Although the stance of staying put or even trading down in this year’s draft has been my mantra thus far during the pre-draft process, it’s time to play devil’s advocate for a minute. There is no doubt that the crew assembled in the Bolts’ war room will have gone over countless ‘what if’ scenarios during the next two months so it only makes sense to do a bit of that as fans.
When asked about the Chargers mindset looking ahead to the draft in April, General Manager A.J. Smith again maintained his open-ended philosophy to moving either up or down. Smith said: “Five young men, if we stay where we are and execute those five picks, that's a lot of good players. But as you know, we wheel and deal. We could get more picks or less picks by making moves. We're kind of loaded for bear going into it and we're excited about that.”
It is a good feeling that the team actually has some significant draft picks at their disposal this April as the holder’s of the 18th, 50th, 61st, 82nd, and 89th overall selections in the first three rounds. And even though it would be great to see the club stay put and execute each of those picks as allotted or even move down and accumulate more draft choices, let’s examine a possible trade up scenario.
A player that fits a definite need for the Bolts and has been super impressive to this point in the workout process is former Wisconsin Badgers defensive end J.J. Watt. At 6’5” 290lbs., Watt has the massive frame that would fit in the Chargers’ 3-4 alignment perfectly and that is what several league scouts are currently raving about. The often temperamental and tough to impress NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock offered some extremely high praise of the Big Ten alum. Mayock proclaimed Watt the best ‘five-technique’ player that he has ever seen. “Better than Tyson Jackson who went No. 3 overall (in the 2009 draft)," he added for good measure.
That type of adoration for this young man really has his stock on the rise in a similar fashion to Jackson who Mayock referenced in his quote. The former LSU Tiger was pegged as a mid to late first round pick for much of the pre-draft analysis before vaulting into the top ten and swiftly to third overall where the Kansas City Chiefs selected him in 2009. What could scare teams off a bit when analyzing Watt however has to be the fact that Jackson was so highly touted coming into the draft, but has yet to live up to his third overall pick status.
Watt’s coach at Wisconsin, Bret Bielema was a defensive guru at Iowa when Aaron Kampman came through and he seemed to favor Watt when asked about the two. Bielema said: "J.J.'s just got a little more burst and athletic ability. But same type of temperament." That is some high praise in comparison to a decade long NFL veteran in Kampman which adds even more fuel to the fire in moving up to get this blue-chip prospect.
His showing at the NFL Scouting Combine on Monday only reaffirmed this lofty praise from across the pigskin landscape as Watt ran an impressive 4.84 time in the 40 yard dash with a 1.75 10 yard split time only further illustrating his tremendous burst. It is more than likely that his already elevated stock will just continue to rise after this outstanding showing in Indianapolis.
Where things get dicey for the Bolts in pursuit of this highly coveted five-technique player however is when all of the different variables are put into play considering which teams are targeting which players and who could trade up in front of certain clubs to snag a prospect they want. With the depth of this defensive end class, the Bolts won’t be terribly disappointed if they get any of the top flight talents at that position, but should they become enamored with Watt (as I clearly have), plenty of pitfalls lie between them and the Wisconsin alum beyond the 10th overall selection.
Of the teams between the Chargers and the 10th pick, the Miami Dolphins at 15 and the New England Patriots at 17 are both strong candidates to be in the market for a player like Watt. Both play the 3-4 scheme defensively and are looking to upgrade their defensive fronts with a game changer at defensive end.
Trading up the six to eight spots necessary to jump in front of either New England or Miami wouldn’t be terribly costly when going by the draft pick value chart, but for a team in need of several strong players from this 2011 draft class, any cost seems too high.
Much like the teams across the league during this pre-draft analysis, my mind will likely be pulled in a number of different directions while the variety of plausible trade scenarios and draft choices will only continue to mount. The thought of adding a player with Watt’s skill set to this team is certainly enticing from his terrific hand usage to knock opposing linemen off of the ball to his knack for knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage. This young man is the full package and don’t be surprised if some murmurs emerge from the Chargers camp about landing the ‘best five-technique player’ that some scouts have ever seen.
Now let’s hear from you. What do you make of General Manager A.J. Smith’s statement; is it posturing or will the Bolts really be looking to ‘wheel and deal’ in this year’s draft? Which player in this year’s draft class do you feel is a ‘can’t miss’ prospect worthy of trading up for or is their no player of that stature in this year’s crop? How much stock do you put in Mike Mayock’s praise of J.J. Watt as the best five-technique player that he has ever seen? Are you in favor of trading up for the right cost to land a difference maker like Watt early in this year’s draft or do you think the team should stay put and let the chips fall as they may? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
Labels: NFL Draft 2011
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