San Diego Chargers’ 2015 Draft — Quick Reaction

A few quick thoughts on the Chargers’ 2015 Draft. Hopefully, more content to follow.

Trading Up in the 1st Round — In principle, sacrificing two Day-3 picks for the opportunity to move up a few spots in the teens of the Draft’s first round seems fine. Historically, the aggregate talent in the top 13 or so picks far exceeds what’s available from about 15 through 40. Sacrificing fourth- and fifth-round picks to move up and nab an elite talent that’s still available could yield positive results over time (especially given that the fifth rounder falls in 2016); someone please write if this conflicts with more modern assessments of draft pick values. In the end, however, given the player the Chargers took at 15, and the way they executed the rest of the draft, I think they should have stayed at 17.

Melvin Gordon III — Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco sees Gordon as an elite talent. I disagree, and I also think he’s a somewhat awkward fit for the Bolts zone-blocking scheme. I’ll post a more complete breakdown forthcoming.

Denzel Perryman — I never saw the tape of Perryman defending the run at an elite level that everyone else so passionately references. Given the talent available (at positions of need, if it matters) when the Chargers picked in the second round, the Chargers made a very, very troubling choice here.

Craig Mager — We may come to view Mager as the most talented player the Chargers selected in 2015 – and the pick still concerns me a bit. I hope to review Mager in an upcoming post, as he has a lot of good (and some bad) tape. But I get the feeling, as I did last year, that the Chargers selected a player in the third round that they would have taken in the fourth, given that option. This suggests a lack of commitment to the team’s supposed “best-player-available” strategy. Of course the Chargers traded their fourth rounder each of the past few years, so they were forced to select a coveted player in the third round or run the risk he wouldn’t be there in the fifth. Thus, the downside of the team’s Day-1 trade.

Kyle Emanuel — I didn’t see Emanuel show the burst up the field or the agility to make an impact as an NFL pass rusher, and he looked really uncomfortable playing in space on the few occasions he dropped into coverage. I simply don’t see how he succeeds at outside linebacker for this team. Until Emanuel proves me otherwise, I consider this a wasted pick. I certainly doubt very highly that Emanuel will provide any kind of answer for the Bolts’ pass-rush woes.

Darius Philon — Philon adds a bit of depth to the Chargers’ corps of defensive ends. His skill set played well in a one-gap scheme against SEC competition. He’ll need bulk, for starters, to hold up effectively in the Chargers’ two-gap system.

At first blush, I think other teams got a lot better, and the Chargers largely flubbed this draft. But I hope to explore the pros and cons of each pick in a bit more detail in the coming weeks…

NFL Draft Round 1 – NFC Grades

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys: CB Byron Jones (No. 27)
Grade: B-
I didn’t see the quick hips and closing speed I would have liked from Jones. I can’t write him off without seeing more tape, though.

New York Giants: Ereck Flowers (No. 9)
Grade: B-
Flowers is a beast in the run game, but he might lack the agility to ever defend against good edge rushers effectively. #9 felt too high for a player who might end up at guard.

Philadelphia Eagles: WR Nelson Agholor (No. 20)
Grade: A
Agholor is quick in and out of breaks, sets up defenders, and has breakaway speed. He also sports very reliable hands and won contests for the ball. I’ll take that over Kevin White’s acrobatics any day.

Washington Redskins: OL Brandon Scherff (No. 5)
Grade: B+
I saw one media outlet describe Sherff as a “reach” while in the same breath touting Leonard Williams as the obvious pick here. Williams showed inconsistent effort for most of 2014; I’d venture Sherff has never played a down at anything less than top effort and commitment to technique. Who’s the “reach,” again? (By the way, with their talent at the skill positions and improvement up front, the Washington offense could make a little noise this year.)

NFC North
Chicago Bears: WR Kevin White (No. 7)
Grade: B
He’s good, I just liked other players better.

Detroit Lions: OG Laken Tomlinson (No. 28)
Grade: B
Most linemen I viewed as vastly superior to Tomlinson had come off the board by now, so I can’t hate the pick. But Detroit has a serious opportunity in this draft to restock its defensive line — where talent is a rarer commodity — with players like Jordan Philliips and Eddie Goldman available. They might regret letting that opportunity slip by.

Green Bay Packers: S Damarious Randall (No. 30)
Grade: B+
This team has two young starting safeties that can play the back end and roll up and cover a slot receiver man-to-man. If they want to rush 6 on passing downs, they’re probably free to do it. Sounds a little scary, right?

Minnesota Vikings: CB Trae Waynes (No. 11)
Grade: B+
I liked him, and he went high in the first round. No story here.

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons: LB/DE Vic Beasley (No. 8)
Grade: C+
Beasley struck fear in the hearts of college offensive tackles, okay? He’s lightning fast off the edge, and tackles looking to jump out and defend him often fell victim to agile pass rush moves back inside. I think he has heavy hands for a 225-pound player, too. So there’s potential. But NFL tackles will probably never stay awake at night over Beasley, largely because he doesn’t generate the power into them that makes speed so effective as a complement. The Seahawks apparently want none of Bruce Irvin just four years after drafting him; what makes us applaud Atlanta for taking a similar player in the Top 10?

Carolina Panthers: LB Shaq Thompson (No. 25)
Grade: A
This defense scares the daylights out of me.

New Orleans Saints: OL Andrus Peat (No. 13), LB Stephone Anthony (No. 31)
Grade: B-
Stephone Anthony plays fast and bullies players twice his size. Andrus Peat plays too high and gets bullied by players Anthony’s size. Mixed bag here. (By the way, not sure how many pundits ranked Stephone Anthony the highest inside linebacker in the draft, but yours truly did. Wasn’t the least bit surprised to see him go here.)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Jameis Winston (No. 1)
Grade: A
Jameis Winston is about as prepared to learn the position of NFL quarterback as almost anyone leaving college: good arm, good touch, toughness in the face of pressure, experience making pro-style reads. And not for nothin’: where else were the Bucs going to turn for a quarterback?

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals: OL D.J. Humphries (No. 24)
Grade: A+
Love this pick. Humphries compares favorably to Tyron Smith. ‘Nuff said.

St. Louis Rams: RB Todd Gurley (No. 10)
Grade: A
Best available player. (And weird to see St. Louis draft only once in the first round, right? Zing, DC!)

San Francisco 49ers: DL Arik Armstead (No. 17)
Grade: B
Just like Leonard Williams, whom I wrote about my AFC Grades, Armstead’s motor runs hot and cold. A gamble like that is much more forgivable at 17, but the 49ers may regret passing on superior talent on the offensive line or a player like Agholor.

Seattle Seahawks: No picks
Grade: Incomplete
They lost this pick as a penalty for that terrible play call at the end of the Super Bowl, right?

NFL Draft Day 1 Grades – AFC

AFC East
Miami Dolphins: WR DeVante Parker (No. 14)
Grade: B+
Solid pick. Parker doesn’t attack the ball in the air the way you’d like; can he learn to do that?

New England Patriots: DT Malcom Brown (No. 32)
Grade: C
Brown has the ability to shoot into the hole and make plays in the opponent’s backfield. He also got crushed when blockers got their hands on him.

New York Jets: DL Leonard Williams (No. 6)
Grade: B
I’m in wait-and-see mode with Williams. Has the talent; but if he can’t hold up against the run in the NFL, what use is he as a tackle?

Buffalo Bills: No picks.
Grade: Incomplete
I wish I could penalize the Bills for that horrendous trade that cost them this year’s No. 1 pick. But alas, that happened in 2014.

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens: WR Breshad Perriman (No. 26)
Grade: C+
Perriman’s deep speed will probably serve as a nice complement to Steve Smith. But, simply put, there were better players on the board.

Cincinnati Bengals: OL Cedric Ogbuehi (No. 21)
Grade: D
Ogbuehi looks smooth and has a bit of a punch in pass protection. He was a virtual non-factor in the run game this year. Do the Bengals pull him on run downs?

Cleveland Browns: DT Danny Shelton (No. 12), OL Cam Erving (No. 19)
Grade: A+
Shelton has rare short-area quickness, the anchor and athleticism to defend the run down the line, and the power to collapse the pocket against the pass. Erving is a rare blend of size and agility at center (think Nick Mangold); with the ability to play other positions along the line, he’s a really solid pick.

Pittsburgh Steelers: DE/LB Bud Dupree (No. 22)
Grade: B-
He’s an athletic freak, with the strength to set the edge and quickness off the snap. But he’s not some kind of pass-rush phenom, like folks are projecting. After the Jarvis Jones debacle, Steelers fans deserved more.

AFC South
Houston Texans: CB Kevin Johnson (No. 16)
Grade: A-
The more I watched, the more I wondered if he’s the top cornerback in the draft.

Indianapolis Colts: WR Phillip Dorsett (No. 29)
Grade: B-
Good player, great fit. His short area quickness and homerun speed will help him get separation underneath. The Colts have a really interesting arsenal of receiving weapons now.

Jacksonville Jaguars: LB/DE Dante Fowler Jr. (No. 3)
Grade: C-
I’ll believe the pass-rush hype when I see it. He didn’t use his hands effectively to set the edge on a consistent basis, either.

Tennessee Titans: QB Marcus Mariota (No. 2)
Grade: B+
I’m filled with cautious optimism about this experiment. I think Titans fans can trust Wisenhunt to mold the offense to fit Mariota’s skills.

AFC West
Denver Broncos: DE/LB Shane Ray (No. 23)
Grade: C+
Size is a concern.

Kansas City Chiefs: CB Marcus Peters (No. 18)
Grade: B
I’m a bit undecided about Peters. The athletic talent was there, but he seemed to change his mind from play to play about how to play cornerback.

Oakland Raiders: WR Amari Cooper (No. 4)
Grade: B
He’ll be a fine receiver, but he doesn’t tip the scales.

San Diego Chargers: RB Melvin Gordon (No. 15)
Grade: D+
Hopefully he sees as many gaping holes as he did at Wisconsin.

Feel Free to Ignore These Sound Bites, after Day 1 of the NFL Draft

Malcolm Brown: “New England needed a power player in the middle, and this kid makes a ton of sense. He will take over for Vince Wilfork.” cbssports.com. (Mel Kuiper said something similar.)

Wilfork plays nose guard and tips the scales somewhere north of 8 Phillip Dorsetts. Malcolm Brown got trampled in the run game at the University of Texas. In what world does Brown slide into Wilfork’s spot?

Bud Dupree (who drew an “A+” grade): “The Steelers had to get a young pass rusher, and they had to be shocked to see this kid still available here.” cbssports.com.

And: “The Steelers had to be thrilled that a top pass rusher (Bud Dupree) fell to them.” Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com.

The Steelers probably should have picked someone with a history of pass rush success. Dupree will find a place for himself on the field because of his athleticism, size, and short area burst. But he’s a project as a pass rusher, make no mistake.

Melvin Gordon III: “On Thursday night the Chargers made sure they had a three-down running back ….” Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com.

Gordon had about a trillion carries at Wisconsin. Know how many receptions he had? Twenty-two. Nineteen of those were this year. If he plays on third down in the NFL (over Danny Woodhead, an exceptional third-down option), it will be a total evolution for this player.

NFL Draft 1st Round Reflections

I love Todd Gurley, but he should be valued a bit like a quarterback in the 1st round: if you have one, you don’t need one. St. Louis should have looked for help at another position.

Cleveland Browns made up for last year’s draft debacle. Danny Shelton and Cameron Erving could each tip the scales at their positions. To get them at 12th and 19th, respectively, is almost unfathomable.

49ers put themselves in position to re-load. Two extra picks for moving down two slots in the 1st.

Love the #HOUpick and #AZCardinalspick. Waited for best player to fall to them.

Can these teams desperate for pass rush help afford to pass on Randy Gregory? My guess is they regret it.

Quote of the night? My girlfriend: “Did they just say Girlie?”

Top 50 NFL Draft Prospects!

Details to come via twitter…
1 Winston, Jameis
2 Gurley, Todd
3 Gregory, Randy
4 Phillips, Jordan
5 Waynes, Trae
6 Darby, Ronald
7 Shelton, Danny
8 Marriota, Marcus
9 Cooper, Amari
10 Johnson, Kevin
11 Funchess, Devin
12 Scherff , Brandon
13 Humphries, DJ
14 Agholar, Nelson
15 Williams, Leonard
16 White, Kevin
17 Anthony, Stephone
18 Parker, Devante
19 Strong, Jaelen
20 Erving, Cameron
21 Thompson, Shaq
22 Goldman, Eddie
23 Armstead, Arik
24 Randall, Damarius
25 Beasley, Vic
26 Walford, Clive
27 Flowers, Ereck
28 Dorsett, Philip
29 Conley, Chris
30 Bennett, Michael
31 Williams, PJ
32 Peters, Marcus
33 Williams, Maxx
34 Collins, Jalen
35 McKinney, Benardrick
36 Collins, Landon
37 Rowe, Eric
38 Rollins, Quentin
39 Mauldin, Lorenzo
40 Dupree, Bud
41 Fowler, Dante
42 Perriman, Brett
43 Clemmings, TJ
44 Mannion, Sean
45 Jarrett, Grady
46 Brown Malcolm
47 Ray, Shane
48 Golson, Senquez
49 Alexander, Kwon
50 Green-Beckham, Dorial