by FFS Chief Marketing Officer (and Chargers fan), Brady Chatfield
Chargers Earn a ‘C' on Draft Day
Grading NFL teams on their draft is not an easy task, for a couple of reasons. First, knowing whether a pick (no matter how good it looks on paper) is *actually* a good or poor choice may take as many as 2-3 years to pan out. Second, we don't know what the GM/coaches know. They have inside info on players and situations of which we have no knowledge. So sometimes when a pick leaves us scratching our head, they have bona fide reasons for it. On the other hand, sometimes they're just human and make mistakes.
So with those caveats, here are my thoughts. The Chargers went into the draft with statistically the best defense in league in 2010, although the D gave up big plays at crucial times. But really, the defense wasn't the main problem. Everyone knows that poor special teams play is what kept the Chargers out of the playoffs.
Of course, the team's offense wasn't too shabby either. So, what to do? The Chargers decided to go heavy on defense, taking two cornerbacks, one end and a linebacker in the first three rounds. The only offensive player taken by the Chargers in the first three rounds was a Wide Receiver, who they picked up late in the 3rd round.
1st Round - Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois, 18th overall
Liuget is a big, quick bulldog of a player. At 6'2" and 300 lbs, his low center of gravity should give taller offensive linemen fits. But it's said Liuget has had struggles with weight problems and motivation. It will be interesting to see if the Chargers keep him at end or move him elsewhere to fill gaps.
2nd Round - Marcus Gilchrist, DB, Clemson, 50th overall
Gilchrist is a versatile player, with the potential to play corner or safety. He has speed and is a good tackler, making him an obvious choice for special teams. With only 1 career interception in college, I'd be surprised to see him emerge as a starter anytime soon.
2nd Round -Jonas Mouton, LB, Michigan, 61st overall
Since many expected Mouton to go in the third round, or as late as 4th or 5th rounds, this was probably the Chargers' most controversial pick. Perhaps he was selected early because the weak side linebacker would meld so quickly into the Chargers' 3-4 defense. Or, he may be expected to shine on special teams. Either way, you gotta wonder what they saw in him to grab him so early.
3rd Round -Vincent Brown, WR, SDSU, 82nd overall
This has ‘token local player written all over it, but a closer inspection reveals that Brown could be a steal. He's not fast but is a good possession receiver with great hands. He was a first-team All Mountain West receiver for the Aztecs.
3rd Round - Shareece Wright, DB, USC, 89th overall
Two cornerback selections in as many rounds. Is the Chargers' secondary that bad? Well, no, but it is aging. Wright figures to bring superb speed and blitzing abilities, plus decent play in stopping the run. In college he dropped several easy interceptions, so there's room for improvement.
· Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut, 6th Round, 183rd overall
· Stephen Schilling, G, Michigan, 6th round, 201st overall
· Andrew Gachkar, OLB, Missouri, 7th Round, 234nd overall
Arguably, the Chargers did a good job shoring up the defense, making it bigger (Liuget) and faster (Gilchrist, Wright). But I'm not so sure the team shouldn't have spent a higher pick for QB protection. This team lives or dies by the production of QB Philip Rivers, and he was sacked too many times for my taste last season, especially on important downs.
And you have to look at the disappointments of previous drafts, too (witness Larry English). Of the Chargers' last 19 draft picks (since 2008), only 10 are still on the team... and only 3 have played at least 500 snaps in a season. I'm not impressed enough this year to grant GM A.J. Smith more than an average grade.
Editor's Note (Russ Bliss): This is one of the reasons why FantasyFootballStarters.com is such an incredible place, our CMO whips out this type of analysis on his favorite team's draft. Imagine if he just concentrated on being a fantasy football analyst? A couple of things I'd like to add here. I loved the Todman pick in round 6. Todman is a smaller RB who plays with the physicality of a larger RB. He will bring an added dimension to a Chargers rushing attack that was already very strong and provides high quality depth in case the injury bug hits them again. I also really liked the Schilling selection. He needs to work on getting stronger but his technique is sound and he has room to grow into a starter in the NFL. Gachkar is a tougher read though. He's got great speed, but his football instincts are suspect and he isn't as big as you'd want from an OLB. Whether he makes the team or not is a close call. If he does, it's likely for special teams.