The Chargers will look to the collegiate level to fill holes in their roster. What will their approach be heading into the 2019 NFL Draft?
The Los Angeles Chargers have opted to leave the 2019 NFL Draft to fill at least three holes in their roster, choosing to remain largely inactive in free agency. Fortunately, they have a general manager in Tom Telesco who has started to hit more home runs than strike out, finding three All-Pro’s or Pro-Bowlers in the past three drafts. What will his draft strategy be heading into this year? Fans can expect some curve balls from the Chargers’ GM, but for now, this should be their draft approach in 2019:
Pass on the interior of the defensive line
Having done five mock drafts (sure, not a lot) and intentionally picking an interior defensive linemen every time, I can tell you that the Chargers will almost always be reaching for a player at that position. Four of those five times, the player available was Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery, and the other time was Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons, both players with potential red flags. Tillery has a history of personal misconduct, and Simmons is recovering from a torn ACL.
The most popular selection, if there, is likely Dexter Lawrence, the former Clemson Tiger. Lawrence is a massive prospect that would do well in stopping the run, but leaves much to be desired rushing the passer. For reference, Lawrence has just four sacks of the quarterback over the past two seasons. Christian Wilkins, his much more impressive running-mate, has 10.5.
If the team wants a pure run-stuffer, then why take one so high? There are plenty of later-round prospects that can do just that. Unless a defensive tackle without red flags who can also rush the passer falls to them at No. 28, pass on IDL for this round.
Take an offensive tackle, but remember guard is a weakness too
I am a firm believer that the Chargers need to take a “trench” selection in the first round, but have a strong preference for the offensive line. Philip Rivers cannot be pressured on 70 percent of his first-half snaps against the Patriots again. Changes need to be made on the offensive line.
The X-factor here is going to be Forrest Lamp, who is going to get a shot at the starting guard position and even a chance at tackle. Sam Tevi, the team’s current starter at right tackle, is less likely to be replaced by Lamp. However, the team cannot wait for a late-round prospect to develop in order to protect Rivers. So it has to be early, and (in my opinion) Dalton Risner is the likely pick to do so.
Risner is an average athlete who relies on technique, tools, and tenacity to win battles. Look no further than his reps against Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat, a likely Top-15 selection in this year’s draft. Risner won with a great anchor and great strength, typically only “losing” to Sweat when the quarterback ran right into the pass rush.
As mentioned by Chargers Wire’s Gavino Borquez, the team could also be looking at guard as a surprise selection in the first round. And why not? According to Pro Football Focus, starting guard Dan Feeney was the lowest-graded starting Chargers offensive lineman. The Patriots won a Super Bowl with a better interior of their offensive line than their guys on the outside at both tackle spots, perhaps the Chargers could look to give their truly immobile quarterback inside protection.