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Highlights From Telesco's Annual Draft Address

Posted Apr 30, 2014

General Manager Tom Telesco offers his insight on the eve of the NFL Draft.

General Manager Tom Telesco held his annual pre-draft press conference on Wednesday, and like most he is impressed with the slate of prospects available when May 8 rolls around.  Overall, he says the key with the Chargers holding the 25th draft selection is to remain flexible.

“When you pick 25 you have to be flexible,” he said.  “You really can’t zero in on one guy or position.  The farther back you pick you have to be ready to obviously pick, trade up or trade down.  Last year when you pick at 11, you’re going to get a blue player. You may not know exactly who but you feel you’re going to get a blue difference maker.  When you pick at 25, there may not be one there.  You may want to get out.  So you have to be flexible.”

Overall, Telesco gave his insight on the eve of the NFL Draft for nearly 40 minutes.  Here are a handful of the highlights and notable topics from the general manager’s press conference:

*Telesco refers to top prospects as “blue” players. Right now the general manager and his staff are busy comparing players and weighing their options should multiple prospects they are targeting remain on the board when the Chargers are on the clock.

“We talk about blue players as basic difference makers.  If you’ve got a guy that can be a difference maker in one area, that may trump (everything else). That is a lot of the discussions we have right now.  We’re comparing players in a similar value, but what do they do?  Those are the discussions we’re going through.”

*While originally not a fan of the extra two weeks before this year’s draft, Telesco is using it to his advantage.

“Initially I wasn’t in favor of it.  But they make the rules and we follow it.  They gave us an extra two weeks and we’re going to use it to our advantage.  It has allowed us to get a little extra information on some people and do some extra projects we couldn’t have done.  You have to be careful that you don’t stare at the board for too long.  There are some times you look up there and all you see are the negatives for each player.  But if they’re going to give us two more weeks we’re going to use it, so we’ll use it in a couple of different areas.”

* For a long time the draft was known as a “deceitful” event with a ton of misdirection. Teams were desperate for anyway to hide their cards. Telesco says there is far less of it nowadays due to the way the draft is covered.

“It just seems that now there is so much media attention that you don’t have to lie anymore.  Who knows what is right or wrong.  I’d rather not tell you something than lie.  I don’t want to lie to anybody so I’d rather just not say something.  But other than looking at some mock drafts, we don’t really pay too much attention to what people are saying because in the end it’s just going to screw with our minds.  We’ll just go with what we see.”

*Following the Seattle Seahawks success, Telesco was asked about the “blueprint” the Super Bowl champions established with a big, physical secondary.

“Everybody has been looking for years and years and years big corners that can cover. Nobody goes in with the philosophy ‘I want some really small cover corners.’ Everybody wants big and fast.  Richard Sherman is a great corner.  He’s big, he’s fast, he’s physical.  He plays the ball.  He’s what you want.  There just aren’t many of him….We need guys that can cover people number one and tackle.  If they come in a smaller size, they come in a smaller size.  If they are average size, they’re average size.  If you hold out looking for just Richard Sherman, you’ll be waiting a long time.”

*While there are many important pieces that go into the puzzle, Telesco says the most important factor when evaluating talent is how they perform on gamedays during the college season.

“I can’t put a number on it, but it’s very high.  How they play in the fall is the most important part of the whole puzzle.  And after that before you even get to a pro day or combine workout it would be medical, character and psychological.  And then you get into how they run around in shorts and t shirts.”

*Telesco explained the positive impact the team’s running game had in maintaining balance on offense last year.  He also reiterated that Ryan Mathews remains the team’s lead back even with the addition of Donald Brown

“We have a physical offensive line and a physical running back in Ryan and I think that helps.  It keeps people off balance and it helps your passing game.  We weren’t one dimensional last year even though we have a top tier quarterback….Ryan is our starting back.  His role will essentially be the same.  Ryan’s a smart guy and he knows why guys are here.  He knows what his role is.”

*The Chargers GM agrees with the commonly held notion that the 2014 Draft is extremely deep.  That holds true for the wide receiver position as well.

“The whole draft in general (is deep).  We felt it was a really strong senior class, and then a lot of juniors declared and a lot of good ones.  So that made it even stronger.  The receiver class is deep and there are all different styles of guys.  There are the guys with clean height, weight, speed.  There are some big receivers that maybe aren’t that fast but still really talented.  And there are smaller guys that can really run and make plays.  So there are a lot of different styles to choose from.”

*Telesco was asked what he saw in Keenan Allen a year ago that led to him being selected in the third round.

“Probably his route running.  Not only his quickness to get in and out of breaks but his feel for it.  Those were the two biggest things I thought would translate real well.”

* There is understandably a lot of buzz surrounding the quarterbacks this year, and Telesco believes it is a strong crop of passers.

“It’s pretty good.  There are a lot of them.  There are a number that can come into the league and start.  I like them.  I really do.  Obviously it’s probably the one position everyone does the most work on outside this building.  Everyone is always excited about quarterbacks.  I hope about 10 of them go in the first round!"

Do you think you know the NFL Draft as well as the analysts? Here’s your chance to prove it.

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