In a recent article by NFL.com which graded all of the 32 teams’ draft classes, the Los Angeles Chargers ranked 26th with a C+.
It is said that draft classes can only be graded accurately after three seasons, but it is still discouraging to see your draft class ranked in the bottom seven after one year.
The rest of the AFC West division was well graded in this exercise by Gennaro Flilice and Nick Shook. The Las Vegas Raiders (that will take some time getting used to) ranked 7th with an A-, while the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs ranked 12th and 13th respectively, both with B+ grades.
While the Raiders and Broncos had plenty of picks to work with, it’s remarkable that the Chiefs managed such a good grade with only six picks, none of them in the first round.
The Chargers’ low grade was hampered by many factors, and many of them were known even before any rookie signed his contract. Let’s go pick by pick.
Jerry Tillery had, and still has, huge potential. His size alone gives him a lot to work with. But rookie defensive tackles have a longer learning curve than most positions in the NFL, and that showed on film with Tillery.
The rookie was widely regarded as a raw prospect coming out of Notre Dame, so that along with the position he played made it very difficult for him to make much impact. Even then, he performed lower than most standards. He could still develop into a top defensive tackle, but his slow start definitely hurt the Chargers’ draft grade.
Nasir Adderley, the team’s second-round selection, basically redshirted his first season. He appeared in the first four games of the season, playing mostly on special teams, if at all, before he aggravated his injury. He was placed on injured reserve after Week 7.
Trey Pipkins, unlike most of Tom Telesco’s third-round picks, showed promise, even when he was an unknown player who nobody expected to be picked anywhere near round three. He had his struggles, and the fact that he was one of the brightest spots from this draft class says something.
Drue Tranquill established himself as one of the better tacklers on the team quickly, and he can already be considered another mid-round gem found by Telesco.
Emeke Egbule‘s contributions were reserved for special teams, while Cortez Broughton may develop into an eventual starter. Broughton should serve as depth along the defensive line for the next few years. He is disruptive by nature and can serve as a rotational piece while he reaches his potential.
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Only one undrafted rookie made a significant impact on the Chargers’ draft class, and that was Roderic Teamer from Tulane.
He went from hero to zero real quick, as the training camp and preseason sensation found himself starting games due to injuries decimating the Chargers’ secondary.
Fans quickly turned on him, but one cannot expect an undrafted rookie to perform like a Pro Bowler. He showed enough flashes of talent in run support and development to help him stay on the roster for the coming years and try to round out his game.
Draft grades can improve after a few years, as this article from FanSided shows how in retrospective, the Chargers’ 2017 draft grade improved from a B to a B+.
The Chargers’ 2019 draft class may be ranked toward the bottom for now, with a C+, but it may be trending upward. Hopefully, in a few years, the draft grade will improve to at least a B.