With NFL Draft week officially upon us, Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco met with the media on Monday for his annual pre-draft press conference.
Along with mentioning how Tyrell Williams signed his RFA tender this morning and that the team is planning to pick up the fifth-year option on Melvin Gordon, the GM addressed a wide variety of draft-related topics including what he and his staff look for in prospects, how many players the team evaluates, how the pundits aren't the only ones who do mock drafts and more.
Even the pros mock draft
Think the mock drafts are just for pundits? Think again. Telesco mentioned that after the evaluation process ends, he and his staff actually do their own mock drafts in the week leading up to the draft. He admitted it's especially helpful at a position like pick 17 where the team has to prepare for multiple scenarios, as you can never fully know what may go down when the clock strikes 5:00pm on Thursday:
"We give a team or two teams to each (scout or coach) and they're responsible for knowing that team, their needs (and) who they signed in the offseason. Our pro scouts help the guys and then they're responsible for picking for those teams. We'll go through that exercise tomorrow. It's actually pretty fun to do and it's helpful. I kind of like it when some things go off the rails a bit because it gives us some more things to think about and talk about."
What does it take to be a Charger?
When evaluating players during the draft process, Telesco admitted there are multiple things they look for besides talent. Two specifically include desire and work ethic. After all, as the team learned last year after winning nine of their final 12 games, the most successful teams are the ones who stick together when the going gets tough:
"We're looking for competitive players who love to play football…. If you don't love to play and if you don't love to work, you just won't get better at this level. The talent level here is so high that a good college player, once he gets here, won't have the career you want if he doesn't continue to improve. You've got to have that inner drive and desire. We talk desire and work ethic all the time. You've got to have those two things. If you start with that, that's the core your looking for and you can build around that…. Talent comes into it. We're trying to win here and we want to win with the right people. I think if you have the right people, they can handle adversity and if things get tough, a lot of times the guys who don't have the character you want are the first guys to go south on you. You can't rely on them and you need people you can rely on. That's what we've tried to build here. It takes time. You're not going to be 100-percent right on players, but we want guys who can handle that adversity."
Seven picks, 3,000 prospects
For a college scout, the evaluation process is a year-round job. Even after the sun sets on Saturday evening, the process starts back up the next day for the following year's draft. While the team has a limited number of picks in the draft, Telesco admitted their starting prospect pool is over 400 times that amount:
"I think they probably start off with over 3,000 (prospects) and you whittle that down. I know (there are) well over 1,400-1,500 reports on players and you have multiple reports on players, anyway. Some of the guys have probably started right now on next year's class if they've got some time. It's just narrowing that process down."
17 is still QB1
With so much chatter on if the Chargers will select a quarterback in this year's draft, Telesco made one thing clear, Philip Rivers was, and is, the Bolts' quarterback. With that said, he knows the talk won't cease until the team actually drafts a QB and that they're always keeping an eye on the future:
"The great thing right now is that we're very happy with Philip. He's our quarterback, hands down, rest assured, for this year and hopefully beyond. But we always have to have an eye on the future. That's part of our job. There are a lot of other areas on our football team that we'd like to add to, too. That's all part of it…. I will say it's a deep (quarterback) class, not only in the first round but some other rounds as well. We've seen it the last couple of years, the quarterback classes have been pretty good. Guys are coming into the league and playing a little bit quicker than they used to. But I have a hard time comparing (to past years' QB classes)."