While the first round of the NFL Draft has been kind to the Chargers the last decade or so, the middle rounds of the draft have been a mixed bag. Bolt Beat touched on some of those busts earlier this week, but there also have been some solid steals in the middle rounds of the draft for the Bolts. So with this year’s Chargers looking to fill out their roster with some prime mid-round choices, I wanted to take a look at some of those big moves from the past and see how Los Angeles can find some other diamonds in the rough.
This list will primarily center around selections that were made after the two first rounds of the NFL Draft. Also, this does not include undrafted free agent pick-ups as well (so no Antonio Gates or Austin Ekeler, that list is for another time). As noted in prior articles, the Chargers do have a stronger track record than most teams since 2010 in making great first-round picks, but their later selections have been hit-or-miss, especially in the early 2010s.
So without any more hold-ups let’s take a closer look at some middle of the draft gems that have come to the Bolts since 2010.
Chargers no. 5 draft steal: Darrell Stuckey, safety (fourth round, 2010)
A standout special teams player for the Bolts in the mid-2010s, Stuckey never started any games for the Chargers but was a key piece for their coverage units. Selected to the Pro Bowl in 2014 after notching 27 combined tackles, two fumble recoveries, one interception and one defensive touchdown, the Kansas product solidified his place as one the best Bolts special teams stars ever. Though he is most likely forgotten by many Chargers fans, the safety was a reliable gunner who played his entire career in San Diego (seven seasons) for a total of 89 games in the NFL.
Though his career might have been a little lackluster given that he was never named as a full-time starter, the Kansas City product never let it slow him down. A four-time special teams captain, Stuckey capitalized on each opportunity given to him by the then-San Diego Chargers and was a solid playmaker in the third frame of the game.
It is also worth noting that Stuckey’s career at the University of Kansas was highly decorated as well with his 295 career tackles second-most among Jayhawks defensive backs. He was inducted into the Kansas Football Ring of Honor in 2019 and was hired as their Director of Football Relations for the football program in 2021.