Chargers 2012 NFL Draft Grade

The 2012 NFL season has shaped up to be a critical one for the San Diego Chargers. Coaching and front office jobs are on the line, and the team's future in San Diego is in doubt. Fans are looking for some reassurance that the team is heading back towards it's winning ways and is making strides towards the fulfillment of a Super Bowl promise. This is why the 2012 NFL draft was so critical for the Bolts; the team simply cannot afford to stumble again, they need to win and win now. The one-time "most talented team in the NFL" has fallen from such grace, and has some major ground to make up before they can reclaim that crown. In order to get back to the post-season, the team needs better players, plain and simple. Luckily for the San Diego faithful, AJ Smith and crew may have had their best draft performance of the past five years.

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The Chargers had well documented needs coming into the draft. According to BOLTHYPE, the Chargers top draft needs were:

1. Outside Linebacker
2. Defensive Back
3. Wide Receiver
4. Offensive Line

The Chargers did an excellent job addressing those needs. Taking Melvin Ingram at 18 was an absolute steal; as the top 3-4 OLB prospect in the draft he was never supposed to fall that far down the draft board. He is a versatile, aggressive pass rusher who is always around the ball making plays. Ingram's personality and temperament reminds me of great leaders such as Takeo Spikes and Ray Lewis, and I think he will quickly become a respected player on this team. Rush Outside Linebacker was the Chargers' top need and they filled it early by taking Ingram.

In the second round the Chargers drafted Kendall Reyes, a Defensive Tackle who will play Defensive End in the Chargers three-man front. While not one of the Chargers most critical positions of need, the Chargers needed to improve the defense as a whole regardless. At pick 49, Reyes fell into the Chargers lap. He was projected as a possible first round pick, and was arguably the best 5-technique prospect in the draft, behind only Fletcher Cox on my board. Again, the Chargers got tremendous value in selecting Reyes and its no shock they took a Defensive Lineman so early. The Chargers have no stalwarts on their D-line since Igor Olshansky and Jamal Williams have left. The possibility for Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes developing into a dominating, athletic young pair of bookends is exciting indeed.

Safety was a clear need for the Chargers, and in trading up in the third round they secured Brandon Taylor, who many felt was the best safety prospect after Mark Barron and Harrison Smith, both gone in the first round. The Chargers obviously needed to come out of this draft with a good Safety, but they didn't reach for one. Taking both Ingram and Reyes without any trades, and taking Taylor after a slight trade up in the third round tells me the Chargers came into the draft with a clear game plan, were well-prepared, and stacked their board appropriately. They executed their picks and got tremendous value while still filling needs. In many ways, the Chargers draft strategy reminded me a lot of the successful drafts Ozzie Newsome, one of the NFL's best GMs, has masterminded for the Baltimore Ravens over the years.

In the fourth round, the Chargers drafted Ladarius Green, a tight end who has some upside. Although not a top need, Tight End could still be considered a position of concern due to Antonio Gates' recent injury history. Green is a blown-up wide receiver converted into a Tight End with eye-popping measurables, but he will likely need time to develop and will sit behind Gates and Randy McMichael. By taking a flier on Green, the Chargers could develop him as a project with low risk, high reward.

In the 5th and 7th rounds, the Chargers loaded up on offensive linemen, filling another draft need. Johnnie Troutman, a Guard from Penn State, and David Molk, a Center from Michigan both bring a ton of experience and come from big time college football programs. Molk lead all Offensive Linemen at the Combine with 41 reps on the benchpress and won the 2011 Rimington Trophy as the nation's top center after starting four years at Michigan. Troutman was tied for 4th place among all Offensive Linemen at the Combine with 31 reps on the benchpress and is a force in the run game who could push Tyronne Greene at Left Guard.

If there was any question mark to the Chargers draft class, it would be the fact that they didn't draft a true Wide Receiver. However to their credit, they signed a whopping six undrafted free agent receivers. With their final selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Chargers take Edwin Baker, an undersized running back who probably best fits a Zone Blocking scheme.

In summary, the Chargers have addressed all of their needs coming into the 2012 NFL Draft, and they did so without reaching and without trading away their future. The found guys who can make an immediate impact and who will see plenty of playing time. While I would have preferred to see them take a wide receiver or even a Quarterback over a tight end, I do recognize the concern at the TE position and understand they probably feel comfortable with what they have in Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem. They entered the draft with a clear objective, a well-researched and prioritized board, and were able to find value with the picks that mattered most.



Now it's your turn to grade the Chargers; How successful were the Bolts in addressing their draft needs with quality football players? Has AJ Smith done enough to restore your confidence in him? How would you grade this draft class? Sound off in the comments section below!

April 30, 2012

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RaiderHater said... Apr 30, 2012, 11:31:00 AM

Rob babe...a B+....hummm I may even lean towards an A- but either way a solid performance by AJ and squad.  Great players filling slots, some real deals slipped to us...perhaps lady luck may actually shine on us for a change! I would bet ya we will still sign a RB out of FA very soon, on outside an RB verses a TE...debatable but Gates ain't getting any younger and the sheet on Green is he has some serious tools in his shed so why not develop him under Gates to eventually take over when Gates retires (as a BOLT). So now, can we sign them all immediately,or will some greedy bastard agents hold us hostage (we know AJ don't play that game well)???!!!  I hope so, with camp now coming very very soon, we need the rookies in there learning and jelling with the rest of the Team to take advantage of every possible day before the season begins.  OMG we still have Norv, well AJ gave him all of what he needed, it is up to him and his coaches to mold and prepare them for Oakland day one!  I have especially high hopes for our new D-coordinator....he has a task ahead and I hope he "brings it"...I can say honestly I am excited now and I look forwards to how well this all comes together. I just hope Norv responds as well as dare I say AJ has!

Tdwightfan87 said... Apr 30, 2012, 12:00:00 PM

I think the Chargers did an amazing job for the first three rounds. The only criticism i have was them not taking Bobbie Massie in the 4th. I do like the pick up of Ladarius Green as i think he does have good potential but i think Massie would of had more of an impact in the 2012 year, either as a starter or as a solid backup. But overall very good draft i like every player we got and didn't sell the farm for any particular player

Triplook said... Apr 30, 2012, 12:45:00 PM

the 1st 4 rounds was a solid A if any of the other picks pan out thats just icing on the draft cake

Triplook said... Apr 30, 2012, 12:45:00 PM

we needed all killer no filler and we got it

RaiderHater said... Apr 30, 2012, 1:38:00 PM

 Ha Ha Triplook...I love that "all killer no filler"!!!!!  Spot on!!!

Pete Spinning said... Apr 30, 2012, 2:25:00 PM

I'm happy!

It was such a bummer to see LaMichael James & Ronnie Hillman BOTH go back to back like that! I honestly thought we would have an opportunity to get one of them. But, picking good running backs is CLEARLY what SD does best! The Bolts are so friggin' good at getting great backs, and developing them into starters, that it's impossible for us to keep a good back-up. Everytime we get the backup RB where we want them, they want to go start for another team... guess you can't blame them, but it would be nice to find one that stuck around for a minute. I agree with RH... they will draft a veteran free agent, most likely, and we'll be all set!

I'm really excited to see what Ingram & Taylor can bring to the squad! You wanted that QB -eater Mr. Raiderhater... and you got it! I'll tell you what I loved about this draft (even though EVERY year should go like this!) ... It's this.....  There is no excuse for Norval at this point. He got the good draft.. he got a bunch of free agent talent... all he has to do is NOT EFF IT UP, like Philly did last year! Please, don't coach predictably ever again! Don't pull this "Let's wait until the season is lost, and then open up the second half of the playbook" BS that he always pulls. It obviously isn't working anymore, and the West is only getting more competitive. We need every play in that book now! Immediately.

Still wish we could have fenagled a decent CB in the draft somehow... just to keep Jammer & Cason on their toes. They are the only weak spot left IMO, and they need to do well. All QB's will be looking to take advantage of that situation this season.

Pete Spinning said... Apr 30, 2012, 3:45:00 PM

So, here are some more additions to the team.... check em' out. Any diamonds in the scrap-heap? You gotta wonder...

Fbhansen said... Apr 30, 2012, 8:21:00 PM

I think AJ and the Charger did an awesome job of filling some of the holes on the team and deserves an A- at the least. The reality is we might have gotten a couple (maybe even three) starters from this draft but it's going to take a while for everyone to learn new defensive schemes, player tendencies, and coverage packages so IMHO we won't really see the benefits until 2-3 years from now. That said it might be a bit of a bumpy road but AJ did pick players who most thought were good players they themselves would have taken versus the typical reach players AJ finds himself attracted to. Remember Buster Davis? Nobody thought that was a good pick and guess what they were right! At least if AJ misses with this crop he won't be alone. Now hopefully we'll see a gem or two out of the undrafted FA's we signed in addition to some of the people AJ is known to be able to find off the scap heap! Go Bolts!

RaiderHater said... May 1, 2012, 8:09:00 AM

 oh HELL YEAH...QB eatin' frenzy-that is what I am talking about bro!  Some great talent ready to learn and start, some excellent reinforcements that will be starters very soon, and perhaps a diamond or two we don't even know about yet.  Heck even the famous Fbhansen is giving AJ an A- rating..WTF??  You are so right on the Norv thing, he has all he should need, he needs to dig deep into the playbooks and be creative.  So and I mean SO many weapons to use this year...OMG we are SO Freakin' dangerous if Rivers has time to pick out of the litter who to throw to next.  And the ground game has to be another dimension  (keep Mathews fresh and healthy).  Now the Defense has a new coach, he comes from a solid breed of D-Coaches, if he can rally the boys up and be the Ravens- Stealers type of Defense (hard pounding, punishing, roving, smelling out plays, and EATING QB's) we may have a balance to be legit.  Ha Ha Raiders have a F rating in the draft...I love that!!  Denver blew their wad on Manning and got a couple pieces (big deal) and KC was probably the closest to us in drafting efforts.  This division is awakening to being one of the best...I love that we are picked middle to bottom by the "experts".  Finally we don't go in assuming we already won the division, rather we get to earn it!  The pressure is on Denver...we just need to execute well every game.
             Well Norv...ring or retired "You Make The Call"!!!!

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