Chargers 2016 draft recap
NOAH HILTON | CONTRIBUTOR
Off the field, the future of the San Diego Chargers here in America’s Finest City remains in limbo amid ongoing stadium discussions between the team and the city. On the field, however, the organization’s future became a little clearer this past weekend, as the team added to its ranks with a fresh draft class of budding NFL stars.
Entering Day One, the team was largely expected to shore up its Swiss-cheese offensive line with the selection of Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil. However, after the release of a less-than-flattering video mere moments before the draft had Tunsil’s draft stock literally going up in smoke, the Chargers reversed course and selected defensive end Joey Bosa out of Ohio State University.
Bosa, who had 26 career sacks in college and has drawn comparisons to reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, should vastly improve the Bolts’ defensive line. Alongside free agent signee Brandon Mebane, the Chargers’ expected starting nose tackle, San Diego should have little trouble wreaking havoc in opponents’ backfields.
The second round presented the chance to pick up UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, widely considered to be a top 10 talent in the class, who had fallen in the draft because of concerns over the long-term health of his knee. In a surprise move that will likely prove to be more prudent than many frustrated Chargers fans would like to admit, the team passed on Jack.
In lieu of Jack, the Chargers selected tight end Hunter Henry out of the University of Arkansas. Henry, a 6’5”, 250-pounder and the consensus top tight end in the draft, will have no problem fitting into the Chargers’ offense as both a pass catcher and a run blocker. Eventually, he may prove to be an admirable replacement when future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates finally retires.
San Diego picked up center Max Tuerk out of the University of Southern California in the third round. After undergoing a knee surgery at the beginning of last season, Tuerk may not be immediately ready for preseason workouts. However, reports have him progressing well in his recovery, and as soon as he’s healthy again and mini-camp opens up, he is expected to compete with incumbent Chris Watt for the starting job.
Hailed as a cerebral player with uncommon athleticism for his size, fans can expect Tuerk to be a welcomed addition as the Chargers look to keep star quarterback Philip Rivers upright in 2016.
The fourth round brought the addition of another defensive stud from Ohio State University in linebacker Joshua Perry. Perry finished with more than 100 tackles in each of the last two seasons, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2015. Perry is described by coaches as an “old-school thumper” whose physical style of play will likely help the team’s run defense in a backup role behind starters Denzel Perryman and Manti Te’o.
The later rounds proved promising for the Bolts’ front office as well. The fifth round brought in linebacker Jatavis Brown, a three-time all-conference linebacker out of the University of Akron who will likely be better suited for a role as a safety at the professional level given his speed and lack of size. In the sixth round, the team decided on a replacement for longtime punter and fan favorite Mike Scifres, selecting Drew Kaser out of Texas A&M University and proceeding to cut Scifres shortly after.
The team also made a move to help its vaunted running back, Melvin Gordon, rebound from a disappointing and touchdown-less rookie season by picking up his former fullback in college, Derek Watt. The on-field chemistry between Gordon and Watt should help the former come closer to delivering on the potential he flashed during a record-setting career as a Wisconsin Badger.
Finally, San Diego closed out its draft by taking guard Donovan Clark from Michigan State University. Clark started 27 consecutive games as a Spartan while rotating between three different positions. Scouts say Clark has the versatility and durability that the Chargers’ big uglies have lacked in recent seasons.
Ultimately, despite missing out on some of the biggest names in the 2016 class and failing to directly address a need in the defensive secondary, the Chargers made some shrewd selections over the course of the draft. Additions to the pass rush and offensive line have the potential to pay immediate dividends, while the discovery of replacements for some of the franchise’s longtime cornerstones should further fans’ confidence in the long term direction of the organization.
USD students can look forward to watching the team’s exciting crop of players at Frank’s Lounge, sports bars across the city, or from the comfort of their own living room. Whether this year’s draft class will carve out careers in Qualcomm Stadium here in San Diego or elsewhere, remains to be decided.