When Tom Telesco noticed that six out of the seven “impact players” he and his front office had targeted were already selected by the 14th pick of the draft, he wasted little time making his move. Fearing the lone player he wanted would be selected before the Chargers picked at 17, Telesco traded that pick, along with their fourth-round pick in this year’s draft and their fifth-round pick in next year’s draft to San Francisco for their first-round pick at No. 15.
With the move the Chargers selected Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. Having lost Ryan Mathews to the Eagles through free agency, the Chargers filled that void by landing Gordon, who many considered one of top two running backs in the draft – the other being Georgia’s Todd Gurley. In days two and three in the draft, Telesco entrusted his scouting department and selected four players on defense whom many draft pundits liked, but felt he reached compared to some other players still available.
Here’s a look at the Chargers 2015 draft class:
First Round; 15th overall pick: Melvin Gordon (RB) – 6-1/215, Wisconsin.
A redshirt junior, Gordon not only led the nation in rushing (2,587), he also topped the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision – Formerly Division I-A) record books for career average yards per carry (7.8). In three-plus seasons as a Badger, Gordon finished his career ranked third in rushing yards (4,915) and total touchdowns (45). A runner up for the Heisman Trophy, Gordon was the recipient of the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back. In a 59-24 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers last season, Gordon set the FBS single-game record with 408 yards along with four touchdowns while playing just three quarters.
Second Round; 48th overall selection: Denzel Perryman (ILB) – 5-11/236, Miami
Regarded as slightly undersized for an inside ‘backer in the NFL, Perryman is known as a ‘thumper’ for the punishing hits he put on opposing players during his four-year career. An All-America and All-ACC pick for the Hurricanes, Perryman played four seasons and racked up 108 and 110 tackles, respectively, over the past two seasons. During his career, Perryman started 37-of-47 games; finishing his career with 351 tackles; 27.0 tackles for loss; 4.5 sacks; seven forced fumbles; six passes defensed and 2 interceptions.
Third Round; 83rd overall pick: Craig Mager (CB) – 5-11/190, Texas State
A redshirt senior, Mager wasn’t ranked among the top 20 cornerbacks profiled by Hub Arkush’s Pro Football Now Draft publication; rather, he was listed among the Best-of-the-Rest section. A surprise pick in the third round, Mager’s performances at both the NFL Combine and East West Shrine Game elevated his status in the eyes of many scouts and put him on the radar as one of the players climbing up the boards prior to the draft. An All-Sun Belt and All-WAC player for the Bobcats, Mager finished his college career with 211 tackles; 9.5 tackles for loss; eight interceptions; 47 passes defensed and two sacks.
Fourth Round: Traded to San Francisco
Fifth Round: 153rd overall: Kyle Emanuel (DE/OLB) – 6-3/246, North Dakota State.
A red shirt senior, Emanuel was the winner of the 2014 Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision – Formerly Division I-AA). For his career, Emanuel tied the NDSU record with 41 sacks; 234 tackles; 58.5 tackles for loss (32.5 as a senior); 35.5 sacks (19.5 as a senior); five passes defensed and one interception.
Sixth Round: 192 overall: Darius Philon (DT) – 6-2/272; Arkansas
Playing just two seasons for the Razorbacks, Philon (a redshirt sophomore), earned second-team All-SEC honors. During his short career, Philon collected 92 tackles; 20.5 tackles for loss; 7.5 sacks; three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
In his three years as GM, Telesco has completed three draft-day trades. In 2013 he traded the Chargers’ fourth-round pick that year to the Arizona Cardinals to move up seven spots in the second round to draft Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te’o with the 38th overall pick. Last season Telesco sent the Chargers’ second (No. 57) and fourth-round (No. 125) picks to the Dolphins to move up seven spots in the second round to select Georgia Tech outside linebacker Jerry Attaochu (No. 50) overall.
One of the more intriguing players Telesco selected was Craig Mager. Most of the NFL pundits graded Mager a fourth-round pick at the earliest; however, the NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah liked the pick. “This is a player you were starting to hear about late in the process, a small school player who has some measurables that you are looking for,” Jeremiah said. “(He) has big-time make up speed when you study him on tape … now he is raw as raw can be, he’s going to need some time before he’s ready to get on the football field. But you see the toughness right here (on game film) and you’ll see some splash plays when you watch three or four games … You see him blitz off the slot and he’s very physical, very aggressive and he can run – those are a lot of good qualities to work with.
Some technical stuff down the field is where he’ll need some time and some work; but they’re definitely betting on the upside in San Diego.”