With a couple of months to go until the NFL Draft it is never too early for people to speculate who the Chargers will pick.
With the 17th overall selection, the Chargers will not have an opportunity to get the likes of USC defensive end Leonard Williams or Nebraska edge-rusher Randy Gregory but could get a very good player that may surprise teams that passed on him.
Last year’s draft had inside linebacker C.J Mosely being picked 17th by the Ravens. He was a Pro Bowler and a second team All-Pro.
The Chargers should not have those same expectations but it illustrates that draft order does not project future success. The Chargers’ main needs are linemen on both sides of the ball. Running back and linebacker are also needs and that could make the decision tough for General manager Tom Telesco and his personnel staff. With many highly touted players available it remains to be seen just whom might the Chargers draft?
ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd Mcshay have the Chargers selecting defensive linemen in their most recent mock drafts. Kiper has them selecting Arik Armstead out of Oregon and Mcshay has Eddie Goldman out of Florida State.
Armstead has incredible size at 6-foot-8, 290 pounds and many compare him to Pro Bowler Calais Campbell of the Arizona Cardinals. Armstead also played in 3-4 scheme, like the Chargers. With 2.5 sacks scouts see his pass-rushing ability as raw and coaches will need to be patient with him.
The Bolts ranked 4th in passing yards allowed, so the need for a pass rusher to some people, is not their biggest demand.
But defending the run is a different story.
Armstead had 5.5 tackles for a loss and scouts praised his ability to push blockers with his impressive power and reach. San Diego ranked 26th in running yards allowed and having a big guy like Armstead could be a plus.
Florida State defensive tackle Eddie Goldman is another big guy to consider.
Unlike Armstead, he played in a 4-3 alignment but scouts think he could be transition into a 3-4 end. Rod Rang of CBS Sports.com compared him to the Chargers’ Corey Liuget, who was also a tackle at the University of Illinois.
Like Armstead, scouts do not praise his pass-rushing ability but he had more sacks with four. He had eight tackles for a loss, but Armstead and the Oregon Ducks did beat Goldman’s Seminoles at the Rose Bowl.
But that is not the best comparison because that was one game and both play in different conferences with different level of competition.
Plus Goldman is 5 inches shorter and 30 pounds heavier than Armstead.
The Chargers might address another need with their first selection.
Both Bleacher Report and NFL Spinzone have the Chargers selecting right tackle T.J Clemmings out of the University of Pittsburgh. With Tom Telesco saying that D.J Fluker might be moved to guard the Chargers will have to find a replacement at right tackle.
With quarterback Philip Rivers being the team’s most important asset, he will need to be upright if it wants to have success. Rivers appeared in severe pain in some games and he would love hearing that the team’s No. 1 priority in the draft is protecting him.
Multiple websites have also discussed Heisman Trophy nominee Melvin Gordon, of Wisconsin, possibly becoming a Charger. With Ryan Mathews struggling to stay on the field and being a free agent, Telesco might see Gordon as the next LaDainian Tomlinson. Gordon even broke his single-game rushing record last season and Rivers would cherish to end his career with an elite running back to take the load off of his shoulders.
With so many possible selections it will be interesting to see what direction the Chargers go.
Free agency has not started so once we see who they sign and let go we will have a clearer picture. Now, we can only go by what the weaknesses were last season.
Personally I like Armstead as he played in the same scheme in college, and could help the Chargers in the run game. Defensive line has also shown to be an quicker transition for first-rounders such as Aaron Donald and Sheldon Richardson, the last two AP Defensive Rookies of the Year.
Highly touted tackles have struggled adjusting to NFL edge rushers. Last year two-top 10 picks Greg Robinson and Jake Mathews underachieved. The year before the top two picks of Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel were disappointments.
In the AFC West, with pass-rushers Justin Houston (a potential free agent), Von Miller, and Khalil Mack, tackles will have a tough test in six division games. The Bolts and their fans will have to wait until April 30 in Chicago to learn the future of their franchise.
Until then, we’ll have to see what, if any, free agents will become a Charger.
+ Story by Mighty 1090 intern Alex Basualdo under the direction of Jay Paris