As we enter Day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft, there is still a lot of talent out there. Here are several players the Chargers should target.
The Chargers went heavy on defense in the first three rounds, taking safety Derwin James, linebacker Uchenna Nwosu and defensive tackle Justin Jones with their first three picks.
Barring a trade, the Chargers have four more selections, including one in each round. Will the Chargers add a few more defenders? Or will they switch to the offensive side of the ball? Here are a few guys I’d like for them to draft:
MICHIGAN DT MAURICE HURST: This one is obvious. He would have been a steal in Round 2, and now we’re heading into the fourth round. A lot of teams have taken him off their board because of his heart condition. If I’m Tom Telesco and the Chargers, I’m taking him right now. Line him up at the 3-tech, and this defense would be near unstoppable.
VIRGINIA TECH DT TIM SETTLE: Settle is one of my favorite defensive tackles in the draft, and I was disappointed he wasn’t the pick in Round 3. He has a rare combination of size and athleticism and would be a Day 1 starter at the 1-tech in Gus Bradley’s scheme. Telesco has a knack for doubling down on players (position-wise), and adding the wide-bodied Settle would surely help in stopping the run.
OREGON OT TYRELL CROSBY: I’m very surprised Crosby is still available. He would be drafted to compete for the starting right tackle job right away. The 6-foot-5, 309-pounder has exceptional strength and is a nasty run blocker and great pass protector (zero sacks allowed on 362 pass-blocking snaps last year, as noted by Pro Football Focus).
UCF LB SHAQUEM GRIFFIN: I thought Griffin would sneak into the third round, but he’s still available. He’s an extremely fast linebacker (4.38 seconds, led all linebackers) who plays well in space and has the versatility to rush the passer. He has a high motor and shows a ton of effort. The 6-foot, 227-pounder would compete with Jatavis Brown at the WILL linebacker spot.
IOWA ILB JOSEY JEWELL: Jewell is the opposite of Griffin in terms of athleticism, but he’s one of my favorite linebackers in the draft. The three-year captain for the Hawkeyes ran a very slow 40 (4.82 seconds), but he’s a technically sound linebacker who has great instincts and comes with a ton of production. His 61 defensive stops (a “win” for the defense) were the most among Big 10 draft-eligible linebackers, per PFF. The Chargers need insurance for the oft-injured Denzel Perryman at inside linebacker, and Jewell, who has a nose for the ball, can be that guy and more. Virginia’s Micah Kiser is another early Day 3 guy who’d add depth at inside linebacker.
RICHMOND QB KYLE LAULETTA: If the Chargers want to draft a quarterback to sit behind Philip Rivers for the next two or three years, Lauletta is the best one available. In his final year at Richmond, he threw for 3,737 yards, 28 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He has good accuracy (64.9 completion percentage last season), but scouts say his lack of arm strength could hurt him. I’m a fan of Lauletta’s, so I don’t think picking him would be a waste.
OHIO STATE OT JAMARCO JONES: Like Crosby, I I thought Jones would have gone earlier. And again like Crosby, I think he’d put up a good fight to win that right tackle job. He’s a solid tackle who thrives in pass blocking, but he’s not as athletic as you’d like him to be.
RBs JOHN KELLY KALEN BALLAGE: The Chargers need a bigger back to spell Melvin Gordon. The 5-foot-10, 216-pounder isn’t one of the biggest guys, but he plays like one. He’s a powerful runner who has great balance. He can catch the ball and be a threat on screen plays, too. Ballage is the bigger back (6-foot-2, 228 pounds) who is more versatile and comes with a ton of upside, but he needs to work on his overall game. On another note, Mark Walton, Nyheim Hines and Akrum Wadley would be nice options, but they are smaller running backs.
ARIZONA STATE ILB CHRISTIAN SAM: Sam is a talented player who is getting overlooked. He missed almost all of the 2016 season due to injury, but he combined for 224 total tackles, including 16 for loss, six sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions in 2015 and 2017. He’s not super athletic, but he’s a smart player who has great instincts and good quickness off the ball. He’s a three-down linebacker who can stop the run and cover. Great insurance at inside linebacker and could also compete at the WILL.
MIAMI DT KENDRICK NORTON: Need a run-stuffing nose tackle? Norton is just that. Just watch. He’d be perfect at the 1-tech. These types of players are not flashy, but like Sam, I think Norton is going to be a steal for any team that takes him.
CONNECTICUT DT FOLEY FATUKASI: Read above. Another great option at the 1-tech. Perhaps a bit more potential with Fatusaki, too.
SOUTH CAROLINA LB SKAI MOORE: If Bradley wants a linebacker who can cover, then Moore is his guy. According to PFF, Moore had seven interceptions compared to no touchdowns allowed over his final two years at South Carolina. Last year, he had the best coverage grade and allowed the lowest passer rating (min. 20 targets) among draft-eligible linebackers, per PFF. Have the 6-foot-2, 226-pounder compete for snaps at the WILL. He does come with injury concerns.
*The Chargers already addressed the safety and SAM linebacker positions, but free safety Armani Watts and OLB Genard Avery are players I’m very high on.