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A Conversation With GM Tom Telesco Ahead of His Ninth NFL Draft With Chargers


Chargers general manager Tom Telesco spoke with CBS Los Angeles ahead of his ninth NFL Draft with the team.

Over the last five years in the first round, the Chargers have selected the 2016 Defensive Rookie of the Year (Joey Bosa, No. 3 overall), a 2018 First-Team All-Pro (Derwin James, No. 17 overall) and the 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year (Justin Herbert, No. 6 overall). Los Angeles will select No. 13 overall in 2021.

Watch the full conversation with Telesco below. Among the topics: entering his ninth draft with the team (:00); the feeling in the war room on draft night (:52); the importance of preparation (2:11); getting back to normal after last season's virtual draft (3:19); calling a prospect on draft day (4:10); a favorite draft story (6:04); and what's allowed the team to have a high success rate in the first round (8:55).

Here are a few excerpts:

Telesco on His Ninth Draft With the Chargers

"It's pretty amazing. Nine years of going through this process and trying to fine-tune it every year; just trying to get better each year. It's a 13-month draft process in reality. This month of April, our scouts [are] not only finishing up this year's draft, but they're working on next year's draft, too, so it's 13 months of work for the college scouts and all comes to fruition in a couple of weeks here."

The Feeling in the War Room on Draft Night – Anxious, Excited?

"I guess it's probably more anxious than excitement because there's a lot you can't control in the draft. There's 31 other teams. Yes, you can trade up or trade down but you also have to find a partner to do that with. So, there's so much of it there just out of your control. So, yeah, you're a little bit anxious. It's 13 months of work. You want to get it right. There's a lot of people involved in the process. But if you prepare the right way and you have the right people around you, it goes smooth.

"But the biggest thing is the preparation part of it. You have everything kind of together. You kind of walk through all of your decisions early on – a week or two before – every scenario you can think of. So when it comes to draft day, there's not a whole lot of big discussion. We've already decided how we're going to handle different situations and we just execute it."

What's Allowed the Chargers to Have a High Success Rate in the First Round (Bosa, James, Herbert)?

"Preparation and a great scouting staff. These guys, our college scouts led by [Director of College Scouting] Kevin Kelly and [Director of Player Personnel] JoJo Wooden, the college guys, they work on this draft 365 days a year. Not only evaluating players but doing background on players, which is just as important as how you play. And then trying to kind of fit the whole thing together: getting the coaches involved after the season's over and making sure players fit schemes.

"You put as much preparation as you can into it. We try and be perfect with it. We know it's an imperfect world. Sometimes we may get a little overconfident on who we think can play and can't play because we have so much information nowadays. But you try and get players that you think fit you, which means sometimes you may pass a good football player that may just not fit your scheme, may not fit your culture.

"But, again, there's a little bit of luck involved. But we're happy with those guys. We put as much work now into the first round as the seventh round, so that's part of our process. We want to hit on the late guys as much as the first-round guys obviously knowing those first-round picks, those are important picks: a lot of money involved, big responsibility, big role. But we're trying to draft good people, good football players and we've been relatively successful there."

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