After finishing the 2015 season last in the AFC West with a 4-12 record, the San Diego Chargers have a number of holes to fill on their roster if they hope to compete for a division crown anytime soon.
With quarterback Philip Rivers signing a five-year contract extension at the beginning of last season, General Manager Tom Telesco and the front office have a short timeframe to surround their franchise player with the kind of talent the team needs to compete for a Super Bowl title.
While Chargers fans continue to wait and see where their team is going to call home, one thing is for certain — if Telesco doesn’t hit a home run and land some immediate impact players in the draft, the team could very well be playing in a half-empty stadium no matter where it is located.
Scanning through the various mock drafts, most prognosticators have the Chargers taking a player at one of their positions of need — namely offensive tackle and defensive line. Having to fill voids at wide receiver and defensive back as well, here’s a look at a few players ranked in the top ten of the draft and quotes by some well-known “experts” on whom the Chargers will select with their first pick.
Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss, 6-5, 305. Widely regarded as the best tackle in the draft, Steve Serby of the New York Post has the Chargers taking Tunsil with the third pick of the draft. “Philip Rivers needs targets, but he also needs protection to find those targets,” Serby said. “Rough around the edges, but a terrific athlete who has the tools to be a left tackle for 10 years.”
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State, 6-6, 275. In his second mock draft, the Union Tribune’s Eddie Brown has the Chargers taking Bosa with their top pick. “If the Browns take a quarterback second overall, then the Chargers will land either Bosa (potentially the best all-around player in the draft) or Laremy Tunsil (the best offensive tackle in the draft). This week I have the Titans taking Tunsil with the top pick, so the Bolts get to upgrade their pass rush.”
Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss, 6-4, 296. Ranked the top defensive tackle prior to his suspension from the 2016 Sugar Bowl for marijuana use, ESPN’s Todd McShay still has him going to the Chargers. “When healthy and staying out of trouble, Nkemdiche is a force along the defensive front,” McShay said. “Just flip on the tape from Ole Miss’ upset win over Alabama. Nkemdiche practically lived in the backfield against the Tide, racking up 2.5 tackles for loss. His combination of size (6-foot-4, 296 pounds) and quickness is tough for offensive linemen to handle.”
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State. Many predict Bosa could be the first pick in the draft, however, SB Nation’s Dan Kadar believes that Bosa could possibly fall to the Chargers. “There’s only so far the best player in the draft should fall, and this is it.” Kadar said. “Bosa is a disruptive presence up front, both in the pass and run game. In just three seasons, Bosa tallied the third-most sacks in Ohio State history with 26 and saw double teams often this season. For the Chargers, he’s strong and lengthy enough to play end in a 3-4, and should really excel in four-man fronts.”
With so many holes on this roster there is always a chance Telesco trades down and gathers more picks if the player he covets is off the board once the Chargers are on the clock. If that scenario should unfold there is one player they should consider selecting if he’s available — defensive back Jalen Ramsey from Florida State.
CBS and NFLDraftScout Senior Analyst Dane Brugler ranks the 6-1, 201 Junior the No. 3 prospect overall. “If you combined safety, cornerback and linebacker into one prospect, the result would look something like Ramsey, who was blessed with the inherent instincts and an impressive size/athletic profile,” Brugler said. “It’s rare to see defensive backs mentioned as worthy of the top pick, but he deserves it.”
The Endzone: NFL analyst Daniel Jeremiah also agrees that Telesco will address the offensive line in his first mock draft, “Tunsil would be a massive upgrade for the Chargers’ offensive line,” Jeremiah said. Updating his projections following the AFC, NFC Championship games this past weekend, feature columnist Mike Norris for the Bleacher Report projects the Chargers selecting Lequon Treadwell, the top-rated wide receiver in the draft who played at Ole Miss. The UT’s Brown has the Chargers addressing the offensive line in the second round by taking Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama. “The Chargers center position has been a revolving door ever since Nick Hardwick retired,” Brown wrote. “Kelly is the best prospect at the position in this draft. His knowledge and instincts are second to none, and his athleticism is second to none. He hasn’t allowed a sack in two years.” In the third round Brown has the Chargers selecting DeAndre Houston-Carson, a 6-1, 198-pound free safety from William and Mary in his latest mock draft. During his collegiate career Houston-Carson blocked nine kicks as a special teams standout.