G, OLB, SS, OT, TE (developmental)
Round 1-Melvin Ingram/LB
Round 2-Kendall Reyes/DT
Round 3-Brandon Taylor/S
Round 4-Ladarius Green/TE
Round 5-Johnnie Troutman/G
Round 7-David Molk/C
Round 7-Edwin Baker/RB
Offense has never really been an issue for the Chargers with Norv Turner as head coach. The defense has let the team down too many times. The statistics haven’t been bad--the inconsistency has been maddening. Turner dismissed defensive coordinator Greg Manusky after just one season and promoted linebackers coach John Pagano to the post. But it’s not just about coaching with the Chargers’ defense—the personnel also had to be upgraded.
To address the pass rush, which only produced 32 sacks last season, general manager A.J. Smith selected OLB Melvin Ingram in the first round. Ingram was one of the top hybrid pass rushers (DE/OLB) for this draft. He’s known in scouting circles for his elite pass-rushing skills and high degree of upside. As one personnel source said, Ingram was probably the cleanest pass rushers available for this draft—meaning the one with the least amount of issues. And Ingram could easily be moved around in order to create better matchups vs. opposing offenses.
Second-round DT Kendall Reyes will transition to DE in the Chargers’ 3-4 defensive scheme. Reyes, who is coming off of a great set of practices earlier this year during Senior Bowl week, has a high upside. He has very good short area quickness for a defensive lineman of his size (6-4, 300). He’ll push for playing time right away.
The strong safety position has not yielded consistent results in recent seasons for the team, so the Chargers addressed the issue with third-round pick Brandon Taylor. Known in scouting circles for his physical play and smarts, Taylor will compete against veteran S Atari Bigby for the starting job.
There were rumors that the Chargers might look to select the eventual replacement for veteran TE Antonio Gates in this draft. So, it shouldn’t come to a surprise that the team selected TE Ladarius Green in the fourth round. Green is known in scouting circles as a developmental pass catcher, while having better than average speed for his position. While not possessing the speed of tight ends such as Jimmy Graham or Jermichael Finley, Green is good at running after the catch. Green, who weighed in at 238 during February’s NFL Scouting Combine, has good height at over 6-5. So he’ll need to put on at least 15 pounds over so. He joins a crowded group at tight end, but in future years, he should push to take over for Gates, who recently turned 32.
Fifth-round pick G Johnnie Troutman had pectoral surgery earlier this year, so his availability for training camp is in question. When healthy, Troutman is a solid developmental interior offensive line prospect. While a personnel source said his game tape showed some inconsistency, Troutman is good at finishing off blocks and should get better over time. He’ll challenge for a job as the team’s fourth or fifth guard.
The seventh round produced two players for the Chargers. C David Molk probably could have been selected at least a few rounds higher based on his college tape alone, but he lacks the ideal size (6-1, 298) for the position. It also didn’t help that he couldn’t work out during the NFL Scouting Combine do to right knee issue. Still, Molk is a solid developmental prospect. The final seventh-rounder, RB Edwin “Rock” Baker, should push for a job as a change-of-pace and situational runner.
Overall, Smith did the right thing by addressing the defense early with the first three picks. And those three picks should be starting by the end of their second season with the team. And the rest of the draft selections should push for backup jobs early on.