In their first respective mock drafts of the season, two highly-regarded draft gurus, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah and ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., went defense for the Los Angeles Chargers.
MOCK SEASON IS HERE.
It’s way too early to take anything serious, but it’s still fun to see where certain players end up in certain mock drafts. Mel Kiper Jr. and Daniel Jeremiah recently released their first mocks of the year.
Kiper Jr. had the Chargers upgrading the interior defensive line, going with Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne.
““The best nose tackle in this class is Payne, who was a monster in the College Football Playoff, even if he didn’t always show up on the stat sheet. Georgia couldn’t block him in the national title game. The Chargers are set with good, young pass-rushers, but they could upgrade on Brandon Mebane, who’s signed for only another year. Payne would strengthen the belly of a defense that ranked last in the league in rushing yards per attempt allowed (4.9).”
Jeremiah stayed with defense, but he picked a different position, selecting Florida State safety Derwin James.
“James was made to play in Gus Bradley’s defenses. He’s a more explosive version of Kam Chancellor.”
If I were the Chargers, I’d be really happy with the selection of Payne. If you saw the CFP National Championship game vs. Clemson, Payne was arguably Alabama’s best defender, putting pressure on the QB and making crucial stops in the run game. We all know the Chargers need a defensive lineman who can hold up against the run. Plus, they need to find a replacement for the aging Brandon Mebane or the overpaid Corey Liuget. Washington’s Vita Vea, a 6-foot-5, 340-pound, run-stopping, athletic beast who many fans feel is the better choice, went two spots after Payne in Kiper Jr.’s mock. James was between them both at No. 18 overall.
As for James, I’m not sure he’s the right pick. He’s arguably the second-best safety behind Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, but I see Tom Telesco re-signing FS Tre Boston, who had a great season with the Chargers in 2017. The team will likely re-sign Adrian Phillips, too, who quietly played well as the extra defensive back in Gus Bradley’s scheme. Plus, the Chargers drafted a SS in Rayshawn Jenkins in the fourth round of last year’s draft. In Jeremiah’s mock, Vea went two picks before the Chargers and Payne went 21st to the Buffalo Bills. However, one of the top OT prospects, Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey, fell to the New England Patriots at No. 31 overall. McGlinchey, who’s been going in the top 15 in most cases, is a player to consider.
That said, take these selections with the tiniest grain of salt. The Chargers’ last four first-round picks were WR Mike Williams, DE Joey Bosa, RB Melvin Gordon and CB Jason Verrett, and none were listed in Kiper Jr.’s or Jeremiah’s first official mock drafts.
Last year, Kiper Jr. had former Alabama OT Cam Robinson go to the Chargers. Robinson fell to the Jaguars in the second round of the draft. The year prior, he had the Chargers taking former Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil, the Dolphins’ first-round pick (No. 13 overall) that year. In 2015 and 2014, Kiper Jr. went defense. Former Oregon DE Arik Armstead was his 2015 selection and former Ohio State CB Bradley Robey went No. 25 overall to the Bolts in his 2014 mock draft.
Meanwhile, Jeremiah had former Ohio State FS Malik Hooker, former Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil, former Florida State DT Eddie Goldman and former Florida State CB Lamarcus Joyner go to the Chargers in his last four drafts. Goldman and Joyner fell to the second round.