Mailbag: The Best Stories from Draft Day

Q: What role will RB Justin Jackson have on this team with Melvin Gordon & Austin Ekeler leading the way? – Jose Rubalcava

A: Not a single rookie is coming in with a role carved out for him.  Each one is going to have to prove his worth and gain the team’s trust.  That being said, Jackson’s skillset is that of a do-it-all back who is more than capable of carrying the load.  There is a big need for running back depth as the team had only three on the roster heading into the draft.  Plus, believe it or not, Austin Ekeler is the team’s second longest tenured running back on the roster!  So there is an opportunity for the Northwestern star who authored one of the most productive careers in Big Ten history to emerge as a key cog in the RB rotation.

Q:  What's the best draft story from Chargers draft this year, Ricky? – Brennan Michaels

A: Oh, there are two that I think are absolute gems, and they both involve the phone call to the player.  The first was for our third-round pick, Justin Jones.  He was out bowling and came home.  His girlfriend told him he smelled awful, so he jumped in the shower and was full of soap when the phone rang.  He jumped out of the shower and tried to pick it up but his fingers were too wet.  He finally picked up and the call was pretty epic.  You can check it out below.  My other favorite story is with Dylan Cantrell.  Of all days, the sixth-round pick’s phone simply stopped working.  Tom Telesco had to call his mom’s number!  Dylan was out in the yard with friends when she came over screaming there was a team on the other end of the line…and she didn’t even know which team it was.  So those are two pretty awesome stories from this year’s draft.

*Q:  Not including the Chargers, who do you think had the best draft? – Ralph C. *

A:  I hate to say it, but I really liked the Broncos’ draft class.  Pairing Bradley Chubb with Von Miller is going to be a nightmare for teams akin to Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.  Denver may have gotten the best wideout in the draft in second-round pick Courtland Sutton while third-round selection Royce Freeman may end up being their starting running back when the season begins.  Meanwhile, tight end Troy Fumagalli out of Wisconsin was a personal favorite of mine, and they landed him in round five.

Q: Which safety spot is Derwin James playing this season? – Anthony Saenz

A:  Great question…because this is exactly what I asked Gus Bradley seconds after the pick came in.  James’ versatility is such a huge asset and the team can deploy him in a number of ways.  According to Bradley, the plan right now is to bring him in, see where he’s at and let things play out to see where he’ll end up on the field:

“What’s good about Derwin is he’s played multiple positions. He’s played in the box, he’s played back as a free safety, he’s played in the nickel, he’s covered the tight ends.  So he gives us a lot of versatility to utilize his skillset.  With his speed and size, he has a great presence about him.  He’s a big-bodied guy, and both those things show up with the way he plays. We’ll utilize him however is best for our defense.”

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