What We Learned About the Bolts’ Draft Prep from GM Tom Telesco 

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General Manager Tom Telesco held his annual pre-draft press conference on Monday, holding court for 30 minutes with those in the media eager to ask him about the Chargers’ draft plans.

There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s get right into it.

Keeping Things Close to the Vest – The last thing you ever want is to accidentally reveal your top-secret draft plans and evaluations. To that end, Telesco offered a blunt assessment of what he’d be discussing during his press conference. While he did end up providing terrific insight into how the Bolts scout, some thoughts about this year’s draft class and the inner-workings of the Chargers’ draft process, he made it clear he wasn’t going to let the cat out of the bag.

“A lot of you probably don't want to be here for this because you know I'm not going to say anything. I really don't want to be here for this because I know I can't say anything. We're both here and don't really want to be here, but let's at least try to get through this and have some fun. It's tough. We do all of this work all year and you guys have a lot of questions about it. There's just not a whole lot that you can really say right now…I’ll answer as many of your questions as I can. A lot may be just very general about the draft, but that's just kind of the way it is. Once we pick the players, we'll be up here and talk about these guys all day long.”

What Would it Take to Trade Down? – Holding a selection in the late 20s has proven to be a prime trading spot. Teams with early second round picks looking to get back into the first round often target picks such as the 28th overall selection the Chargers currently own. So, is Telesco open to trading back? And what would it take to execute such a deal?  

"It would be the same with every draft: We're always receptive to it. We go through a lot of different scenarios as far as trading back, trading up and staying put. There's never been a year where I'd ever say that we would definitely not trade up or definitely not trade back. We'd certainly be receptive to it…If you did trade out of the first round, ideally you wouldn't want to go too far back into the second round. A lot of that is dictated by what your board looks like at that point. A lot of those trades are going to happen on the clock, so we would know who's available, who's left. If we move back, how far could we go and try to make an estimation if we go back to a certain point, could we still get a player that we really like. It's great to pick up extra picks, but also I want to make sure whoever we take with that first pick — whether it's a first-round pick or we trade back into the second — it's a player that we really, really love, not just a guy that we like but we got an extra draft pick to go along with it. I want a player that we really like, we're all invested in — scouts, coaches, everybody in the building."

Will Bolts Draft Rivers’ Heir Apparent? – Is this the year the Chargers draft their quarterback for the future? Telesco was asked this once again but stressed that while the team is always looking at the quarterback position, he expects Philip Rivers to be here for a while. We went into this topic in great detail, but here’s one overarching quote from Telesco that best encapsulates his message.

“(Philip) is playing at a really high level right now, my expectation is he’s going to be here a while,” Telesco said. “I haven’t seen anything different. I’m grateful for each year. I really am. I’m grateful for every year that he’s playing. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t be looking long-term to see what the solution is down the road. But I’m grateful for every year. (If it wasn’t) a career year last year, it was certainly close. I’m very happy with him.”

Deep D-Line – Many pundits and draft experts cite this year’s defensive line prospects as the cream of the crop. Count Telesco among those who are impressed by the class.

“It's a good group [of prospects]. It's probably as deep as we've seen in a while. I can't really compare it to other years. I'm so focused on this year. I say the whole defensive line group between defensive ends, defensive tackles is very strong."

The Inner Workings of Scouting a Player – You’d be shocked to learn how much goes into scouting a single player. It’s a 13-month process that involves so many different people who work in various areas of the Chargers’ organization. Telesco spent a significant amount of time outlining how much work goes into finding the next Chargers.

“What I love is that everybody works together really, really well. Everybody does it a little bit differently. I keep things pretty separate and bring everything together at the end. Our scouts, our coaches, our doctors, security people, our psychologists — everyone that kind of has a piece of this works well together, respects each other. It's an opinion-based business. You're not always right, you're not always wrong, but we can all discuss things out, try to get in the right spot and make the best decision possible.”

Continuing that train of thought, Telesco lauded the manner in which the scouts and coaches work together. He’s been around the league long enough to know that isn’t always the case.

"A lot of it is just communication. A lot of that takes place in training camp. It's also a process that takes years and years and years to perfect. We're going into year three right now with this coaching staff. It's just the communication between the scouts and the coaches, the front office and the coaches. I'm talking with the assistant coaches all of the time trying to learn about them, the fit and the right players into what they're looking for. The coaches and scouts work wonderfully together. It's not always like that. It's not been like that on every team I've been on, but we have that going here and it's a big part of it."

Ready to Roll – Not much is going to change between now and Thursday night. In fact, if the draft was tonight Telesco and company would be just as ready to roll as they will three days from now. So, if you think the final leadup to the draft is filled with hectic, frenetic days, you’d be dead wrong.

“At this point for the scouts, it's (13) months of work. It's a lot of preparation — scouts, coaches, doctors, trainers, the security people — it's amazing the amount of people and the amount of work that goes into this. At this point, if the Commissioner [Roger Goodell] says that we're drafting tonight, we're ready to go. I don't want to do too much today, tomorrow or Wednesday because at this point, you start to talk yourself out of things. I've already done that this morning on a couple of things. I look back at my notes of what we have talked about — so this is the time that you try not to over-analyze.”

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