CHARGERS: Telesco’s thoughts on Fluker at right tackle, Gordon’s talents, the draft process and more

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco joined Darren Smith earlier this week to talk about the draft, current roster and more. Here are some of Telesco’s thoughts:

On the decision to keep DJ Fluker at right tackle:
“It wasn’t really a decision, to be honest with you. It wasn’t something we’ve been pondering. He was our right tackle last year and hopefully he’ll be our right tackle for awhile. But, if he had to go in and play guard, I think he’d be a great guard too. I just want the best five out there; it doesn’t really concern me where they line up. I just want five good ones out there.”

On what stood out in this year’s draft:
“This year, after about pick No. 18, 19, 20, first round talent started to really fall off. That happens every now and then — you’re not going to have 32 number-one picks on your board — but to have 15, 14, 13 … That’s not a whole lot in one year.”

On the decision to jump up two spots to get Melvin Gordon:

“Todd Gurley going at No. 10 was a surprise, especially to the Rams. The Rams have Tre Mason, who’s a really good running back. They took him in the third round last year. That was a little bit of a surprise. For us, Melvin is a potential impact player for us and there weren’t a whole lot of those players on the board. I was a little worried about Miami, a little worried about Houston, and then there was concern about teams behind us [that they would jump in front]. We looked at the alternatives of, “If we don’t get Melvin, what’s Plan B and C?” and I didn’t like Plan B and C. It just wasn’t as enticing to me as if we missed on him. And Melvin is one of those guys, that if we missed on him, you’d feel sick about it.”

On taking a running back in the first round and whether they can be found later:
“You can find them elsewhere, but you can’t find a Melvin Gordon elsewhere. You’re not going to find a Melvin Gordon talent in the fourth or fifth round. That’s the difference. You can say it’s easy to find backs late, but I’m sitting in that seat, and it’s not that easy.”

“With Melvin Gordon, you have to account for him. You have to game plan for him. A running back — the elite ones — are touching the ball 15 to 25 times a game. You can affect the game from the running back position. A top wide receiver, as good as they are, eight to ten times a game, maybe.”

On how they evaluated Gordon’s receiving and pass-protection skills:
“The receiving part is easy because we can work him out. We can watch him run some routes, catch the ball. He’s pretty natural at it. Wisconsin’s offense, going back, they’ve just never really used the running back a lot in their passing game. That’s just how they do it there. So, the hands were fine. The pass protecting — it’s just hard to find college running backs anywhere that are very good pass-protectors. They just don’t have to do it a whole lot at that level. But Melvin, with his size and his willingness, and he’s a smart kid too — you know, more than half the battle is figuring out who to block, and he did that very well at Wisconsin.”

On what he meant by only slotting seven impact players in the first round:
“[Impact players are] difference makers that can really change the game. No matter how good a guard or tackle is, it’s hard for those guys to change a game. Guys that change a game are guys that score touchdowns — running backs, receivers, quarterbacks, pass rushers. Those guys can impact and change games, especially on third downs. This draft was a little light in that area (when you’re talking about elite college talent).”

On how they evaluated North Dakota State’s Kyle Emanuel in terms of playing NFL-caliber talent:
“The first thing is, if you’re coming from a lower level, you have to dominate that level. If you can’t dominate that level, there’s no way you probably make it here. He checked that one off pretty easy; he was a dominating player at that level. The second part is really the measurable part. Does he have NFL measurables? He does. So we checked that off. And then going to the All-Star Games — the East-West Shrine Game is a really good All-Star Game, we love that game. There’s great prospects there, really good competition. If you stand out there, you can play in this league. And he stood out there. So he checks off all the boxes.”

“Yeah, it’s a little bit of a projection, but we have to project everything. Even in the SEC, if you’re a pass-rusher in that league, not every tackle you go against is going to play in the NFL. Maybe two or three do. Obviously it’s a higher level of competition, but not every player is an NFL player.”

On why they took Denzel Perryman and Craig Mager in second and third rounds, when team appears to have positions with more need:
“High water raises all boats. Competition is good. These are guys that we think can be impact players. They’re going to have roles for us. And it’s not always going to be their rookie year. Maybe down the road — we’re not sure — but I think both those guys, even this year, should have a role for us one way or another. We’re going to find ways to get them on the field.”

“The whole draft process, you just can’t control all the time. It’s not like going to the grocery store and just picking out something. We’re looking for good football players, guys who can come in on defense and turn the ball over, and we think both these guys can do that.”

On La’el Collins not being drafted:
(Prior to draft): “Us and probably a lot of teams tried to gather as much information as we could, but there was just so little time and a lot of unanswered questions and information we didn’t have.”

If cleared, would Chargers go after him?
“Something we would certainly look at. He’s a guy that we thought was a first round pick. Nothing has changed as far as his talent level. But a lot of work has to go into the situation, trying to figure out what happened. That probably would take awhile. This could go on for awhile.”

You can listen to the entire interview here:



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