Assigning a letter grade for each team’s draft class just days following the annual three-day extravaganza seems, on its face, a bit crazy. After all, everyone agrees the NFL Draft is not an exact science, therefore, grading the selections of each team before these rookies even play an actual down during a professional game is, at best, an educated guess.
However, it is interesting to read the analysts’ take on each pick and how these rookies will impact their respected teams.
Remember how the “experts” were surprised the Chargers selected Joey Bosa with the third pick in the draft last year. Although highly regarded, pundits believed Bosa wasn’t a good pick for the Chargers because he fit the mold of an edge rusher in a 4-3 defense and not a hand-on-the-ground defensive end in the 3-4 scheme ran by then defensive coordinator John Pagano.
All Bosa did is get selected NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after producing 10 1/2 sacks and tying for the NFL lead with 17 tackles for loss. What is more impressive is the fact that Bosa played in just 12 games after missing the first four games do to a hamstring injury and all of training camp over a contract dispute.
So much for the expert analysis.
For the most part, Chargers’ General Manager Tom Telesco received high praise for his selections in this year’s draft despite using his first three picks on players to upgrade the offense. While most mock drafts predicted Telesco to select a safety or another defensive player in the first round, there was no real criticism when Clemson receiver Mike Williams was taken with the seventh overall pick.
And when Telesco was able to secure both OT Forrest Lamp and OG Dan Feeney in rounds two and three, respectively, any questions turned to praise as it became clear the Chargers front office is giving quarterback Philip Rivers every opportunity for a Super Bowl run as he nears the end of his distinguished career.
In Williams, Lamp and Feeney the Chargers were not only able to secure three potential starters, it landed whom many analysts ranked the top three players at their respective positions in the draft.
Here is a look at how some analysts viewed the Chargers draft.
Bucky Brooks (NFL Network) & Conor Orr (Around the NFL) — Grade A+
“This was a coup for GM Tom Telesco and new head coach Anthony Lynn. Not only do you diversify your offensive weapons, but you acquire Lamp, who by all accounts was one of the safer offensive line choices in this draft.
“Lamp was enjoyable to watch against Alabama this past year, which had to be a nice barometer for scouts wondering how he could perform against top-tier competition. I did not sense hesitation against a blue-chip defensive line aiming to blow up the Hilltoppers’ pocket.”
Mel Kiper Jr. (ESPN) — Grade A
“After cutting D.J. Fluker, guard moved up to a need, and Los Angeles went with two interior linemen on Day 2. It got my Nos. 1- and 3-ranked guards in Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney. Lamp, a four-year starter at left tackle for Western Kentucky, could end up as the Chargers’ starting center when the 2017 season begins. Former Jim Thorpe Award winner Desmond King could end up at safety or slot corner — he had 14 career interceptions. That was good value in the fifth. Isaac Rochell isn’t much of a pass-rusher, but he can help in the running game.”
Chad Reuter (NFL.com) — Grade B+
“Mike Williams is a physically dominating receiver who will make life easier for Philip Rivers. He has enough speed to make plays, as well. Keenan Allen’s injury forced the team’s hand, as well. It will be interesting to see where second-round pick Forrest Lamp plays for the Chargers; he would be an excellent center. It was an excellent value pick.
“The Chargers again bolstered the interior of the line with Dan Feeney, who will play guard to protect Philip Rivers and block for Melvin Gordon. Hitting two interior linemen that early is a bit of a knock, as they need safety and linebacker help. The Chargers’ safety group needed an upgrade. Desmond King (fifth round) and Rayshawn Jenkins (sixth) should help in that effort. Finding an aggressive swing tackle in Sam Tevi in the sixth was a nice find, and adding versatile 3-4 lineman Isaac Rochell in the seventh was a solid pick.”
The Endzone: In addition to adding new talent to each team in the NFL every year, the draft also effect the power rankings for each team. In the USA Today Power Rankings the Chargers moved up four spots from No. 25 to No. 21 following the draft.
“Philip Rivers will find his Los Angeles surroundings more comfortable with the addition of WR Mike Williams and two new guards,” said Brett Davis. “A turnaround could be in order if injuries don’t derail Anthony Lynn’s debut campaign.”
Although he liked what the Chargers did in the draft, the team remained at No. 25 in ESPN’s Power Rankings. Per Dan Graziano, “Every other team in the AFC West is in the top 10. None of their quarterbacks is as good as this team’s is. Philip Rivers needs help, and the Chargers got him some with Mike Williams and a couple of guards in the first three rounds of the draft. This team blew a lot of fourth-quarter leads last season; hold half of them and this ranking is way too low.”