class fared thus far?
We’re at the midway point of the season. I picked the Chargers’ top 5 players and top 5 surprise performers and now, I’m about to grade the rookies’ performances.
And don’t worry, these scores are legit. I’m one of Lee Russell’s “Gold Star Teachers.”
Grade Scale: A, B, C, D, F, Incomplete
WR Mike Williams – First Round (No. 7 overall)
Games active: 3 (0 starts)
The former Clemson Tiger fell far behind from the very beginning. Williams injured his back at the start of minicamp, missed all of training camp and preseason action and didn’t make his NFL debut until Week 6 of the regular season.
Williams has two catches for 15 yards on just five targets in three games. The coaching staff eased him back into action by limiting his snaps. Williams hasn’t been on the injury report since making his debut, so it should be time to unleash the rookie wideout.
I hate to give Williams a poor grade because of injury and lack of opportunities. Head coach Anthony Lynn and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt need to do a better job in getting Williams involved, especially in the red zone. That said, he’s a first-round pick who, at the moment, provides nothing. Sorry Not Sorry.
(P.S.: The Chargers could have selected one of these three players, all of whom have made a bigger impact thus far)
OL Forrest Lamp – Second Round (No. 38 overall)
Games active: 0
I loved Lamp. I still can’t believe he fell to the second round. He was already penciled in as the starter at right guard before suffering a season-ending injury (torn ACL) during practice in August. Such a shame.
OL Dan Feeney – Third Round (No. 71 overall)
Games active: 7 (1 start)
Like Lamp, it was surprising to see Feeney fall. Bill Belichick’s Patriots wanted him, but the Chargers snagged the former Indiana guard one pick before New England was on the clock.
Feeney has trended upward after a rough start. He failed to beat out former undrafted free agent Kenny Wiggins for a starting role in the beginning of the year (give kudos to Wiggins for his performance), and he arguably cost the Chargers the game against the Broncos in the season opener after allowing Shelby Harris to break through with ease and block Younghoe Koo’s game-tying field-goal attempt in the final seconds.
But Feeney stepped up, started to see his offensive snaps increase and eventually replaced left guard Matt Slauson, who tore his biceps in Week 7. Feeney has yet to allow a sack and in his first career start (Week 8), he finished as the top-ranked guard, per Pro Football Focus.
Good stuff, rook!
S Rayshawn Jenkins – Fourth Round (No. 113 overall)
Games active: 7 (0 starts)
The Chargers still need safety help, and it’s unfortunate to not have gotten it from a fourth-round pick. It still hurts that Eddie Jackson, a player I was raving about, was picked by the Bears right before the Chargers made their respective selection.
Gus Bradley gave us the idea that Jenkins would be the Chargers’ version of star safety Kam Chancellor: A fast, rangy enforcer. We haven’t seen much of Jenkins on defense thus far, as he’s mainly been a special teamer. I’ve seen him make a few good plays, but he’s also made his fair share of bad plays. Roughing the kicker against Kansas City, which allowed the Chiefs to get three points after initially missing the field goal, and making an illegal block in the back late in the game against the Patriots are the two that stand out.
Jenkins is the definition of average right now.
DB Desmond King – Fifth Round (No. 151 overall)
Games active: 8 (3 starts)
Steal of the draft? I think so.
King has manned the slot with Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams doing their thing on the outside. According to PFF, the former Iowa Hawkeye has yet to allow a touchdown from the slot. More importantly, he actually knows how to tackle, as he’s made several key stops, including one sack, and keeps running backs and receivers from gaining extra yards. He is currently PFF’s fifth-highest-rated rookie and ranks 16th overall among all cornerbacks. He has also flashed some skill in the return game (seven kick returns for 138 yards).
All hail King Desmond.
OT Sam Tevi – Sixth Round (No. 190 overall)
Games active: 6 (0 starts)
As expected, Tevi is simply a developmental prospect who has rarely seen the field (one snap on offense and 25 snaps on special teams). Moving on.
DE Isaac Rochell – Seventh Round (No. 225 overall)
Games active: 1 (0 starts)
I see potential in this young man. He made the initial 53-man roster but was waived and signed to the Chargers’ practice squad after Week 1. He could provide depth at defensive line in the future.