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Anteater's 2012 Draft Grades

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by AnteaterRaider, May 2, 2012.

  1. AnteaterRaider

    AnteaterRaider Carpe Diem et omni Mundio Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

    Jan 19, 2006

    Chargers 2012 Draft Review
    By: Loren S. Casuto, Bolttalk Podcast Co-Host

    1st Round – Melvin Ingram OLB South Carolina

    Admittedly, I had not studied Melvin Ingram much during my draft preparation. The reason for such was the same that AJ Smith gave; I had never thought he would be available at 18. Sure Melvin Ingram fell to the New York Jets during the Bolttalk Mock draft and I snatched him up on behalf of the New York Jets, but that wasn’t plausible. Sure I had seen Ingram falling to the Chargers at 18 in some last minute mock drafts, but that couldn’t actually happen. Well on the first day of the draft at 6:45pm PST, the Chargers had the best pure pass rusher fall right into their lap. The Chargers had reportedly been looking to move up to select safety Mark Barron but through the action of other teams, a top 10 talent arrives in San Diego.
    Melvin Ingram is one of the most athletic players in the entire draft; at 6’2 264lbs he runs like a 210lb running back. He has a fantastic burst off the line combined with great closing speed when he’s near the quarterback. Ingram can convert speed to power quickly and when combined with a devastating swim and spin move, allows him to be a devastating pass rusher. He has a strong motor and explodes at his opposition, meeting every offensive player with bad intentions. While not his best skill, he is solid at the line of scrimmage and can hold up well against the run. Ingram has been a defensive end, a nickel rusher from the defensive tackle position and an outside linebacker. He is so athletic he even ran a fake punt for a touchdown and caught an onside kick in the same game. The main negative on him is that he doesn’t look like a dominating OLB or DE; he is seen as short and squatty with short (by pass rusher standards) arms. It has been mentioned that there’s only been one pass rusher with ten plus sacks in a season – James Harrison. Beyond that he needs to improve his work on coverage, as many defensive ends do when they move to outside linebacker.
    This was seen as the best pick of the middle of, and the best value pick of, the 1st round. Unlike in past years, AJ Smith did not try to outsmart the fans and his competitors. He stood his ground and took the best player available who also filled a need. The only thing that could limit his success is whether he can beat tackles with long arms, but it’s not like he did not run into those in the SEC for his four years. This is a guy who was a dominating player in arguably one of the best conferences in college football. The Chargers went into the draft looking for playmakers, and on their first pick, I think they found one.

    2nd Round – Kendall Reyes DE Connecticut
    The Chargers drafted Corey Liuget with their first selection in 2011, he is expected to start and lock down one defensive end position. The other position is a question mark; Vaughn Martin played a lot of snaps last year but hasn’t shown that he can be a starter. He remains raw and is a free agent next year. Jacques Cesaire and Luis Castillo are backups at best. Someone has to step up next to Liuget on the front three. Into that void comes Kendall Reyes.
    The 6’4 299lb three-year starter is a talented run stopper and team leader. In the trenches he fights with good power and anchors the line effectively. For a near 300lb man he has surprising quickness and foot speed, which he uses to penetrate running plays. He keeps his head up and tracks the ball carrier well while using his quickness to avoid blockers and make solid tackles. Even as the most targeted player on the UConn defense, he would routinely beat double teams to make plays. Reyes also has sterling character with an impeccable work ethic and the desire to help by playing anywhere. Negatives are that he has to learn how to keep his pads lower while playing and has to find a better weight to play at. Reyes bulked up to near 300lbs so he could play nose tackle, but looks more comfortable and plays better at 290. He also doesn’t offer a lot as a pass rusher though he is good at getting his hands up in passing lanes.
    On day one the Chargers drafted Melvin Ingram with the desire and plan to use him like Merriman was during his rookie year. With their first pick on day two, the Chargers drafted someone they will use like Luis Castillo was during his rookie year. He will primarily play inside on passing downs but will rotate in with Castillo, Cesaire and Martin. The Chargers see him as a future starting defensive end, and he has the skills to get there.

    3rd Round – Brandon Taylor SS Louisiana State
    After Mark Barron and Harrison Smith went in the first round, the Chargers publically stated they didn’t have any safety rated higher than a third rounder. Once the third round came though, the Chargers traded up to select the highest ranked strong safety left on the board. With it, the Chargers hit their third defensive pick in a row and their third pick at a crucial need.
    One of the only permanent team captains and wearer of the prestigious #18 jersey (also worn by Jacob Hester), Taylor is a multi year starter and team leader. He was in charge of getting everyone in position from the secondary and in making any changes on the field. Taylor has decent range and speed in coverage, having played centerfield a lot. However he loves playing in the box and be physical against any offensive player near him. Taylor is an effective wrap up tackler and can deliver huge hits. He also fights hard to strip the ball on every play. Taylor has a sterling character and work ethic and is a player that coaches love. Negatives are that he can’t add much more bulk, he doesn’t have the ability to match up with WRs in man coverage preferring instead to play zone. Taylor also needs to learn to play under better control and can be over aggressive in his actions.
    Taylor will join Atari Bigby and Darrell Stuckey in a competition for starting safety, with Bigby currently penciled in. Taylor looks like a perfect compliment to Eric Weddle; the former is a strong run stopper and the latter is a great coverage safety. Taylor could contribute immediately in special teams and in substitution packages giving him some more experience. If given the chance, knowing his work ethic and desire, Brandon Taylor could also start by the end of the year. Most importantly this is another best player available at a position of immediate need.

    4th Round – Ladarius Green TE Louisiana Lafayette
    Prior to free agency, the Chargers had a need at tight end. Gates looked like he had recovered from his injury and was playing better, but he’s 32 years old and slowing down. Randy McMichael was a great do everything player but was a free agent and will be 34 years old. Kory Sperry had a lot of promise but had not shown anything in 2011. After free agency the Chargers had resigned all their free agent tight ends and added Dante Rosario of 2008 home opener infamy. The team seemed to be set at the tight end position at least through 2012. However, AJ Smith thought differently with their 4th round selection.
    Ladarius Green is a super athletic tight end from the Sun Belt Conference. At 6’6, he’s actually taller than Gates and has hands and speed like a top receiver. He was the focal point of the Raging Cajuns offense for four years as a starter, and still got open constantly. Green covers ground quickly, runs fantastic routes and has the size and hands to go up and get the ball. He also is a hard worker who is dedicated on the field and in the weight room. On the negative side, Green has to get stronger and bigger. Though he’s 6’6 he’s only 230lbs; that’s only five pounds bigger than Malcolm Floyd and 5 pounds under Jacob Hester. He is a willing but ineffective blocker because of his lack of bulk. Green also has a minor injury history with a few nicks throughout his career in addition to tendonitis in his knees.
    Green was the third or fourth best tight end on most boards; he was too good to pass up in the fourth and could not be in a better position. Green will immediately compete and likely knock Kory Sperry and possibly Dante Rosario off the roster. He could be used immediately as a pass catcher and because of the focus on Gates, Green could rack up big yards fast. And after all that, Green will be the heir apparent to Antonio Gates. Not an immediate need but a great value and a pick for the future.

    5th Round – Johnnie Troutman OG Penn State
    Coming into the off-season the Chargers did have a potential need at guard. All-Pro left guard Kris Dielman retired for health reasons, leaving a big hole on the line to be filled. The Chargers have penciled in Tyronne Green at left guard and he did very well when inserted into the line-up. Louis Vasquez has been the starter at right guard since he was drafted in 2009, but has only been average. The team is looking for an upgrade, but in Troutman they get a developmental prospect in the middle of the fifth round.
    At 6’4 325lbs Troutman is a powerful mauler who allowed only ½ a sack in 32 starts at left guard. He had a very good senior year when he did not allow a single quarterback pressure or have a single penalty against him. He has good upper body strength and a powerful punch in the run game. He also is very stout in both the running and passing game, showing the ability to handle bull rushes well. Negatives on him are that he has very heavy feet with limited mobility and agility in his game. He ran one of the slowest 10 & 40 yd times at the combine. He will need a lot of work on his conditioning as well. In addition to that Troutman has had a number of injuries over the years including tendinitis in his knees that could limit his pro career. He also has a DUI on his record from early 2011, so he will have to stay out of trouble. Finally it has been determined that Troutman will likely miss his entire rookie season after having pectoral surgery a few days before the draft.
    With so many potentially better offensive linemen on the board, including ironically the man they selected in the 7th round, AJ Smith appears to have chosen a injured long term project. Troutman will need a lot of work to be an effective backup, let alone a starting guard. Then to discover that Troutman will likely miss the entire season because of a known surgery, this pick looks even worse than before. Of all the picks AJ made in this draft, this is the only one I have a real objection to. AJ Smith did what he has done for the last few years; try to outsmart everyone else at too early a spot in the draft.

    7th Round – David Molk C Michigan
    AJ Smith does love his late round offensive linemen; he has taken one in nearly every draft since he became a GM. Some of them (Shane Olivea, Jeromey Clary, Scott Mrzucowski) have been productive members of the Chargers, while some (Carlos Joseph, Jimmy Martin, Wes Sims) have been busts. Even after adding a project guard, AJ Smith dipped into the well again. Here he got a player from same conference as Troutman and a teammate of last year’s late round lineman Steven Schilling.
    At 6’1 298lbs David Molk is a smaller center, but he makes up for it with great power, strength and leadership. He had 41 reps of 225lbs at the combine, the most of any offensive lineman and this is while he is recovering from surgery. He has good instincts on both run and pass blocking, making calls at the line and picking up stunts and blitzes easily. Molk shows great passion and fire, refusing to quit until the whistle is blown. He was recognized by his peers as the best center in the nation in 2011, winning the Rimington trophy. Negatives are his lack of size and his recent injury history which included missing the entire 2010 season with an ACL injury and a torn tendon in the 2011 Sugar Bowl, but he did play the entire game with the torn tendon and says he has been healthy for all of April.
    This is a depth pick with great value; the Chargers are high on Colin Baxter but that doesn’t prevent the team from selecting a very good backup with such experience. Molk was predicted to go late on day 2, so to pick him up in the 7th was a great selection. He looks like the kind of guy who gets drafted late but makes a big impact when he gets in. He is tough, fiery and intelligent who can only get better with time in an NFL strength program, so long as he can stay healthy.

    7th Round - Edwin Baker RB Michigan State
    With their last pick, the Chargers added another running back to a very crowded backfield of players where only Ryan Mathews has a set position. “Rock” Baker ran for nearly 2,300 yards in his NFL career and has been compared to a poor man’s Ray Rice. He makes quick moves with a low center of gravity who makes one cut and then charges at full speed. He has good vision and refuses to go down to the first tackler while constantly keeping his feet moving at all times. On the negative side he takes time to get up to full speed and has to work on his ball security as he carries the ball very lightly. He is also useless in the passing game with little experience or success as either a pass catcher or a pass blocker. Baker will join the crowded backfield where it will be Norv Turner’s responsibility to figure out how to utilize him and everyone else. Immediately Baker will compete with Curtis Brinkley as a backup running back but if Mathews doesn’t show the promise he’s teased for the last two years, Baker could get a chance to contribute even more.

    Grade: A-
    In my humble opinion, AJ Smith should be threatened with being fired every year. After getting a last minute stay of execution from Dean Spanos, AJ Smith went out and had his best off-season ever combined now with the best draft since 2005. Within the first two days the Chargers hit three positions of need with three of the best players available. On day three, the Chargers got great depth including two potential heirs apparent to current players. There is a real chance that by December their top three picks are starting and within three years two more from this class are starters. While it will take a few years at least to accurately grade this draft, at first glance this is a draft class worthy of his initial success. If the Chargers start to rebound back towards glory, this off-season and draft will lead the way.

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