The 2016 draft is barely finished. And the Chargers received draft-class grades ranging from A- to B-. Realistically, however, we’re years away from actually determining the success or failure of this class. So naturally the responsible thing to do, is to toss patience to the curb and look towards next year’s draft.
Any look at a future draft begins with looking at what a team’s needs are. And thus the lion’s share of this article will focus on that.
NT – Brandon Mebane was a GREAT free agency signee but he’s on the wrong side of 30 and the Chargers cannot afford to have a second post-Jamal Williams drop-off at NT whenever Mebane leaves or retires…the Chargers may not NEED to address this position right away, but if a good prospects slides into the 2nd or 3rd round, it might be wise for the Chargers to take him.
QB – There was talk about the Chargers taking a developmental QB in this draft. They need to invest a high-round pick on a QB (if a good one is there) otherwise Chargers will be in panic-search mode soon. You don’t want to be a situation where you’re drafting Christian Hackenberg in the 2nd.
LT – King Dunlap may play more like his 2014 self – the one who earned the contract extension – than the 2015 one, but he’s still too old and has been injured too often to count on his health for very long. And as his health worsens the quality of his play will worsen as well. Please do not think I dislike Dunlap. But this is not an old man’s game. Dunlap isn’t really that old. But he is 30 and while O-linemen can have longer careers than guys in other positions, the fact that Dunlap has missed 14 games over the last three years doesn’t portend future good health or a long stay in San Diego.
CB – Jason Verrett is a stud. He is quickly becoming a top-10/top-5 corner. And Casey Heyward was a great free agency acquisition. But our 2nd/3rd corner, Brandon Flowers, is too expensive. The Chargers will save roughly $7 million by cutting Flowers after this season. Additionally, the Chargers need a taller CB to counter some of the height they face at WR. And they need additional depth. While they may not use a top pick on a CB, it wouldn’t be surprising if they did either. One of the best CBs in the 2016 draft, William Jackson III (the best CB who was 6’0” or taller) was drafted 25th overall. I think it’s quite likely that the Chargers could be drafting in that 16-25 range in 2017.
S – The Chargers signed two safeties in this offseason: Dwight Lowery, an 8-year NFL veteran and Dexter McCoil, a veteran of the Arena Football League and two years in the Canadian Football League. Despite their uninspiring careers, the twosome show promise, in my opinion. Additionally they drafted LB Jatavis Brown and have talked about developing him a safety. So while I think there’s reason for optimism at safety, it’s also fair to say that safety is a position that could be targeted for (or be in desperate need of) an upgrade.
WR – Keenan Allen isn’t going anywhere. In fact he could be extended even before you finish reading this sentence. And Travis Benjamin was a great signing and should be here for several more years. But Stevie Johnson is not as likely to be back in 2017. You just can’t keep everyone. So unless one of the more unheralded wide receivers; Dontrelle Inman, Tyrell Williams, steps up, the Chargers could be looking for a WR in 2017.
So who are the best players at those positions? I won’t profile them yet, but I’ll list a few of the top guys at the various positions I just outlined (at each position, players listed alphabetically):
NT: Montravius Adams, Auburn, Caleb Brantley, Florida, Carlos Watkins, Clemson
QB: Luke Falk, Washington St., Brad Kaaya, Miami, Chad Kelly, Mississippi, Deshawn Watson, Clemson,
LT: Roderick Johnson, Florida St., Conner McDermott, UCLA, Cam Robinson, Alabama, Chad Wheeler, USC
CB: Desmond, King, Iowa, Adoree’ Jackson, USC, Cameron Sutton, Tennessee, Jalon Tabor, Florida, Tre’Davious White, LSU
S: Tony Conner, Mississippi, Johnathan Ford, Auburn, Eddie Jackson, Alabama, Marcus Maye, Florida
And there you have it. I’m sure the players I’ve included here are only a few of the top guys at their positions and I’m equally sure I’m missing some very talented players. But we have a year to sort it all out.
Thanks for reading. And please, if you’re not already doing so, follow me on Twitter: @PickinBolts.