We are currently 55 days away from the 2021 NFL Draft!
While there are hundreds of mock drafts and player projections for Chargers' fans to gain perspective from, there is probably no greater insight than hearing from the man himself, General Manager Tom Telesco.
On Thursday, Telesco held his annual pre-draft press conference with the media. Here are five quotes to help prep you for the Bolts' 2021 draft.
1. On which areas of the team he might want to address in the draft:
"Like I said, we need to build a whole football team. There are some areas on defense that we need to get a lot better at. Obviously, on special teams, we need to get better.
You can't really look at one spot and say, 'Hey, if we just fix this one thing, we'll be playing for a championship.' It doesn't work like that. We're looking to build the best, balanced football team that we can.
Saying all that, I kind of forget what you asked at this point. It has to be a wide focus. It can't just be a narrow focus at one player or one specific spot."
2. On his philosophical approach to trading early-round draft selections for proven players vs. selecting a player with the pick and building around that player on a rookie deal:
"I don't know if there have been enough of them recently that would call that a trend, but, obviously, it's been done. Each situation is unique in itself, so it's hard to have general philosophy on that.
One thing, having a rookie contract is a lot easier on your salary cap than a high-priced veteran's contract. But, every situation, when it comes to those, is unique in itself, so I don't have a general philosophy on it."
3. On currently owning nine selections in the 2021 NFL Draft and how that impacts the selecting players of value in the middle rounds:
"It's always good to have more at-bats. It's better to have nine at-bats than four at-bats in the draft.
By the time we get to the end, and I felt the same way last year with the draft — the draft was different last year, as well, not as different as this year, but it was different last year — but by the time that we got to the end, I felt like we were in the same places we usually were. I'll feel the same way once we get to April. We'll be in the same places that we usually were in a regular year, and we'll be able to get up there and draft."
4. On the 'depth' of the offensive line group in this year's draft class:
"I think it looks pretty good. Overall, I think it's a deep draft. I really do. I don't know if the whole offensive line is deep in the draft, but there are certain areas that are better than others.
We look at it probably different than you would. I know that the focus is on the first round, but we're looking through all seven rounds and trying to see where the depth is in different positions. It looks pretty good."
5. On the biggest challenge with evaluating collegiate players who either opted out of last season or had their seasons cancelled:
"It's true. There are a couple of players in this draft that maybe red-shirted as a freshman, played as a sophomore, then opted out as a junior. So, you only have one year of college film to look at, which is not typical for what we do.
We went through our pretty heavy draft meetings recently. We've always done them before the combine, so this is nothing new for us. But, our college scouts did a great job this year in evaluating these players. It was a little bit different. You didn't have as much of a body of work on some players as you usually would. Those guys weren't able to travel as much as they were able to in a normal year, but were given a lot of time to grind a lot of film on guys. Some of them have a body of work as usual, but we're all in the same boat with that.
Our job is to project college players as professional players, and it is a projection. That's our job. That's the scout's job. Quite honestly, I feel very comfortable with where we are right now with the whole process, really based on the fact that our college guys did a great job this fall. We sat through our draft meetings, and when we finished those, I felt great. And, we're just getting started. We still have some more information to gather this spring. But, I really like where we are right now, despite the fact that we went through a pandemic in the fall."
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