Chargers NFL Draft Discussion With Sean Tomlinson

The NFL Draft talk has started to heat up for all 32 teams across the league and the San Diego Chargers are clearly fully engaged in draft mode themselves at this point. Addressing every possible shortcoming is mandatory at this time of year when rosters are beginning to take shape and just a few need areas remain.

After adding plenty of firepower on the offensive side of the ball in free agency, the Bolts still have some concerns on their roster along the offensive line, in the secondary, and in the pass rushing department. Sean Tomlinson from reached out to me for my input on several issues of interest regarding the Chargers as the draft nears ever closer. Here is a look at the conversation we had.

TOMLINSON: Mark Barron’s name has been tossed around between a few teams, but safety may not be the strongest need in San Diego. Is there a chance the Chargers find him too irresistible, and simply go with the best player on the board if he’s around?

BLAKE: Safety is certainly on the list of needs, but not nearly as pressing as both corner and outside linebacker. If both Whitney Mercilus, Courtney Upshaw, and Cordy Glenn are off the board, then Barron may get some consideration. Otherwise I look for the team to address the safety position in the second round as GM A.J. Smith has been very high on Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith in the pre-draft process.

T: What about an upgrade at right tackle? Glenn should be available…

B: That’s a great observation. I really do think Glenn would be the perfect fit. He’s versatile enough to play inside at guard and maul or he could just start from day one on the right side and replace Clary. Many mock drafts actually have Glenn going 13th to the Cardinals, but if he is available, it wouldn’t surprise me if Smith turned the unlikely into a reality.

T: After adding Corey Liuget up front last year, a versatile outside pass rusher could be a priority too. Would Courtney Upshaw fit?

B: There’s no doubt that Smith would love to snag a premier pass rusher in this year’s draft, but I’m wondering who the Bolts really do favor at this point. If both Upshaw and Mercilus were on the board with the 18th selection, right now it’s 50-50 who would actually be the choice. Personally, though, Mercilus seems to have the most upside, so I see A.J. leaning in that direction.

T: With Tolbert gone, will Smith look for more backfield depth in the mid to late rounds to support Ryan Mathews? Or is he satisfied at that position between Curtis Brinkley and Le’Ron McClain?

I sure hope so. Mathews is a dynamic player with big-play ability when healthy, but durability has been big a question mark thus far in his career. If not during the draft itself, the team will definitely be in the market for some depth at running back among undrafted free agents. Bringing back veteran Jacob Hester remains a strong possibility as well.

Do you have any late round sleeper picks that could develop and address key needs?

B: Tight end has to be an area the team takes a serious look at in this year’s draft. Antonio Gates has been incredible over the better part of the past decade, but injuries have cost him a lot of time recently. Small school guy Ladarius Green out of Louisiana-Lafayette has my attention. He’s 6’5” 238 lbs, and he put up his best performances against the top competition with four receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown versus Georgia and six catches for 64 yards against LSU.

After this conversation, it has to be said that my opinion on the Chargers’ primary needs in this year’s draft may have changed a bit. Outside linebacker was once thought to be the on main area of concern, but now it seems that offensive line, in trying to replace the loss of Kris Dielman, and the safety position, in finding a player to pair with Eric Weddle, rank ahead of the pass rusher idea in my mind.

One thing is certain and that’s the fact that whichever name is called for the Bolts’ selection at 18th overall, that player needs to make an immediate impact during the 2012 season.

Now it’s your chance. What do you think about the idea of Mark Barron being the pick at number 18? Are you sold on Whitney Mercilus or Courtney Upshaw to improve the team’s pass rush? Could Cordy Glenn be the prefect selection to help repair an offensive line trying to rebuild? Do you think the team needs to add another solid running back to spell Ryan Mathews as an insurance policy? What do you think about the idea of adding a developmental tight end to groom under Antonio Gates in this year’s draft? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

April 13, 2012

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Pete Spinning said... Apr 13, 2012, 1:03:00 PM

No matter how many people say that a running back, or receiver is a bigger priority than a pass rusher.... I strongly disagree. I think that there are a lot of GOOD pass rushers in the draft right now, and almost any of them would be a great pick, and would be able to make an immediate impact. I realize we already have J.J., Phillips, Barnes, and English... but, is that a solid pass rush unit? Our defense was lousy last year, and couldn't get off the field. Receivers had all day to get open, for lack of pass rush. So, hear me out.
Phillips was injured, and didn't play for multiple games last season. English has never been healthy. Barnes was a bright spot with 11 sacks, but gets tired. Johnson is better at stopping the run, and pass rush isn't his strength. So, we are going to "call it a day" with our pass rush, and gamble that these guys all have a great year? This is exactly why the Chargers are where they are at. First, they didn't get a pass rusher in Free Agency this year, like we all hoped. Now we are going to say we are fine with the guys we have, and that a monster pass rusher would be a 5th wheel? An aging veteran run-stuffer, an aging veteran pass rusher with a bad foot, a 1st round pick who has spent less time on the field than I have, and a rookie who can't play every down & gets winded by season's end... that sounds solid to you? RIDICULOUS!!!!
I am not opposed to getting O-Line help. However, I think that after we addressed the O-Line last season, they played awesome! Granted, we need more depth (Dombrowski looked like a deer in the headlights in that Raider game, and was ineffective IMO). But, I would wait until the later rounds to add depth. I am not opposed to getting a running back, receiver, or tight end, either... Gates is getting old. But, again... later rounds. If we get a Safety or a CB, I am down with that. But, lack at pass rush is a GLARING need, nuff said. QB's had time to tie their shoes back there in 2011!

Pete Spinning said... Apr 13, 2012, 3:48:00 PM

We just tendered Dombrowski, and signed ex-Raider Mario Henderson to back up BOTH tackle positions.

RaiderHater said... Apr 13, 2012, 4:04:00 PM

Yeah... Pete is all fired up...must be all this rain has you ready to rumble!!! I am with you 100% bro...D-D-D....we are good already on Offense..need me some D!  I don't have a problem with the 3 signs today which included Henderson, anything to protect PR is OK by me...and really we spent little for this insurance.  I agree...don't want or need an RB unless a solid one came during the draft (3-5 rounds), need Defense...DUH!  I still don't like the CB situation, but some QB pressure can hide that quickly.  The draft is sooooo close and I am sooooo ready for it, will AJ move up to get the D-Man we need?  Are there still some players that could/will be let go to make room for draftee's on other know ones we would take for a year or two?  Is free agency all dried up yet?  So far, AJ has been very active...more than I would have ever guessed 3 months ago.  I can't find anyone I am not wondering "why" on his buying spree.  The draft will tell us more, and who "falls out" to make room on other Teams will also be interesting.  Heck, camps start soon!!!  Wait a minute, I stated I was glad to have Henderson...a freaking ex-Raider...WTF is wrong with me???  Well, he has been away from them for awhile...perhaps any typical Raider BS has left him?  If he and Gaither play...PR is going to have to look over a couple freaking towers to see down field!  Maybe he can be like most QB's we opposed last year and have all day to eat, nap and tie his shoes!!!  :)

Triplook said... Apr 13, 2012, 7:14:00 PM

i agree with pete--we GOTTA get a monster pas rush going--or its another long season

Pete Spinning said... Apr 13, 2012, 7:22:00 PM

Hester's back, and you're gonna be in trouble... hey la... hey la...

Naw... I'm just playin'.. but, that's awesome! Special teams captain / teamates picked him as "Special Teams Player of the Year" / another option out of the backfield / all around "blue-collar" fan favorite... I never knew that about him.. what's that all about? What makes him blue-collar? Anyway... he's back.

Is McNeil coming back too? Could we have a Gaither / McNeil AND a Henderson / Clary tandem going on here? With Dombrowski filling in here & there when they get a cramp or a neck-ache (McNeil)? I dunno... but they seem to at least be adding depth. I keep hearing this Cordy Glen story, that we want to replace Dielman. Guess what? NOBODY is going to replace Dielman. He was an all-pro, Charger "lifer", and generally bad-ass mf'er! It's like when they talk about LaMichael James being a Sproles clone. Or, we need another Shawn Merriman...Those are unique players. They're gone. Let's embrace new players for who they are, and what their skill sets dctate. Don't try to replace ghosts of the past.

I just read an article about Tyrone Green which says he's in "Fat-Camp", has shed 25 lbs, and is pulling trucks at an O-Line training facility.... instead of eating doughnuts on his couch, like usual. He played fairly well, and should return in better shape, and more disciplined than ever! He's no Dielman.. nobody is... but, I was happy to see that he is taking this season seriously... like the fans are. Seems like everybody is this season, and I like it. It doesn't have that flashy "go out and get every big name Free Agent out there" feel, either... because, we all know that didn't work for the Eagles. Too many egos... not enough leadership. I would've loved a Free Agent pass-rusher, but RH is right. There isn't anyone I can say "why" about... so far.

Now..., pass rusher, please? Safety, please? Corner back, please? Add on some late round depth, and we are done here, me-thinks.

Pete Spinning said... Apr 13, 2012, 7:33:00 PM

You know I loved the lightning today, being a Bolt fan! Now we need a lil' pass rush thunder! I LOVE the "Twin Towers" reference... that should be their nickname, if it turns out to be that way (only the tv announcers would probably think it's offensive to viewers). Two 7 foot thugs bouncing the door to Philip Rivers private "members only" club! I like the way that sounds.Hope it works out ; )

Pete Spinning said... Apr 13, 2012, 7:44:00 PM

If we go for a pass rusher.. do you think we'll trade up for Ingram or Coples... or stay put for an Upshaw, Perry, or Mercilus? CAN we trade up for A Coples, an Ingram.. or even a Barron? Does anybody know if those guys are "trade-up-able"? Should we do that?

Jcorona_26 said... Apr 13, 2012, 9:13:00 PM

Here is my "Wish List" Mock Draft:

Rd1/#18 - SS Mark Barron (Alabama)

With the next pick I like the idea of trading back into the 1st round (2012 2nd Round and 2013 3rd round) for a Pass Rushing OLB. . .

Rd1/#? - OLB Whitney Mercilus (Illinois)

or stay at spot in 2nd round for a hard hitting OLB. . .

*Rd2/#49 - OLB Ronnell Lewis (Oklahoma)

or trade back into the 2nd round (2012 5th round, 2012 7th round & 2013 5hth round) for a solid ILB to rotate w/ Takeo Spikes. . .

Rd2/#? - ILB Mychal Kendricks (Cal)

in the 3rd round I would like to see a strong running back to compliment Mathews with. . .

Rd3/#78 - RB Robert Turbin (Utah St.)

or a running back similar to Sproles. . .

Rd3/#78 - RB Ronnie Hillman (SDSU)

for round 4 lets address the Secondary one more time with a CB. . .

Rd4/#110 - CB DeQuan Menzie (Alabama)


Rd4/#110 - CB Josh Norman (Coastal Carolina)

or we address our D-Line. . .

Rd4/#110 - DE Jake Bequette (Arkansas)

in the 5th round lets add some LB depth. . .

*Rd5/#149 - ILB Jerry Franklin (Arkansas) 

with the 6th round pick we definitly need to add some D-Line depth

Rd6/#183 - DT DaJohn Harris (USC)

with our 2 7th round picks we need to add depth wit the best players available

*Rd7/#226 & **Rd7/#250 - 

**TE David Paulson (Oregon) -
**WR Gerrel Robinson (Arizona St.) -

OG Ryan Miller (Colorado)
OT Markus Zusevics (Iowa)

DT Travian Robertson (S. Carolina) -
CB Justin Bethel (Presbyterian)

* indicates possible pick traded away (only one of the 7th round picks is proposed to be traded)
** my 2 favorite options if we have both our 7th round picks

Remember it says "Wish List" but please let me know what you guys think!

Fbhansen said... Apr 14, 2012, 9:48:00 AM

Great comments Pete! Heard recently that AJ is thinking of trading out of the spot which made me think we'd be moving up to ensure we get a D player who can start versus someone we need to groom...but then as always with AJ the talk turned to moving down and picking up more draft picks...WTF are we rebuilding? First, we're told that we aren't going to enter into Free Agency this year like all the others in the past but then we sign one true starter on D and talk about drafting to plug holes...WTH!

What happen to we need to win now? IF, and it was a giant IF, we get pressure on the QB that takes some of the pressure off the secondary...O-line will be better, PR won't play nearly as sloppy, special teams should give us reason to actually uncover our eyes, but it's the Defense what will cause this team to win shot outs...remember the Air Coryell era? Might be back next season!

Hell yes trade up and get a sure hit versus trading down and getting more bodies!

Fbhansen said... Apr 14, 2012, 9:53:00 AM

I like the agressive nature of your suggestions and if I were a GM in fear of losing his job with a team close to getting back into a playoff hunt I'd do it. Instead of trading down and out of the first round make that pick and bundle others to get another player who can come in and contribute now versus 2-3 years down road. Unfortunately, AJ won't do something like that, why? Because he doesn't fear losing his job because he knows Spanos has no balls and (like the beaten housewife) thinks life with him is much better than life without! 

RaiderHater said... Apr 14, 2012, 9:55:00 AM

 Dude...I LOVE your in depth thoughts on all of these!!!  You should apply at Boltsville in Mission Valley, just ask for Mr. Spanos mention Pete's name :)  I like your moves and selections...a solid mix of talent and potential talent.  Lots of focus on Defense....I can't help but think AJ is well aware of the Defensive needs....I doubt he has ever read this blog (even though it's world famous) let's see what happens in just a few days!

Fbhansen said... Apr 14, 2012, 9:55:00 AM

Absolutely! D-D-D don't deviate and we could actually start to look like a team that could make a run at the division!!!

RaiderHater said... Apr 14, 2012, 10:06:00 AM

 Ahhh Mr. good of you to return to us on the bright side (a.k.a lightning BOLTS) !  You still seem a little pissy...BUT heck you got passion and demand a winning Team....WTF can I say but kudos to you my friend!  The key phrases I am copy writing for this blog topis is D-D-D (hum triple D's ... interesting) and "Twin Towers" (absolutely no disrespect to the famous twin towers but in acknowledgement of their greatness).  1 week to go then we can really focus on whether AJ and company "play the game" at the draft tables.  Hummmm I feel a cold coming on...maybe I should stay home and recover that know it is better than getting others sick at work - - Ha Ha!

FBHANSEN said... Apr 14, 2012, 6:43:00 PM

Thanks RaiderHater been pissy over losing...well to me not winning our division when we had the only true QB is the same as losing...and after seeing no changes made it's really been hard to get excited for the team I love and followed since I was a kid. Even managed to go through Sports Fever and didn't buy one Charger item...a first! Anyway I do hope for good things like the changes made on the O-side of the ball and on special teams but to me last year we lost the division because of two things. First we lost the turn over battle (PR probably will never repeat that horrible season again in his life), and second our defense couldn't get off the field. Well since PR won't repeat that crappy play it's really the defense that needed to improve and thus far it hasn't happened! Go Bolts! Love the twin towers and D-D-D it's gotta be! LMAO

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