In the last several NFL drafts, the Los Angeles Chargers have found a steal late in the draft. Who might it be this year?
Tom Telesco has been great at finding steals on Day 3 of the draft the past several years. Some examples of players who have outplayed their draft slot from the past three drafts are below.
- 2018 – 4th round: LB Kyzir White
- 2018 – 7th round: RB Justin Jackson
- 2017 – 5th round: DB Desmond King
- 2017 – 7th round: DE Isaac Rochell
- 2016 – 5th round: LB Jatavis Brown
So how did Telesco hit on all of these players? His method in the later rounds is probably known by only Telesco himself, but there is a common link among the majority of the players above.
They were productive in college.
Unlike the rest of the league that is becoming hyper-focused on NFL combine results, it appears that Telesco is one of few general managers that is not losing sight of the value of production.
As a safety, Kyzir White had 152 tackles in two years at West Virginia. Justin Jackson finished tenth overall in career rushing yards (NCAA, Division 1). Desmond King was a Jim Thorpe Award winner as the best defensive back in college football.
So, if Telesco wants a late-round steal, he needs to look no further than college production. Here are some players that could fit that bill and are at positions of need for the Chargers.
David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin
What if I told you that the Chargers could get an All-American lineman in the fifth or sixth round? Well, that is possible with David Edwards.
In 2017, his first as a starter, Edwards achieved a third-team All-America selection. The next year, he hurt his shoulder early in the year and played through it for most of the season (eventually stopping to get healthy for the draft), yet he still achieved a second-team All-Big 10 selection.
Edwards has had this great production despite spending time as a quarterback and tight end during his high school days. Hopefully, Telesco will consider him as viable competition for Sam Tevi at tackle.
Hunter Renfrow,WR, Clemson
If you have watched college football’s biggest games, you have seen Hunter Renfrow produce. Renfrow’s best quality has to be his ability to make tough catches on the brightest of stages while practically never having a drop.
Unfortunately for Renfrow, he is five feet and ten inches tall and around 180 pounds. Furthermore, his combine results did not give much hope that other physical traits could overcome his size: Renfrow’s 40 time was a below-average (for an NFL receiver) 4.59, and his strength underwhelmed with only seven bench reps.
These major limitations will make Renfrow go late if he is drafted at all. However, his production at a major college program hints at his potential. Perhaps it could be realized in a nice powder blue uniform.
Those powder blue @Chargers uniforms: ???
— NFL (@NFL) July 20, 2017
Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois
This one may be cheating a bit since Khalen Saunders could go as high as the third round, however, he could be a steal even at this position.
Although it is easier to produce at an FBS-level program like Western Illinois, it is harder to have high statistical production as a defensive tackle (unless your name is Aaron Donald). Yet, Saunders was able to do exactly that at the collegiate level.
In his last three years at Western Illinois, Saunders had 40 or more tackles each year, which is an impressive number for his position. He also managed 12 sacks over the last two years of his college career, again an impressive number for the position.
The main argument against Saunders is that he has not competed and succeeded at a high level. However, he showed promise at the Senior Bowl, and he is worth a shot for the Bolts at a position of need.
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Cameron Smith, LB, USC
Cameron Smith is vastly underrated due to his measurables. Based on his production and leadership abilities, there is no reason that he should go in the fourth or fifth round (where he is currently projected by NFL.com).
Over his four year career at USC, Smith collected 273 tackles – nearly 7.4 per game. In 2017, he was first-team All-PAC 12, and in 2018 (a year where he only played in 10 games), he still earned second-team All-PAC 12 honors.
Although his testing numbers will not show the best athlete, his tape shows a reliable, consistent leader that is always around the football. A player with the impact of Smith should not be available in the fifth round, but it could happen. He could be another late steal for the Bolts.
What productive college player do you hope the Chargers will draft, and who do you think could be the next late round steal? Let us know in the comments below.