In what's become an annual Combine experience, General Manager Tom Telesco answered a wide array of fan questions.
While he couldn't answer the hundreds that were submitted, he did answer important questions about the Chargers' plans in the draft, free agency and more:
Q: I know draft boards come into play a lot when it comes to draft day, but before the Combine & draft, is there a player that you have already targeted as the one you really want to get/draft? – Extra Fonville
Telesco: Sure! But saying it and doing it are two different things. Coming out our draft meetings, there are more than a handful of players that we'd love to get, but actually executing that in the draft can be hard to do. With our draft board, we'll line it up, look at it and see how that also compares and contrasts with where our free agency board is. See where our strengths and weaknesses are at different positions, and where we may need to go. Now free agency is first and the draft is second, but that all comes into play.
Q: What does our salary cap look like heading into Free Agency? – Pete Swinton
Telesco: It's funny this year. There are about 15 teams who have an enormous amount of cap space. And then there are the rest of us who have either some cap space or not a whole lot. We have a little bit of cap space to work with, but I think people have to realize that it's not like we can use up all of that in unrestricted free agency. There's a lot of stuff you have to budget for. But we are curious to see what the market goes for for certain positions this year because there are those teams with so much cap space which could affect the rest of us that don't have that much. But also, when it comes to building your team and trying to get better in the offseason, there are a lot of ways to make your team better that do not involve signing someone on the first or second day of free agency. Now we may do that, but it's a long process and there are a lot of moving parts to free agency.
Q: Do you ever get tired of people asking if you are going to draft a quarterback of the future? I've heard it every damn year! – Shane Fotswell
Telesco: No. Until we have the quote-unquote "quarterback of the future" everyone is going to keep asking about it. And that's OK. That's something that we've invested a lot of time and resources on each year that I've been here, whether it's by draft, free agency or trade. Because as much as we love Philip, we know that he's not going to play for 10 more years. So it's something we've been working on for a number of years. We've just got to find the right player at the right spot at the right time. It just hasn't happened yet.
Q: How is the quality in the depth of talent in this year's draft? – Dede S.
Telesco: I have a hard time comparing year over year over year as far as the talent in the draft, but I will say that we just finished up our draft meetings with the scouts a couple weeks ago, and it looks like it's a strong draft in a lot of positions. We'll see once we get through with the medicals and nobody gets knocked off. That their physicals are really clean. But I think it's a strong class in a lot of positions. We're excited about it.
Q: When would you start the process of possibly locking up players whose contracts don't expire quite yet – aka, CASEY HAYWARD? – Roman Black
Telesco: As we work through free agency in the month of March, that's something that has a ton of moving parts. Really we have between March and the start of the summer before the season starts to look at extensions for certain people. A lot of it just depends on what's going on, and trying to budget where you are. So there is no specific date we'll start doing that.
Q: Last year wasn't the year he wanted but I am so high on Mike Williams. I just ordered his jersey! Reminds me of Verrett and Melvin who missed time as a rookie but then made Pro Bowl in year two! What areas do you think will be important for him this year? – Tyler Hansen
Telesco: Mike just needs to work. He missed so much work with us last year during a critical time of the year. And he'll have that time this year in the offseason program and then obviously training camp. Playing receiver in this league is not easy for young players. And when you have a veteran quarterback who is onto details 100 percent of the time, it takes some time for young receivers to get up to speed and earn their trust. With Mike, it's just about getting on the field and just working. Getting his timing down with the quarterback. Getting his legs back underneath him again. I mean, he spent so much time last year rehabbing, and then once he came back, we were right in the middle of our season. We dropped him into practice, and then he has to be up to speed with everyone else. That's a lot to ask of him. But we saw in practice a lot of really positive signs of what he can do for us. We saw glimmers of that in the regular season, but we saw much more on the practice fields. Now he just has to take that next step.
Q: We got some awesome, awesome guys as UDFAs like Austin Ekeler, Trevor Williams, Jahleel Addae. How do you scout and find these kinds of guys? Same or different than the top prospects? – Oliver McDougal
Telesco: It's the same. We scout everyone the same way whether it's for the first round, seventh round or college free agency. We put the same amount of time into all of those players. This organization has a long track record of having a lot of college free agents come in and not only make it, but really perform at a high level. And that started way before I ever got here, so we treat all those guys the same, and that's why we were able to hit on some players, too.
Q: What do you do when your scouts have different opinions on the same guy? – Nicky Jabowitzh
Telesco: We discuss, discuss, discuss, throw the tape on, watch it together and then discuss again. These are all opinions on players. No one's always right and no one's always wrong. So it happens. Scouts see players differently. That's why we have meetings and spend a lot of time talking about players and what we see. We usually get to a conclusion one way or another.
Q: Always hear how you scout prospects. How do you scout free agents? Is it any different? – Andy Chou
Telesco: They're two completely different things. For college prospects, we have a much larger body of work that we have to work on. It's really a year or two of their college history, interact with them at the Combine and interact with them at their All-Star games. We get to spend a lot of time with them. But free agency is mostly evaluating what you see on tape. Our pro scouts do it throughout the year. They may see a player once, or maybe twice during the pro season. It kind of depends on how their schedule is. But a lot of the free agent scouting is really just tape-based, and then we'll go back and look at their college history, what we thought of them in college. Also, the background we have on them and how their medicals were in college. However, that's also four or five years old. But still, we'll take that into account. But really most of our scouting is tape-based.
As a reminder, Telesco and Head Coach Anthony Lynn will address the media Thursday morning. We'll have live coverage of their press conference beginning at 8:00am PT on Facebook, Twitter, our app and Chargers.com.