Ten Potential Draft Targets to Watch at the Combine

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Few teams have been better at landing top talent in the first round in recent seasons than the Los Angeles Chargers.

Four of the past five first round draft picks made the Pro Bowl within their first two seasons (Derwin James, Joey Bosa, Melvin Gordon and Jason Verrett), while the other is Mike Williams, whose 11 total touchdowns were the fourth-most of any wideout in the league a year ago.

So, who is primed to be the latest first rounder nabbed by General Manager Tom Telesco?

According to the pundits, here are 10 players to keep an eye on at this year’s Combine who they believe may be targets for the Bolts with the 28th-overall pick.

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed above represent those of individual authors and do not represent the opinions or policies of the Chargers' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives.

1. S Nasir Adderley (Delaware) – The small-school product flew largely under the radar last season, but he’s flying up draft boards and now appears to be a likely first round pick. He tallied eight passes defensed and five interceptions in 2018 while also setting a career high with 78 tackles and two forced fumbles. Overall, Adderley is a rangy ball-hawk who could patrol centerfield for years to come at free safety.

What Daniel Jeremiah Says: “Adderley is a slightly undersized safety prospect with outstanding instincts, range and ball skills. He is a former cornerback and his movement skills reflect that background. He is very fluid in his backpedal and his combination of recognition and burst allow him to cover a lot of ground. He has no issues locating the ball in the air and possesses strong, dependable hands. Against the run, he is aggressive to the alley and boasts a high batting average as a tackler. He also offers value in the return game, where he displays vision, speed and toughness. Overall, Adderley is an ideal, pure free safety and should be a quality starter immediately in his rookie campaign.”

2. LB Devin Bush (Michigan) – If the Bolts are looking for a linebacker, pundits note how Bush may be the most ideal fit as those pegging him to the Chargers note he is perfect for Gus Bradley’s defense. He was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and a second-team AP All-American after pacing Michigan with 80 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and six passes defensed.

What Daniel Jeremiah Says: “Bush is a little undersized for the position (5-11, 233 pounds), but he makes up for it with instincts, twitch and production. He's excellent as a zone dropper against the pass -- quick to key routes and get a jump on the ball. In man coverage, he has the speed to run with tight ends and running backs, but he gets a little too grabby down the field. He is an excellent blitzer, using a dip/rip move to defeat running backs. Bush really excels in the run game. He is quick to identify, fill and chest up runners. He is also capable of shocking and shedding guards when they work up to the second level. He has a high batting average as a tackler and provides some huge hits. Overall, Bush is a three-down linebacker and he'll provide the team that drafts him with a physical presence.”

3. DT Dexter Lawrence (Clemson) – Lawrence made a major impact as a freshman at Clemson, starting 11 of 15 games while posting 79 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and two blocked kicks. Pundits like his chances of making a similar impact right off the bat as a rookie in the NFL due to his massive presence and pedigree. Lawrence was a first-team All-ACC pick this past season after totaling 44 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in 13 starts.

What Daniel Jeremiah Says: “Lawrence is a hulking defensive tackle at 6-4 and 350 pounds. As a pass rusher, he primarily relies on his strength and power to push the pocket. He does have impressive foot quickness and occasionally flashes a nifty swim move. However, he didn't get many opportunities because Clemson brought in more explosive rushers in obvious passing situations. He is a dominant run defender. He easily stacks single blocks on the front side and refuses to be cut off on the back side. Teams will need to investigate the suspension for a failed test for performance-enhancing drugs that kept Lawrence out of the College Football Playoff. Overall, Lawrence will be an immediate force against the run and I believe he has the potential to develop into more than a pocket pusher in the passing game.”

4. OT Greg Little (Mississippi) – It’s easy to see why pundits believe Little will be one of the first offensive linemen off the board come draft day. After all, he is a massive 6-6, 325-pound tackle with exceptional power and impressive athleticism. Most think he’ll start out on the right side of the line before protecting the quarterback’s blind side for the majority of his career.

What Daniel Jeremiah Says: “Little has an ideal NFL OT frame, with ample bulk and length. In pass protection, he has average foot quickness, but he's very fluid in his slide and redirect. He flashes the ability to bend, but still plays too erect at times. He is often late and wide with his punch, but he has enough ballast to anchor down versus power rushers. He will struggle at times to kick out quick enough to cover up elite speed rushers. Little is very assignment aware. In the run game, he has enough power to generate movement on down blocks and swallows up linebackers when pulling. He will overextend on occasion. Overall, Little has some flaws, but I love his body type, awareness and anchor. He has starting-RT ability.”

5. QB Drew Lock (Missouri) – If this is the year the Chargers invest a high pick on a quarterback, experts believe Lock may be the target. The 6-4, 225-pounder out of Missouri boasts a rocket arm with the ability to make any throw…and he isn’t afraid to fire it into tight windows. Lock threw for an incredible 44 touchdowns in 2017, and completed a career-best 62.9 percent of his passes (275-for-437) for 3,498 yards, 28 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.

What Daniel Jeremiah Says: “Lock has the desired height and bulk for the position (6-4, 225). He owns a quick delivery and generates plenty of RPMs with minimal strain or effort. He made "wow" drive throws in every game I viewed. He excels on hole shots along the sideline (placing the ball between the corner and safety versus Cover 2) and can jam the ball into the seam, as well. He is more accurate on drive throws than touch throws. He needs to add more loft to the ball. Lock will get sloppy with his footwork at times, falling off throws unnecessarily. He's very aggressive, which leads to explosive plays and some turnovers. He's very urgent with his movement when pressured and shows the ability to escape and extend plays. He is an excellent athlete. Overall, Lock needs to polish his footwork and tone down his aggressiveness, but he has a special skill set and tremendous upside.”

6. DT Ed Oliver (Houston) – Will Oliver be this year’s version of Derwin James? The talented defensive tackle has long been considered a top 10 pick, but several mock drafts have him dropping to the Bolts at 28. The Houston product boasts rare athleticism for the position, which allows him to make plays against both the run and the pass. He started eight games in 2018, logging 54 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

What Daniel Jeremiah Says: “Oliver is an undersized interior lineman with exceptional twitch and pass-rush potential. He primarily lined up over the center, but did move around a bit in Houston's defense. Against the pass, he has an explosive first step and outstanding change-of-direction quickness. He is quick to shoot his hands, but he needs to develop a better game plan once engaged. Oliver was constantly slanting in Houston's defensive scheme and that led to quick wins versus both the run and pass. His lack of size and length does show up in the run game -- he gets swallowed up at times. His effort is excellent, despite facing constant double teams. Overall, Oliver isn't as powerful or polished as the Rams' Aaron Donald, but he has similar athleticism and should be a disruptive force for the team that drafts him.”

7. OT Jawaan Taylor (Florida) – Taylor is a prototypical road grader at right tackle, which is why experts believe he can make his mark from day one in the NFL. Teams love the nastiness he brings each and every snap, lauding his ability to knock defenders off their spot in the run game. He’s also a top-notch pass protector able to block speedy edge rushers, which is exactly what is needed in a division loaded with Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and Dee Ford.

What Daniel Jeremiah Says: “Taylor lined up at right tackle for the Gators. He has average height and a broad frame for the position. In the passing game, he has the foot quickness to cover up speed rushers and the athleticism to redirect versus counter moves. He has a bad habit of scooping instead of punching, which allows defenders to get into his chest. However, he is still sturdy versus power rushers despite giving up his chest. In the run game, he has tremendous upper-body strength to torque and toss defenders. He's nasty. Some teams will prefer his power inside at the guard position, but I see him as a quality starting right tackle.”

8. DT Jerry Tillery (Notre Dame) – Tillery is the prospect most mocked to the Chargers at 28th overall heading into the Combine. The Golden Domer is fresh off his top collegiate season as he totaled 30 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2018 while also blocking two kicks. Even better, scouts believe he is only scratching the surface of his potential as they believe he’ll be a dominant three-down starter in the NFL.

What Daniel Jeremiah Says: “Tillery has rare height/length for the position. He is a very streaky player on tape. As a pass rusher, there are games where he dominates (see: Stanford game, when he logged four sacks) with a combination of quick hands, power and effort. However, there are other games where he's content to hang on blocks and play too high. In the run game, he flashes the ability to stack, toss and pursue the ball. He still needs to lower his pad level, but rarely gives ground at the point of attack. Overall, Tillery isn't going to fit every team, but he shows some flashes similar to DeForest Buckner. He just needs to become more consistent.”

9. LB Mack Wilson (Alabama) – Alabama linebackers are known to play with an edge, and Wilson certainly does so in spades. Combine that with his explosive athleticism and feel for the game, and it’s easy to see why many believe he’s the type of player who will set the tone on defense from day one.

What Daniel Jeremiah Says: “Wilson has ideal size, instincts and cover skills for the position. In the passing game, he is very fluid and has enough speed to mirror tight ends. To see his athleticism, watch his interception versus Texas A&M, where he effortlessly changes direction, lays out and brings in the ball. He is a very explosive blitzer. In the run game, he is quick to key and fill and he's a firm tackler. He flashes some thump to take on blockers, but he'll get stuck on occasion, too. His lateral range and effort are outstanding, but he does have a few missed tackles in open space. Overall, Wilson isn't quite as twitchy as former Tide LB Reuben Foster, but he'll be a quality three-down starter as soon as he arrives in the NFL.”

10. DT Christian Wilkins (Clemson) – Wilkins enters the draft as one of the most buzzed about prospects after totaling 250 tackles, 41 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, 56 QB pressures, 16 passes defensed and three forced fumbles in 59 career games. He’s a three-time All American who was only the fifth unanimous All-American in Clemson’s storied history. As if that wasn’t enough, he was last year’s William V. Campbell Trophy winner, which is often referred to as the “Academic Heisman” as it’s awarded to the player who best combines academics, community service and on-field performance:

What Daniel Jeremiah Says: “Wilkins has solid size (6-foot-4, 315 pounds) for the position and he's been a disruptive presence along the Clemson line throughout his career. Against the pass, he has quick feet and hands, which allow him to routinely win early in the down. He's at his best when slanting and working through the edges of blockers. He isn't a powerful bull rusher. Against the run, he is much better on the back side. He relies on quickness to slip blocks and does a good job of avoiding cut blocks. On the front side, he'll occasionally get too high -- and consequently, get turned and dumped. Overall, Wilkins has upside as a pass rusher and penetrator, but you'll have to live with some deficiencies at the point of attack.”

Take a closer look at 10 prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine who may be on the Chargers' radar during this year's Draft.

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed above represent those of individual authors and do not represent the opinions or policies of the Chargers' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives.

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