Anteater's 2013 Chargers Mock Draft


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Jan 19, 2006
San Diego, CA
The Anteater’s 2013 Chargers Mock Draft
By: Loren S. Casuto

For the first time in nearly a decade, AJ Smith will not be leading the Chargers in a draft. The former deity of the draft who set the NFL on fire between 2004 and 2006 was undone by a number of poor draft decisions (on top of his poor coach selection). With Tom Telesco manning the helm for the first time ever, seconded by first time head coach Mike McCoy, there's no set idea what or how Telesco will react when the Chargers are on the clock. With that in mind, here's my own mock draft based on what I think the Chargers should do:

With the 11th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select Star Lotulelei Defensive Tackle from Utah

Let me state upfront that I still believe Lane Johnson will fall to the Chargers at #11; I think other teams that need tackle will take more pressing needs (Arizona – OLB or OG, Detroit either CB or DE, Philadelphia 3-4 DE or QB) and while the OL talent is fantastic, there’s equally good defensive talent. However I appear to be a crowd of one in thinking that. The vast majority of mocks and expert prognostication suggests all three tackles and at least one guard will be taken before the Chargers make their selection. In addition the Chargers can’t trade up with Cleveland due to holes throughout the roster and limited draft picks. If such really does happen, then the Chargers might have to go best player available.
Star Lotulelei was born in Tonga and only played three years at Utah, but he made his presence felt on and off the field. At 6’2 321, Lotulelei isn’t a prototypical nose tackle but has been compared to Haloti Ngata, not only for their shared Polynesian heritage but their fantastic combination of power and speed. Lotulelei is incredibly stout in the run game, he can’t be stopped by one blocker (see USC game 2012 vs C Khaleed Holmes) and routinely defeats double teams regardless of offensive line scheme. His power, long arms and heavy hands gives him the ability to basically throw linemen out of the way, and has surprising quickness in game footage. He’s also an incredibly mature and tough individual who dedicated himself to his craft over the last two years and fights through almost anything. His negatives can be corrected; he doesn’t get similar push in the pass game, he needs to locate the ball a little better and he needs to be a little more consistent in his tackling.
While I think the Chargers would be better suited going after an OLB like a Jarvis Jones, Lotulelei (if he’s there) would represent the best player available by far. Putting him at nose tackle flanked by Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes might be the best Chargers defensive line since the early 90s. Best of all Lotulelei has the ability to be rotated out to 3-4 end with Thomas spelling him in the middle. Pagano would have a heck of a piece to play with and the Chargers defense would get another young stud on their front seven.

With the 45th selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select Terron Armstead Offensive Tackle from Arkansas-Pine Bluff

The Chargers biggest need can be summed up in two words; Left Tackle. If it was a poorly kept secret that the Chargers were looking for a tackle on January 1st it became a screamingly obvious when Jared Gaither was cut. While the team’s depth should be better with Mike Harris’ rookie trial by fire as well as the signing of King Dunlap, the Chargers have to walk out of day two with a left tackle. If they succeed in getting one, then there should be hope to reverse the fortunes of this team. If the Chargers opening day starter at left tackle is King Dunlap, Mike Harris, Kevin Haslam or anything along those lines, then kiss 2013 and maybe 2014 good-bye. You could likely kiss Philip Rivers good bye as well, whether because management chooses to blame a poor offensive season on him or because his career ends the same way as Stan Humphries did.
Prior to the East-West Shrine Game Armstead was a fourth rounder; then he was invited to the East West Shrine game and had one of the best performances of any player. He was then invited to the Senior Bowl as a late injury fill-in and showed he could compete against the best players. His stock started to rise. Then he set the Combine on fire with the fastest 40 yd dash time ever by an offensive lineman (4.71, .01 faster than Lane Johnson) and one of the best workouts of any player. From an unknown to a likely second rounder, Armstead has been a meteor but that covers up his skills. A four-year starter and shot put champion who played his entire senior season with a crack in his collarbone, he can pull, trap and eliminate players on the second level with ease. He mirrors, recovers and can covers pass rushers with ease. Armstead can dominate but doesn’t play with an aggressive temperament, and he also needs more strength training as he can handle speed but loses to power. Armstead also needs to work on his footwork as he gets away with speed more than he should.
The best-case scenario for Armstead would for him to have a red shirt year so he can adjust to whatever system the Chargers will run and can spend a lot of time in the weight room. The team’s situation will likely require him to be thrown out opening day for the Chargers – but that doesn’t mean Armstead can’t be good now and be even better in a few years. Armstead is also unique enough of a talent that whatever system the team runs he can be successful in. If the Chargers can’t get one of the top three tackles in the first, they have to make every effort to either grab Armstead or Menelik Watson from Florida State, who is even more raw than Armstead.

With the 76th selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select Brandon Jenkins Outside Linebacker Florida State

Where one year ago the Chargers had an impressive collection of types, specialties and (most importantly) bodies, now the team has a very bare cupboard. At one starting position is Melvin Ingram, last year’s first rounder who led the league in “almost plays”. Ingram’s talent and ceiling remain high but he must show he can perform. The other starter is Jarrett Johnson, a steady consistent effective veteran but one that specializes only in run stopping. Backing them up is the perennially on injured reserve Larry English who once again flashed talent on the way to the medical facility. Antwaan Barnes went to the Jets and Shaun Phillips is one of the many over 30yr old free agents waiting til after the draft. At the very least depth is needed, at the most someone needs to step in for Johnson on passing downs.
Once thought of as a sure fire first rounder, Jenkins season of promise became a season of disappointment. He was injured in the first game and lost for the year, the first injury of his four-year career. Jenkins was in the process of converting from 4-3 Defensive End to 3-4 Outside Linebacker and he has the skill set to do such. He has an impressive mixture of speed, pass rush moves, savvy and power; none of his skills (except for moves) are individually superb but combined with a relentless motor and Jenkins became an impressive pass rusher. He has lightning quick hands, fantastic range and very strong pass rushing instincts. The negatives are that he needs to become stronger in the upper body, needs to remember to keep his pads low and he must learn more about run stopping. In addition are the concerns that none of his talents are particularly great and his injury must be checked out.
Unless the Chargers bring back Shaun Phillips (or sign another veteran OLB), Jenkins would likely be the primary third down replacement for Jarrett Johnson while at the same time continuing to develop as an all around linebacker. Think of Jenkins as filling the role that Antwaan Barnes just filled. With his fast hands, good pass rushing moves and willingness to learn, Jenkins could develop into a nice starter alongside Ingram.

With the 110th selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select Brennan Williams Offensive Tackle North Carolina

No sooner than free agency started that the Chargers front office started doing something that fans have been begging to see for years. The team started reaching out to right tackles in free agency, primarily Eric Winston. While they didn’t sign Winston the team has clearly shown a desire to replace one of the longest serving offensive linemen. Finally the team seems to be willing to replace one of the biggest problems on the line in the poor play of Jeromey Clary, and they do so with this pick in the fourth round.
The son of a former NFL player and multi-year starter for the Tar Heels, Brennan Williams has fantastic size and strength for the right tackle position. At 6’5 313lbs he led the SEC in knockdown blocks in 2011 and plays with a mean streak. He is a polished and powerful run blocker and a decent pass protector who has a violent first punch and quick feet. He needs to work on defending against inside counter moves and his injury history must be investigated as he had knee surgery in 2011 and shoulder surgery in 2012 after the season.
When healthy Williams is a top flight and experienced right tackle who has the intent to bury his opponents. If he is healthy he would give the Chargers another fantastic bookend and would help rebuild the offensive line with Terron Armstead (or maybe Lane Johnson). This would be an ideal situation where the Chargers can get two tackles and solidify the line in one shot.

With the 145th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select Nico Johnson, Inside Linebacker Alabama

Much the same as with outside linebacker, inside linebacker went from being a position of depth and strength last year to an empty cupboard. Luckily the position is anchored in one spot by a fantastic young talent in Donald Butler. He’s backed up by Andrew Gachkar who is primarily a good special teamer but has flashed some talent when playing defense. The other position is a big question mark; Bront Bird is the backup and has done little with his time in two years to suggest he should be on the roster. Penciled in to start is Jonas Mouton; already considered to be one of the worst second rounders in team history he hasn’t started a game in two years, has been active once and couldn’t even earn playing time when the person in front of him went out injured. Instead the team grabbed a street free agent and started him with a day’s worth of practice. If that isn’t a damning accusation about the state of inside linebacker, I don’t know what is.
Overshadowed by the galaxy of talent at linebacker, Nico Johnson still managed to make an impression whenever possible. At 6’1 249 Johnson is a powerful thumper and run stopper who specialized in taking on opposing blockers and hitting the running back. He’s shown improved instincts, strong tackling and impressive range for a linebacker who isn’t fleet of foot. He is primiarily a run stopper and shows good instincts, understanding of where to fill in and how to shed blocks on his way to making a tackle. Even with his size he makes a large number of tackles made outside of the tackle box. While he has improved in three years, his lack of speed and below average agility makes him a two down linebacker.
Given the lack of talent opposite Butler, I have a hard time not seeing Johnson make an immediate impact on the defense. He would fill Takeo Spikes’ position beautifully as he shares the veteran’s skill set, drive and work ethic, but is 10 years younger. Best of all given his impressive qualities there’s no reason to believe that he couldn’t get better and better with regular playing time. It’s not ideal to go get a starting linebacker in the fifth round but the team would be lucky to get such a good player this late.

With the 179th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select Rod Sweeting cornerback from Georgia Tech

The problem with the team in this draft is that, unless the Chargers trade down and acquire more picks, there are too few bullets and too many holes. The Chargers’ order that they tackle their needs could depend strongly on the draft board; if someone falls into the Chargers lap they might decide to grab him and fill the originally targeted need at another time. Here the Chargers find themselves in need of some more cornerback depth very late where the hope is simply to find someone who can contribute.
A two year starter at Georgia Tech, Sweeting has a fantastic blend of height and top end speed. He shows more than adequate instincts and is very effective at baiting quarterbacks with his eyes. His size gives him the ability to play press effectively and his speed allows him to run with any quarterback. He also possesses decent ball hawking skills. The negatives are that he can gamble too much and be too aggressive at times, he also has somewhat stiff hips.
Sweeting is there to compete with Greg Gaton for the dimeback position and to serve as a special teamer. I don’t see him realistically competing for any of the top three cornerback spots and if pressed into starting early the results could be problematic. What Sweeting could be in a few years is a very effective zone coverage cornerback who could be a nickel cornerback or even a starter.

With the 221st pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select Stephan Taylor Running Back Stanford

The Chargers have, in the past, loved their late draft running backs. From 2008 to 2012, with the exception of 2010, the team has added someone in the later rounds to compliment their stable. The results (Jordan Todman, Marcus Thomas, Garrett Johnson, Edwin Baker) leave much to be desired and ironically the need has grown greater. Even if you take into account that he was horribly mismanaged, Ryan Mathews had yet another injury prone and unproductive season, and the rest of the stable managed little better. The Chargers re-signed Ronnie Brown, still have Curtis Brinkley & Edwin Baker on roster and added Danny Woodhead but none of them are actual competition for Ryan Mathews.
It’s odd to think that Taylor was, at one point, one of the five best running backs in this class. He was incredibly productive at Stanford, a team player who was constantly motivated and saved his best performances for big games. What caused the tumble is one word; Combine. At the NFL Combine Taylor ran one of the slowest 40yd dashes of any running back, and his other drills were nearly as bad. Since then he’s been tumbling from a second day pick to likely a late day 3 pick. Taylor is highly instinctive running back who is at his best running inside. He churns hard and fights for yardage, often running through tackles and pushing the pile. He has decent hands, but was never really used in the passing game, and is an acceptable pass blocker. Best of all Taylor works hard at his craft and truly strives to get better.
Taylor is a football player; he looks, runs and plays better in pads than he ever did in shorts. His success in the PAC-12 and his glowing recommendations suggest he can be good in the NFL despite the numbers. At the very least he could be a more effective Jackie Battle and can fill the role Mike Tolbert used to have. At best Taylor could force Ryan Mathews into a competition for the starting job.

Why didn’t you get a……….
Guard? The Chargers could go guard in the first round if the top tackles are taken, the two top options likely will still be on the board. But the team signed two guards in free agency with one (Chad Rhinehart) likely to start and the other (Ross Ohrnberger) likely to compete with Johnnie Troutman (who the new administration is high on) for left guard. Add that to King Dunlap (who can play guard) and David Molk and the team has sufficient depth and intriguing talent at guard. Still an upgrade wouldn’t hurt.

Safety? While it is a need right now the question is how much. The team stated at the beginning of free agency that they were satisfied with the trifecta of options they had in Darrell Stuckey, Brandon Taylor and Corey Lynch. While Taylor might not be ready for the start of the season and Lynch remains a free agent, the team seems to feel it has enough depth, and sufficient other needs, not to target Safety.

Wide Receiver? Because the depth chart is filled; Danario Alexander, Vincent Brown, Deon Butler, Malcolm Floyd, Richard Goodman, Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal and Mike Willie are all on the roster. There’s no room and too much need elsewhere.

Quarterback? This depends on whether you think Telesco believes that Rivers poor play is due to offensive line problems or is it that Rivers’ talent has decreased. The team will likely take a flyer on someone late but I think there’s sufficient options with undrafted free agents to fill this need. Yet again if someone of interest falls (Zac Dyssert of Miami of Ohio comes to mind), the team might just draft a QB to groom.

*All Jersey images courtesy of, Telesco picture courtesy of