Chargers Draft

Los Angeles Chargers: 5 linebackers to target after the first round

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Lorenzo Carter
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Lorenzo Carter
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4 of 5

Iowa LB Josey Jewell

Josey Jewell is the Cooper Kupp of this year’s draft. Like Kupp, Jewell is a big favorite of mine and a player who comes with a ton of production, but his supbar combine performance will have many overlooking what he actually did on the football field.

Jewell was a three-year captain for the Hawkeyes and has been an impact the second he stepped onto the field. He finished his four-year career (redshirted his freshman year) with 437 total tackles, including having three 120-plus tackle seasons; he is one of just three Iowa players to ever do that. He also finished with a combined 26 pass deflections (11 in his final year), 13.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, six interceptions, three forced fumbles, one defensive touchdown and one blocked kick.

In 2017, he led the Big 10 with 136 total tackles (led the conference in total tackles in 2015, too). He was the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year and also won the Butkus-Fitzgerald Award, an award given to the best linebacker in the conference. He was also named first-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten. He was a second-team all-conference selection in both 2015 and 2016.

Josey Jewell led all draft-eligible B1G LBs with his 61 total stops this past season pic.twitter.com/9Iu6cWWcWt

— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 22, 2018

Scouts say that Jewell has incredible instincts and good vision. He also has solid technique and knows how to find his gaps, get to the ball carrier and finish plays. He excels in stopping the run and is one of the better coverage linebackers out there. Plus, he’s durable, having only missed three games in four years. A linebacker who can do his job and stay healthy is what the Chargers need. Also, Telesco loves those high-effort guys with good character, and Jewell is one of them.

But that 4.82 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine was really disappointing. He also finished average numbers in the bench press (18 reps), vertical (33 inches) and broad jump (117 inches). However, his 6.80 three-cone shuttle time, which displays agility and fluidity in change of direction, ranked second among linebackers, and his 4.27-second 20-yard shuttle ranked eighth among linebackers.

Here’s his profile overview on NFL.com:

“On the borderline from a size standpoint, Jewell already had his detractors who worried about whether he was big enough to handle inside duties. On top of that, he ran a painfully slow forty at both the Combine and his forty that will send him tumbling down the draft board. On the field, however, he is a highly instinctive linebacker who combines physicality with a relentless motor to find his way into play after play. Jewell’s consistency and football character give him a shot at becoming a solid NFL backup despite his speed limitations.”

Overall, I really do believe his athletic limitations and poor combine performance will make teams second guess, especially with a class full of speedy linebackers. He doesn’t have the greatest size either, standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing 234 pounds. And unlike the others, he doesn’t have the versatility to play multiple positions. He’d be an inside linebacker (MIKE) for the Chargers. The Chargers need insurance for the oft-injured Denzel Perryman.

If anything, the Chargers could draft a more athletic linebacker early and double down with the selection of Jewell in the mid-to-late rounds, which would be a steal in my opinion. Watch his highlights and I guarantee you’ll agree with me, too.

And just think, Jewell’s former teammate and current Chargers DB Desmond King, a former Big 10 Defensive Back of the Year and Jim Thorpe Award winner, fell to the fifth round because he was “too slow.” King ended up being one of the top rookie corners in 2017.

Round Prediction: Round 3-4

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