Tom Telesco recently walked away with nine selections from his ninth draft as the general manager of the Chargers.
The picks are the most Telesco has selected during his tenure with the Bolts.
But with it now in the books, Telesco mentioned he's "very happy" with how the draft played out, specifically, when working with head coach Brandon Staley and the new coaching staff, and how they found players who fit their make-up of "how much they love to play the game, how much they love to practice, (and) their drive and determination to be a great player."
Additionally, with the impending scheme changes coming in all three phases of the game, he detailed how the player selection process expanded as the rounds went on.
"It's not just drafting a player, it's kind of having a vision for how you're going to use that player and that's how (we) really kind of hit on some guys cause they fit a specific thing you want to do," Telesco said.
Here are three additional takeaways from Telesco on the 2021 NFL Draft:
The "Goal" to Find Depth
Sure, everyone gets excited about the draft and the opportunities for players to be added to their team for the upcoming season.
But make no mistake, the draft isn't just for the immediate, it's for the future, too.
Telesco said the objective of any team is to add and supplement their roster beyond the impending year, and he feels confident the team was able to do that last week.
"(The depth) is better now than it was last year. That's kind of the goal. We're taking these players for the long term. We're not drafting these players specifically to think where they're going to line up Week 1 for us. You can look back at our drafts and really the whole league, every team when they draft players, very few players from that draft immediately are playing big roles in Week 1 in September or really the first year. We're looking long-term-view on this. You have to do that … The depth is much better really on all three sides, offense, defense, and special teams."
Special Teams' Role in the Draft
The best path for any Day 2 selection, Day 3 pick, or undrafted free agent to carve out their niche is to earn a role on special teams.
But for those Day 2 or 3 guys, Telesco described how the third phase of football plays a large part in the draft process and gave insight as to how the special teams coaching staff assists that.
"(Special teams coordinator) Derius Swinton has a pretty big role in the draft process, him and Mayur (Chaudhari,) our assistant special teams coach. Cause when we look at these players, we have to figure out what role they'll be on special teams. So they look at almost everybody that we like at all different positions. Not so much offensive/defensive line, but linebackers, running backs, receivers, defensive backs. How they can fit into at least one or two special teams (positions) on your football team. They don't just look at kickers, punters, and long snappers. They have to look at everybody and they do a really nice job with that."
Unearthing the Undrafted
Check out the 10 players the Chargers agreed to terms with following the conclusion of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Chargers have a history of finding undrafted free agents who not only make the initial 53-man roster but make an impact on the team as well.
Antonio Gates and Austin Ekeler come to mind.
After the draft, the Chargers agreed to terms with 10 undrafted free agents.
Like everything with 2020, it was an interesting year and Telesco detailed the job the scouting staff had to do to find these players and why it's a smaller group than normal.
"It was unique this year because so many college seniors decided to go back to school because the NCAA gave them an extra year if they wanted it. So I think a lot of players who were borderline (going to be) drafted or undrafted, decided to go back another year. Our pool of players after the draft was much smaller than it ever has been so we had to be really detailed with that to try and find some specific players we think could come in and fit … It's a little bit smaller class this year, it's only about 10 and by the time we get to camp there may be a couple more. But really a nice job in a challenging year because there weren't as many players to look at."
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