Anteater's 2014 NFL Draft Review


Carpe Diem et omni Mundio
Staff member
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Jan 19, 2006
San Diego, CA
Chargers 2014 Draft Review

By: Loren Casuto

Bolttalk Podcast Co-Host & Writer

1st Round: Jason Verrett CB Texas Christian

When the Chargers were on the clock, they had three of the top five cornerbacks on the board. By their pick, there were only two left. Nevertheless the possibility of a cornerback run never materialized and the team could choose from the two that were foreseen to be there. It will never be known what was said in meetings between the Chargers brass & those two cornerbacks, but the team drafted the feisty and fast smaller cornerback over the inconsistent but talented one.

As I said in my mock draft, and numerous NFL scouts and insiders confirmed, Verrett would have been the top cornerback had he been two inches taller. He brings an impressive combination of speed, instincts, aggressiveness and versatility. He doesn’t just have to play in a zone heavy scheme but can mix it up man to man. The thing that’s the most intriguing element of his game is Verrett’s understanding of the route running tree and his ability to know where it’s going and run the route for the receiver. He must continue to improve his upper body strength and his torn labrum must be watched closely in his first camp and into the pre-season. He already knows how to play against bigger receivers but he must continue to hone his craft.

Nevertheless he is now the best cornerback on the starting roster and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s pushing hard for a starting job immediately. Just as importantly this is a man that was born and raised in California and in numerous public opportunities stated he wanted to play for San Diego. At the very least the Chargers can feel confident that with Verrett, Steve Williams and Brandon Ghee, the team is on it’s way to rebuilding the secondary.

Grade: A-

2nd Round: Jeremiah Attaochu OLB Georgia Tech

If cornerback was the biggest need of the San Diego Chargers, you could make the case that pass rush was second most. I had the team going with Kyle Van Noy but he went early in the second, which led to a number of pass rushers going very early.

Attaochu is a great story; a Nigerian immigrant who attempted to join the Yellow Jacket soccer team only to walk into the wrong room and be recruited onto the football team. He has impressive speed combined with a fantastic burst off the edge that leaves offensive tackles in the dust throughout the game with exceptional conditioning. His repertoire of pass rush moves is growing steadily and will only get better with time and experience. He fights hard and doesn’t stop no matter what, showing incredible body control and a motor that never quits. On the negatives he isn’t polished having only played for a few years, needs to improve his instincts and has to become a better all around tackler.

I dislike spending a fourth rounder to jump up seven spots, both this year and last year when they did it to grab Manti Te’o. The Chargers to some degree panicked and traded up for a player who might not have fallen to the team’s original spot at 57. His talent is unquestionable but at the same time he is rawer than the average second rounder with a higher bust potential if he can’t take that next step. Nevertheless this is a player that could most benefit from the Chargers’ situation; he can learn from Jarrett Johnson and Dwight Freeney and take over for them as a starter alongside Melvin Ingram in 2015. I couldn’t imagine learning from a better OLB duo and for a raw player with such potential, the sky is the limit for Attaochu. But then again, so is the bust potential.

Grade: B

3rd Round: Chris Watt OL Notre Dame

The Chargers did need offensive line help, this was discussed among the different boards and forums with a few thinking the team could go offensive line in the first round. Instead the Chargers stayed at their spot and chose a lineman from a storied program that made his name at one, but whose future might be somewhere else.

Expected to be a mid-day three prospect, Watt is the kind of unexciting but effective players that blow past his draft day expectations and projection. A fifth year senior and a three year starter at left guard, he combined with first rounder Zach Martin to solidify the Irish’s left side. He shows impressive intelligence, instincts and awareness, and has physicality to match. He has powerful hands and impressive upper body strength winning with a great combination of technique and power, and is a fantastic drive blocker. He doesn’t have long arms and isn’t great at pulling due to a lack of speed. What’s also a little concerning is that while he fight hard and is tough, he doesn’t seek to bury people along the lines of a Dielman or Fluker.

Immediately upon his drafting, Charger fans started clamoring for the end of Jeromey Clary. But while he played primarily at guard, a lot of scouts think he could be a fantastic center. Offensive Line coach Joe D’Alessandris likes his linemen to be adapt at numerous positions and the Chargers will definitely make him take reps all over the interior. What this pick does give the team is flexibility not just this year but in the future. He might very well be a threat to Johnnie Troutman who played decently at left guard, he might be a threat to Jeromey Clary who remains the highest paid offensive lineman on the roster, or he could be the heir apparent to Nick Hardwick. However this is a reach and a player that leaves some questions as to where he will fit in.

Grade: B-

5th Round: Ryan Carrethers NT Arkansas St

Going into the draft the team had an obvious glaring need at nose tackle. Cam Thomas was a disaster and left for Pittsburgh, Sean Lissenmore is a smaller than average nose tackle and while good isn’t a foreseeable starter. Kwame Geathers definitely flashed potential in the preseason and camp but was a non-factor during the season and remains very raw. The Chargers definitely needed to add someone, and they did with their first pick on Day 3.

A two year starter and former Tennessee wrestling champion, Carrethers fits the profile for a nose tackle at 6’1 337lbs, yet has only 16% body fat and incredibly put up 32 reps at the combine. For a nose tackle he has been amazingly productive with 93 tackles last year alone (by comparison, the Chargers top tackler was Eric Weddle with 88). He is very powerful, strong and anchors beautifully against the double team. He understand leverage naturally, though is still learning the finer points of technique, and plays hard through the whistle. While he has some decent lateral agility he is slow, has shorter than average arms, with below average acceleration and won’t be chasing plays far beyond the line of scrimmage. As with many nose tackles, the team will need to monitor his stamina, but unlike many nose tackles his weight won’t be a problem.

I had predicted the Chargers to go nose tackle in the 5th but instead of Zach Kerr they went Ryan Carrethers. This is likely a matter of preference, and Carrethers was a consistent performer for two years before taking over the starting nose tackle position. The Chargers now have a talented 1-2 punch at nose tackle with a quicker penetrator in Sean Lissenmore and the heavy ‘hold the line’ tackle in Carrethers. It might be a small reach on a small school prospect but it’s a fine selection. Look for Carrethers to rotate with Lissenmore with an outside chance that he moves into the starting line up in 2015.

Grade: B+

6th Round: Marion Grice RB Arizona St

While the Chargers had a number of needs, you could reasonably assume that the Chargers were set at running back. Mathews had established himself as the bell-cow that everyone thought they were getting in 2010. Donald Brown, another first round back that hadn’t lived up to his potential until 2013, was added to keep the running game going. Danny Woodhead was a revelation and instant fan favorite as a third down back and receiver. To that however the Chargers grabbed a Sun Devil who had a drastic fall since March.

At 6’0 208lbs Grice has good size and runs hard to that effect. He doesn’t take the easy way out and will taken on tacklers to gain a few extra yards. He is a versatile player that is fundamentally sound, he is an effective receiver with 91 catches over the last two years and over 10 yards a catch on average. He’s returned kicks and punts and is the only running back in the country to have over 400yds in receiving, rushing and returning. Grice is also intelligent with a fantastic work ethic. While he is quick and has good size, he isn’t fast nor is he a bruising running back. He can and will be caught from behind and does go down easier than you’d like. He is also recovering from a broken leg.

This is a value pick at first glance, Grice was a highly thought of running back until he started dropping after his injury and his poor showing at the combine. Grice could provide an immediate impact as a return specialist and special teamer, and that is what he will have to do to make the team with three already entrenched starters. If he doesn’t make a fine showing he could find himself cut or on the practice squad immediately. But what intrigues me is that his skill set is a combination of Brown and Woodhead, making him a useful backup if Mathews and/or Woodhead leave in free agency next year. However this is a luxury pick with better players at immediate needs still available.

Grade: C+

7th Round: Tevin Reese WR Baylor

With their last pick the Chargers added the potential offensive playmaker, someone Charger fans had been expecting since the draft started. With a number of options available on the board, the Chargers didn’t go with a more polished player instead going with an amazingly fast and thin receiver who made his name in a spread system.

Reese’s main weapon is his speed, he’s explodes off the line of scrimmage, eats up an opposing DBs cushion, changes gears and breaks with little wasted motion. He can fly pass defenders with the agility and grace of a gazelle and specializes in go & vertical routes, but has trouble winning against press coverage. Reese shows impressive awareness of gaps in zones as well as the adequate ball skills and better than average body control for catches. He also shows impressive maturity & work ethic, becoming a more vocal leader during his time at Baylor. On the negative he is incredibly thin, he was the lightest player at the combine weighing only 163lbs. In context he’s 21lbs lighter than Lance Alworth at his playing weight. Reese needs an NFL strength and weight program more than any other prospect in this draft. He also needs to expand his repertoire of routes beyond vertical routes alone.Reese doesn’t have any experience in the return game, so it’s unlikely that he will start now.

Ideally Reese developmental strategy is for him to work on his route running and strength program so that he can develop into an effective slot receiver. Still given his speed, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on the field this year to blow the top off of defenses. He is the kind of 7th rounder you grab because he can develop quickly into a playmaker. He has a lot of the tools you can’t teach and the rest can be developed.

Grade: B

Undrafted Class

The 2014 class is made up of primarily athletes that the Chargers had previously invited for visits or spoken with prior to the Draft. There aren’t as many big names as there were in the 2013 class, but it definitely includes some promising players. CB Chris Davis of Auburn is the defensive back that ran the missed field goal back over 100 yds in the incredible Iron Bowl game. He has impressive return experience and decent zone coverage ability. DB Alden Darby is a true tweener having played all over the secondary for the Sun Devils and has great playmaking ability. DE Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, originally born in Amsterdam and has only played football for three years, is an active and hard working player with impressive raw ability. Colton Underwood was a defensive end for Illinois State but will be moving to outside linebacker to take advantage of his work ethic, speed and strong production. WR Brelan Chancellor was Special Teams player of the year with the USA conference and projects as a slot receiver and returner with his amazing agility, speed and competitive nature.

Final Grade: B

If this draft doesn’t have the sizzle of his 2013 class, it has plenty of steak for this year and beyond. The team walked into the draft with a number of holes and by the end had drafted quality talent at nearly every need. Looking at this draft, especially combined with the free agency class, you can see a plan for 2015 more than this year. It has players that likely won’t start in 2014 but will be starting at a high level by 2015. Even though this group will likely have fewer immediate starters than the 2013 class, by 2016 as a class this could end up with more starters than any draft class since 2005. Don’t grade this group after the draft or even after one season, let’s talk in 2016 and see just how impressive this group is.