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5 Takeaways: Chargers GM Tom Telesco's Pre-Draft Press Conference

5 Takes 04.24

We're almost 72 hours away from the 2023 NFL Draft.

Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco held his annual pre-draft press conference Monday and hit on multiple topics over nearly 20 minutes.

Here are five takeaways from Telesco's press conference:

1. The 1st-round view

As usual, Telesco wasn't in an overly revealing mood when it came to the specifics of what the Chargers will do with the 21st overall pick.

In fact, Telesco declined to say just how many players the Bolts have first-round grades on this year.

"I don't want to give that exact number there," Telesco said.

However, he did expand on what he's looking for in a first-round pick, adding that the Bolts are in a position to take the best player available based on what happens Thursday night.

"It really depends on where your roster is currently." Telesco said. "Ideally, even your first-round pick, if he has to come in and earn a role and doesn't have to step into a starting role immediately, that is fine, that means that you have a pretty strong football team.

"You'd like to construct it where, going into the draft, you feel like you're solid across the positions to where you don't really feel forced to take a certain position," Telesco continued. "I feel like that's where we are right now, where you can kind of let the draft come to you.

"There really aren't many spots that we couldn't use a player at, other than maybe quarterback and left tackle, right now," Telesco added. "We'll see how it plays out, but I feel like our roster is at a point where we're not forced to go one direction or another."

Telesco and the Chargers have a stellar first-round track record of late, with Zion Johnson, Rashawn Slater, Justin Herbert, Kenneth Murray, Jr., and Derwin James, Jr. all becoming impact starters right away.

2. All about QBs

Telesco was asked about Herbert's potential contract extension and was mum on updates.

"Like I said before, we won't do a play-by-play of, or characterize, where things are," Telesco said. "The next big update will be if there is ever a contract signing."

With that in hand, Telesco made it clear that the Chargers will not be picking a quarterback high Thursday night.

But other teams will, and that will push blue-chip players down the board to the Bolts. Telesco had some fun with the first part of his answer on that inquiry.

"I see at least six going in the top 15. At least six quarterbacks. Maybe seven if we can get lucky," Telesco joked with a smile.

He then turned serious.

"It does, certainly, help us. The more that go earlier, it's going to push players down [the board]," Telesco said. "Luckily, this year we're in the position that we wouldn't be taking a quarterback in the first round. Luckily, this year, there are some good quarterbacks that hopefully go high. It's definitely a benefit to us."

How about a Day 3 quarterback? Is that a possibility?

"Who knows? We'll see how the board kind of falls. We don't get that specific on it."

The Chargers have Herbert and Easton Stick currently on the roster. And while Telesco said the team will surely bring in another arm or two at some point, that doesn't mean it will be in the draft.

"We'll go into camp with at least three, maybe four [quarterbacks], but we'll see," Telesco said. "We're excited about Easton to kind of step into this [backup] role. We've seen him for a number of years. He's really sharp. He's athletic, he's tough.

"He just doesn't have a lot of snaps under his belt yet, which happens to a backup sometimes," Telesco added. "We have a lot of confidence in him. We'll kind of see how it plays out in the preseason."

3. Praise for the TE group

For the most part Monday, Telesco was vague in his assessment of certain position groups.

When asked about the overall depth of the 2023 class, he said it was a bit like trying to hit a dartboard.

"It depends which position. It's all very subjective, it really is," Telesco said. "We're trying to project these players – they're college players who we are projecting to be professional players. It's a very subjective process. Our first-round numbers are kind of where they usually are. The depth of the draft is hard to tell."

Telesco, however, did mention the tight end group as being one that has plenty of depth.

He's not alone in that analysis, as NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah and other draft experts have routinely touted the tight end class this spring.

"Each position is a little bit different. The only one that really kind of stands out – just because, in previous years, we've seen less and less college tight ends coming into the NFL – for whatever reason, this year, there's a whole bunch of really true tight ends that are coming into the league," Telesco said. "Hopefully, that continues because that pool has gotten smaller and smaller. Other than that, it's pretty subjective."

When asked specifically about what the Bolts look for in a tight end, Telesco was back to his old tricks in not giving anything away.

"Blocking and receiving," Telesco said. "That's the ideal tight end, one that can do both."

That answer got a lot of laughs from the media contingent.

4. Ekeler and the RBs

Telesco was also asked about Austin Ekeler's situation, as the Chargers granted the running back permission to seek a trade earlier this offseason.

With the draft a few days away, Telesco said he had "no update there" on Ekeler.

But Telesco did note that the circumstances surrounding Ekeler won't impact what the Bolts do later this week when adding to their roster. Instead, Telesco said the team is always looking to add talent no matter the position.

"I don't think so. We had Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree [III] here, then we drafted Isaiah Spiller last year," Telesco said.

"We think that it's a pretty good room right now, so I wouldn't necessarily look at it like that," Telesco later added.

Spiller was mentioned a few times by Telesco, who noted that sometimes mid-round pick take time to develop.

But the team is still high on him as he enters Year 2.

"Like a lot of players from last year's draft, they have a full offseason in the program. We like Isaiah," Telesco said. "We liked him a lot when we drafted him. He's a 225-pound running back who is 5-foot-11 and has great vision, can make people miss. He was stuck behind some players last year and he will get a chance to come in, compete and earn a job this year.

"We would have liked to have seen him get a little bit more run last year, but there were some other players in front of him. He's still the same talent that we saw last year," Telesco added. "Like a lot of these players, they may earn roles more towards the middle or back end of their rookie contract, maybe not right at the beginning – which is OK, which is normal. Then, take it from there."

5. A trade?

Telesco, of course, was asked about the chance of trading back in the first round … something he hasn't done in his time with the Chargers.

And while he hasn't pulled off such a move, he said he isn't against it.

"I guess, we like to 'zig' while others 'zag.' We're always open to any options, up or down," Telesco said. "There's no philosophy on that."

In theory, a trade back would net more overall picks for the chance to add increased depth throughout the roster.

Telesco said the idea of doing so isn't dismissed because the Chargers have one of the league's strongest rosters.

"I've never been part of a draft where we looked at our football team and said, 'Boy, we are so loaded on both sides of the ball and on special teams that we don't need any depth.' This year is no different," Telesco said.

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