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Five Lessons from the Chargers 2016 NFL Draft

Here are five lessons we learned from the San Diego Chargers 2016 NFL Draft:

1.  Pretty Close to Perfect– Preparation for this year’s draft began with 3,000 prospects.  As of Thursday morning, General Manager Tom Telesco said the team narrowed their list down to approximately 165 targets.  By the time it ended Saturday night, the draft went as well as they could have hoped as they added DE Joey Bosa, TE Hunter Henry, C Max Tuerk , ILB Joshua Perry, OLB Jatavis Brown, P Drew Kaser, FB Derek Watt and G Donavon Clark.  Draft prep is a 52 week process, and Telesco said pretty much everything went according to plan:

“It wasn’t perfect perfect, but it was pretty darn close.  I’m really excited at how we mapped it out.  You’re never going to get every single guy that you maybe have targeted this year, but it was pretty darn close this year.”

Head Coach Mike McCoy agreed:

“I think we did an outstanding job leading up to the draft with all the scenarios and everything we talked about.  Chasing a lot of ghosts and throwing some (what if) questions at Tom.  There was a lot of hard work done before and they did a great job executing it.”

2.* Standing Pat *– For the first time under the Telesco/McCoy regime, the Chargers did not execute a draft day trade.  In fact, it was only the fifth time since 2000 that the Bolts didn’t move either up or back in any round.  However, that doesn’t mean the phones weren’t active.  Telesco explained how while the team never tried to move up, there were numerous opportunities to move back.  He also admitted it was odd not to make a trade, but that’s the way this year’s draft shaped up:

“We were on the phone a lot.  There really weren’t any scenarios with going up in this draft, but we were on the phone a lot as far as potentially moving back.  Sometimes they just fall through or sometimes the other team just pulls out and goes somewhere else.  It’s just the nature of the business, but it was a little odd to go a whole draft without a trade.”

*               *

3. First Off the Board–Three of the Chargers eight selections ended up being the first player from that position off the board.  They were also players many pundits considered the best available talent as well.  Bosa was not only the first defensive end taken, but also the first defensive player chosen. Hunter Henry was the first tight end and Drew Kaser the first punter. However, regardless of when and where they were selected, McCoy said all eight players have a common thread:

“(We’re) fired up, ready to roll (and) excited (with) how we improved our football team these past couple days (with)  the type of players we’re bringing in.  One of the first things out of these kids’ voices (on the phone) is they can’t wait to get to work.  What they’re going to do, how they’re going to help us, the energy (and) passion they have for the game; it was outstanding.  First response from the players and the phone calls this year, we couldn’t be happier with the guys and the job Tom and the personnel department did putting the board together.  It was a good three days.”

4. Big-10 Binge–Known as a power conference that produces top talent, it’s not surprising to see the Bolts select prospects from the Big-10.  However, half of the Chargers draft class were Big 10 product in Bosa (Ohio State), Perry (Ohio State), Watt (Wisconsin) and Clark (Michigan State).  Still, Telesco noted there was no set plan to focus on that conference in particular:

“Just a coincidence.”

That wasn’t the only storyline to emerge from the draft that was a coincidence.  San Diego drafted Texas A&M’s punter one year after selecting the Aggies’ kicker in Josh Lambo. Meanwhile, in Watt, the Chargers added Melvin Gordon’s fullback from his time at Wisconsin, but McCoy and Telesco said that did not factor into the decision in anyway.  Nonetheless, the team added a true fullback to the roster for the first time since Le’Ron McClain in 2013 as Telesco described Watt:

“He’s a true fullback.  He’s a pretty powerful blocker but athletic enough to adjust to a linebacker’s movement.  He has really good hands and he can play some special teams, too.  I don’t think he’ll carry the ball a whole lot but you never know what Mike will do with him.  Give him a chance to come in and compete for that.”

5. Fifth Round Brown -   Pleased with the entire draft class, the Bolts are particularly ecstatic they were able to add Brown in the fifth round.  In fact, Telesco noted how there would have been a “revolt” in the draft room had they passed on him while also adding other teams texted the Bolts to let them know what a great pick they made:

“This is the one guy in our draft room that if we didn’t draft, I think there would have been a revolt amongst everyone else in the room.  A guy that everyone was really excited about getting here (both) on defense and in special teams, which is a need going into this draft… There are certain guys sometimes that have a trigger for everybody.  (Brown) was a guy who everybody wanted on our football team.  He’s actually the one guy that (we got) so many different texts from across the league (about) saying ‘Great pick!’ ‘Good pick!’  Those are kind of fun text messages to get during the draft.  He’s a little bit undersized, but he makes up for it with his quickness, instincts and explosive ability.  He was defensive player of the year in his conference and he’s got some versatility, too.”

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