As Tom Telesco gets set for his ninth draft as general manager of the Chargers, below are three key takeaways from his pre-draft press conference:
Feeling Good at No. 13 Overall
"We're comfortable at 13, if we pick there. It's like every other draft. You prepare to move up, prepare to move back, and prepare to execute the pick at 13 — nothing different there. We're very comfortable at 13. If we were in the 20s or 30s, that's where it gets a little more difficult because, typically, nobody has that many players rated as first-round picks. We're picking 13, so we feel pretty good right there."
Players, Not Positions
"As we go into the draft, we're drafting players, not positions. That's kind of the way that we have to look at it. We're not just trying to fill out the team for opening day in 2021; this is how we look at it. This isn't just 'GM speak.' You have to look at this year, and then 2022, 2023, 2024. That's what we're drafting these players for. We don't look at it as far as, 'Hey, what positions do we have to add to?' We're drafting players first, and then we go from there. It's players more than positions. I'm pretty confident that we won't be drafting a quarterback real early this year. Other than that, everything would be on the table."
"'Zig' While Others 'Zag'"
"I guess we like to 'zig' while others 'zag.' Generally, yeah, I'd rather go down than up. I think you have to be careful trading up. Especially nowadays, you have to guard about being over-confident that you can guarantee the player's success that you're trading up to get. We have great evaluators here. I also think that we do a great job of analyzing the data and putting that all together. But still, having all of that, the league average on players who are successful when you draft, those averages haven't changed much. Even though we may feel like we know more now than ever, it's really not the case.
"I'd be careful trading up. Obviously, we've done it. We haven't done it a lot, but we've done it in certain cases. There's some flexibility involved there. I would rather go down to get more picks. We have nine picks this year, which is a good start. Next year, probably a minimum of nine, maybe more. So, over a two-year span, we should be in that 18-20 draft-pick range, which is nice to have. Like you said, the more at-bats you have, the better the chance of getting a hit. I would prefer to go down than up. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't. I also know that you need to be flexible. There are certain situations where we just felt like the board said that we need to go get a certain player, but a lot of talk goes into that, for all of the reasons I said before.
"You're saying, 'Hey, look, we really feel like this is the guy.' That's hard to do in this business. Even though we feel like we're good evaluators, we feel like we have all of this data nowadays, and I think we analyze it well — which is a big part of it, not just having that data, but analyzing it the correct way — you have to be careful. I would prefer to go down than up. Each draft is a little bit different."
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