Who Should Be on San Diego Chargers' Shortlist in Round 1 of 2014 NFL Draft
San Diego Chargers GM Tom Telesco had some interesting things to say during his annual draft address—possibly giving some insight as to what his team could do with the 25th pick on May 8.
As Telesco put it, there has to be flexibility:
The farther back you pick, you have to be ready to obviously pick, trade up or trade down. Last year when you pick at 11, you’re going to get a blue player. You may not know exactly who, but you feel you’re going to get a blue difference maker. When you pick at 25, there may not be one there. You may want to get out, so you have to be flexible.
Assuming the Chargers intend to pick at 25, there will be a handful of players the team targets in Round 1. Here are five players San Diego should have on its short list in the first round.
5. Xavier Su'a-Filo
The soft-spoken Xavier Su'a-Filo may seem polite and cordial in on-camera interviews, but his nasty streak on the field was well documented at UCLA. Versatile and willing to play at virtually any spot on the offensive line, Su'a-Filo would fill a need at guard the Chargers have long hoped to upgrade.
It's not a glamorous pick by any means, but selecting the draft's top guard would be a wise move by GM Tom Telesco in his continued efforts to rebuild the offensive line. Last year was a great start, with the moves to acquire King Dunlap and Chad Rinehart in free agency and D.J. Fluker in the draft, but Nick Hardwick and Jeromey Clary will be entering the final year of their respective contracts.
4. Louis Nix III
Louis Nix III—or "Irish Chocolate" as he's known in South Bend—had a breakout season in 2012 with a staggering 50 tackles along the Notre Dame defensive front, but 2013 left evaluators little to judge of his potential at the next level. Nix suffered a torn meniscus and played in just seven games, leaving doubt as to whether he'll be the same caliber of player as 2012 after the injury.
At 330-plus pounds, Nix looks the part of a traditional nose tackle in the NFL, and he commands a lot of attention from an opposing offensive line. Chargers linebacker Manti Te'o knows this better than anyone else, having benefitted from Nix's big body during his Heisman campaign in 2012.
3. Jason Verrett
Toughness and tenacity at the corner position will earn Jason Verrett a first-round ranking on most draft boards, but size will not. The 5'9" TCU product has been deemed a nickelback at the next level before placing one foot on an NFL field, but his numbers in college say otherwise.
A junior-college transfer in 2011, Verrett logged 10 starts with the Horned Frogs and racked up 58 tackles his first year at the D-I level. After undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery before the 2012 season, Verrett topped his production from the previous year with 63 tackles while leading the Big 12 in interceptions with six.
As for the aforementioned toughness, Verret played the final two games of the 2012 season despite a torn meniscus in his right knee and he played most of 2013 with a torn labrum—the same year he earned co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors.
2. Bradley Roby
Should the Chargers gamble on troubled corner Bradley Roby, the reward might outweigh the risk. According to Roby, the time is now for San Diego to get a great corner, which he assumes he'll be if given the opportunity.
On Tuesday, Roby pleaded guilty to physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, reduced from the original charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, according to reports. The incident comes nearly a year after he was arrested following an altercation with a bouncer in Bloomington, Id. last July. Roby was also suspended by Ohio State coach Urban Meyer for the season opener.
As Roby told Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego, it's all about learning from your mistakes:
It’s not about what happens to you. It’s all about how you respond and if you really learned. If you don’t learn, then it’s going to keep happening over and over again. I believe in karma. I believe in learning from mistakes; that’s what they’re there for.
1. Kyle Fuller
The Chargers secondary ranked 29th against the pass in 2013 and free-agent pickup Derek Cox proved to be a bust during his brief stint in San Diego. Postseason dreams ended in Denver against the league's best offense, so expect the Bolts to counter with a physical corner to get over the hump in 2014.
Kyle Fuller missed four games in his last season at Virginia Tech due to a sports hernia, but he leaves the college ranks with 42 starts to his name and quite the highlight reel. In his first three seasons, Fuller amassed close to 150 tackles with 21.5 for loss and 6.5 sacks.
At 6'0" and 190 pounds, Fuller could draw interest away from a player like Jason Verrett, who will be heavily judged by his size.